Showing posts with label Malawi Cichlids. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Malawi Cichlids. Show all posts


ELECTRIC BLUE CICHLID - A Brief Introduction

Electric Blue Hap
Photo  by Marcel Sigg 
The Electric Blue cichlid [electric blue hap (Sciaenochromis fryeri)] is a popular fish among hobby aquarists because it is an overall easy breed to care for and an easy species to breed. People also find their vibrant colors pleasing to the eye. In addition, they are not known to be picky eaters. However, they do ask for good water conditions, with suitable aquarium decorations.

Setting up an aquarium for an Electric Blue cichlid is simple, but takes thought and perhaps some research. It is important to try to replicate their natural environments to the best of your ability. Electric Blue cichlids are native to an African Rift Lake named Lake Malawi. In their natural habitat, they depend on their own instincts for their survival by hiding in rocks and logs, searching for smaller fish to eat.

In an aquarium, an Electric Blue cichlid totally relies on his owner for his survival and well-being. By providing for your fish, a home that closely resembles his native home, you will increase his lifespan, as well as cut down on aggressive behavior. You can also train your cichlid to eat prepared food rather than smaller fish in your aquarium. The other option is to keep your Electric Blue only with fish are as large, or larger, than they are. They will be safe from your cichlid's bite.

An Electric Blue cichlid can grow to be 6 inches in length, therefore should be put in a larger tank. A 55-gallon tank is the smallest tank you would want to house your Electric Blue cichlid in. They can live in murky water, but most hobby aquarists prefer to have their tanks clear. The fish do not mind clear water, either.

The water should be kept at temperature ranges of 72 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit. This is very important because having the incorrect water temperature is one reason why cichlids become aggressive. They are hardy fish, but any drastic change in water temperature could have detrimental effects. Keep the aquarium out of direct sunlight, and away from all heat sources to prevent sudden a rise or fall of water temperature.

Finally, an Electric Blue cichlid likes to have plenty of places he can hide, yet also have plenty of swimming space. Rocks and wood can be stacked strategically along the bottom of your tank to accomplish this. You will also want to replicate the substrate from Lake Malawi because these cichlids like to play in the substrate sometimes. Having the incorrect bottom layer in your aquarium can harm them unnecessarily.


LAKE MALAWI CICHLIDS - Ideal Fish Tank Conditions for Lake Malawi Cichlids

Dramatic Sky
Photo  by fabulousfabs 
If you have had an aquarium for any length of time you will, no doubt, have experimented with the types of fish you keep in a tank. Cichlids remain a popular choice for many amateur fish tank owners because they are lively fish that always seem to be doing things. It seems that people can relate to cichlids because they display many traits that we can recognize in ourselves. This makes for good viewing. Lake Malawi Cichlids are a type of fish you may want to keep in your tank. This article will briefly describe the nature of these fish and their ideal habitat. This can give you an indication of the type of aquarium you need to keep these animals.

Lake Malawi is a large Lake situated on Malawi's northeastern border with Tanzania and Mozambique. It is part of the great lakes of the African rift valley along with the better known Lake Tanganyika and Lake Victoria. The water is generally alkaline and has a Ph level of 7.7 to 8.6. The temperature of the water varies from 27-29 degrees Celsius on the surface to about 22 degrees Celsius at lower depths.

The two main types of cichlids that can be found in Lake Malawi are the haplochromines and the tilapiines. Like most cichlids, Lake Malawi cichlids are known for being territorial and aggressive towards each other. They are mouth brooders. They are particularly noted for the vivid colors and markings.

There is such a variety of species that it would be impossible to name all of them but the most colorful are possibly the peacock cichlids. Popular peacock cichlids are the Melanochromis auratus and the Labeotrophus trewavasae. While in many species of cichlids only the male has the vivid markings, in these two species both sexes have colorful markings. Another reason for the popularity of the Melonachromis auratus is that the fry displays the same colors and markings as the parents but only in miniature. Most are adapted for feeding off algae attached to rock or substrate.

