Lake Malawi Cichlids are by far the most popular of the AC species in the fish keeping hobby. Almost all of the colours, shapes and sizes you can imagine can be found within the lake not to mention the line bred fish adding even more variety. Having said that it’s not always as straight forward as mixing any cichlid from Lake Malawi. The different types have different levels of aggression and feeding habits which make for a challenge but should not be considered impossible. The thing to remember is there is so much variety from the lake that you will have plenty of options for the fish you can keep!
Mbunas as a species are generally more territorial/aggressive than Peacocks and Haps so adequate measures must be taken if they are to be housed together. Mbuna are rock dwelling fish and prefer to graze on algae and vegetation while Haps are open water swimmers and actively search for food, Peacocks are kind of the middle ground between the Mbuna and Haps they are medium sized and omnivorous, however any diet consisting of too much meat will cause Malawi Bloat as they can’t digest it properly. It is important to find the perfect fish food to cater the needs of all the fish you plan on keeping as well as providing the environment to their liking.
All Malawi Cichlids are susceptible to Malawi Bloat so feeding them flakes or pellets made specially for African Cichlids is very important, there are even special Lake Malawi cichlid foods available and you should stay away from foods made for other tropical fish. Poor water quality and not providing enough filtration will cause their health to deteriorate quickly specially if overcrowding as a measure to reduce aggression. Go for 2 filters that are each enough to filter the tank on their own as over filtering is necessary due to the heavy bio load. Water changes of at least 25% once a week are a great start, depending on your bio load, however, you may have to do smaller more frequent water changes. If purchasing as juveniles the fish may appear dull in colour but will soon colour up and thrive under the correct conditions!
Click the images below to see the species in each type of cichlid from Lake Malawi.