African Cichlid Tank Profile

Tank Size: 230Lt
Occupants: African Cichlids
Plants: Anubias barteri
Filtration: 2 Magnum Pro hang on filters and 1/3 UGF
Lighting: 300W
Substrate: Fine crushed coral
Location: Australia

Comments: I can say that a Tanganyika setup is a direct medium to typical freshwater communities and saltwater. The water requires pristine conditions and the right chemistry in order for the fish to thrive. The tank has been set up for about a year at the time of these photos, but the community was rather new. I transferred my Malawi group to a larger tank as they grew out of this 225 liter, and decided to try a Tanganikan community. The fish are rather intelligent like most all cichlids, but not as agressive as some may think. I find these fish to be constantly up to something, whether it be trying to attract a female, scouring the crevices and caves, or home building. There’s plenty of action going on, but no damage being done. The shell dwellers I find particularly fascinating. I allow 2 shells per fish and have distributed 3 shell groupings within the tank. They are constantly escavating their homes, making paths right to the entrance, guarding, etc.

One thing I may mention from experience it that these fish like calmer water…they tend not to utilize parts of the tank where there’s a lot of turbulence. It was quite a trick to have 2 power filters, and one powerhead outputting a total of 2500 L/h without making a harsh current in the tank. The way I did this was to first create a pile of rocks and use spray bars on the outlets with the output behind the rocks to block the current. It achieved two things: it keeps the digging fish from the most useful part of the undergravel plate by having the spraybars output directly down towards the plate, which helps keep organic matter from settling in that area, and it made a larger living area for the fish in the rest of the tank.

The terrain is very important for a Tanganyikan community. It shuold have plenty of rocks and hiding places. These fish seem to love lurking in crevices and luring other fish to explore with them (most fish in this tank are schooling cichlids). You can also utilize plants with these fishes as they will not turn them into salad bars like Malawi’s. I chose a very hardy Anubias barteri plant which is a low light species and can take the higher pH and salt content without shrivelling up. The leaves are nice and thick, so it would also be harder for fish to take a bite, eat, or attack the plants.

I keep the pH at 8.6 and use a mix of Tanganyika buffer and Tanganyika salts to help duplicate their natural environment. The water temperature is at a constant 26°C. I use a double fluorescent fixture with one daylight bulb and one actinic blue bulb (which is their favorite) to simulate dusk, dawn. I perform one 25% water change per week with a gravel siphon and make the fish fast every sunday. One very important tip if you plan to keep Cyprichromis or Paracyprichromis.. be very careful of the water additives you use and how you import them into the tank. make sure you dilute everything first as a single gasp of plant additives or too much buffer may have adverse effects.

Once you’ve cared for and observed a Tanganyikan community in such an environment it’s not hard to imagine what the fish are thinking as they frolic through endless caves and caverns, plants, and even empty shells. I refer to this tank the “playground”.