Rocky reef aquarium type JBL Malawi Rocks®

JBL Malawi Rocks®

Rocky reef aquarium JBL Malawi Rocks®

The Malawi Lake resembles a coral reef with its colourful fish. In addition the cichlids display some very interesting behaviour: they brood their eggs in their mouth. Anyone looking for a colourful aquarium with very lively and interesting fish, will find it in the JBL Malawi Rocks®!

Malawi cichlids belong to the most colourful freshwater fish and their mouth brooding is one of the most interesting brooding behaviours of all fish. Since cichlids are territory-forming and they strongly defend their territory there are often fights. It is therefore important to create hiding places and territorial boundaries with the help of stones and plants. Because of the fish’s aggressive behaviour, it is difficult to add fish at a later date. However should you need to do this, it’s best to separate a part of the aquarium with a partition pane where you can add the “newcomers” until the stock is accustomed to them. Only then can the pane be removed. Please take this into account when setting up the aquarium.

Modelled on nature

The Lake Malawi in Africa has developed a quite unique fauna over millions of years. The cichlids have evolved to adapt to the lake’s diverse habitats and developed endemic (only existent there) species. Even within the species colour varieties have developed since rocky reefs are often separated by large areas of sand, which are a natural barrier for the fish. This way a species can be blue monochrome coloured at one spot and blue striped 1000 m away at the next rocky reef. Many species from the shallow water (up to 15 meters in depth) are grazing fish species which scrape the growth (algae with the microorganisms) from the rocks. Some species are predators which feed off other fish and their brood. Plants are only to be found at a few shore areas of the lake. Most of the regions consist of sandy areas with stones.


Where is the best place to put your aquarium?

Dimensions: 100 x 40 x 50 cm = 200 litres, weight: approx. 260 kg (goes easy on your floor!)

What are the electricity costs?

Maximum € 16.40 per month.

Who takes care of the aquarium during your holiday?

An automatic feeder ( JBL AutoFood BLACK ) will provide the supply.

What are the costs of the JBL Malawi Rocks®?

Aquarium with cover: approx. € 220

Aquarium cabinet: approx. € 160

Fish & plants & decoration: approx. € 370

Technical items &food & care products: approx. € 340

How do I get my Malawi Rocks® home?*

Your aquatics retailer will deliver the aquarium to your home for € 50**

Your aquatics retailer will set up your MalawiRock for € 100**

Your aquatics retailer will maintain your Malawi Rocks® for € 100**

*This service is only available at a few participating aquatic retailers

** Service prices vary. Please contact your aquatic retailers.

Aquarium information


100 x 40 x 50 cm = 200 l

Water values

pH value: 7.5-9.0

KH: 5-10 °dKH

Nitrite (NO2): 0 mg/l

Temperature: 24-27 °C

The decoration to suit your JBL Malawi Rocks®

Here you can see which substrate and plants you need for your aquarium to look like a piece of Lake Malawi.


JBL Sansibar SNOW

Snow-white substrate for freshwater and marine aquariums and aqua-terrariums

  • Very fine sandy soil for all aquarium types: substrate for fresh and saltwater aquariums as well as aqua-terrariums and terrariums
ab 15,71 €

Lay a foam mat ( JBL AquaPad ) under the stones to protect the bottom pane. Position the stones before adding the sand.

Porous rocks

20 kg


These plants suit a rocky reef aquarium.

Plant (A)

Jungle Val (Vallisneria americana gigantea)

4 plants

Plant (B)

Dwarf Anubias (Anubias barteri var. nana Bonsai)

10 plants

Planting plan

Here you see what plants are to be placed at what position of the aquarium. The letters characterise the plant species, mentioned above.

Aquarium technology

This outline shows all the technical products you need for the Lake Malawi themed aquarium and a price quotation to give you an idea of the costs involved.