When creating a habitat for Lake Malawi cichlids it is important to keep the water quality alkaline. The aquascape should feature rocks and substrate similar to the environment in Lake Malawi. The rocks will allow the fish to hide and feed on the algae on the rocks. To combat the territorial nature of the fish you could densely stock the tank. Given that the tank is densely stocked you should have a strong filtration system set up to maintain the water quality. Typically they eat flake, bloodworm and pellet foods.

Lake Malawi cichlids are some of the most beautiful fish in the world and are active and fun to watch. They remain one of the most popular types of fish to keep in a tropical freshwater fish tank.


RED ZEBRA CICHLID - Basic Information

Red Zebra Cichlid
Photo  by J Wynia 
The red zebra cichlid is also known as the Esther Grant's Zebra or Metriaclima estherae is a rock dwelling fish or mbuna that originates in Lake Malawi. They are mouth brooder's, which means the females placed the fertilized eggs in their mouth for a period of time to incubate eggs. The fry will then be released after 21 days of caring in their mouth.

This variety used to be under the genus name of Pseudotropheus but this name is now presently pointing to another species. The genus name up to now is still being disputed some consider Maylandia while other used the name Metriaclima.

The female zebra cichlid can grow as much as 10 centimeters of four inches in length while the male zebra may grow up to 12.7 centimeters or five inches long.

The "red" name of this fish is actually solid orange in color but the males sometimes possess reddish stripes.

This variety may thrive in water chemistry with a pH level of 7.5 to 8.5 and a temperature of 24 to 28 degrees Celsius or 75 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit. When kept in an aquarium it must be placed with other species of the same temperament. The appropriate ratio would be one female to three or four females in a tank. Overcrowding the tank may help suppress the aggression of a red zebra cichlid. Decorate tank densely with rocks or cave that may be used as their hiding place. Use also fine gravel for substrate or fine gravel with crushed coral, or driftwoods, Java ferns, or Java moss. Ensure to provide one hiding place each species and a capacious area for the cichlids to swim freely. Avoid using rooted plants for this will reduce the pH level of the water.

When it comes to breeding the female zebra is known to be mouth-brooders. The female will brood her eggs approximately in three weeks and cares will still continue to care for the fry for another week after she has released them in the open. You can identify a cichlid that she is breeding when her mouth enlarged and most clearly when she refuses to eat.

Feeding the fry in any fish food is fine but vegetable is best as its staple diet. To make them more productive in breeding the best thing to do is to isolate the red cichlid. But the more rational way of isolating her should be kept in a lesser period to avoid the female losing her social status with the rest of her tank mates. This is done to prevent fights when the breeding mother is returned to its original tank. Bear in mind that stress may lead the mother to eat their eggs and fry.

Red zebra cichlid is omnivores and enjoys food such as spinach, peas, zucchini, and lettuce. They also love live foods like crickets, brine shrimp, mealworms, glass worms, and tubifex worms and many more.



different Mbuna from Lake Malawi
Different Mbuna from Lake Malawi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Malawi Cichlids originate from the third largest lake in Africa and the eighth largest in the world, Lake Malawi. Lake Malawi is home to more fish species than anywhere else on earth. Being a rift valley lake, it is a very rocky lake with little vegetation. The edges of the lake provide a different type of habitat; more sandy with fewer rocks and more open water. These two different types of habitat give rise to two different groups of Cichlid; the rock dwellers (or mbuna) and non-rock dwellers.

If you are thinking of keeping Malawi Cichlids you will really need to decide which group you want to keep as generally the rock dwellers and non-rock dwellers do not get on well together. In fact, they do not particularly get with other types of fish, so you will really need to restrict yourself to just mbunas or non-rock dwelling Cichlids. Once you have decided you will need to set up your aquarium accordingly. For rock dwelling fish, it should come as no great surprise that you need plenty of rocks. Not only this though, your fish need plenty of little caves and places to hide and explore.

The non-rock dwellers prefer a sandy substrate and generally more open water. They should not have a completely bare tank though, they do need some interest. Typically they should have just a few rocks scattered over the floor of the tank, and they do not particularly need caves.

In their natural environment, Malawi Cichlids live in water temperatures of around 24-26C or 76-79F, therefore you will need to try and replicate this within your aquarium. In order to avoid variations in temperatures you will need to locate your aquarium away from heaters and out of direct sunlight.



