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Xystichromis phytophagus

The Christmas Fulu

Below: A male Xmas Fulu in non-breeding dress, taken by Sam Borstein

Meaning of Name:

Genus- Xystis= long dress until feet (Greek), Chromis= perch
Species- Phyto= plant (Greek), Phagus= eater

Xystichochromis phytophagus means a long dressed (referring to long pelvic fins) perch like fish, that eats plants.


The Xmas Fulu is possibly the most popular Victorian. It is readily available, easy to keep, and has been in the hobby for some time. This fish is easy to care for, breed, and has some nice color.


The Xmas Fulu is found in Lake Victoria, the Victoria Nile, and Lake Kanyaboli. This fish is found around muddy bottoms with a large amount of plant life.

Size-Maturity-Sexual Dimorphism:

Size: Males-4 inches, Females-2.5inches
Maturity: 1.5 inches
Sexual Dimorphism: Males are larger and have color compared to the brown/silver females.

Fish Tank/ Care:

Xmas Fulus are easy to care for. This fish likes hard water, and is non-aggressive, and will thrive in a tank with some mild mannered Malawians. Make sure rocks are put in, as this fish like to make territories around them, and will feel more comfortable.

*Note*- Never mix Victorians to prevent hybridization.


In the wild the Xmas Fulu is a algae eater, but will do fine on a mixed diet as long a some fiber is given to the fish.


Xmas Fulus are easy to breed. The males have an intense red color during spawning, and this is where the fish gets it's nickname the Xmas Fulu because the green and red colors of the fish. Breeding is typical for Victorian Haplochromis types.

Females are relatively good holders and hold for 18-20 days, fry are pretty small, and brood is about 20-35 of them. The fry grow quickly on baby brine shrimp, and are easily transitioned to flake foods.

Below: A full color male Xmas Fulu. Photo by Dave Hansen.


The Xmas Fulu is a good beginner Victorian cichlid. It is easy to keep, breed, and peaceful;. It also is somewhat colrful. You may be able to find this fish at your local pet store.