PRONOVO WORLD TRIP - Visiting the cichlids from Lake Tanganyika Part 1

The cichlids from Lake Tanganyika are characterised above all by their different behavioural patterns. Some hide in snail shells, others live in groups in the open water and others tend to hide in caves. But what’s important when keeping them, how does their diet differ and how big an aquarium do they need? In the following article we will take a closer look at these things.

The Lake Tanganyika habitat

Along with Lake Malawi, Lake Tanganyika is one of the most famous rift valley lakes in the world, especially when it comes to cichlids. It is the second deepest lake on earth (1,470 m) and stretches over a length of more than 670 km. The habitat is mainly characterised by barren rocky reefs, kilometre-wide sandy areas and steep rock biotopes.

The water values in nature are exceptional. The carbonate hardness of 16-18 °dKH is higher than the general hardness (10-11 °dGH) and the pH value is 8.8 and 9.0 with a conductivity of 645-690 µS/cm. 

Keeping Tanganyika cichlids in the aquarium

The beauty of Tanganyika cichlids is that there are species that can be kept in small aquariums and species that require at least 600 litres. So there is something for every aquarist. As mentioned above, the diversity of Lake Tanganyika cichlids is enormous and there are carnivores, plankton eaters and growth eaters, as well as specialists, which, as an example, only eat the scales of other fish (Plecodus). A few individual genera are described in more detail below. 

In Part 1, let's first look at the predatory representatives:

Shell dwellers

Small but interesting species are the shell dwellers of Lake Tanganyika, which belong to the carnivorous cichlids. These include species such as Neolamprologus multifasciatus  or Neolamprologus ocellatus . They are found in the bottom zone and, as the name suggests, inhabit snail shells. Accordingly, they need a large supply of sand and plenty of empty snail shells. They live in large colonies in the wild and should best be kept as a harem (more females than males) in the aquarium. The tank needs an edge length of at least 60 - 80 cm. It is also interesting to know that each individual pair requires its own snail shell, which is also used for spawning. Shell dwellers grow to about 4-5 cm and are considered a peaceful species. However, when their offspring are due, they defend their territory intensively. They can easily be socialised with other Tanganyika cichlids, which tend to inhabit the rockier regions.


Julies, such as Julidochromis marlieri , tend to inhabit the rocky regions near the shore of the lake. They also belong to the carnivorous species and show a high level of intra-species aggression. To counteract this, the aquarium should be well structured with many caves and hiding places. As they are among the largest julies at 15 cm, the tank ought to have an edge length of at least 120 cm. Julidochromis can be kept either in pairs or in groups of at least five. Here, too, it is important to note that there should be more females than males. As they are cave breeders, they prefer to spawn between stones and rocks on the ceilings. If the aquarium is large enough, they can be socialised with other similarly sized cichlids from Lake Tanganyika.

Front cichlid

One of the largest representatives of the lake is the front cichlid or Cyphotilapia frontosa . It can reach a total size of 40 cm and therefore needs a lot of space in the aquarium (at least 200 cm edge length). It is a very peaceful contemporary that also belongs to the carnivorous species. Nevertheless smaller tank inhabitants can still be eaten. To avoid this, we recommended you socialise it with larger cichlids from the lake. The tank needs to be well laid out with stone structures and a group needs to consist of at least five fish (harem keeping). Frontosas belong to the mouth breeders and the female takes over the brood care.

The right food for predatory cichlids from Lake Tanganyika - JBL PRONOVO TANGANYIKA FLAKES & GRANO M

Since the majority of the kept cichlids from Lake Tanganyika are predatory, the food for predatory species was named PRONOVO TANGANYIKA. It is considered the staple food for both predatory cichlids from Lake Tanganyika and Lake Malawi and is available as flakes or granulate ( JBL PRONOVO TANGANYIKA FLAKES M & JBL PRONOVO TANGANYIKA GRANO M ). In the wild they feed on fish, micro-organisms, shrimps and fish fry. The food takes into account the natural requirements of the fish and thus ensures a healthy, species-appropriate diet. The high-quality raw ingredients lead to a very high acceptance even among picky cichlid species. The natural carotenoids contained in shrimps ensure perfect colouration of your Tanganyika cichlids. The Cichlid Sticks are ideal for the very large predators of 20-40 cm ( JBL PRONOVO CICHLID GRANO XL ).

All JBL PRONOVO foods are made from selected, natural raw ingedients and contain no artificial additives, such as colourings. In addition each food is prebiotic, which means that special dietary fibres provide nourishment for the beneficial intestinal bacteria, thus promoting healthy digestion.

Find out more about the diet of Tanganyika cichlids in this video: JBL TV #50: Fish nutrition in the aquarium Part 1 - Cichlids, bottom dwellers & community aquarium

You can read more about Lake Tanganyika here: Lake Tanganyika – a 670 km long aquarium

© 10.09.2023

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Lake Tanganyika – a 670 km long aquarium

I must admit that the visit to Lake Tanganyika was a very emotional one for me. Tanganyika cichlids were my very first aquarium fish. They really excited me 40 years ago and they still fascinate me. And when you stand on the shore of the lake for the first time and look beneath the seemingly endless water surface with your diving goggles, it almost brings tears to your eyes.

JBL TV #50: Fish nutrition in the aquarium Part 1 - Cichlids, bottom dwellers & community aquarium

Fish nutrition is a complex issue, just as it is for us humans. But what does species-appropriate nutrition mean? Is one main food sufficient? What do our ornamental fish eat in the wild?

PRONOVO WORLD TRIP - Visiting the cichlids from Lake Tanganyika Part 2

Let us now turn to the growth eaters from Lake Tanganyika. They are characterised by a wide, (mostly) inferior mouth equipped with lots of small teeth. With this "rasping tool", many of the endemic (only living there) cichlids have specialised in grazing the algae growth off the rocks, along with all the micro-organisms living within it.
Moritz Schrobenhauser
Moritz Schrobenhauser

Online Marketing, E-Commerce

Su di me: Tauchen, Aquaristik, Handball


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