Protomelas taeniolatus (often sold under various trade names: Haplochromis red empress, red empress or spindle hap) is a Haplochromine cichlid endemic to Lake Malawi in Eastern Africa. The fish is popular in the aquarium hobby due to the bright rainbow-like colors of adult males and its relatively peaceful temperament. Juvenile and female P. taeniolatus, like many Haplochromines, do not display bright coloration.
The red empress is endemic to Lake Malawi and occurs in sediment free, rocky habitats in relatively shallow waters. It mainly feeds on algae growing on the rock surfaces, but also on a variety of small invertebrates. Males can reach a size of up to 11.3 centimetres (4.4 in) TL.
Due to the attractive colors of the male, these fish are used in the freshwater home aquarium to add variety and color. When kept in captivity they usually grow to around 15 cm (6 inches) and should be kept in at least a 55 gallon tank. They prefer a pH level of 8.2 and a temperature of 26-28 °C (82.4 °F).
The Protomelas taeniolatus is generally a peaceful fish until breeding time. At this time the male will guard quite a large amount of territory and chase away any fish that enters his 'lair'. The males are mostly aggressive to each other unless in a large area of water. When the breeding time is over he will, again, allow any fish to enter his territory and will not guard it