Zebra Tilapia (Tilapia buttikoferi)
The Zebra Tilapia (Tilapia buttikoferi) is a West African cichlid (family Cichlidae) that inhabits freshwater rivers and streams.
The stripes on zebra tilapias are more defined when they are young and tend to fade somewhat as the fish matures.
This cichlid grows rather large - up to 10-16 inches (25-40 cm) in length - so you need to house it in a spacious aquarium with lots of swimming room.
Despite their large size, many aquarists like to keep these fish because they are so intelligent and have interesting behavior.
You should provide lots of rockwork in their tank for hiding places and caves.
They often dig in the aquarium gravel by putting it into their mouths and spitting it out. Using this action they often form "hills" of aquarium gravel in their tank.
Water temperature should be between 74-78 °F (24-26 °C) with a slightly alkaline pH.
They are omnivores, so provide them with both meaty and plant-based foods.
The zebra tilapia is known for its aggressive behavior and so it is best housed singly or as a male-female pair. As juveniles they aren't as aggressive, but as they mature their aggressive behavior increases.
Unfortunately, males and females have identical coloration and there is no definite way to sex zebra tilapias, unless you see them spawning.
Zebra tilapias are substrate spawners. A slight increase in water temperature sometimes induces spawning. The pair digs a pit in the substate and lays their eggs there. Both parents look after the fry.
However, spawning sometimes brings out the aggression in these fish and so you may need to remove the male and let the female raise the fry alone.
You can usually obtain Tilapia buttikoferi for about $6-7 each.