Azur-Utaka (Copadichromis azureus)

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Copadichromis azureus
Azur-Utaka (Copadichromis azureus)
Name Azur-Utaka
Name Lat. Copadichromis azureus
Family Cichlids
Family lat. Cichlidae
Order Cichlids
Order lat. Cichliformes
Origin Lake Malawi
Habitat Rocky shore
Diet Planktivore
pH 7.5-8.8
Behavior Semi-aggressive
Keeping Harem
Care Level Moderate
Reproduction Mouthbrooder
Breeding Simple
Life Span 6-10 years
Protection No
Metric Units
Size 12-15 cm
Temperature 24-28 °C
Hardness 10-25 °dH
Aquarium ~ 400 l
US Units
Size 4.7"-6"
Temperature 75-82 °F
Hardness 178-445 ppm
Aquarium ~ 100 gal

Distribution and habitat

The distribution area of the Azur-Utaka is exclusively (endemic) Lake Malawi, where they occur most frequently near the Mbenji and Maleri Islands (Malawi). They live there preferentially in the boulder-less, large rocky shore regions (rock littoral) with sandy substrate. They have produced some differently colored site variants.


The aquarium setup should have rocky structures reaching to the water surface, with plenty of crevices, caves and shelters to provide hiding places, as well as robust plants, some free sand areas and plenty of free swimming space.

No ammonia, ammonium or nitrite should be detectable, and the nitrate value should not exceed 100 mg/l. To ensure the water quality and the oxygen content, a filter adapted to the aquarium size and a heater are required, as well as lighting for the species-appropriate day-night rhythm of the animals.


In nature they feed mainly on plankton and insect larvae. The food supply consists of dry, frozen and live food. For a balanced diet, feed once a day with a high-quality dry food for Malawi cichlids (flakes, granules, pellets) as well as cyclops, daphnia, artemia, mosquito larvae and plankton (live or frozen)

It is recommended to feed small portions several times a day. Only feed as much as will be eaten within a few minutes. A regular and varied diet promotes health and increases resistance.

Behaviour and compatibility

They should be kept in a harem, one male with several females. The males behave territorially at spawning time, so keeping several harems is only recommended in a larger and richly structured tank. They are relatively unassertive, but behave aggressively towards other fish of similar coloration and should only be socialized with more peaceful species. Basically, only compatible fish species with similar demands on water condition and water temperature should be socialized.

Sex dimorphism

The animals differ clearly in coloration (sexual dichromatism). The male is much more colorful and has longer extended fins. The female is smaller, inconspicuous beige-silvery colored.

Reproduction and breeding

They are maternal mouth breeders. Males build sandy nests near or under rocks and try to lure females there that are ready to spawn. Immediately after spawning, the females take the eggs into their throat sac for mouthbrooding. They keep the fry in their throat sac even after hatching and release them after about 3 weeks. During the entire brood care the female does not take any food.

Fry must be fed several times a day with special rearing food (Artemia nauplii). In community tanks breeding is hardly possible, because the fry are easy prey.


They belong to the Utaka cichlids, which at times inhabit the plankton-rich open water zone in front of rocks and reefs near the shore in swarms

Different site variants should not be kept together, as crossbreeding (hybridization) can occur.

The well-being of the fish should be monitored regularly. Temperature should be checked daily, pH, hardness and nitrate levels at least fortnightly. Regular partial water changes are recommended, even if the contaminant level has not yet reached the upper limit. Sudden changes in water quality should be avoided. Newly introduced fish must be accustomed slowly to the water in the aquarium.

Further literature can be found in your pet store.


Text: Werner Winter; Image: petdata

Source: BMELV (1998): Tierschutzgutachten - Haltung von Zierfischen (Süßwasser); RIEHL & BAENSCH (2004): Aquarien Atlas Bd. 3, Mergus Verlag; ENGELMANN (2005): Zootierhaltung - Tiere in menschlicher Obhut: Fische, Verlag Harri Deutsch

  • Gemäß § 21 Abs. 5 Tierschutzgesetz idgF