It's nice to have an aquarium in the house as a piece of wildlife, and doubly joyful when it is inhabited by unusual and exotic fish shimmering with bright colors. Very common and very diverse are African cichlids, which differ in size, shape and spectacular appearance.
All members of the Cichlid family live in the African Great Lakes, including Kivu, Albert, Edward, Rudolf, Nyasa, Tanganyika and Victoria (listed in ascending area). The inhabitants of the last two reservoirs, where they occupied all the ecological niches that can be accessed by fish, are best studied. In another African lake - Malawi - there are about 500 species.
The total number of these unusual and bright fish is 1500 species. They are all known to have descended from the same ancestor, a rapid divergence (10 million years) contributing to modern diversity. According to the latest data, African cichlids are represented in Lake Victoria by 200species, and all of them differ in food preference and morphological features. This is an amazing fact. Especially considering the fact that the lake was formed 400 thousand years ago and such active speciation requires a longer period and isolation of populations from each other. Aquarists are attracted to fish not only by their external beauty, but also by their funny behavior, quick wit, it is believed that they are able to recognize their owner.
African cichlids: description
These are quite massive fish with a high body, compressed from the sides, and a large head, on which a fatty “pillow” forms in males with age. The anal and dorsal fins are elongated along the body; in many species, sexual dimorphism is observed. Sizes range from 5 to 70 cm, in particular African tilapia reaches up to half a meter in length. For home keeping, they are interesting for their bright tropical beauty. It is believed that these are typical predators, which is fundamentally wrong. With the right choice of species, you can easily and seamlessly hook them up with other fish. They are long-lived and can even be kept in captivity for up to 25 years.
There is every reason to think that African cichlids had a common omnivorous or insectivorous ancestor. In the end, they evolved and a very narrow specification developed, each species occupied a certain food niche: mollusks, algae, plankton, insects, other fish or their scales, etc. This separation allowed a large number of individuals to coexist together, while maintainingrichest variety. This fact cannot be ignored when keeping cichlids in a home aquarium. However, it won't give you much trouble.
African cichlids content
Lake cichlids are very decorative, one of their advantages is a quick adaptation to new living conditions. They are not picky about the food supply, resistant to diseases, not demanding on water temperature and are capable of reproduction in the environment in which they live. One of the main features is the poor tolerance of an acidic environment and soft water, they should be provided with pH=7, 0-5, 8, it is enough to maintain the temperature at + 25 ° С. In nature, in natural habitats, water remains unchanged, so fish do not tolerate temperature fluctuations; moreover, for some representatives of Lake Tanganyika, a temperature increase above 30 ° C is fatal.
A mandatory attribute of an aquarium in which African cichlids live is its decoration with decorative elements. So, it is recommended to build an imitation of natural rocks from stones, with corridors and caves. It is best if such a design is located at the back wall of the aquarium in its entire height. Limestone and marble are allowed. It is not customary to plant plants, but you can add oak, lemongrass to the interior. But you should start green algae, moreover, you need to let them braid the stones and the side walls of the vessel. Cichlids are sensitive to organic pollution, so be sure to put a carbon filter, change the water regularly, but not more than 10% per week of the total.
It is impossible to list all the types of fish that are kept in aquariums in one article, we will only draw your attention to a few.
- Princess of Burundi is an inhabitant of Fr. Tanganyika is considered to be insectivorous. It is jumping, so it is recommended to cover the aquarium with glass. African cichlids (photo above) of this species are characterized by a noble sandy color with a blue tint and golden "earrings" on the gill covers. For a full-fledged content, a flock of 6-10 individuals is needed.
- Blue dolphin. Adult fish of a characteristic color, males with a large fat growth on the forehead. This is one of the largest representatives of cichlids and even when kept in an aquarium it can grow up to 25 cm in length. By nature, a calm and balanced fish, peacefully coexisting with other species.
- Melanochromis Johans - small fish up to 10 cm in size with clear sexual dimorphism. Males are black and blue with light blue stripes or spots (second photo), females are yellow-orange. Very mobile, omnivorous.
- Hummingbird - lives in Lake Malawi, a rare species, but thanks to breeders common in aquariums. It has a characteristic canary-yellow color, anal and dorsal fin with a blue stripe. For breeding, you need a couple and an aquarium of at least 80 liters in volume.
- The Queen of Tanganyika is a spectacular and bright blue fish with dark stripes (on the first photo). Grow up to 35 cm in length, males withan impressive forehead, they are distinguished by a sedate and measured behavior, interesting character traits and quick wits. Favorite food - snails, main food - squid, fish fillet, shrimps.