fish medium level

Steatocranus glaber

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False Mpozo Lionhead Cichlid

Steatocranus glaber is relatively easy fish to keep. Coming from the streams with fast current, it needs very clean and oxygen-rich water.

Distribution: known only from the lower Congo River near Inga Dam, in Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Submitted by
Heiko Bleher
-5.5461011, 13.5506172
Geographical region
Cenral Africa
Drainage Basin
River catchment
Water body type
Water body name
Water body part
Water body course
Lower course
Water body: tributary of
Tributary name
Type locality
Lower Congo River, near Inga, Democratic Republic of Congo, 5°31.5'S, 13°37.5'E
Conservation status/IUCN Red List
Vulnerable (VU)

Water Chemistry

Water information

Water type
Fresh water
Water color
Clear water
Water transparency
Concentration of sediments
Water temperature
23-27 °C
Water flow/curent

Chemical parameters

3-20 mg/l
Dissolved Oxygen


Standard length
6 cm
Water volume (min. aquarium)
180 l
Social behaviour
Lives in pair
Behaviour description

In the aquarium (min size 100x50cm basis) Steatocranus glaber need a lot of hiding places in the form of caves and rock crevices where they can hide and eventually reproduce.

Steatocranus glaber are sand diggers, so the rock should be positioned in a safe way to avoid any collapses. Plants can be used, but if placed on the driftwood or rocks like often the Anubias sp.

They can be kept together with other small peaceful fish that require similar water conditions. Like many other cichlids, they become particularly aggressive and territorial when the eggs are laid and fertilized.

Aggression grade
Day active
Sexual dimorphism

Steatocranus glaber has an elongated robust body, with the head appearing to be too large for the body.

The male develops a nuchal hump that grows with the passing of time. Its body is a blue/silver color, with white dots along the back, just below the dorsal fin, and faint vertical lines on the body. The head is bluish in color and the area behind the head may have a pink tinge. The male reaches a length of 6cm in length, while the female remains smaller, reaching just over 5cm.

Their life expectancy is between 5 and 8 years with due care and attention.

Nutrition in Nature

Steatocranus glaber is an omnivorous cichlid. In nature it feeds mainly on plants, algae, small crustaceans and plankton.


Breeding tank set-up

All Steatocranus species are secretive cave spawners and form monogamous pairs for breeding. Furthermore, to be able to reproduce, it needs a frequent water changes (30-50% weekly) and the right tank mates.

In a clean, well-maintained and well-oxygenated tank with a bottom suited to their digging attitude, this cichlid will feel well and eventually breed.

Provide them with a sandy substrate and many rocks and roots arranged to create caves and crevices.

Nutrition parents

In the aquarium they will readily accept any type of food: live, frozen anf dry food.

Mating type
Spawning behaviour

The eggs are always attached to the ceiling of the cave. Usually the males take care of the clutch alone, while the female takes over the defense.

As for other cichlids brood care is highly developed and both sexes are involved in raising the young.  The female then is more actively involved in fry raising, while this time the male is primarily concerned with territorial defence.

Breeding habits
Hatching period
Number of eggs in average
Parental care
Fry number
Nutrition fry

After about two weeks, the fry swim free and leave the breeding cave in search of food. The parent animals then share the subsequent rearing.

The fry take Artemia nauplii immediately, but finely ground dry food is also picked from the bottom. They are led by their parents, at least for the first two weeks. The females become sexually mature at 5 to 6 months.

Notes on reproduction

A really interesting fish species. It might lack in blaze of color, but it makes up for with its extraordinary behavior.