Dominant Male
Photo   by     Katatoniq
Lake Malawi is part of the East African Rift valley system (meaning it lies in the East African rift caused by the African tectonic plate splitting in two) and is located in southern Africa. It is the ninth largest lake in the world and the third largest in Africa with a surface area around 29,600 km. It is situated between the countries of Malawi, Tanzania, and Mozambique. 

The lake is often called Lake Nyssa as there is still a debate between bordering countries. Lake Malawi consists of a single large basin that is approximately 506 km long and 75 km wide at the widest point. The lake's maximum depth is 700 m and it has a mean depth of around 292 m. Lake Malawi is unusual because it does not have tides or currents.

The lake is fairly warm with a deep level temperature of around 72o and with a surface temperature of 75 - 84o. The reason for the 9o F fluctuation in temperature is that Lake Malawi lies far enough south of the equator to experience definite seasonal variations in temperature. The pH ranges from 7.7 - 8.6, the gH ranges from 4-6 dH, and the kH ranges from 6-8 dH.

There are several main cichlid habitats within the lake. The first is the sandy shoreline that makes up about 70% of the coast. Some plants live in this area, but not many. Haps and peacocks use this as their habitat. The second area is the rocky shoreline that makes up the remaining 30% of the coast.

Here there is no vegetation and rocks are piled on top of each other. The rocky areas tend to be where the shores have a steep drop off. Mbunas make this their habitat (hence their name which means "rock-dweller"). The third area is the river mouths and area close to shore that is highly vegetated. These areas tend to be shallow and can also be fairly muddy. Lastly, the deepwater zones that go from 30 m to 250 m deep are inhabited by some of the larger predatory cichlids.


A Comprehensive Listing of the Various CICHLID TYPES

A lot of people have been asking me lately about the different cichlid types so I thought I would compile a bit of a thorough list in regards to the various species.

Cichlid (sik-a-lid) fish stem from what's known as the Cichlidae (sik-li-day) family. The Cichlidae family is an extremely large & diverse family having nearly 2000 specimens described and it's believed the still much more to be described scientifically.

different Mbuna from Lake Malawi
Different Mbuna from Lake Malawi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

They would have to be the largest family of vertebrates.

Due to the fact that we are constantly finding new species types, estimating the exact number of cichlid types is very hard to do.

These fish come in some of the strangest looking shapes to the most breathtaking colors and throw in some peculiar mannerisms and it makes for quite the character.

Cichlids are found all across the globe ranging from Africa throughout Asia to North and South America.
Cichlid fish which tend to be kept in captivation can come from the African waters as well as the Amazon basin area and also from some the famous lakes like Lake Malawi, Great African Rift Lake and Lake Tanganyika.

Presently there is a massive diversity in the behavior and eating habits of these fish because of the greater number of types.

The majority of cichlid types are herbivorous fishes and feed on vegetation or even algae. The other cichlid varieties are generally omnivorous, will eat anything or they are carnivorous fishes that live on other fish & insects.

The broad range of eating habits has really allowed cichlid fish to occupy numerous habitats. Cichlid fish do not survive in salt water although funnily enough, their ancestors did.

Most cichlid kinds are fairly scaled down in size and many of them tend to be referred to as game types.

This has lead to several different cichlid species being farmed for human consumption. On the flip side, we can't deny a number of fish tank enthusiasts that enjoy cichlid species because of their eye-catching colorings and tendencies.

Angelfish, Oscar fish, Discus fish and Convict cichlid are among the most popular with aquarium enthusiasts.

African Cichlid Species
Most of the Cichlid types that we see in captivity today come from the African Amazonian regions. So on with the listings!

