Paretroplus kieneri

Paretroplus kieneri is a rare species. It is best to keep this Madagascar cichlid in a species aquarium. Breeding them is very difficult.


Paretroplus kieneri

Paretroplus kieneri was first described in 1960 by Arnoult. The genus name consists of three parts. From ancient Greek comes Para, which means “on the side of”. In etymology, it is often used to indicate that genders are related. In this case therefore more in the sense of “Next to Etroplus”. Etroplus consists of a combination of two words: etron means belly and oplon means arms. A reference to the spines on the ventral side, the long anal fin with strong fin rays.

The species is named after A. Kiener, an Ichthyologist from France who researched fish species in Madagascar in the 1950s and 1960s. He is also the one who collected the type samples.

The genus Paretroplus includes some 13 described species, and possibly one undescribed species. These all occur in the North West of Madagascar except Paretroplus polyactis which inhabits the east coast.


With a total length of between 15 and 20 centimeters, Paretroplus kieneri has an average size within the Paretroplus genus. The color is somewhat difficult to describe. Both male and female are spotted orange / gray / brown / olive. There is no clear gender difference. It is only when you see them spawning that the difference can be seen.

According to the descriptions, the juveniles live in groups. Within the group they form a hierarchy, this is accompanied by some feuds until the ranking is determined.

As they reach adulthood, a male and female form a couple. The aggressiveness towards conspecifics increases sharply. It is best to move the suppressed specimens to another aquarium. Chances are they won’t survive otherwise. You can keep a group in a sufficiently large aquarium of a few thousand liters. A 150-centimeter aquarium will be large enough for one couple.

Paretroplus kieneri usually ignores peaceful or schooling fish. Other strong species are not tolerated. They can change their color if they show their aggressiveness. The color can then turn orange, sometimes with an almost black head!


Paretroplus kieneri can only be found in the northwest of Madagascar. The habitat of this species is under considerable pressure due to deforestation. Unfortunately, fish species are also released here that do not naturally occur here. The species is therefore on the IUCN list as vulnerable.

This species is found in both the rivers and in the shallow floodplains that characterize this region.


Paretroplus kieneri is a true carnivore. Like Geophagus, they occasionally dive their heads into the substrate in search of something edible.

You can feed them with shrimp, mussels, earthworms, live snails, and other live or frozen foods. Some can get used to flake food or granulate, but keep in mind that this can take a long time.

Paretroplus kieneri
Paretroplus kieneri

The Aquarium

The aquarium for Paretroplus kieneri should be quite large. For a couple, you need an aquarium from about 150 centimeters. Because the sex of the fish is difficult to determine, it is best to start with a group of juveniles. Once a pair is formed, remove the remaining fish.

The aquarium must contain (filter) sand on the bottom. Make sure the sand is rounded and not sharp. The fish sift through the substrate and flush it through their gills in search of something edible. You can decorate the aquarium with rocks or plants. Make sure that the plants are properly secured between some rocks so that they cannot be loosened.

Water parameters

Special attention is required for the water parameters and quality. Paretroplus kieneri is not very resistant to large fluctuations in water parameters and water quality. Because they are real carnivores, their food pollutes the water fairly quickly. Therefore, change the water very regularly and keep it fairly constant. Also, make sure that the temperature of the fresh water is approximately equal to that of the aquarium.

Breeding Paretroplus kieneri

Breeding Paretroplus kieneri is difficult. You have the best chance of successfully breeding them at a slightly higher temperature of about 28 degrees Celsius and a pH of 7.5.

The couple will clean a rock or slate. On top, the female will deposit the eggs after which the male fertilizes them. During this period, they are aggressive towards all other fish to protect their eggs and fry.

Once the eggs have hatched and the fry can swim freely, you can feed them with freshly hatched brine shrimp.

Paretroplus kieneri - Fry
Paretroplus kieneri – Fry


This species is a rarity in the aquarium hobby. Not only are they endangered in the wild, but they are also difficult to keep and breed in the hobby. Paretroplus kieneri is therefore also a fairly expensive fish to purchase. Therefore, if you want to keep them, we recommend keeping them in a special aquarium or matching the tank mates to Paretroplus kieneri.



John de Lange

Copyright images

Klaus Steinhaus –
Ben Lee –


Additional information





Social Behaviour

Breeding behaviour



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Length minimum in cm

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