Used products
JBL CristalProfi e902 greenline
External filter for aquariums from 90 - 300 litres
from 114,71 €
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High-performance LED light for freshwater aquariums
from 83,91 €
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LED effect light as supplement to JBL LED SOLAR Natur
from 69,99 €
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JBL ProFlora m502
Plant fertiliser system with refillable cylinder and night switch-off
from 234,45 €
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JBL ProFlora Direct
High performance direct diffuser for CO2
from 23,77 €
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JBL Aquarium Thermometer Slim
Slim glass precision thermometer
from 4,78 €
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JBL ProTemp S 200
Heating for aquariums, 200 W safety heater-stat with protective basket
from 24,78 €
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JBL Floaty II
Floating glass cleaning magnet for aquariums
from 11,34 €
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The animal stock for the rocky reef aquarium

The following animals suit your Lake Malawi aquarium:

Yemon yellow lab

Labidochromis caeruleus

5 animals

Demasoni cichlid

Pseudotropheus demasoni

5 animals

Dwarf Lake Syno

Synodontis lucipinnis

3 animals

Tiger snails

Neritina sp.

8 animals

Video about the setup of the JBL Malawi Rocks®

In an 8 minute video we show you how the completed aquarium will look like and how to set it up step by step

How to maintain your rocky reef aquarium

Water change

1/3 partial water change with substrate cleaner JBL AquaEx Set 45-70 .

Plant care

If the Jungle Val plants become too long and start taking away too much light from the water surface, the leaves need to be pruned or removed. Please always remove dying or diseased leaves – this can be easily done with long scissors ( JBL ProScape Tool S curved ).

Fertilisation plan

Add weekly 15 ml liquid fertiliser ( JBL Ferropol ).

CO2 application in Malawi Lake Aquariums

A CO2 system is also useful in this aquarium type, even if almost nobody talks about it. With the lack of CO2 it happens, that the plants elute CO2 from the carbonate hardness of the water. As a result the carbonate hardness decreases and lime deposits at the plant leaves (key word: biogenic decalcification; for more information see Water values ). With the use of a CO2 system you can prevent this problem, keeping the carbonate hardness stable and promoting clearly visible the plant growth.

Maintenance time per week

30 minutes.

How often do you need to empty and to clean the complete aquarium?

Your JBL Malawi Rocks® can stay healthy and beautiful for many years with the above mentioned care. Redecorating your aquarium after a few years, if you wish, will be no problem.


2-3 x daily as much as the fish can eat in 3 minutes.

JBL NovoMalawi
Main food for algae-eating cichlids
from 6,25 €
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JBL NovoGranoMix
Main food for medium-sized and large aquarium fish
from 9,06 €
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JBL Krill
Premium main food flakes for all aquarium fish
from 4,29 €
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Special features

The aquarium shouldn’t be situated at a too bright place since direct sunlight promotes the algae growth.


The water of the Lake Malawi has a special feature: The carbonate hardness is higher than the general hardness. In most tap waters it is the other way round and the GH shows the higher value. With the help of a special mineral salt ( JBL Aquadur Malawi/Tanganjika ) you can adapt your tap water so that it complies with the water of Lake Malawi. For hard starting water we recommend an osmosis system and the specific adjustment of the water with JBL Aquadur Malawi/Tanganjika .

When adding the stones please take care that the stones are firmly placed on top of each other. To be on the safe side you can bond them with JBL ProHaru Universal 80ml . The stones need to be tilted to each other or be glued that way, that no pressure builds up on the side or rear pane. They must not touch the panes.

L'acqua di rete non è sempre adatta per i pesci. Per questa ragione, prima di inserirli, va preparata con un condizionatore d'acqua idoneo ( JBL Biotopol ). Please add a bacteria starter ( JBL Denitrol ) one hour later and you can add the fish. Please check the nitrite content of the water every second day during the first two weeks using the JBL Nitrite Test NO2 . You can use further water tests to check in the Water Analysis Online Laboratory , whether the water is providing optimal conditions for fish, invertebrates and plants.

You can find the JBL Malawi Rocks® at these specialist dealers

A lot of pet supply retailers exhibit fully equipped Lake Malawi themed aquariums in their outlets and have everything you need for this aquarium in their product range.

This retailer list, available from 01 September 2018, helps you locate a specialist dealer, where you can view and buy this themed JBL aquarium, by postcode.

Experiencing the habit up close

A JBL expedition has already taken us to Lake Malawi in East Africa. In our report you can find out what research findings our team brought back with them and the many photos will give you an impression about the beauty of this habitat above and under water.

Expedition 2006 - South Africa and Lake Malawi

From 7.09.06 - 23.09.06 the JBL Research team traveled to Africa with specialists from Germany, Holland, South Africa and Switzerland. The program focused on aquaristic research and SharkProject and Dr. Erich Ritter’s shark school.