Lake Tanganyika Cichlids

Lake Tanganyika Cichlids

Lake Tanganyika cichlids also need hard, alkaline water with a pH of around 8.0. They generally need to be less aggressive and do not need to be overcrowded. However, they are not suitable for keeping in a community tank and should not be mixed with the more boisterousLake Malawi Cichlids and Lake Victoria Cichlids.

Many species are small, so they can be easily kept in very small tanks, as long as the water is kept free from contamination. Shell Dwellers: Some species, such as many Neolamprologus species, breed and shelter in the shells of large aquatic snails.

Many of these fish are fully grown to sizes of around 4 cm and can be kept alongside other larger species. Because of their size, they are very aggressive and when they breed they often bite hands that enter the tank for cleaning purposes.

spawning in caves

Julidochromis, Variabilichromis, Altolamprologus and some species of Neolamprologus spawn in cracks between rocks or in caves. Many of them form strong pair bonds and have long-term parental care. Some species, for example, lay around 300 eggs.

The young fry are watched over not only by both parents, but also by the older generation of fry (older brothers and sisters).


Some species, such as Tropheus and Xenotilapia, are mouthbrooders. Tropheus lays about 30 eggs which are kept in the female’s mouth for about 30 days.

Some species of Xenotilapia share mouthbrooding, with males and females incubating their eggs and fry for about 25 days.

mid zone players

These species live pelagically (in open water) building a nest or laying eggs on a rock or shell. Cyprichromis species lay about 5 to 10 eggs and rear the young in their mouths until they are about 25 days old and about 1 cm in length. Since these fish are not prolific breeders, the fish tend to attract high prices.

They are peaceful and do not possess true territories, therefore they may be kept as a mid-water shoal along with substrate spawners, shell dwellers and mouthbrooders.

What type of setup is best for a Lake Tanganyika cichlid community?

A tank of 60cm x 30cm x 36cm is a minimum requirement for a community of these fish.

It should be provided with a fine sand substrate, such as silver sand or coral sand, and contain some large piles of rocks. Most Tanganyika cichlids leave aquarium plants undisturbed, so alkali-tolerant species such as Vallisneria can be added.

A few Whelk or Escargot shells will provide a suitable home for shell-dwelling species, and rock crevices will provide homes for both mouthbrooders and burrowers.

In a 45cm deep tank, a group of pelagic Cyprichromis will provide additional interest to the upper areas of the tank.

Are Tanganyika Cichlids Easy to Keep?

Lake Tanganyika cichlids come from a very stable environment and will not tolerate pollution or temperature fluctuations. Therefore, they are a bit more difficult to keep than many other freshwater fish. Providing water is kept free from all contamination, however they are relatively undemanding.

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