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The Cichlid Tank

Malawi Eyebiter

The Lake Malawi Eyebiter (Dimidiochromis compressips) obviously hails from Lake Malawi in Africa. It can grow to be a rather large cichlid, but is laterally flattened (hence the name). This body design is used in the way that it hunts: it stays positioned still in the water, pointing down. When you look at it straight-on, you can hardly see the fish which acts as a sense of camouflage. It's name leads you to believe that it is a specialized eater of eyes, but it is actually a misnomer. They actually eat a wide variety of food, and (as one book put it) eyes are not a staple of their diet but just a very tasty treat. When they are younger, they look like the image above, but the males can have beautiful mating colors.

I had known about Eyebiters since the start of my hobbying, but had never seen one until this summer. I immediately got it because I had always wanted one, if for no other reason than its look and name. He was my favorite fish of the aquarium, as he spent most of his time in open water and turned into the largest fish in the tank. "He" (as I don't know the sex) wasn't overly aggressive, but no one got in his way either. He seemed to be quite hardy, but he died as result of moving him from home to school. I didn't have him long, but I loved it while I had it. It got along with the rest of the fish in the tank, which is always a plus. And it looked exactly like the photos above.

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