Rift Lake Cichlids
One of my Labidochromis
sp. Hongi. Despite it's size of 8-9 cm it will happily graze on newly hatched
Rift Lake Cichlids are very diverse. The lakes
hold many species which can be split up into dietary needs:-
- Vegetarian - Those species requiring plant
material in their diet. This is gained from algaes covering rocks.
Spirulina is present in the lakes which is a free algae generally
concentrated near the surface where it can get the most light. When
this dies off it sinks to the lake bed where it decomposes. This becomes
food for Zooplankton, Chironomid
sp. larvae, other insect larvae sp.,worms, invertebrates & crustaceans.
Vegetarian sp. are part of the genera Tropheus,
& Mbuna sp. (but not all) etc.
- Mud Layer sp. - These are forms such as Trematocara
nigrifrons, Triglachomis otostigma
etc. They feed on the above mentioned crustaceans, insect larvae,
worms & invertebrates.
- Omniverous - Aulonocara,
Lethrinops fall into this categary & will feed off
the bottom by grubbing around. In nature foods like small snails &
fish will be taken along with algae from grazing rocks & substrate
to a lesser degree. Live foods should be included in the diet. Prepared
foods like good quality heavy flake which sinks (Zooplankton flake
is good), brine shrimp sticks etc. Red Astax granule can also be fed
to enhance colouration. This can also be mixed into pellets with a
little water with the addition of small amounts of Spirulina powder
(these fish don't require large amounts of Spirulina but it is high
in protein & carotenoids which are useful).
Aulonocara are known to take the
Malawi lake fly as part of their diet. Cultured wingless fruit flies
should be taken but I've not tried these out.
Nimbochromis are, in nature, opportunistic
feeders & eat a variety of foods including fish fry. Stomach contents
have revealed a diet to include Zooplankton so the Zooplankton flake
on this site is a good prepared food choice. Other foods known to
be taken in captivity are Spirulina & Brine Shrimp sticks, Spirulina
flake & frozen foods. Some breeders advise not to feed frozen
beef heart or other fatty foods.
- Open Water sp. - These are known as Utaka
& feed on Zooplankton. Copadochromis
fall into this category. Copadichromis chrysonotus
in nature feeds mid-water on Phytoplankton & Zooplankton. Captive
fed fish are known to take Spirulina & Brine Shrimp flake.
- Carnivores - Comprised of larger fish &
some Haplochromis species which
eat other fish.
This is a very basic example of the variety of
foods found in the lakes & the role various species have evolved
to eat. It is obviously important to choose the right food for the fish
you are maintaining. Click the lake links below for a more in depth
look at various sp. diets. This is a guide only.