Red Zebra Mbuna

Overall satisfaction


Acquired: Fish / pet store





Easy to Feed


Easy Environment Needs


Compatibility with other species


Compatibility with own species


Activity Level






Interaction with owner


Bright and lively cichlids


United States

Posted Sep 07, 2014

Red zebras are active, extremely vibrant colored fish. They are a wonderful choice for adding a marine tank feel to a freshwater aquarium.

Like most African cichlids, red zebras can be aggressive and territorial, but they’re not the feistiest of the rift lake cichlids. They do well in community tanks with other moderately aggressive cichlids that are adapted to similar water conditions.

To avoid aggression, I’ve only kept one red zebra at a time in mixed species tanks and none of them were particularly violent with the other fish. They also got to be rather good sized for African cichlids and were quite capable of holding their own around most other species.

If you are keeping multiple red zebras in a tank, a male with two to three females is ideal. With enough space and/or distractions you may be able to get away with multiple males in which case there can be a considerable color difference between dominant and subordinate males.

Red zebras like rocks to hide in, although, as adults mine were nearly always out in the open. Even if they’re not hiding in them, this species does a lot of grazing algae from rocks.

Red zebras can eat a standard cichlid pellet diet, but care should be taken not to overfeed them, which along with excess protein, can lead to bloat. They benefit from food that contains high levels of spirulina as well as fresh vegetables. Mine loved browsing chunks of zucchini and romaine.

When they’re not grazing or showing off, these fish are usually excavating. They love to dig and will spend the day moving aquarium gravel. It’s extremely amusing to watch. However, as with other African cichlids, the larger rocks in the aquarium need to be securely placed and an under-gravel system cannot be used because it will be constantly uncovered.

Red zebras are an entertaining and stunning addition to an African cichlid tank. They mix well with many other similar species, adding a lot of enjoyable liveliness without too much additional aggression.

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