These Cichlid is a newer arrival as a recognized species. It was scientifically described as recently as 1979 by Bowers and Stauffer in 1997. It is endemic to Lake Malawi,
but is found in a very limited area. It occurs only at Likoma
Island situated the halfway point of
the lake, but on the eastern side close Mozambique.
It belongs to a group of cichlids called Mbunas. There are 13 genera full of very active and aggressive personalities of Mbuna cichlids. The name Mbuna comes from the
people of Malawi
and means "rockfish" or "rock-dwelling". This name aptly
describes the rocky environment these fish live in as opposed to being open
water swimmers like the Utaka cichlids and other "haps" . Some other
common names this fish is known by are Melanochromis Maingano, Maingano
Cichlid, and Mangano Fish or Mangano Cichlid.
This fish is not as aggressive as other Melanochromis species, but is a typical Mbuna in size and shape. It has an elongated body and rounded snout along with a continuous dorsal fin. It will only reach about 3 inches (7.5 cm) in length in the wild but is a bit larger in the aquarium, reaching just under 4 inches (10 cm).
Tank Setup :
While not the easiest fish to keep provided clean water and proper ratios, maingano should thrive in an mbuna only aquarium. They should be kept in a large community aquarium with other Mbuna type fish such as many Psuedotropheus species, Labidochromis caeruleus, and Iodotropheus sprengerae. The minimum length of the tank should be three feet though four works much better as this fish is more aggressive and territorial than many other mbuna. The aquarium should try to mimic the environment where they are from in nature. This should include extensive rockwork with caves and other hiding places which will allow the fish to develop territories. Sometimes plants can work with this species, though it is not uncommon for them to dig them up as they enjoy digging in the substrate. As noted from the stats above these fish prefer a hard alkaline water with a fairly high pH. If your water is soft or a lower pH, you can use crushed coral as a substrate or place it in your filters as a media/buffer. These fish are voracious eaters and will readily accept flake or pellet food. The food should be high in plant matter with occasional treats of live food. Because they are susceptible to a condition called Malawi Bloat, it is best to feed them smaller, more frequent meals, rather than occasional large ones.
Acceptable Water Conditions:
Hardness: 6 - 10° dH
Ph: 7.7 - 8.6
Temp: 73 - 82° F (23 -28° C).
These Cichlid is a Mouthbrooding egg-layer. May hybridize with other Mbuna. The Maingano is polygamous in nature with a male attending several females, and they form a matriarchal family. This cichlid has been bred in captivity and like other Mbunas, will spawn in the male's territory. When spawning the male changes his color, it becomes an intense exaggeration of his original coloring that almost looks like a double exposed picture.
The females lay 10 to 60 eggs and then immediately take them into their mouths before they are fertilized. She then stimulates the male to discharge sperm (milt cloud) by mouthing his vent or eggspots on his anal fin. She inhales of cloud of "milt" which then fertilize the eggs in her mouth. In 21 days at about 82° F, the eggs are developed.
The released fry can eat finely powdered dry foods and brine shrimp nauplii.
The female will guard her young for a few days, even taking them into her mouth if there is a perceived threat. As long as you have plenty of hiding places, the young will have an easier time surviving until they are too big to eat. Maingano young start to show their colors within a few weeks and are ready to breed at 1.5"
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