Star Sapphire Cichlid Complete Care Guide & Species Profile

It is Placidochromis sp. Phenochilus also known as Star Sapphire Cichlid is a well-known species of Haplochromis that are located on the shoreline between Makonde and Lupingu, Tanzania, and at Kasinda in Lake Malawi. It is the third-largest freshwater body of water in Africa. Its clear blue waters host more than 600 species of African cichlids

Male Star Sapphire Cichlids have bright blue colors and are adorned with metallic spots which become ever more vivid as they get older.

Female Star Sapphire Cichlids are primarily silver, with black vertical stripes as well as a blue sheen that will also get darker with time. Males can grow to around 10″ in length and females tend to be a bit smaller.

Do you want to give your aquarium an extremely colorful enlivening attribute? If so, the blue star sapphire cichlids would be the perfect option!

The bright-colored cichlids can be quite tranquil as tank partners. For those who are considering adding an extra element of enjoyment to your aquarium, or fish tank Star sapphire cichlids can be a fantastic choice.

Star Sapphire Cichlid (Phenochilus Tanzania) is not to be mistaken for Mdoka White Lips (Placidochromis Phenochilus). It has a similar appearance, however, it is distinguished by its white mouth.

Care levelVery simple
TemperamentMildly aggressive
AppearanceVibrant, glossy sapphire blue
Life expectancy8 years
Size8-10 inches
DietA protein-rich carnivorous diet like pellets
Size of the tank125 gallons
Tanks and their surroundingsHard alkaline water with rocks and caves
Tank MatesPeaceful fish
Star Sapphire Cichlid Stats

Star Sapphire cichlids or Phenochilus Tanzania is a favorite among the cichlids family that look stunning with their blue sapphire appearance. They were the original Malawi Lake residents of Africa.



Aquarists prefer males because of their gorgeous appearance. They are easily identifiable by their stunning blue hue as well as glittery blue and white spots.

Females don’t have sparkling sports, instead, they sport blue or vertical bars across their entire body.

Star Sapphire Cichlids Size

Star sapphire male Cichlids grow to a maximum of 10-inches and the females measure around 6 inches which makes them easy to recognize.

Behavior & Temperament

The blue sapphire-colored cichlids tend to be quiet in comparison to other Cichlids. Typically they love to float in the aquarium without causing disturbance to their tank mates too significantly.

But, you will notice some aggression in the process of spawning. But, that is not too strong.

As with many other Lake Malawi cichlids, these are also able to survive in alkaline and hard water. They are constantly searching for food close to the sand substrate which is why they are ground feeders.

Star Sapphire Cichlid Lifespan

Blue star sapphire Cichlids typically live for up to 8 years in an aquarium. However, their life span is dependent on their health and the diet that you provide them with.

Tank Requirements

Do you think of maintaining blue star sapphire cichlids in your house?

That’s an excellent idea! However, make sure you meet the tank specifications for the fish. To care for the blue sapphire cichlids that you have in your aquarium tank, it is best to recreate its natural surroundings.

They come from the alkaline and hard waters in Lake Malawi. So, ensuring proper conditions for the natural environment is vital to ensure their good health.

The conditions of water in your home aquarium should be similar to the conditions in the natural habitat to allow aquarium fish to remain healthy as well as show vibrant colors.

The tank water should be mild with temperatures of 76-82° F. The pH balance should fall between 7.8-8.6 levels. The preferred substrate is sand, more so than other substrates.

Additives such as Cichlid Lake Salt and Victoria Buffer/Malawi can condition the aquarium water to support African Cichlids.

The substrate must be sand and there ought to be rocks that can be used to create caves and passageways as well as the possibility of a swimming room that is open.

Additionally, blue star sapphire cichlids like a wider reverse swimming space. Therefore, it is best to fill the tank with a variety of rocks to make pathways so that the cute fish can move freely inside the tank.

Tank Setup

Blue star sapphire Cichlids need an uncluttered but well-decorated aquarium. It’s quite simple to put together the tank and you can complete the task with just a few options. This is how you can choose the tank arrangement of the star sapphire cichlid.

  • Keep the temperature of the water in the range of the 76-82° F mark to ensure your pet’s aqua environment isn’t living in hot or cold water. If you live in an area that is cold it is possible to make use of a heater to keep the water at a suitable temperature.
  • The recommended tank dimensions required for blue star sapphire cichlids should be 125 gallons. They grow quite quickly and require adequate space within their tank. Therefore, ensure that the tank isn’t crowded, as space is required to ensure their health.
  • Check that you have a hard and make sure you have an alkaline tank ensure that the tank is in alkaline and hard condition. It is possible to add additives to ensure that the water is suitable for the star sapphire African cichlids.
  • Keep within the 12-18 DH hardness range to ensure good water quality.
  • Replace 20-40% of water weekly to determine if you notice that your blue star sapphire cichlids are vomiting a lot. Intoxicated water can affect their health. So, look into adding filtering equipment to the tank to ensure the water’s cleanliness.
  • A 100-gallon tank is sufficient to house a group consisting of 4-5 10-inches cichlids. Since they can be quite aggressive, having more than 5 cichlids in an aquarium could result in a lot of anger.
  • Sprinkle some salt into the water in order to make it act as a buffering agent. Water’s carbonate hardness is increased by a buffering agent.

