A Critical Guide About Lake Victoria Cichlids Species

A Critical Guide About Lake Victoria Cichlids Species

About Lake Victoria

At a certain point, Lake Victoria used to be home to over 500 types of African cichlids as well as other indigenous fish like tilapia, which are vital food sources.

Regrettably, the initiation of the invasive Nile perch in the early 1950s and 1960s caused a crisis in Lake Victoria. This invasive breed of fish has wreaked havoc on the ecosystem and is suspected of being responsible for the downfall of hundreds of other species.

Unfortunately, just a few species survive, fighting the Nile perch’s predators and the lake’s changing climate.

Lake Victoria has been Africa’s largest lake by total surface area and the Nile River’s primary source. It is located between Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.

Compared to Lakes Malawi and Tanganyika, Victoria is a comparatively shallow lake, with a maximum depth of roughly 240’.

Natural Environment

Based on the season, Lake Victoria’s surface water temperature ranges from 70 to 81 degrees Fahrenheit, with potential hydrogen[pH] of 7.8 to 8.6 and a GH (General hardness) of 2 to 8.

For those who aren’t chemists, this means the water is acidic and harsh, though not quite as hard as Lake Tanganyika and Malawi’s “liquid rock.”

Lake Victoria Species

Lake Victoria Cichlids are very common and known to be a little bit hostile and territorial. They are often mixed with mbuna found in Lake Malawi in fish tanks. They can live with a lot of them in a big tank with many shelters.

Along with many of their distant relatives in Lake Malawi, Victorian “haps” are also maternal mouthbrooders. Females store the eggs and fry in a sac in their neck over many weeks until they’re old enough to take care of themselves.

Popular Lake Victoria Cichlids Include:

HAPLOCHROMIS SP. #44 “THICK SKIN”

Haplochromis sp 44
Haplochromis sp 44

Fish retailers and hobbyists both frequently mislabel this beautifully brilliant and reasonably among the popular Lake Victoria Cichlids as Haplochromis obliquidens.

These Lake Victoria Cichlids reside in shallow waters on the lake’s north and east coasts in the wild. They’re a somewhat aggressive breed that needs a reasonably large tank [75 gallons or more] to make them feel comfortable. This aggressive temperament makes them an ideal fit for several of the mbuna from Lake Malawi, and they are their most common tank mates in terms of hobby.

Males and females grow beautiful colours that alter their moods and age and are particularly vibrant when contending for mating rights. The male species can grow 5”, while females are smaller at 3”.

Most fishes like mbuna do well in tanks with lots of rocks and caves, especially if kept in a cluster with many males.

These Lake Victoria Cichlids species are small predators in the wild, primarily feeding on insect larvae. They will excel on an aquarium flake that is full of nutrients, but a few treats of different live foods are always welcome.

RUBY GREEN CICHLID

The Haplochromis sp. a.k.a “ruby green” isn’t technically among the Lake Victoria Cichlids family; it’s a species belonging to the adjacent lake Nawampassa and Lakes Kyoga. It is, however, a direct ancestor of the real Lake Victorian cichlids and is thus used in this list.

The males reach a maximum size of 4” while the females get 3”. These are some of the calmest Haps and are pretty shy, particularly when they are young.

Males have to be in a species-specific tank with enough females as prospective breeding mates to show their full colour; their colours will remain subdued in a tank with more dominant species.

The Ruby greens are productive spawners, regularly producing broods of up to 20-40 fry, which is why they’re so popular in the fish tank hobby. They do well in a ratio of 1 male to 2-3 females, as have many other similar species.

RUBY GREEN CICHLID
RUBY GREEN CICHLID

KENYA GOLD CICHLID

The Haplochromis sp. A.k.a “Kenya Gold” is a calm fish with attitude, with fully developed males measuring 3.5” and fully grown females measuring 2”.

These Lake Victoria Cichlids can be effectively kept in generally calm community tanks, but they can also carry their own against even the most provincial Haps and mbuna. Numerous males are less of an issue in this species than they are with most others, and several males can typically realize their full-colour potential even without murderous tendencies seen in other dangerous species.

PUNDAMILIA NYEREREI

The most vibrant Lake Victoria Cichlids can be found in Lake Victoria’s southernmost reaches, along the Tanzanian coast. This species is pretty aggressive.

These males reach growth of around 4”, while the females are significantly smaller, and the males have a striking colour shown above, with a bright orange dorsal fin and reddish or orange over their top half. The bottom half is comprised of five to eight dark vertical bars on a greenish-yellow or yellow background.

Several males of this Lake Victoria Cichlids species are always seeking to procreate, and they will pursue females across the tank. Males will also fight fiercely with several other males for breeding privileges, resulting in just one male per tank.

PUNDAMILIA NYEREREI
PUNDAMILIA NYEREREI

CHRISTMAS FULU

Xystichromis phytophagus is the scientific name for these Lake Victoria Cichlids, and it’s just too long for me. The popular name comes from the male’s unique red and green colouring, which is clearly suggestive of Christmas decorations.

Christmas Fulu’s reach a maximum size of almost four ¼” for males and 3.5” for females, which is typical of Haps. They are extremely hostile, especially when it comes to other males of their kind, as little as they are.

These Lake Victoria Cichlids species are generally vegetarian and feed primarily on algae.

These lovely Christmas Fulu has been driven to extinction in Lake Victoria, although it can still be found in the wild in neighbouring Lake Kanyaboli. Hobbyists can get the majority of their stock from breeding programs.

Final Thoughts About Lake Victoria Cichlids

Cichlids from Lake Victoria and the environment of that lake are stunning and fascinating creatures.

The Lake Victoria Cichlids have a broad spectrum of personalities, from calm to aggressive. The more hostile species might add a unique twist to a mbuna aquarium, while the less hostile species might pair well with most of the Tanganyikan cichlids or perhaps a non-cichlid public tank.

Most of Lake Victoria Cichlids are relatively quick to reproduce in captivity, which is one of the reasons why there shouldn’t be more than one Victorian Hap kind kept in a single tank. Most species’ females are identical, and cross-breeding to produce “mutts” is common in a tank with multiple species.

For more articles related to lakes in Tanzania and their inhabitants click here!