Mbuna Cichlids are some of the hardy species of fish you can get. Since they are hardy, it is expected that such fish would generally be easy to breed. So, even if you are new to keeping fish in a tank, you will find it always a great choice to get for yourself.
There is a lot more to Mbuna Cichlids than being easy to keep. That is something I want to look at in this guide to help you learn more about it.
Mbuna Cichlids Habitat
To help you understand how best to set up the Mbuna Cichlids tank, first I look at its natural habitat. This helps you learn more about what makes the Mbuna Cichlids special.
Mbuna Cichlids have their origin in Malawi mostly along the Great Rift Valley. In this rift valley, you will come across different types of rivers all filled with fish of various species and Mbuna is one of them.
The fish has generally adapted to its new surroundings in other parts of the world too. That is how you can find Mbuna too in other parts doing very well.
You can easily say it is a freshwater reef fish. You will also like the colorful appearance of the fish. In most cases, it would either be blue or yellow. These colors make the fish easily stand out when placed in a tank.
Keeping the Mbuna Cichlids at Home
It is possible to keep Mbuna at home too. All you have to do is set up the right environment for the fish species.
The biggest consideration for the tank environment is through using filters. This is because the fish naturally lives in environments without pollutants and generally rich in oxygen. To replicate this, consider getting both mechanical and biological filters in place.
You should also try to do more water changes than you would do for other species. This allows the fish to have an environment free from nitrates and other types of contaminants. Still, this activity aerates the water, making it rich in oxygen.
Of course, water chemistry is also important. Naturally, the fish is found in areas with high minerals. This means that the pH can be higher too. The same applies to carbonate hardness and the general hardness of the water.
Even though it might sometimes live in areas with high pH, try to keep the pH within the balanced region. This is important to make the fish enjoy its habitat even more.
The Tank Size and Set Up
Now that you understand its habitat, consider choosing the right tank too.
It is advisable to choose a tank of size 20 to 30 gallons. This is because the Mbuna Cichlids are medium-sized and would need more space than some of the fish species you might have kept before.
When setting up the tank, there are a few things you should do. Here are some of them.
- Start by adding a substrate at the bottom of the tank. The substrate should be easy to burrow since this type of fish likes such an activity. You can add about 2 inches of the substrate to provide enough play area.
- Once the substrate is added, it is time to add a cave. It is advisable to add one cave per fish. You could use rocks to form the caves. These caves are important to provide hiding spots for your fish.
- Proceed to treat the water with a water conditioner and aquarium salt. It is advisable that this should be done repeatedly to provide the Mbuna Cichlids with the right conditions such as pH and water hardness.
- You may have to add an aquarium heater depending on your climate. This will help in maintaining the water temperature between 74 to 82 degrees F. Use a heater that can sit at the water level. This is because the fish tends to burrow around and you do not want them coming into contact with the heater.
- You still need to consider giving the Mbuna Cichlid enough exposure to UV light. It is recommended that you offer 8 to 10 hours of exposure. You could consider using 2 bulbs for smaller tanks or 4 bulbs for deeper tanks. If each bulb is 40 watts, that should be good for UV light projection.
Choosing a Species
When choosing a Mbuna Cichlid, consider opting for a less aggressive species. Yes, it is possible to come across different species of Mbuna. Some might be too aggressive to have several of them in one tank. However, the less aggressive will be great for making a community tank.
Some of the species to consider are Tropheops, T. Chilumba, and Pseudotropheus acei. Those to avoid include Maylandia lombardoi and Melanochromis auratus.
You are also advised to have around 20 fish for each tank. This somehow helps with deterring aggression in the tank. Aim for having at least two females for every male. This is another strategy to minimize aggression.
Feeding the Mbuna Cichlids
You always have to make sure that the Mbuna Cichlid gets the right nutrition. That is why you need to consider food meant for herbivorous fish. This is because the fish requires a low-protein diet containing algae and other types of plants.
You could still find such food types available in the form of pellets, granules, and flakes. They should be able to satisfy the fish and keep it full for longer. Also, look at the food packaging and make sure it says at most 35% protein.
How much food is enough?
As expected, you have to feed the fish daily. Once a day should be good enough. You can try to skip feeding one day per week so that the fish can feed on algae in the tank.
It is also best to provide just enough food that the fish can eat in 5 minutes. As for the young cichlids, consider feeding them twice a day.
So, always specify the type of fish you want to feed when looking for food. This will allow you to get the right one.
Maintaining its Health
For the most part, you will find that maintaining the health of Mbuna Cichlids is easy. Below are the tips you should consider.
- Change around 25% of the water in the tank each week. You can be sure to leave the Mbuna cichlids having clean water that is also free from ammonia and nitrates.
- Consider treating the white spots or ich on the fish using more heat and aquarium salt. The white spots are normally fungus and increasing the water temperature and aquarium salt can help deal with them.
- You could still use bacterial and fungus eliminators to deal with fin rot and other conditions. If you can eliminate the fungus early, it will not spread to the other fish.
So far you can see that a Mbuna cichlid is not hard to keep. Once you get to understand several things I have mentioned above, you can easily keep one or several in your tank. Take the time to always set up its tank right. With the tank having the right conditions, the species is each to keep. You do not need to worry so much about its health anymore.