Tank Mates

Star Sapphire Cichlids generally are peaceful and exhibit only a small amount of aggression.

While star sapphire cichlids tend to be relatively peaceful, aggression may occur if their tank friends are aggressive.

They should be kept in conjunction together with other Haplochromis with a similar dimension and character.

Males who dominate may exhibit higher levels of aggression than other males. They could exhibit higher levels of aggression during breeding.

However, the proper temperament of tank friends can prevent them from endless fights within your aquarium.

So, choose the fish that are suitable for them. Harmonious and peaceful fish are highly advised.

Do you have thoughts about adding too many smaller fish? Wait! Stop! When star sapphires get to 10-inches they could attack or gulp the tiny tank buddies.

Beware of aggressive fish such as Oscars completely. Also, don’t include too big fish like catfish.

Some that are compatible cichlid species include:

Star Sapphire Cichlid Diet & Food Habit

In their natural habitat, star sapphire African cichlids are typical carnivores. Their diets, therefore, need to include foods that have a high protein level.

In an indoor aquarium, they will take commercially-prepared cichlid pellets together with plankton made of flakes and living (or frozen) brine shrimp or krill. The food choices will help the fish to show its bright metallic blue colors.

In case you are thinking about how to retain their vibrant blue appearance, you can easily feed them with commercially-prepared cichlid pellets. Additionally, you can feed them plankton-based flake.

The most effective combination of food for this kind of cichlid is flake as well as a pellet. But, prior to feeding them with flakes, it is essential to soak them in a suitable manner. Since they’re about 3 inches in height, it’s best not to feed them with flake food.

Feed them regularly. You could provide them with several smaller meals each day. They’ll take a bite of the food in a matter of minutes.

Also, providing food on small plates is definitely an ideal alternative to feeding them one huge meal, since it can create an unending mess. Serve them close to the ground since they will tend to look for food, hovering over the sand.

Some Common Diseases of Star Sapphire Cichlids

The Star Sapphire Cichlids can be described as hardy fish, however, they are vulnerable to various illnesses. Malawi Bloat is an illness that manifests as abdomen swelling and lethargy as well as discolored feces. If it is treated early, Malawi Bloat can be treated before it causes harm to the kidneys or liver.

For treatment of Malawi Bloat, A cichlid could be treated with metronidazole in addition to other therapies. African Cichlids can be able to succumb to tuberculosis and display symptoms, such as frayed fins, as well as a sunken stomach.

In addition, tuberculosis can be transmitted to humans through cuts to the skin. In these cases, fish should undergo treatment with Melafix and keep in quarantine.

Cotton Wool Disease is a fungal condition caused due to poor hygiene in tank water. Cichlids need antifungal medicine. It is believed that the Hexamita parasite brings about Hole in the Head Disease.

Cichlids that suffer from this condition typically have depression in the head. They may also experience a decrease in appetite and lethargy. To cure Hole in Head disease Head condition, cichlids generally have to take an antibiotic.

Maintaining Star Sapphire Cichlids healthy requires vigilance as well as a good filtering system, as well as regular water changes.

Most of the illnesses that plague Star African Cichlids are preventable by regular tank maintenance or treatment with prompt interventions.

Star Sapphire Cichlid Care

Star Sapphire Cichlids taken care of properly will become bigger and more vibrant as they grow older. Because they are calmer than other African cichlids they are simple to manage in this regard.

Here are some specifics tips on how to take good care of the Star Sapphire Cichlids

Are you thinking about expanding to expand your aquarium family? Then blue star sapphire cichlids are the ideal choice!

However, it would be beneficial by being a bit more cautious when caring for the fish. Do you plan to keep just a few 5-7 star sapphire cichlid juveniles? If so, then opt for tanks of 75-125 gallons.

Since they get larger and large, the 6 ft. tank is surely the best choice for keeping them. In a larger tank, you can house them alongside other calm fish as well as soft Malawi Haps.

Be sure that you’re not including anything else in your tank material other than sand with a few stones.

Additionally, they are more sensitive to gas turbidity during water change in winter. Sometimes, the aquarium is overflowing with tiny microbubbles.