Lake Malawi
Lake Malawi is one of the largest lakes known to man and is home to over 300 varieties of cichlid fish. Some of the well-known African species are:

* Big-lipped
* Moori or Blue Dolphin
* Malawi Eye-biter
* Linni or Elephant-nose Cichlid
* Livingstoni
* Polystigma
* Venustus
* Deep-Water Haplo
* Electric Blue Haplo

Mbuna Cichlids
* Red-dorsal Afra, Dogtooth
* Fuelleborn's, Fuelleborni
* Trewavas, Red-finned
* Electric Yellow Mbuna, Lion's Cove Yellow
* Malawi Golden
* Johann's Mbuna
* Parallel-striped Mbuna
* Purple Mbuna
* Aurora
* Bumblebee Mbuna or Hornet
* Elongatus, Slender Mbuna
* Snail Shell Mbuna
* Kennyi
* Eduard's Mbuna
* Zebra Mbuna, Zebra Malawi, Cobalt Blue or Nyasa Blue

Peacock Group
* Baensch's Peacock, Yellow Peacock or Sunshine Peacock
* Red Shoulder Malawi Peacock
* Lake Malawi Butterfly

Lake Tanganyika
* Pearly Compressiceps
* Compressiceps
* Frontosa
* Black-finned Slender
* Striped Clown Goby, Striped Goby, Tanganyika Clown
* Dickfeld's Juli
* Checkerboard Julie
* Golden Julie or Ornate Julie
* Regan's Julie or Striped Julie
* Masked Julie or Black-and-White Julie
* Fairy
* Daffodil Brichardi
* Lemon
* Elongated Lemon
* Ocellated Shell-dweller
* Pearl-lined Lamprologus
* Five-bar
* Otostigma, Tripod
* Blue-eyed Tropheus
* Duboisi
* Blunt-headed
* Poll's Tropheus
* Aulonocara
* Lamprichthys
* Synodontis
* Afromastacembelus

Cavity Brooder s
* Altolamprologus
* Lamprologus
* Julidochromis
* Neolamprologus

Mouth Brooder Group of s
* Cyphotilapia
* Cyprichromis
* Eretmodus
* Tropheus
* Xenotilapia

Other African Species
* African Butterfly
* Zebra Haplochromis
* Two-spotted Jewel
* Blood-red Jewel
* Purple or the Common Krib
* African Blockhead or Lumphead
* Zebra Tilapia
* Clown Tilapia

North American Species
* Firemouth
* Convict
* Pearlscale
* Texas
* Midas
* Large Lipped
* Long Fin
* Friedrichsthali
* Jaguar
* Jack Dempsy
* Salvin's or Tricolor
* Red-spotted
* Black Belt
* Nicaragua
* Quetzal or Red-headed

South American Species
* Oscar fish or Velvet
* Peacock Bass
* Festa's
* Port Acara or Black Acara
* Pike
* Banded
* Festive

* Blue Acara
* Green Terror or Rivulatus
* Saddle or Two-spot Acara
* Keyhole
* Flag Acara
* Golden Dwarf

New World Dwarfs
* Agassiz's Dwarf
* Yellow Dwarf
* Cockatoo Dwarf
* Three-Stripe Dwarf
* Ramirez' Dwarf

Angel Species
* Angelfish
* Altum Angelfish

Discus Species
* Brown Discus Fish
* Green Discus
* Royal Blue Discus
* Heckle Discus or Pompadour Fish
* Waroo or Triangle

Eartheater Cichlids Species

* Cupid
* Pearl or Mother-of-Pearl Eartheater
* Red hump Eartheater
* Paraguay Mouthbrooder
* Demon Fish.


Introduction to the MALAWI CICHLID

Lake Malawi, The 3rd biggest lake that is in Africa and the 8th biggest in the world is home to several species of fish more than anywhere else in the world today. The Malawi Cichlids are some of the most beautiful fish on the planet. They are known to be of a huge array of wonderful colours and have become quite popular for fish collectors.

Lake Malawi is home to numerous cichlid specie...

The lake is known to be rocky and with very little vegetation. Near the edge of the lake though is sandier and with less rocks and the water is more open there. It is there that you can find a different habitat. The two habitats of Cichlids that are different are the ones that dwell on or around the rocks and the ones that are considered to be non rock dwellers.

If you are a fish keeper and are considering on getting some of the Cichlids for your aquarium you must be sure to know which group to choose as it is known that the rock dwellers and the non rock dwellers cannot live among each other quite well. Also it is believed that neither of them can survive with any other kinds of fish.

