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Metriaclima estherae

The Red Zebra
Maylandia estherae, Pseudotrpheus estherae

Photo of a male Red zebra (Red Morph) by Rick Borstein

Meaning of Name:

Genus- Metriaclima= Metri= average (Latin), clima= slope (Latin).
Species- estherae= Names after Esther Grant.


M. estherae is a mainstay in the cichlid hobby. Because of this fishes overall good looks, care requirements, and availability, this is often a beginning mbuna.

There are a few color morphs of this fish:

  • Blue- Blue Males and Orange Females (Male pictured below)
  • Orange- A pinkish orange looking fish, where males get a hint of light blue
  • OB- Blue males with Orange Blotched females
  • Red- Orange males with blue fins, and orange females (Pictured Above)


M. estherae is found in Lake Malawi around rocks. Many of the location varieties are from Minos Reef.

Size-Maturity-Sexual Dimorphism:

Size: Males-6 inches, Females-5 inches
Sexual Maturity: 2 inches
Sexual Dimorphism: Males are larger than females, and have either a different color, or depending on location points a much more intense color than females.


Since M. estherae is easy to care for, it is a popular fish. While these fish are aggressive, they will not harm each other to the point of death. A young trio could be put in a 40 breeder, but as they get to the large 4-6 inch stage you should move them to a 55-75 gallon tank, as aggression intensifies. This fish is good for a mbuna show tank.


This fish is an omnivore, but will bloat unless given a hefty amount of veggie items.


This fish was not very hard to spawn. The males display in typical mbuna fashion, and the fish spawn. The females are excellent holders, but because the male will harass them, I recommend moving holding females into a 5 or 10 gallon tank.

The fish held for about 25 days. Usually a Red Zebra spawn will contain 30-35 eggs, but my pair was pretty large, the female was nearing 6 inches, and I got over 60 out of her, so size is important when figuring out spawn numbers. Fry were good sized, and easy to raise This fish grows at a relatively good pace.


Red Zebras are very beautiful fish to keep. They are readily around, and in hot demand. You can usually find this fish in local pet shops. So if you are just getting into keeping cichlids, or have just never kept this species, I reccomend it.

Photo of A Male Red Zebra (Blue Form) taken by Sam Borstein