Max Size: 7cm

Transvestite Dwarf Cichlid (Nanochromis transvestitus)

Transvestite Dwarf Cichlids are very demanding and challenging to keep and breed and require experience and patience. Therefore, these Cichlids are not recommended for the beginner aquarist.

This Cichlid is relatively peaceful with other species that can live in the same water parameters that they require. Ideal tankmates include smaller Tetras, some South American Tetras and other Dwarf Cichlids.

However, these fish can be pretty aggressive towards their own kind, and dominant males can be highly aggressive and may viciously attack non-receptive females and other males. Bonded pairs only seem to last temporarily, and it is not uncommon to have an ordinarily nice pair suddenly at war. So if you do plan on keeping more than one pair, then these fish will require a large tank with many hiding places.

The Transvestite Dwarf Cichlids body's primary colouring is greenish-grey with seven broken, dark, vertical stripes. They also have a stunning violet abdomen and unpaired fins that are pigmented black with an intense line.

Quick Facts
Scientific NameNanochromis transvestitus
Other NamesWest African Dwarf Cichlid
OriginsDemocratic Republic of the Congo
Aquarium LevelMiddle
DifficultyIntermediate - Advanced
Best kept asPairs
Lifespan3 - 5 years
Water Parameters
Water TypeFreshwater
PH4.0 - 7.0
GH8 - 15
75 - 80℉
23.9 - 26.7℃

Photos of the Transvestite Dwarf Cichlid

Transvestite Dwarf Cichlid
Transvestite Dwarf Cichlid
Transvestite Dwarf Cichlid

Natural Habitat

The Transvestite Dwarf Cichlid is native to Lake Mai-ndombe in the Democratic Republic of Congo in West Africa. They inhabit the fast-moving waters of a rainforest lake where the water is stained with tannins released from decaying natural matter. You can usually find these fish in the lake's rocky areas with a sandy substrate and fallen vegetation.

What to feed the Transvestite Dwarf Cichlid

You can feed these Cichlids a varied diet of live and frozen foods such as daphnia, white worms, bloodworm, cyclopentene and tubifex worms in the aquarium.

You can sometimes train these Cichlids to accept freeze-dried and flake food as some individuals are picky and will only take live food, although generally, they will eat all foods offered to them.

It would be better to feed your Cichlids 2 to 5 small amounts of food several times a day instead of giving them a large quantity once daily. This will ensure your water quality will remain higher over a long period.

How to sex the Transvestite Dwarf Cichlid

It is effortless to distinguish male from female Transvestite Dwarf Cichlids. Males are much less colourful and more slender than females and also possess longer caudal and anal fins that end in a point. In contrast, the females are overall more intensely coloured with more obvious patterning and a redder abdomen than that of the males.

How to breed the Transvestite Dwarf Cichlid

You can breed a single pair in a separate breeding tank or produce multiple pairs in a significantly larger tank; either way, they must contain very soft, acidic water and a slightly higher temperature than usual.

The tank will also need to have gentle filtration from an air-powered sponge filter. You should provide driftwood and rocks as the fish will typically dig their spawning site from under one of these, and it will also provide hiding places for the female if she is not ready to spawn.

Males can be very aggressive in their chases, although the females initiate pairing. A balance must be found whereby the female can come into condition whilst avoiding the male's constant attention. This is why you should pack as many hiding places as possible into the tank.

It would help if you conditioned the pair on a varied diet of live and frozen foods to encourage spawning. When ready, the couple will display more intense colouration, and the female will begin to show off to the male, contorting her body into an 's' shape and exposing her bright red belly. Lots of gill flaring and mouthing will follow. The coupe will then dig a cave underneath a piece of driftwood or rock where spawning occurs.

The male will guard the spawning site while the female tends to their eggs. Some role swapping may transpire here. The eggs will usually hatch between 2 to 3 days later, and the fry becomes free swimming around seven days after that.

The fry is pretty big, and you can feed them with brine shrimp nauplii and microworm from the moment they become free-swimming. You must keep them in very soft and acidic water in the early stages of development. Fluctuations in GH and pH will often result in significant losses.

As the fry grow, you can slowly acclimate them to more standard conditions. The parents usually continue to care for their brood for about a month, after which they may reproduce again. Predation of the young by the parents is very scarce.

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: 26/03/2021 - Updated: 07/12/2021 13:33:55