Mbuna cichlid

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mbuna cichlid


Mbuna originate in lake Malawi. The name Mbuna refers to a large group of cichlids (12 genera) that display a variety of colours.


Up to 15cm

Aquarium Size:

240l/60 US gal for a group of 8 (a group of 8 is considered the minimum)

Preferred water conditions:

  • Temp: 24 – 28°C
  • pH: 7.5 – 9
  • Hardness: Medium – Hard


All Mbuna are considered herbivores other than Labiochromis. Mbuna feed on algae supplemented with the odd insect or crustacean in the wild. Vegetable based prepared foods are ideal as a staple diet.


Mbuna are aggressive and territorial. They do best in larger tanks where individual territories can be established. Larger groups are also recommended to spread aggression.

Bottom-dwelling tank mates can be successful but if they wander too far into a Mbuna’s established territory they may be attacked, particularly when breeding.

A ratio of 1 male to 3 females should work well.

Mbuna are rock dwellers so sea rock with plenty of hiding places provides an ideal environment for them, this also provides lots of places for fry to hide if you are hoping to breed them.


Males grow larger and are more brightly colored.


Mbuna are mouthbrooders and begin breeding when they reach around 3 inches in size.

Males will dig a pit in which females will lay their eggs. Once fertilised the female will scoop them into her mouth to incubate them.

Netting the female at this point is unadvisable as this may cause her to spit out the eggs.

The fry are usually released after around 4 weeks.


Mbuna are noted as one of the most aggressive Malawi cichlids and are ideally suited to a species only tank. Some tank mates, such as loaches and pleco’s can work well though.

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