fish Demanding level

Pseudetroplus maculatus (Bloch 1795)

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Distribution: India and Sri Lanka.

Habitat: freshwater, brackish.

Submitted by
Benedetta Spelta
11.0518188, 76.0380783
Geographical region
Southern Asia
Drainage Basin
Kadalundi River
River catchment
Water body type
Water body name
Kadalundi Puzha
Water body part
Water body course
Middle course
Water body: tributary of
Tributary name
Type locality
Coromandel, India.
Conservation status/IUCN Red List
Not Evaluated (NE)


Water Chemistry

Water information

Water type
Fresh water
Water color
Clear water
Water transparency
Concentration of sediments
Water temperature
20-25 °C
Water flow/curent

Chemical parameters

160-340 mg/l
Dissolved Oxygen


Standard length
8.0 cm
Water volume (min. aquarium)
120 l
Social behaviour
Group fish
Behaviour description

The Orange chromide is a cichlid with a calm temperament living in couples or in groups that naturally resides in vegetation.

In the captivity, if kept in groups of 5 or more (8-10 fish for 300L), Pseudetroplus maculatus will show a social order, which is maintained when feeding and even schooling.

In the aquarium territorial or otherwise aggressive tank mates should be avoided, unless the aquarium is very large. Pseudetroplus maculatus is loosely gregarious and tends to form groups unless spawning, with juveniles in particular displaying a strong social response when threatened.

A group of at least 8 individuals should therefore be the minimum purchase and these will form a noticeable dominance hierarchy once sexual maturity is reached. When maintained in smaller numbers weaker specimens can become the target of excessive abuse by dominant individuals or the group may fail to settle and behave nervously.

Aggression grade
Day active
Sexual dimorphism

Pseudetroplus maculatus has an oval shaped and highly compressed body. The body color can vary, but should generally be orange in color, this can range from quite pale orange to red. Wild fish are rather olive-green in color with 1-3 dark blotches just above midbody. When frightened or stressed short bars may appear in the upper portion of the body with a solid dark posteroventral patch. The majority of body scales having an orange-red centre, and these numerous horizontal lines of deep golden spots giving the spotted pattern of the fish. The belly is light orange while the fins are transparent with an orange tint.

Males sometimes have greyish pelvic and black anal fins. This species can be maintained in fresh or brackish water as long as acidic conditions are avoided, but if you add a tablespoon of salt to every 10 litres of their water, they will be more colorful and more resistant against fungal infections. Wild caught fish are rarely-seen in the aquarium hobby although selectively-bred ornamental strains are widely-available, which have a solid yellow-orange colour pattern with no dark elements.

It is hard to distinguish the sexes. Males may have more vivid colorations.

It appears that coloration may be attributable to phenotypic differences between wild populations. In aquarium strains both males and females may lack dark markings on the body and maintain a permanent bright orange-red colour pattern.

Nutrition in Nature

Pseudetroplus maculatus is a detritivorous and omnivorous species – feeds on fish fry, zooplankton and algae.


Breeding tank set-up

Pseudetroplus maculatus is a biparental substrate spawner which forms temporary pair bonds. They spawn twice a year, during the drier pre-monsoonal and monsoonal seasons, in which the salinity is slightly higher. During these times, the turbidity of the water is lower, and the parents can more easily construct their nests and maintain visual contact with their fry after they hatch.

In Nature, Orange Chromide spawn in shallow water, on a soft depression excavated by both parents. The pairs spawn in isolation, they tend to construct nests in areas of dense (or less dense) aquatic vegetation or root systems, which provide a lot of camouflage.

In aquarium, it is best to purchase a group of fish and allow them to select their own partners. Orange Chromide are sexually mature at about 8 months of age, when they are almost reach their full length. Higher temperatures up to 30°C will induce a couple to breed. It is important to have a good couple, random breeding attempts often result in failures.

Nutrition parents

In aquarium they feed on live and frozen foods, but particularly bloodworm is their favorite food. As far as dry food is concerned, flake food in combination with spirulina wafers is preferred, but all other suitable food is also accepted.

Mating type
Spawning behaviour

The pair will select a smooth surface as spawning site, usually a flat rock, a clay pot, or even the aquarium glass, where the female deposits her 2-3mm long greyish eggs. It is best to cover at least three sides of the tank since any disturbance can result in the parents eating eggs or fry.

The fish will deposit the 200-300 eggs and take turns in caring for the eggs and fry.

The eggs will hatch after 2 days (according to some sources – 5 days), during which time the parents tend, and if necessary fan them. One parent always remains with the eggs while the other forages. The fish shows a high degree of parental care: fry are guarded by parents and reacts to the black pelvic fin signals from the parents, which take care of the fry for a very long time, until they almost reach sexual maturity.

Some breeders prefer to remove the eggs prior to hatching and place them in a separate tank, where they hatch the eggs artificially by placing an air-stone near the eggs that can gently move the water and remove the white eggs by hand. Free-swimming fry are readily accept Artemia nauplii and their growth rate is fast.

Breeding habits
Hatching period
2 days at a temperature of 27°C
Number of eggs in average
Parental care
Fry number
Nutrition fry

The larvae become free-swimming in another 2-3 days. Prior to hatching the adults excavate a number of nursery pits in the substrate surrounding the spawning site and the fry are moved between these until their yolk sacs are absorbed. In the first days young orange chromides feed on mucous coating of their parents body (likewise Discus fish) – this form of feeding is called “contacting” by biologists.

Notes on reproduction


  • Front. Mar. Sci., Sec. Marine Biology Volume 9 - 2022 - Orange Chromide, Pseudetroplus maculatus (Bloch., 1795): A Potential Euryhaline Fish Model to Evaluate Climate Change Adaptations in Fishes