Monday, August 29, 2011

Cichlids-How to Keep Lake Malawi African Cichlids

Cichlids-How to Keep Lake Malawi African Cichlids

Probably the most popular fish of all time. With many beautiful species occurring naturally in Africa's Lake Malawi you can recreate your own piece of Africa right in your living room. 

Vibrant colors and quirky behavior along with ease of care are the 3 main reasons the Malawi African Cichlids are so popular. Here are some great tips to help you look after yours.

Replicate the Natural Environment

A couple of facts about Lake Malawi: The average surface temperature ranges between 23 and 28 degrees Celsius

Throughout the lake the pH is a relatively stable 7.8 to 8.5. Replicating these conditions as closely as possible will provide your cichlids with a comfortable environment in which they can thrive. 

Ideally Malawi African Cichlids should have their own aquarium and as usual the larger the better. Larger aquariums minimize fluctuations in water quality, temperature and chemistry.

Temperature should be as constant as possible and although you need to do a little research for your particular species, 26 degrees Celsius is commonly quoted as the accepted average temperature. 

Get your pH to at least 7.8 and keep it there with use of either limestone in your filter or as part of your substrate. 

Buffering can be done with aquarium specific chemicals if necessary. Remember to check your PH between water changes to ensure it doesn't drop too far.
pH Tip: Never attempt to adjust the pH of your tank if you're not performing a water change. Adding buffering chemicals directly to the tank will cause harm to your fish.

Lighting isn't a critical factor in the Malawi African Cichlid aquarium, make sure your lighting isn't too bright for your fish but light enough for you to enjoy the aquarium. 

Most species won't allow you to keep live aquatic plants meaning your lighting doesn't have to be powerful enough for plant growth.
Water flow and surface area are the key points for filtration. Have the water in your tank turned over at least 10 times an hour. Water flow will oxygenate the water and prevent pockets of stagnant water. 


Good bacteria will grow over every surface of your filter media and this will keep the water in good condition between water changes. 

Perform water changes of 30-40% every 2 weeks if you have an average number of fish in your tank.
Feed your fish dependent on their age. 

Baby fish (fry) should be fed sparingly up to 4 times a day, juveniles up to 2 times a day and adults once every other day. Feed amounts the fish will completely consume in 2 minutes (not 5 minutes!). 

Most people overfeed fish, particularly adult fish, they will be healthier and live longer if you feed sparingly. 

Spirulina rich food is always a good choice for Lake Malawi African Cichlids, also consider crustaceans such as Mysis, Cyclops and Krill along with some shrimp mix. Avoid protein rich foods such as regular fish flake.

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