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Malawian cichlids: fish species and conditions

These amazing fish are appreciated by many aquarists. Malawian cichlids are not only beautiful, unpretentious and resistant to diseases, but also possess considerable intelligence.

Fans of home aquariums celebrate their individual character traits and the ability to recognize their owners.

Malawian cichlids are not only beautiful, unpretentious and resistant to diseases, but also possess considerable intelligence.

Malawian cichlids are found in freshwater lakes in Africa, Asia, North and South America, in Madagascar. Especially widely their population is distributed in the African lake Malawi, from which the fish got their name.

These fish belong to the order perch-shaped. They have bright multicolor coloring and elongated fins with sharp rays.

Life expectancy in the aquarium is 7−10 years.

Malawian cichlids are very active and constantly in motion. They swim around the aquarium, dig the ground, rush one after another.

Most of them are quite peaceful towards their neighbors, but fish can show aggression to newbies and start chasing them through the aquarium.

The newly acquired Malawi fish at first is afraid of the owner and hides from him in the shelter. But she quickly gets used to the new habitat.

Seeing the owner, the fish will swim up to the glass and beg for food.

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Malay cichlids show special care towards offspring. They carry caviar in the mouth, thus protecting it from enemies.

Newly hatched fry can also hide in the mouth of their parents. In some species, the female takes care of the offspring, in others – both parents.

In home ponds contain a variety of Malawian cichlids, species that differ in size, color, body shape and degree of aggressiveness. Among them there are two main groups:

The first – herbivorous. In nature, Mbuna live near the coast, on stony bottom areas where they feed on algal fouling.

The teeth of males have a special structure, resembling a grater. They are convenient to scrub the vegetation from the stones and drive away enemies. Aquariums for Mbuna should be spacious enough, with plenty of shelters and plants.

These fish love to dig up the bottom and uproot algae, so in the aquarium should be planted plants with a strong root system.

Mbuna – fish of medium size. Their length does not exceed 12 cm.

Females and males practically do not differ from each other in coloring. The most characteristic representatives of this group are Pseudotropheus. They have unusual teeth of the upper shape and body, covered with vertical stripes.

Males strictly guard the borders of their territories and do not allow strangers to them, females and adolescents keep in flocks.

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Utaka are predators. In nature, they live in small underwater reefs, where they feed on fry of other breeds and small crustaceans.

They usually live in the upper layers of water. These are large fish up to 15-25 cm long.

Utaka contain in spacious aquariums, along with other predatory cichlids of the same size. For them, you need a lot of shelter: stones, grottoes, snags.

Algae in the aquarium is not planted.

In contrast to the multi-color mbuna, the color of the utaka is neutral. Males acquire bright colors when they reach puberty, females do not change color. The typical representatives of the fish of the utaka group are Aulonokara.

These are fish with an elongated body, a large head and a very prominent dorsal fin. They have a special hollow on the head – it is believed that it belongs to the senses. The fish have an unremarkable gray color with a pattern of stripes and spots.

Males are larger than females.

Aulonokara able to freeze in one place above the ground. Under natural conditions, it helps them to hunt. Motionless fish does not attract attention, at the same time it catches the slightest fluctuations of water by means of deepening on the head.

Finding prey, she instantly rushes at her.

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The division of cichlids into Mbuna and Utaka is very conditional. This refers rather to the habitats of the fish.

There are other types of fish in Lake Malawi that are difficult to attribute to one group or another. One of such species is haplochromis.

These fish eat both vegetable and animal food.

Cornflower haplochromis is a beautiful fish, similar to an ordinary perch. Their length is about 15 cm.

Males are bright blue with yellow or red anal fins. Females have a gray-brown color with transverse stripes.

With age, they also become blue, but much less bright than males.

Homeland fish – African Lake Malawi. There, haplochromis live at a depth of 10-40 m. In aquarium conditions, they live in the middle or lower water layers.

Because of the great color of cornflower, haplochromis is highly valued by fish lovers.

Malawi settle in an aquarium of 5 individuals. There must be only one male among them, otherwise conflicts will arise. Haplokhromisy – it is quite peaceful and livable fish.

They get along well with neighbors of similar size, but they cannot be planted along with small fish and large predators.

Haplokhromisy not demanding on feed. They can be fed with bloodworms, chopped by earthworms and other animal feeds. They also love small weed fish.

Malawi fish should be kept in large aquariums with numerous shelters – they love to hide.

Haprlokhromis Livingstone, or leopard cytokara – the exact opposite of cornflower. It is a brilliant blue-green fish with large dark spots. She is very aggressive.

Males terrorize not only other inhabitants of the aquarium, but also their relatives – they attack each other, females and juveniles. Often they have to be kept behind glass partitions.

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At home, Malawian cichlids are kept in large aquariums with a capacity of 150 liters or more, the bottom of which is decorated with snags, grottoes and large stones. They will serve as shelters for fish.

For cichlids of the Mbuna group, it is necessary to plant ground and floating algae. For Utaka, vegetation is not needed, but their aquariums are equipped with photo filters to improve the water.

For fish, water parameters are very important. They should be as follows:

  • temperature – from 24 to 26º C;
  • hardness – from 10 to 15 dH;
  • acidity – from 7.5 to 8.5 Ph.

The aquarium should be equipped with filters and a compressor for aeration and creating a small flow. Water needs to be changed weekly by 30%.

It depends on which group the cichlids belong to. The diet of Mbuna consists of vegetable feed.

They are given lettuce, dandelion, spinach, sliced ​​cucumbers and dried nettles. As a source of protein in the feed fish add:

Utaka reject vegetable food. The protein component is important in their diet.

Specialized feeds are sold in stores for this group of fish.

During the spawning season the fish become very bright. and actively prepare the nest for posterity. If they do not want to multiply, they can be pushed to this by raising the temperature to 27−28 degrees. The female takes the fertilized eggs in her mouth and wears them until the posterity hatch.

At this time, it does not consume food and moves its gills in order to increase the flow of oxygen to the eggs. Sometimes young parents eat the first clutch, but usually they carefully care for their offspring.

During the spawning season, the fish become very bright and actively prepare the nest for posterity.

Malawian fish have good health. They are harmed not so much by infection as by damage inflicted in quarrels. But from an excess of nitrates, sodium chloride or malnutrition in fish there is a disease.

Her symptoms are a swollen abdomen and raised scales. There is no cure for the disease, and the fish usually die.

Despite all the advantages of cichlids, it is better to be engaged in breeding by experienced enough aquarists. This is due to the fact that the health of fish strongly depends on the composition of water and conditions of detention.

If these conditions are comfortable, then smart and funny fish will long please their owners.

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