These tiny bubbles can get into the fish’s body and cause harm to the internal organs of your fish. If you observe the bubbles spiraling or whacking out during water change it is important to do the right thing.

Opt for a larger shallow aquarium instead of deeper tanks to avoid the development of turbidity. For better care, be sure that you don’t overfeed the cichlids with sapphire. Also, make sure you are ensuring regular changing of water to ensure they are healthy.


Are you aware that the breeding procedure of this species of star sapphire African cichlids is very interesting? But it is important to be sure to take care of them as they choose to breed.

Cichlids with blue star sapphire tend to be sexually dimorphic, which means that female and male co-habitants have distinct colors when they grow.

Males will be able to develop males will develop glittering blue with metallic blue and white spots, whereas females will be in a grey-blue color that has a black vertical bar along with their bodies.

Do you know some interesting facts about these Cichlids? As with other Malawi Cichlids, the star sapphire ones are also mother mouthbrooders.

When spawning females tend during spawning, and females will circle around. Then, they’ll grab the eggs and put the eggs in their mouths to ensure greater protection.

Most often, females keep eggs, as well as cichlid fry inside their mouths for a period of two weeks or more.

For proper care of them during breeding, put them in an individual tank so that they feel secure and at ease.

It’s a good idea to have several females in a male sapphire star cichlid. It is also advisable to keep males that are aggressive apart in the breeding season to avoid fights.

The majority of Lake Malawi Haplochromis species will hybridize with similar species. If you are looking to prevent hybridization, then the Star Sapphire cichlid is not recommended to be kept in the same tank as Placidochromis Electra.


Did you see your blue star sapphire cichlids spawn already? This is the right time to take proper attention to the fry. Are you thinking of ways to provide the proper care for tiny babies?

It’s true that mouthbrooding females typically tend to their fry for the first couple of days that they are in their mouths prior to spawning.

In the next 5-7 days, as they develop, they can easily survive in eggs and the yolk sac. It is therefore recommended to not feed them at this period of time.

As soon as the fry begins to mature the time comes to remove to move the cichlid fry from their parents to the nursery breeding tank.

As fry requires much more room and space. Putting them in a different tank is a great option to help them grow and develop.

They can be kept in a smaller aquarium that has a capacity of 5-10 gallons. Be sure that the decor is not overly extravagant so that you are able to quickly alter the water in the tank water.

Also, outfit also the nursery tank with an aquarium heater as well as a sponge filter.

Filtration is essential to ensure proper circulation of water within the tank. However, since the fry isn’t big enough Make sure that the filtration system is not too strong.

After a week, you may decide to change your aquarium water. Just change 10-20% of water and add freshly dechlorinated water.

To increase the growth rate of your fry for better growth, feed them fresh-hatched brine shrimps. They’re abundant in protein.

When the fry becomes mature, you are able to move them back to their original tank to allow them to develop freely alongside adult Cichlids.

Where can I Find Star Sapphire Cichlid for Sale?

Star Sapphire Cichlid’s price range starts at $12.99 – $65.00.

Males with vibrant colors are highly sought-after and are typically the ones that are most costly. When looking for the Star African Cichlid, seek out reliable tropical fish, and stores and breeders.

Star Sapphire Cichlids can be described as distinctive Freshwater fish, which require tailored care to maintain their health and well-being.

If given tailored care Star Sapphire Cichlids are beautiful fish that aquarium lovers will appreciate and cherish.


How Big Do Star Sapphire Cichlids Get?

It can take 2 to 3 years for Star Sapphire Cichlid to turn into an adult, with its stunning appearance. A male of full size is approximately 8 – 10 inches, typically 7 inches on average. Females however tend to be shorter than males. Female Star Sapphire Cichlids typically range around 5 – 6 inches when fully developed. The fish color changed to a deep blue around 3 inches. Once they reach 4 to 5 inches in size, they begin to show their spots.

How Fast Do Star Sapphire Cichlids Grow?

It takes approximately 8 months to reach this size since this species doesn’t expand at a rapid rate. This Star Sapphire Cichlid will excavate a tiny pit where they can produce.

Final Thoughts

Although most people have traditional cichlids in their tank You can be a little off-beat by adding them to your aquarium. Their vivid blue color will add to the aura in the tank.

Additionally, you are going to be in love with their cute floating around in the tank. What do you think about it? You can purchase these stunning star sapphire African cichlids from the store you love!


Dibyajyoti Bordoloi is the creator and author of, a third-generation experienced fish keeper and owner of a successful pet breeding farm. He is also a member of the Center for Wildlife Rehabilitation And Conservation (Assam), the Marine Aquarium Societies of North East India, and the Kaziranga Nature Conservancy of Assam.