Chindongo socolofi was described in 1974 by D.S. Johnson and the name refers to Ross Socolof.
Due to its friendly nature, they have been very popular with the hobbyists. But because everyone already had them, their popularity declined sharply since then. In the trade they are also called Pseudotropheus pindani.
Synonym: Pseudotropheus socolofi
The shape of the Chindongo socolofi is typical of the Chindongo varieties: elongated and only moderately compressed laterally. Remarkably, males and females are equally coloured. They have a bright light blue colour with 9 to 10 vertical black bands on them. Some specimens also show some horizontal stripes. The back, chest and anal fins are also provided with such a black band, as well as the eye. The presence of the black band on the dorsal fin depends on the location. The caudal fin diverges like a fan, alternately blue, black striped. In dominant animals, the bands and stripes on the flanks disappear completely (see below for a photo).
The dominant males are territorial. Fortunately, the territory is no bigger than about 20 centimetres. In the wild, it is observed that about fifteen socolofis have conquered a territory on a single square meter.
This species has several populations along the central part of the east coast of Lake Malawi, between Tumbi Point and Cobue. This spread also resulted in some colour variations. The populations caught at Tumbi and Mara Point do have the clear black band in the dorsal fin, while the populations at Cobue and Mbweca do not.
Like most Mbuna they live in the transition zones from rock to sand; although they are most common in the relatively shallow areas of 2 to 10 meters.
Like most Mbuna’s, Chindongo socolofi lives off the combing out of the Aufwuchs. With their little teeth, they comb the algae strands in search of small food particles and animals. Naturally, they also ingest a large proportion of algae. Spirulina flakes should not be missing as food in the aquarium.
For variety, you can feed them with live or frozen brine shrimp, Daphnia, Mysis and Krill; supplemented with flakes and cichlid sticks. Blanched vegetables such as peas, lettuce and spinach are also popular.
Due to the maximum length of twelve centimetres for the male, the minimum size for the aquarium is about 120 centimetres. They are real Mbuna so the layout must consist of many rocks with more than enough hiding places. Sand can be used on the bottom. Hardy plants such as Vallisneria are usually left alone.
Spawning Tank and Conditioning
Like most Mbuna, Chindongo socolofi is a fertile species that does not need to be kept in a special breeding tank. The ideal breeding group consists of one male with four females. If a female has a mouth full of eggs, he can turn his attention to the other three females.
The male entices the female by showing his colours at their brightest and spreading his fins wide. He shows his flank to the female and with vibrating movements he leads her to the spawning spot. This is usually just on the sand in the aquarium. The eggs are fertilized by the egg spot method, after which the female takes the eggs in her mouth to hatch (maternal mouth brooder). The nests of Chindongo socolofi are of normal size with about 20 to 60 eggs.
Rearing the Fry
The hatched fry are released after about three weeks and are no longer allowed back in the mouth. Not even when danger threatens. They will have to take care of themselves from then on. If you want to keep whole nests, it is better to catch the female after brooding for 2 weeks and set her aside. Do not catch her sooner, you run the risk that she will release the eggs too soon and not pick them up anymore.
After three weeks of incubation, she releases the fry, in the first few hours after release, she does not eat yet. The next day she will start eating, including her fry. So don’t forget to put her back in the main tank. The fry can be fed directly with finely crushed flakes and brine shrimp.
Chindongo socolofi is similar in behaviour to Labidochromis caeruleus and is therefore suitable for beginners. Make sure you have a sufficiently large aquarium with the correct layout.
They can be combined well with the somewhat weaker Utaka varieties and Aulonocara’s.
John de Lange