The African Cichlids - Lake Malawi

7th Jun 2023

The African Cichlids - Lake Malawi

African Cichlids 101: An Introduction to Lake Malawi's Vibrant Inhabitants

Are you ready to explore the colourful world of Lake Malawi African Cichlids? Known for their striking appearance and dynamic behaviour, these fish are a fantastic choice for those ready to step up their aquarist game.

Meet the Lake Malawi Cichlids

Lake Malawi, located in East Africa, is home to more species of fish than any other lake in the world, including an estimated 800-1000 species of cichlids. The cichlids from this lake are famed for their diverse colours and patterns, making them a vibrant addition to any aquarium.

Setting Up Their Home

African Cichlids from Lake Malawi are active and can grow quite large, so you'll need a spacious tank, ideally at least 200 litres.

These cichlids are rock-dwellers in the wild. They prefer a setup with plenty of rocks and caves for hiding, but still require open space for swimming. A sandy substrate is recommended, as many species enjoy digging.

Water Parameters

Lake Malawi has alkaline water, so your cichlids will thrive in similar conditions. Aim for a pH between 7.8 and 8.6. The general hardness (GH) should be between 10-20° dGH, while the carbonate hardness (KH) should be 6-8° KH.

Maintain the water temperature between 24-28°C, mimicking their tropical natural habitat.

Feeding Your African Cichlids

Most Lake Malawi Cichlids are omnivores, but their diet leans more towards herbivorous. High-quality cichlid pellets or flakes can form the basis of their diet, supplemented with vegetables like peas or spinach. We recommend the Hikari Sinking Cichlid Excel Mini.

Choosing Tank Mates

African Cichlids can be aggressive, especially towards other cichlids. Often, they're best kept in a species or single-species tank. If you have a larger tank with plenty of hiding spaces, it's possible to keep different species together, but careful research and monitoring are crucial.

Lake Malawi Vs. Lake Tanganyika Cichlids

While Lake Malawi and Lake Tanganyika are both famous for their cichlids, there are some differences.

Lake Tanganyika is home to the most biologically diverse freshwater fish community on earth, with over 200 cichlid species. The cichlids here tend to be more diverse in behaviour and body shape compared to those in Lake Malawi.

In contrast, Lake Malawi Cichlids, particularly the Mbuna group, are known for their stunning bright colours. Their behaviour tends to be more aggressive compared to Tanganyika Cichlids.


Keeping Lake Malawi African Cichlids can be a bit of a challenge, but the reward is a vibrant, active aquarium that's a joy to watch. Remember, a bit of research goes a long way in ensuring a healthy, harmonious tank.

Ready to make a splash with Lake Malawi Cichlids? Happy fishkeeping!