Teale Miller, 2002
Cichlid Room Companion
Tropheus basics

New Tropheus Care

By , 2001. image
Last updated on 01-Feb-2001

If you purchase your Tropheus from a local breeder, they will have less travel time and therefore should be easier to acclimate. The longer time they have in the bag (or other transport), the more pollutants will build up in the water, lowering pH, increasing ammonia, and making acclimation more tedious.

This picture shows some of the holding tanks used for wild caught fish before they are sorted, bagged, and shipped out to the United States or Europe.

Before the wild (and pond raised) fish are bagged, they must be sorted by species, sex, and size. The fish are generally given a mild tranquilizer to help them through their long journey.

Here bagged fish are moved to a truck to be taken to another holding station closer to the airport, where often they will again be sorted and then re-bagged before being loaded on an airplane.

Hundreds of bagged fish await transport to the airfield to be shipped to the United States and Europe. Many of these are special orders and will not be resold in the aquarium trade, rather they are kept for breeders and their offspring sold at a later date.

Getting your new Tropheus home can be one of the most exciting and at the same time, stressful parts of keeping them.

In most cases, you will have received your fish from a breeder out of your area and will need them to be shipped by airplane to you. Even if you get them locally, they will spend some time bagged and will require care to make them feel at home in their new tank. Transport can require the fish to be in a bag for quite a long time which is stressful to them for a number of reasons.

  • They are in unfamiliar surroundings which is always stressful to them
  • Ammonia will build up in the water (this is why fish are often not fed for at least 24 hours prior to being shipped)
  • pH will drop, sometimes considerably
  • Water temperature will drop (or increase)

There are a number of things to take note of when unpacking your new fish

  • Make sure to test the pH and temperature of the bag the fish are in and the tank you are planning on putting them in.
  • Test each bag, as they may not all be the same.
  • If there is much of a difference between the pH of the bag and the tank water (e.g. the bag is pH 7.4 and the tank is pH 8.0) it is a good idea to either lower the tank pH with a water change, or get a bucket of fresh water with which to acclimate them. The reason for this is that with an increase in pH, there is also an increase in the toxicity of ammonia and though the fish may seem fine swimming in the transport bag, bringing up their pH rapidly can cause ammonia shock and kill them.
  • If your pH is the same in the bag and tank, you can float the bags in the tank so that the water temperature will equalize. After they have become the same, open the bags and mix a little of the tank water in.
  • Never (especially into tanks that have resident fish) pour the transport water into your tank. Always net out your new fish once you have acclimated them to their new water parameters.
  • It is a very good idea to quarantine new fish to make sure that they are not carrying any disease that can be spread to your current fish.

If you are adding new fish to an existing colony there are a few tricks that can be helpful

  • Turn off the lights in the tank well before you add the new fish. Cover the tank with a blanket so that the fish will sleep.
  • The tanks decor can be radically changed, which will give the new fish an equal chance at establishing territories.
  • It is best not to feed your new fish the first day after you get them so that they have some time to get adjusted.
  • Some breeders will add a prophylactic such as Metronidazole or Clout upon acclimation to the new tank. While this can help prevent bloating due to stress, it can also attribute to further stress of the fish and is generally not necessary unless the fish come in looking really bad.


Miller, Teale. (Feb 01, 2001). "New Tropheus Care". Cichlid Room Companion. Retrieved on Dec 08, 2023, from: