Yellow Tail Acei Cichlid 101: Care, Size, Tank Mates, Breeding


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The Acei Cichlid (Pseudotropheus Acei) is a small, herbivorous fish species with vivid yellow fins with a blue body. It’s also known as the yellow tail acei. 

While smaller fish are common in the fish-keeping community, but don’t let the size fool you. As a member of Mbuna cichlids, this fish species can be quite aggressive and territorial when fully grown, whether with their own species or other tank mates. However, they are generally docile as young fish and will not disrupt your tank. 

If you are thinking about bringing Acei Cichlid to your home, there are a few things to know about them first. So, sit back and enjoy our guide. 

Species Profile

Yellow Tail Acei Cichlid Care
Photo: Rick Nettles

The origin of Acei Cichlid is from the Northwestern coast of Lake Malawi in Zambia, Africa. 

Although this species has been known for many years, scientists or collectors have not formally described it. 

The Pseudotropheus sp. “acei” comes in two different varieties: yellow-tailed “acei” (Msuli) and white-tailed “acei” (Ngara); the former is the most common type. 

They are relatively innocuous, amicable, and good-natured when young. However, they tend to get into mock fights every once in a while – but this is nothing to worry about. 

Although small in size, these fish can get territorial and bite their tank mates if they are provoked; placing them with compatible fish species is essential. 

Origin:Africa – Lake Malawi
Scientific Name:Pseudotropheus sp. “acei”
Max Size:6″
Minimum Tank Size:55 gallons
Temperature:76-82° F
Diseases:Malawi bloat
Care level:Easy

Average Acei Cichlid Size

The average size of a full-grown Acei Cichlid is around 4 to 7 inches. As we mentioned above, the male species are generally larger and more dominant than the females. Adult male Acei Cichlid can grow up to 7 inches long, while females are around 4 inches. However, their average size is approximately 4.5 inches. 


The average lifespan of an Acei Cichlid is around 8 years. However, many tank owners observe that these fishes can live for a few more years if they are taken care of and maintained properly. Since this species is herbivorous, you must keep them on a healthy diet to thrive in the tank. 

Anatomy & Popular Colors

The Acei Cichlid is by far one of the gorgeous cichlid species you can introduce to your tank. Its natural blue shade and vivid yellow fins form a stunning contrast against each other. Since you can generally see them swimming around plants and on submerged rocks in the tank, their gorgeous color looks even more vivid and beautiful. 

Furthermore, upon looking closely, you will also find hues of purple on their bodies. This is more prominent when light directly falls on the surface of their bodies at certain angles. They also have black eyes and soft white lines on their fins.

Male vs. Female Acei Cichlid: How To Sex?

If you are wondering about the sex of the male and female Acei Cichlid, don’t worry. It can be quite interesting to try and tell them apart, especially since both genders look so similar to each other. 

As mentioned early, the male Acei Cichlid is generally larger than the female. They are also more aggressive than their female counterparts. 

It may be surprising to know that both male and female members have dummy eggs on their ventral fins. What’s more surprising is that the dummy eggs on the male fins are larger than those on the female.

Acei Cichlid Care & Tank Setup

yong pseudotropheus acei
Photo: akwarium

It is best to try and recreate the natural habitat of Acei Cichlid for them to thrive without any challenges. Fill the tank with submerged rocks piled high up (almost to the surface of the water). These fish species generally like to live on the upper parts of the aquarium but will use the lower, cave-like parts of the rocks to hide.

You can also place a light layer of sand at the bottom of the tank and add a few pieces of Bogwood, as this will replicate their natural habitat. 

Water Conditions

When introducing this fish species to your tank, you should try and recreate the environment of their natural habitat as much as possible for them to be comfortable. 

If you want to keep several males, try to create open spaces and territorial borders with decorations.

Though it is often recommended that you use a substrate of Aragonite or sand to help keep the water hard and alkaline, Cynotilapia afra feels safer and shows better over dark-colored bottoms.

  • pH level: 7.7–8.6
  • Temperature: 73.0 to 82.0° F (22.8 to 27.8° C)
  • Water hardness: 6 – 10 dGH
  • Ammonia: 0ppm
  • Nitrite: 0ppm
  • Nitrate: <10ppm

Tank Size

Although small, this fish species needs a lot of room in a tank. They do best in a tank size of 75 gallons or more; however, you can keep them in smaller tanks as long as there are moderate amounts of water flow and vegetation. Plus, provide them with enough hiding spots, rocks, and substrate to ensure a long and healthy life.


One of the most common diseases that this species suffers is the Malawi Bloat, where the fish experience a lack of appetite. However, the causes for this disease remain somewhat vague and unknown. 

Diet & Food

Since they are herbivores, the best diet for Acei Cichlid is algae wafers, fish flakes, and brine shrimp. They can also be seen grazing on plants and other vegetation if it is present in the tank. 

Acei Cichlid Tank Mates

In terms of compatibility, the best tank mates for Acei Cichlid include Electric Yellow Cichlid and other species of Cichlids. However, they tend to get bullied when placed with larger species of Cichlids. 


This fish species is an ovophile, which means that they are mouth breeders. It is best to keep one male member with three females. The female will spawn on flat surfaces like rocks. Moreover, the females will incubate and hatch eggs in her buccal pouch, carrying them for about 25 days. 

Final Thoughts

If you plan on breeding Acei Cichlid, ensure that you feed them well and keep them in a proper environment. This fish species have long intestines and do not eat much, but you need to keep a keen eye on their appetites to ensure they do not have Malawi Bloat. 

Best of luck! 

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Jeff Colt

Jeff Colt

Hello, I'm Jeff- an aquarium enthusiast with over ten years of experience caring for a wide array of tropical fish, including koi, goldfish bettas, cichlids and more! For me: Aquariums are like jello - there's always room for more!

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