Max Size: 13cm

Golden Mbuna Cichlid (Melanochromis auratus)

Golden Mbuna Cichlids , Melanochromis auratus, are considered relatively difficult to maintain and are not recommended for beginners. There is an aggressive and territorial nature to these fish, especially the males. In many cases, amateur aquarists purchase these fish only to find that they kill off the fish they already have in their aquarium.

In the aquarium, Golden Mbunas can reach up to about 11 cm in length, and they may grow even larger. Therefore, for one male and several females or a group of just females, a minimum aquarium size of 225 litres would be ideal.

The males are utterly intolerant of other males of their species or fish that share their appearance. Therefore, keeping this fish successfully requires many hiding places. To distract the male, some fishkeepers suggest adding fast-moving dither fish like Rainbowfish to the aquarium. By doing this, the males will be less prone to focusing their aggression on only one or two other fish.

It would be best to keep a Golden Mbuna Cichlid in a species-specific aquarium as they are not considered community fish. A Golden Mbuna should not be kept with any other fish besides Cichlids, and you should be prepared to provide a correctly set up aquarium with appropriate tankmates and change the water frequently. If the tank is not maintained correctly, these fish may get Malawi bloat and the other diseases that affect freshwater fish.

Golden Mbuna Cichlids have elongated bodies, rounded snouts, and narrow mouths. Their teeth are incisor-like and closely spaced, which makes them excellent at scraping algae from rocks.

Males of these fish have a different appearance than females regarding colour. A male's back is golden to light yellow, and the rest of his body is dark. Furthermore, they have a yellow dorsal fin that is slightly transparent, with black specks forming an almost horizontal line. In addition, a thin yellow line outlined in neon blue runs horizontally down the body's centre, beginning behind the gills and ending at the caudal fin. Furthermore, their caudal fin is black with a yellow fringe, and their pelvic and anal fins are dark with a neon blue edge.

The females, on the other hand, are golden in colour, with a black dorsal fin edged in gold. Their backs are black, and the rest of their bodies are golden. The caudal fin is trimmed with a whiteish-blue line running horizontally through the middle of the body. They have a white tail fin with black spots on the upper part and a golden tail fin on the bottom. The rest of the fins are also golden.


Golden Mbuna
Golden Mbuna
Golden Mbuna
Quick Facts
Scientific NameMelanochromis auratus
Year Described1897
Other NamesAuratus Cichlid, Malawi Golden Cichlid, Golden Cichlid
Aquarium LevelAll Levels
DifficultyIntermediate - Advanced
Best kept asPairs
Lifespan3 - 5 years
Water Parameters
Water TypeFreshwater
PH7.5 - 8.5
GH10 - 25
73 - 82℉
22.8 - 27.8℃

Natural Habitat

Lake Malawi


In the home aquarium, the Golden Mbuna Cichlid will readily accept most good quality dried foods such as granules, flakes and sinking pellets. These modern food products have been developed to provide all adequate nutrition to maintain your fish's health and dietary requirements.

Providing additional foodstuffs such as live, frozen, and freeze-dried meals such as bloodworm, daphnia, and tubifex once or twice a week will provide additional benefits to your fish's health and well-being but is not a must for this fish.

It should be noted that bloodworms should only be given as an occasional treat and should not be used as the staple diet as they are difficult for fish to digest and can potentially cause blockages.

This fish is an omnivore in the wild, meaning it will consume some vegetable matter. Although most modern fish foods take this into account and include them in their products, you can still supplement your fish's diet with blanched vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, and zucchini. Ensure you do not overfeed your fish and remove any leftovers the following day.

Sexual Dimorphism

In Golden Mbuna Cichlids, males and females are easy to distinguish. First of all, males and females are completely different colours, with males sporting neon blue and gold stripes on a brownish-black body, while females have neon blue and black stripes on a golden background. In addition, males are usually larger than females.

Other Cichlids of interest

African Butterfly Cichlid(Anomalochromis thomasi)
Banded Apistogramma(Apistogramma bitaeniata)
Blue Panda Apistogramma(Apistogramma panduro, Apistogramma pandurini)
Bolivian Ram Cichlid(Mikrogeophagus altispinosus)
Checkerboard Cichlid(Dicrossus filamentosus)
Cockatoo Dwarf Cichlid(Apistogramma cacatuoides)
View all Cichlids
Date Added: 02/07/2021 14:04:08 - Updated: 24/08/2022 18:18:40