Rift Valley Cichlids

A basic guide to keeping Rift Valley Cichlids.

Common names

•    Mbuna (Malawi)
•    Rift Lake Cichlids

Countries of origin

Africa from Lakes Malawi, Tanganyika & Victoria

Aquarium condition requirements for Rift Valley Cichlids

Minimum aquarium size - The small Tanganyika Cichlids e.g. Julidochromis and Neolamprologus species, can be kept in 600mm x 380mm x 300mm (24” x 15” x 12”) aquaria as a single species. Similarly, the ‘shell-dwelling’ Lamprologus Cichlids need only modest accommodation. If considering setting up a ‘community’ tank of Malawi or Tanganyika cichlids, then considerably larger tanks are required.

Temperature - 23o/27oC 73o/81oF, is considered to be ideal for Rift Valley Cichlids some fluctuation is normal in nature.

Water parameters - Rift Valley Cichlids prefer a hard water environment in most cases. Excessive water changes should be avoided.

Habitat - Gravel substrate with plenty of rock-work. Rift Valley Cichlids need plenty of places to hide and to establish their own territory.

Rift Valley Cichlids’ behaviour with other fish

Should not generally be kept with small fish e.g. Tetras. In some cases, they cannot be kept with one another. If considering purchasing these Rift Valley Cichlids, we recommend that you consult specialist books on the subject.

Rift Valley Cichlids’ diet

Most Rift Valley Cichlids will accept the whole range of foods. Some are algae grazers so will probably require algae tablets as part of their diet. Do not over feed - problems of pollution can occur when food enters cracks in rock-work and remains uneaten.

Rift Valley Cichlid’s health

Generally Rift Valley Cichlids do not have too many health problems. Damage to fish due to territorial disputes may have to be treated.

Habitat - freshwater tropical aquarium

Sociability - research into the species you are interested in keeping and their compatibility with other fish is highly recommended

Care - easy (in terms of health), challenging (in terms of community)

The Pet Owners Association are grateful to the Federation of British Aquatic Societies for the above information and image.