Lake Victoria Cichlids


The majority of the popular African Cichlids are from the other 2 rift valley lakes (Lake Tanganyika and Lake Malawi). In fact there are only a handful of Victorian cichlids available in the hobby and even those are pretty hard to find, at least to my experience. Whilst not that expensive they just don’t seem to be to that sought after so perhaps LFS don’t bother stocking them if there is no demand. Having said that there are a few that still make it into the hobby and they are beautiful fish! Below is a list of the most popular Lake Victoria cichlids.

– Pundamilia Nyererei / Haplochromis Nyererie – This is probably the most popular and well known of all the Victorian cichlids. Similar in body shape to the Haps of Lake Malawi Pundamilia Nyererei is sometimes also known as Haplochromis Nyererie. There is not a colour you can think of that is not found on an adult male one of these! It’s literally like looking at a rainbow! It’s a shame really that they are not more readily available. Even though some varieties of this species are not all that colourful, the Anchor Island and Igombe Island varieties are particularly eye catching. This is a fish that would bring life to even the most beautiful aquariums.

The Nyererei does not get all that big either meaning you don’t need a massive tank to house one of these. This is an aggressive species, don’t let it’s rainbow appearance fool you. Avoid keeping 2 males in the same tank as they are likely not to tolerate each other, if keeping groups the ratio must be 1Male to multiple females to spread aggression. They can be kept as single specimen with some Lake Malawi cichlids however, buyers must research compatibility before housing with cichlids from Lake Malawi.

There are a few varieties of Pundamilia Nyererei available in the hobby named after the different locations in the lake that they are found/were imported from. The most popular varieties are: Pundamilia Nyererei Ruti Island – Pundamilia Nyererei Python Island – Pundamilia Nyererei Igombe Island and Pundamilia Nyererei Make IslandAlthough relatively similar in appearance, there are some small differences with each species colour and pattern.

Size: 10cm/4inches // Temperature: 23C’-27C’ // Water Hardness: 10-20dGH

PH: 7-8 -// Aquarium size: Aquarium size: 35ImperialGallons (160L)

Difficulty: Intermediate

– Astatotilapia Latifasciata / Zebra Obliquidens – This is Another one of the Victorian Haps and is sometimes sold as “Haplochromis Obliquidens” in some LFS. This is a very pretty fish and males often develop an intense colouring of yellow and red on the underbelly and black vertical stripes with colours becoming more prominent in adulthood and with dominance. As with many of the African cichlids juveniles are dull in appearance but both sexes will develop some colour. Female Astatotilapia Latifasciata have black and yellow stripes (similar to a bee) but lack the intense colouring of the males. These are very common in the hobby along with Pundamilia Nyererei they are probably the most popular of Lake Victoria’s cichlids. In the wild however, they are critically endangered along with many other species endemic to Lake Victoria in part due to the introduction of invasive species such as Nile Perch.

Appearance is key when it comes to aggression among African Cichlids so tank mates should be different in appearance, although this is not an aggressive species if housed with similar looking fish it can cause major issues in the aquarium. If keeping with other Victorian Hap females crossbreeding is a real possibility and so this should be avoided. This fish can be kept with Lake Malawi species but buyer’s are advised to research tank mates before adding them in. They can also be kept in groups with a ratio of 1Male to 3Females.

Size: 12.7cm/5inches // Temperature: 23C’-26C’ // Water Hardness: 10-20dGH

PH: 7.5-8.6 // Aquarium size: Aquarium size: 62ImperialGallons (280L)

Difficulty: Intermediate

– Ptyochromis Sp. Salmon / Hippo Point Salmon – One of the more rare Lake Victoria Cichlids which is actually quiet hard to find specially here in the UK. So called because of the salmon pink/red colouring the males develop on the side of the body along with faint shades of yellow and green towards the tail. This attractive fish is one of the bigger haps that come from Lake Victoria growing to around 5.5inches. It is aggressive but can become shy and reclusive if it is bullied by other more aggressive fish and if it is not provided with a proper environment. The aquarium should have plenty of rock work as well as a sand substrate to allow the fish to feel at home.

In the wild they feed on molluscs and snails and in the aquarium shrimp are a great source of protein for them. Due to their diet it is best kept with other African Cichlids with a similar diet.

Size: 14cm/5.5inches // Temperature: 25C’-27C’ // Water Hardness: 10-20dGH

PH: 7.5-8.6 // Aquarium size: Aquarium size: 62ImperialGallons (280L)

Difficulty: Intermediate

– Astatotilapia Nubila / Haplochromis Nubila – This is a stunning fish. The adult males develop one of the more plain and yet simply beautiful colours seen on any of the African Cichlids. The jet black colour covers the entire body on this fish but the fiery red on the tail fin, edges of the dorsal fin, anal fin and pectoral fins really make it stand out in any aquarium. The females in contrast are dull in colour and like most other African Cichlids are silver/grey-ish in colour. This is not one of the popular species and as such not much talked about in the hobby. However, from what is known it’s probably not suitable for the beginner hobbyist. There are numerous resources that state this fish is highly aggressive, typically more so when breeding. It’s fiery nature means tank mates should be selected carefully and plenty of rock work as well open swimming space should be provided.

This is one of the more common species of Victorian cichlids in the wild as it is also found in the surrounding rivers and water systems unlike many of the other species from this lake that have become extinct or critically endangered.

Size: 10cm/4inches // Temperature: 23C’-25C’ // Water Hardness: 10-20dGH

PH: 7.5-8.6 // Aquarium size: Aquarium size: 62ImperialGallons (280L)

Difficulty: Intermediate