Mbuna Cichilds In Your Aquarium
Mbuna Cichlids are a species of fish that come from Lake Malawi in Africa. Since Mbuna means rockfish, it’s not surprising that these fish live among piles of rocks and caves. The rock-dwelling Mbunas are primarily herbivorous or omnivorous.
The Mbuna Cichlids grow to be 4 to 5 inches long. In addition, the Mbuna Cichlid is quite aggressive and territorial. For this reason, it is best to keep them in groups. Ideally, you want to have a group of at least 15. This will help to minimize the aggressiveness and keep any one fish from being singled out and picked on too much.
Because of the size of the fish and the fact that it is best to keep them in groups of at least 15, you’ll need a sizeable tank. When the Mbunas are young (about 2 inches long), a 30 gallon tank is sufficient to house 15 fish. As soon as the grow a bit, it will be necessary to have at least a 75 gallon tank.
The best tank set up for Mbunas is one with plenty of rocks and hiding places. It is not advisable to have a thick layer of gravel. In fact, having no gravel is the best bet. Likewise, having plants is unnecessary. Mbunas will tend to destroy live plants, so if you are really keen on having plants, try one or two plastic ones.
The ideal water temperature for the Mbuna is rather warm, approximately 78 to 80 degrees. The wider range is 74 to 83 degrees. At the lower end of the range, Mbunas will be less active, however, the higher end of the range is recommended for breeding. If necessary, you can invest in a water heater to maintain these temperatures.
pH is quite important to these fish. It is important to keep the pH as close to 8 as possible.
As Mbunas are herbivoresomnivores, they will need some green food in their diet. This can be accomplished by supplementing with some vegetable fish flakes or Spirulina. A prepared tropical fish flake available in pet stores is a good choice, as it also contains shrimp meal. Do not feed Mbunas worms of any sort.
If you plan to breed the Mbuna Cichlids, it’s important to use various methods to distinguish the males from females. Generally, the males are a bit larger and have more intense coloration. They are also usually more territorial. The Mbunas are mouthbreeders, so the female keeps her eggs and fry in her mouth until she is ready to release them. It’s a good idea to keep the female in a separate smaller tank until she releases her fry naturally.
Mbuna Cichlids are good for beginners, as long as you know the needs and habits of this lovely fish.