Once you make your decision on which you will prefer to have then next you will need to organize the aquarium. If it is the rock dwellers then of course you will need plenty of rocks and also small caves or places for them to explore and hide.

As for the non rock dwellers you shall need to prepare a sandier environment with the water is more open for them. Just scatter a few rocks around at the bottom of the tank; they will not need any caves or places to hide.

Be sure to remember what it is like for them to be in their habitat they like to be in water where the temperature is around 24-26 degrees Celsius or 76-79 degrees Fahrenheit. It is very important to replicate this inside of the tank. Also you shall need to keep the tank away from any heaters and out of any direct sun light.

    By Craig Wrightson
    If you would like to learn more about Malawi Cichlids and their environment, visit my site African Cichlid Success - NEW eBOOK! Get Instant Access!
    Learn everything you need to know about setting up and maintaining a perfect Cichlid Tank including the unbelievably simple secrets the professional breeders use on caring, feeding, breeding and diseases!
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Basics of MALAWI CICHLID Aquarium Setup

The Malawi Cichlid aquarium needs water that is medium hard and alkaline. Crushed coral sand/gravel, crushed oyster shells, and limestone can all be used to bring down the pH in the tank. There are also products you can buy to amend the pH level such as Proper pH. It is important not to let the alkalinity of the water fluctuate too much, lest it have a bad effect on your cichlids. Cichlids are able to live in environments that are outside of their optimal range, but only if they are slowly introduced to those conditions. Even though they are hardy, any sudden changes in water chemistry can adversely affect them.

A sampling of aquarium fish from Lake Malawi, ...
Aquarium fish from Lake Malawi, in Africa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Water temperatures should be kept between 76F and 79F. Malawi Cichlids do not tolerate hot water well at all, so be careful not to place their tank in close proximity to windows or heaters that can raise the temperature of the water. A digital water heater can help to regulate the water temperature automatically.

The Malawi Cichlid aquarium must also have proper filtration and lighting. Filters that hang on the back of the tank are recommended over the under gravel filters since Cichlids do like to dig. This fish produces a lot of waste and will fall ill if the water is not regularly cleaned. As for lighting, a fluorescent light is ideal since it does not produce heat, promotes fish growth, and helps to bring out the natural colors of the fish.

Malawi Cichlids do not need plants in their aquarium. In fact, they would be much happier with plenty of sand and rocks. The species out of Lake Malawi will prefer more sand while the Mbuna variety prefers more rocks. For this reason, among others, these two cichlid species should not be kept in the same tank. If you really want to add plants, it is recommend that you add hardy plants that are found in Lake Malawi. Unless of course you enjoy replacing plants every month after your cichlids terrorize them.

This article is only meant to introduce you to Malawi cichlid aquarium setup and there is a lot to learn outside of what I wrote here. The best thing to do to is research the conditions in Lake Malawi and try to find ways to mimic those conditions in your aquarium. When you have mastered that aspect of your aquarium, the fish pretty much take care of themselves.

    If you want more details about setting up a Malawi cichlid aquarium you can find them on my cichlid website. On my site you will be able to find information about everything to do with cichlids, including everyone's favorite: Cichlid breeding [].
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Pseudotropheus Elongatus - One of the Original MBUNA

Maybe  it is the sleek, torpedo shape knifing through the waters of the aquarium, unlike most other types of fish which are built much more like...well, fish!  Or possibly the brilliant, usually blue and black vertical striped  colourations, are what attracted me in the first place, and hold me fascinated as they swim.  There are some other morphs and colorations coming into the trade as time goes by, but the blue and black bars of an alpha male will always be my favorite pattern for this fish.

Elongate mbuna
Elongate mbuna (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Most likely it is the way they carry themselves with pure attitude, from fry on up that makes them so memorable.  Rarely do they allow themselves to be bullied, and generally end up as the fish to be concerned about when new additions are added.  They are already kings and queens and will ensure the rest are aware of their status.  An alpha male, patrolling the aquarium and ensuring all others flee when near is a spectacle I can watch for hours.

