Types of Mbuna Cichlids: Know Which One Is Suitable for You

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If you are looking for African cichlids then mbuna cichlids are one of them. There are three lakes in Africa which is famous for cichlid fishes. Mbuna cichlids belong to the Lake Malawi. There are tons of mbuna cichlids which you can find there.

Let’s discuss about its types

We can divide mbuna cichlids into two types. One is smaller and less aggressive and another is larger and aggressive types of mbuna cichlids.

Types of mbuna cichlids

These are some types of mbuna cichlids which you can consider for your aquarium. But among all aquarists some mbunas are more popular than others. So if you are confused little bit which one you want to keep then let’s see my top 5 mbuna cichlid suggestions below

  1. Blue johanni cichlid

Blue johanni cichlid is one of the most popular mbuna cichlids which belong to Lake Malawi. As the temperature of Lake Malawi varies in between 26°C to 31°C that’s why you need to fix that temperature also in your tank.

This type of cichlid needs rocky or sandy substrate and lots of hiding spots. Hiding spots will help to reduce the aggression of it. The pH of water should maintain in between 7.6-8.2. As diet of blue johanni cichlid you can use small pellets, brine shrimp, phytoplankton, mysis etc.

  1. Yellow-tail acei

This is another popular mbuna cichlid which you can consider to keep in your fish tank. The yellow-colored tail is the main attraction of this fish. The combination of blue and yellow color is so alluring to see.

The water temperature should vary in between 23°C to 27°C and the pH should be in between 7.8 to 8.6. This fish is aggressive and active but territorial in nature. But if you keep it with more yellow-tail acei cichlids then it will become calm and less territorial.

This is the only mbuna cichlid which eats algae. So if you are facing algae problem in fish tank then you can remove algae by keeping this fish. This is herbivorous fish so you can give herbivore pellets, algae wafers to eat.

  1. Maylandia

This is another popular mbuna cichlid which you can consider keeping in your tank. Lots of experts call it kenyi cichlid also. This is an aggressive cichlid and if you want to keep this then you need more space. The minimum tank size of this cichlid should be in between 40 gallon to 50 gallon.

The water temperature should lies in between 24°C to 27°C and the pH level should vary in between 7.4 to 8.2. The substrate of the aquarium should be sandy. Fine sand or gravel should use as substrate of this fish.

This fish is omnivorous in nature and that’s why you need to provide some little insects, daphnia, bloodworm, brine shrimp etc. You can provide cucumber, zucchini etc as supplements of food.

But before keeping these species you need to remember some factors. Now here we’ll discuss about those factors.

Tank size for mbuna cichlids

African cichlids are generally more aggressive than American cichlids. The more aggressive fish you keep the more tank size you must provide. You must know that fishes which are aggressive in nature needs more space to stay healthy than school fish.

For large and aggressive type of mbuna cichlid needs 30 gallons to 75 gallons of fish tank. For small and less aggressive type of mbuna cichlid needs minimum 30 gallons of fish tank. If you can provide more than this quantity of space, then that will be better that anything. Try to provide deep fish tank. Narrow fish tank may lead to more aggression of those aggressive mbuna cichlids.

Read more:- South American VS African Cichlids: Don’t buy before knowing it

Can mbuna cichlids live together?

Mbunas can live together definitely in a fish tank. Minimum 8 to 10 mbuna cichlid fishes should keep per 30 gallon of the fish tank. Less than 8 numbers of mbuna per 30 gallon can be more aggressive and that will be stressful for them. So try to keep those cichlids together. Otherwise, an unhealthy environment may create in your fish tank.

For small mbuna cichlids, you can go for 10 -12 per 30-40 gallon of fish tank but if you want to keep large cichlid like Livingstone cichlid (10 inches) or Maylandia (7.9 inches), then you should go for 5-8 per 30-40 gallon of fish tank.

When you talk about the female and male ratio of mbuna cichlids then I will recommend keeping two males and two females as 2:2 ratio. Lots of experts may suggest you to keep one male with two female but here is the reason behind the 2:2 ratio

Generally, male mbuna cichlids are more dominant than female and if you keep 1 male against two females then it will not be so effective and it will increase stress on the male one. So try to put two male mbuna cichlids against two females.

Don’t keep more than 10 mbuna cichlids per 30 gallons in a tank depending upon its sizes. That will be called over-population in the tank. It will not help your fishes to remain happy and healthy. If you do that then you should add an extra filter or bubbler. 25% to 33% of water change once per week is most recommended for overpopulation.

Read more:- Are snails compatible with cichlids? Comparison with each cichlid

Final thoughts

Mbunas are one of the famous African cichlids. So if you are interested in African cichlids then you must know about mbuna cichlids. Here I’ve discussed some types of mbuna cichlids. You can pick any of those to keep in your aquarium.

Try to choose from the most mbuna cichlids which I’ve discussed here. Those are colourful and most active in aquarium. So don’t think too much, just buy and keep one of them.

So best of luck & happy fishkeeping 🐟

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