Polleni cichlid – black diamond cichlid

The ornamental fish comes from Madagascar. Here it lives in slowly flowing as well as in standing waters. It is called black fish by the locals because of its colour. The life expectancy of polleni cichlid is not known. The fish have an interesting social behaviour and are suitable for more advanced beginners.

What distinguishes polleni cichlid?

Marakeli Buntbarsch
Hectonichus, Cichlidae – Paratilapia polleni, CC BY-SA 3.0

The species is basically quite peaceful. With same-sex members of the same species, however, the situation is quite different. The Marakeli cichlid can sometimes be quite aggressive towards males (especially if the tank is too small). It is recommended to keep a group of 4-6 animals in large tanks. In the community tank other large ornamental fish, e.g. large, calm catfish, are best suited as roommates.

The appearance of polleni cichlid

The body of the adult fish has an intense black coloration and is interspersed with shiny spots. The body itself is high backed and flattened at the sides. The species has a relatively large head.


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Gender differences

The males of this ornamental fish species become slightly larger than the females. They can reach a maximum size of about 25-30 cm. Another distinguishing feature is the forehead bump of older males. The females do not have a forehead hump.

Water values for polleni cichlid

The Marakeli cichlid prefers pH-neutral water with a temperature of 24-27 degrees. It feels comfortable with the following water values:

  • pH value: 6.5-7.5
  • Total hardness: 2°-15°

Food and nutrition for polleni cichlid

The Marakeli cichlid feeds in the native biotope carnivor, i.e. on animal food, mainly consisting of aquatic invertebrates (mussels, snails, crabs and others), approach food (insects on the water surface), fish fry and small fish. One should take this into account and give him mainly live food (insect larvae, invertebrates). It also accepts dry and frozen food well.

The ideal aquarium for polleni cichlid

An aquarium for these quite large ornamental fish, must have at least a capacity of about 500 liters. However, for optimal care of a larger group, the ornamental fish should be kept in tanks with a capacity of 750 litres. The tank should have dense border planting and many hiding places (roots, stone structures).

Housing conditions

Usually the Marakeli cichlid is found in the lower part of the aquarium. The substrate should therefore consist of fine dark sand or gravel. The fish is voracious. In order to avoid overfeeding, it should be fed with care. In the following the most important keeping conditions in short form:

  • Group housing from about 6 animals
  • Combination with other large ornamental fish
  • Large basin (> 750 L)
  • many roots as shelters
  • Strong live and dry fodder

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