Like many other Mbuna from Lake Malawi, the elongatus has developed as a mouth brooder. Although this form of parental behaviour is not unique to this species, it is fascinating to watch.  I have had established aquariums where many generations live and thrive in the same tank.  Father, Son, Grandson, great grandson and even more generations all grow and thrive together over time and interbreed their generations if allowed.

Unlike livebearers who simply drop their babies someplace and leave, rarely recognizing them later as anything other than food, the entire cichlid family provides some form of parenting behaviour.  South American Cichlids share the duties with both parents often protecting the eggs where they have been laid.  They then continue protecting the brood as they hatch and then begin to swim.  For most species this a job for both male and female of the pair, and for this reason many species form long-term bonds.

The Mbuna, or African CIchlids generally take this protection a step further, holding the young within the mouth of the female until the fry are free-swimming and able to fend for themselves.  Unlike many others that pair-bond, it seems the female takes the responsibilities for the fry on herself and pairing will be much more fluid.  This is important to understand since when after the courtship and the eggs have been laid, the female may not eat for up to three weeks to prevent accidental ingestion of the precious cargo she is carrying in her mouth.  The male does not share these duties, and can even be working with another female during this period.

Elongatus, like most African Cichlids, are more difficult to sex and to compound the problem there are  extreme discrepancies in the ratio of the sexes for many Mbuna species.  There are commonly many more females than males born and raised to maturity. It is often best to purchase these fish, as unsexed juveniles in schools of 6 or so, that way you should get at least one viable pair when they mature. This also helps with controlling the aggressive tendencies of the fish and keeps them busier among themselves establishing territory and dominance in the group rather than beating up the other species kept in the aquarium.

Once grown, the males are generally larger than the females.  The egg patches on the anal fins are often more intensely coloured for the females, offering better visual targets for the males in the breeding rituals. As a species they are very aggressive, even for African Mbuna,  But, with enough distractions, simply add plenty of activity to the aquarium.  Don't obtain these fish if you are looking for a peaceful and placid aquarium community.

The living area should be as large as possible, with a 30 gallon aquarium being my personal minimum for them.  Decorations should be basically rocks - usually the flatter and stackable the better.  I have had the most success with lots of slate that is piled up in such a manner that there are all sorts of small spaces and channels for the babies, once they have been released from the mother's mouth.  They need to rapidly find places and swimming paths where bigger fish mouths simply cannot go.  The rocks should be piles in the back of the aquarium with free swimming areas open in the front. I also tend to offer a few caves or other hiding places in the front that often become the sole property of the tank alpha male.

Some people have had success with live plants with Africans, or so they report, but I have always found that if they don't eat them, then they will dig them up, so I have always reverted to rock decorations only.

I keep the tank relatively high in pH, although nowhere close to the recommendation of Hans Baensch - p 756 - Baensch Aquarium Atlas which is 8.5.  My fish do fine in Montreal's standard water - about 7.6 - 7.8.  The water is supplemented with an African Cichlid conditioner to bring up the hardness and stabilize alkalinity, but other than that, at present no other work is done on the water characteristics.

I do very little as far as exotic foods.  Most African Cichlids do very well on the various prepared foods available at the local pet store. Cichlid pellets, either floating or sinking are usually quite enough, although I do feed them some staple flakes as well.  At present the food I have is a sinking small Cichlid micro pellet for the tank of essentially juvenile Africans.  The pellets seem to sink quite fast to a single place, so the addition of flakes lets everyone feed at other levels in the aquarium.

    By Stephen Pond
    Having kept and bred many different types of tropical fish for the past forty years, I am dedicated to providing information required for the novice aquarist to to the advanced tropical fish keeper to become successful in this fascinating hobby. I continue to provide as much information on all aspects of the hobby through my website with its associated blogs and video areas dedicated to quite a number of aquarium topics at the Tropical Fish Aquarist website. It has been designed to provide an excellent resource for every level of fish enthusiast. For more detailed information specifically tailored for the novice aquarist on all aspects of the beginning aquarium check the website at Besides my own personal contributions, a variety of other sources are polled and added regularly to the content warehouse available there.
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