Lake Malawi Mbuna Cichlids – Red Zebra, Tangerine & Blue Zebra, Orange Blotch Zebra Guide

Scientific name(s): 

Metriaclima (also known as Maylandia) estherae

Max size: 

15 cm


Aggressive and territorial fish

Suggested for: 

Tanks with other Lake Malawi mbuna, or possibly other robust or aggressive fish of similar size and larger

Water quality: 

pH neutral to alkaline, slightly to quite hard water


24 to 28°C




The zebra species M. estherae occurs in a number of colour morphs and is known by a number of common names. The population that originates from Minos reef has females that vary in colour from tangerine to red, and males that can also be bright orange-red or solid blue. Fish from this location are usually termed red zebras. Fish from Metangula have solid blue males and tangerine females (below left), and this variety is known as Tangerine and blue. Females of M. estherae may even show a marbled colour and are known as Orange blotch (often shortened to OB) zebras.

These zebras are of similar temperament to the lombardoi and other zebra varieties. Aggressions between males will be lessened if they are kept in a large tank with plenty of hideaways.

Suggested foods: 

A good quality tropical flake or granules, supplemented with frozen shrimp foods, daphnia, vegetable-based foods.


Mature fish usually show very different colorations. Females often have egg spots but these are less numerous and more orange than those of males.

Expect to pay: 

around $10.00 to $15.00


fairly good, OB less readily available.

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