|Food:||Flake, bloodworm, pellet foods|
|How many cichlids in the tank:||Overstock the aquarium to reduce aggression. Start with less aggressive species.|
|Minimum Tank Size:||90 cm (36 in)|
|Environment:||Clean, well-filtered water. Open swimming space, plus rock work for caves and hiding spaces.|
The best-known rift lake in fishkeeping is Lake Malawi. At more than 600 km (375 miles) long and more than 700 m (2296 ft) deep in places, it is the ninth largest lake in the world, and more of a freshwater ocean than a lake.
Because it contains such a massive amount of freshwater, the water chemistry and conditions remain relatively stable. Any pollutants entering the lake, either man-made or in the form of organic waste from fish, are simply diluted in the mass of water.
However, pollutants from life within the lake are relatively small. With no river flowing into it and only one outlet, the lake has had little aquatic life introduced to it and remains fairly isolated.
But there are more than 600 species of fish – the Malawi Cichlids, that feed primarily of algae and the tiny organisms that live within them. There are also invertebrate feeders and almost as many fish-eating cichlids in Lake Malawi as there are algal grazers.
In the home aquarium they feed on pellets and flakes that help them grow.
Water temperature for Malawi cichlids
Malawi Cichlids can be kept at a temperature of 24-26°C (75-79°F), although some other cichlids may prefer slightly warmer Or cooler environments, so always check on the requirements of fish before you buy.
Water quality is not just about chemicals and pollutants. It also involves providing a stable environment for your cichlids, and temperature fluctuations of the water can be very damaging to life in the aquarium.
A standard modern aquarium heater/thermostat of the right wattage should be sufficient to keep temperatures in the aquarium to within 1°C of the set level.
When carrying out water changes, it is important that the new water is either within a few degrees of the aquarium water, or is introduced slowly over a period of time.
In addition to the shock caused to the fish, changes in temperature can also kill filter bacteria, resulting in increased pollution levels. Keeping the temperature of the aquarium constant is mainly a matter of common sense. Avoid placing the tank near doors, radiators, and direct sunlight, as well as any areas where the ambient temperature is too high or very low.
Sometimes a change in temperature can be a good thing for your fish; in certain species, it can trigger spawning, and a rapid increase by a couple Of degrees can kill some diseases, but only try this if you know exactly what you are doing.
What should be the pH level for Malawi cichlids?
The rock around the lake and past volcanic activity releasing mineral ions. combined with comparatively little organic life. give the water a high pH level of between 7.5 and 8.5. The high pH level can be seen particularly in the shallows, where most fish are found.
Wave action in the shallows increases the gas exchange between the water and the air. allowing carbon dioxide to escape. The reduction of carbon dioxide in the water causes less carbonic acid to be produced. so there is little acidic organic substance in the water to keep pH levels down.
As with other cichlids, the Lake Malawi cichlids are especially territorial and aggressive toward each other. This can be combated by densely stocking the fish, thus eliminating the chances of territories being formed.
Given dense stocking levels and the fish’s messy feeding habits. the waste production in the aquarium is increased. It is important to use a good method of filtration in the aquarium – ideally an oversized external filter.
In their natural habitat, there are many rocks in which the fish can hide from predators and aggressive individuals. This must also be re-created in the aquarium.
Build up rockwork against the entire back and sides of the aquarium. leaving numerous holes and caves as hiding places. To keep pH levels high, you can use calcium-based rocks, such as tufa or ocean rock, in the aquarium.
How to raise the pH level in the tank?
If the pH drops, these rocks will release calcium into the water, acting as a buffer and raising the hardness and pH. Increased surface agitation also allows carbon dioxide to escape, preventing drops in pH. Remember that water chemistry is very stable in the lake, so fluctuations in water chemistry in the aquarium are not favorable to the fish.
GH (General Hardness)
GH level for Lake Malawi cichlids is about 15-25°dGH at home tank. Water hardness is a measure of the amount Of dissolved calcium and magnesium salts in the water.
Water is often described as hard or soft, especially in relation to keeping certain fish species. The majority of tropical freshwater fish kept by hobbyists prefer neutral or slightly soft/acidic water.
Water-rich in calcium salts is “hard,” while water with few dissolved salts is “soft.” Total, or general, hardness is made up of temporary and permanent hardness and is measured in degrees of hardness (°dGH).
How to lower the GH in the tank?
Temporary hardness is caused by the presence of calcium bicarbonate in the water and can be removed by boiling Permanent hardness is caused by calcium and magnesium sulfate and cannot be easily removed.
Hardness is closely linked to alkalinity because temporary hardness is mainly made up of bicarbonates. which also affect alkalinity. Hard water is usually alkaline and soft water is often acidic.
Water hardness affects osmoregulation in fish and although fish can be acclimatized over time to abnormal water hardness levels (i.e., harder or softer than they prefer), they will be under Stress and will not live as long or be as “happy.”
Hi, my name is Sean, and I’m the primary writer on the site. I’m blogging mostly about freshwater and saltwater aquariums, fish, invertebrates, and plants. I’m experienced in the fishkeeping hobby for many years. Over the years I have kept many tanks, and have recently begun getting more serious in wanting to become a professional aquarist. All my knowledge comes from experience and reading forums and a lot of informative sites. In pursuit of becoming a professional, I also want to inspire as many people as I can to pick up this hobby and keep the public interest growing.
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