Sunflower Cichlid - Neolamprologus helianthus

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SKU: 213502
Manufacturer: That Fish Place
MPN: F90 0022 0737

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The Sunflower Cichlid (Neolamprologus helianthus) is a brilliant orange-gold fish with elongated finnage tipped in white. A dark brown streak extends horizontally back from each eye, joining with a vertical streak at the edge of the gill covers. It can be quite aggressive toward its tankmates, especially if its spawning time!

Cichlids from Lake Tanganyika can be divided into several main varieties. Some of the most popular are the shell-dwellers and torpedo-like bottom-dwellers from the genera Lamprologus, Neolamprologus, Altolamprologus and Julidochromis. These fish are very similar and the sceintific classification of some, especially the Neo/Alto/Lamprologus cichlids, have been reclassified often in recent years. Cichlids from the Cyprichromis and Paracyprichromis genera are open-water sardine-like fish usually found in schools in their native lake. Tropheus cichlids and the “Frontosa's” from genus Cyphotilapia are popular large cichlids that seem beastly in comparison to the tiny “Lamps” and “Julies”. Other types of Tanganyikan cichlids include goby-like bottom-dwellers and fish known to sift through mouthfuls of substrate. Many regional variants exist in these groups.

The water chemistry in the African rift lakes is notoriously unique. Lake Tanganyika is particularly hard with a very high pH, although many fish that have been captive-bred may be acclimated to more moderate conditions similar to those in Lake Victoria or Lake Malawi. As many Tanganyikan cichlids are sensitive to water quality and changes in water quality, make sure conditions are stable.

Decor for a Tanganyikan aquarium should provide rockwork for the cichlids to hide in and around and can be created using tufa rock or lava rock. As most species sift through the substrate, open areas should also be provided. Tanks housing open-water or larger species should be more sparsely decorated. The substrate for these aquariums should be fine and smooth-edged; whitish coral sand or black buffered substrate is popular. Wood tends to lower pH and is not usually recommended for African cichlid aquariums.

Visit That Fish Blog for more information from our marine biologists and aquarium staff on African cichlids and many other topics!


F90 0022 0737
That Fish Place
Common NameSunflower Cichlid
Scientific NameNeolamprologus helianthus
OriginLake Tanganyika (Africa)
Max Size (in inches)3.5
Community SafeYes, with extreme caution (African cichlids only)
pH Range8.2-9.2
Min Tank Size (in gallons)30
Temperature Range76-80
Internal Id

State Restrictions
Armed Forces Americas
Armed Forces Europe
Armed Forces Pacific
Puerto Rico


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Sunflower Cichlid


I recently purchased a sunflower cichlid, among several other species of cichlid's, an electric blue jack dempsy, dublosi's, and 2 plecos. These fish are a wonderful addition to any tank as long as they can have their own space! I built mine a rock cave & it has taken it over, for a while it would chase all the other fish away but lately it has been more tolerant to letting other fish around it. I've found that it prefers shrimp pellets (crushed up) over any other kind of food. Great for beginners & experts!