Rift Lake Cichlids - Natural Foods Eaten in the Wild.
Lake Tanganyika

The table below shows foods taken by each species or genera. It is presented as a guide only.
Generally fish with long intestines feed on vegetable matter whilst those with short intestines are carnivorous.

Altolamprologus calvus & A.compressiceps Fish fry & crustaceans. Some reports they will rob eggs of other cichlid species.
Asprotilapia leptura Crops algae from rocks.
Aulonocranus dewindti Insect larvae & invertebrates. Has a very sensitive detection system to locate prey.
Bathybates Fish, mainly Stolothrissa & Limnothrissa sp.
Benthochromis melanoides & tricoti Small crustaceans & plankton.
Boulengerochromis microlepis Fish.
Callochromis Opportunist feeding on anything they can find filtering in the sand.
Chalinochromis Snails.
Cunningtonia longiventralis Scrapes the biocover for algae.
Cyathopharynx furcifer Small foods like unicellular algae, diatoms (including diatom skeletons) & plankton floating in the water column. Also feeds from the biocover & sand floor. Stomach contents of wild fish have shown large quantities of sand.
Cyathopharynx schoutedeni As for C.furcifer.
Cyphotilapia frontosa Feeds on fish, mainly Cyprichromis which drop to the bottom during the night. C.frontosa feed at first light before the Cyprichromis fully wake up.
Cyprichromis Zooplankton.
Eretmodus Scrapes algae from rocks
Gnathochromis permaxillaris Plankton, zooplankton.
Gnathochromis pfefferi Only eats 'meaty' foods - not specialised to any particular item. Not vegetarian.
Grammatotria lemairii Hard shelled invertebrates found in the sand. This species first blow the top layer of sand away & dives deeper into the lower levels of the sand base.
Greenwoodochromis christyi & bellcrossi Both species have powerful mouths & live at depth. Possibly live on crabs & molluscs.
Haplotaxodon microlepis Fish predator. Young fish take zooplankton.
Hemibates stenosoma Fish predator.
Julidochromis Snails.
Lamprologus callipterus Crustaceans, insect larvae young Cichlid fry from other species.
Lamprologus lemairei Fish, primarily small Cichlids.
Lamprologus ornatipinnis Zooplankton.
Lamprologus signatus Zooplankton.
Lepidiolamprologus attenuatus Fish. Also known to take scales from other larger fish.
Lepidolamprologus elongatus Feeds on fish fry & fish particularly Nematolebias elongatus. Also takes crustaceans & insect larvae. Juveniles take plankton.
Lepidiolamprologus profundicola Feeds on fish.
Lestradea Micro organisms. Sifts sand for small food particles & feeds from 'ooze' which accumulates in small areas of the sand floor.
Limnochromis abeelei Large crabs & small fish.
Limnochromis auritus Snails. Juveniles take Zooplankton.
Limnochromis staneri Small molluscs.
Limnotilapia dardennei Higher forms of plant including Chara. L.dardennei is found with large concentrations of this plant.
Lobochilotus labiatus A deep water species feeding on crabs. Young are known to suck invertebrates from sponges. Also known to suck mussels & snails from their shells. Young eat crustaceans & insect larvae.
Microdontochromis tenuidantatus Micro organisms, insect larvae & crustaceans. As no sand was found in stomach contents it is thought this species does not feed off the bottom sand layer.
Neolamprologus brevis Zooplankton.
Neolamprologus caudopunctatus Zooplankton.
Neolamprologus christyi Invertebrates, insect larvae, molluscs & worms.
Neolamprologus elongatus complex Zooplankton (Cyclops types). The small length of the intestine (60%) would indicate a more carniverous diet.
Neolamprologus fasciatus Small shrimps & fish.
Neolamprologus furcifer Crustaceans & insect larvae.
Neolamprologus leleupi group Invertebrates. Fry take plankton.
Neolamprologus meeli Insect larvae & shrimp.
Neolamprologus modestus & N.mondabu Small snails (Chytra kirki, Spekia zonata, Paramelania damoni & Tanganycia rufofilosa). Also takes eggs of the Killifish Lamprichthys tanganicanus.
Neolamprologus moorii Varied diet. Known to take invertebrates but also ingests algae from the biocover.
Neolamprologus niger Small molluscs, Zooplankton, crustaceans & insect larvae.
Neolamprologus petricola Insect larvae.
Neolamprologus pleuromaculatus Fish.
Neolamprologus pulcher Plankton
Neolamprologus sexfasciatus Molluscs (mainly Neothauma) & fish. It's possible they may eat shell dwelling fish also.
Neolamprologus tetracanthus Molluscs, insect larvae & fish. This is not a snail crusher but sucks its prey from the shell. An opportunist feeder.
Neolamprologus toae In the wild they reportedly feed at night but in captivity will feed during daylight. Insect larvae & crustaceans.
Neolamprologus tretocephalus Molluscs. Intestines are the shortest recorded in the lake for a Cichlid at 30% of body length indicating this is a carnivorous species. This is an opportunist feeder taking anything on offer.
Neolamprologus wauthioni Small crustaceans, small invertebrates (shrimp) & insect larvae.
Ophthalmotilapia Plankton & insect larvae. Algae also forms part of their diet. Intestines are 3-4 times the length of the fish which suggests vegetable matter is taken.
Ophthalmotilapia heterodonta Algae.
Ophthalmotilapia nasuta Plankton & other small vegetarian matter.
Oreochromis tanganicae Algae. Intestine length 6 times body length.
Perissodus eccentricus Scale eater found at great depths.
Perissodus microlepis Feeds on scales taken from algae grazers (Tropheus & Pseudosimochromis).
Petrochromis Algal feeders. It has been reported that P.trewavassae has an intestine 10 times longer than the total length of the fish & can be over a metre in length. As with Tropheus they should not be fed Beef Heart, Bloodworm or mosquito larvae.
Petrochromis fasciolatus Sifts detritus for diatoms. It's possible this fish will take other food sources than algae. Feeds on undersides of rocks.
Plecodus elaviae Scale eater.
Plecodus multidentatus Scale eater. Main prey being Trematocara sp.
Plecodus paradoxus Feeds on scales & smaller fish. Known to hunt in packs.
Plecodus straeleni Scale eater mostly on Cyphotilapia frontosa which it mimics.
Pseudosimochromis Filamentous algae which is pulled from the substrate.
Reganochromis calliurus Shrimps, crabs & small fish.
Simochromis babaulti & diagramma Feeds on algae. Intestine measures 3-4 times the fishes length.
Simochromis loocki Feeds on debris.
Simochromis marginatus Feeds on algae. Intestine measures 6 times body length.
Spathodus Invertebrates & algae. Grains of sand have been found in the gut suggesting they may also eat diatoms.
Tangachromis dhansi Zooplankton.
Tanganicodus Small invertebrates picked from the sand base.
Telmatochromis Filamentous algae has been found in stomach contents but the intestine measures only 150% of the fishes length. Due to the teeth structure it's possible these fish take insect larvae. Algae may be taken up while feeding on these larvae.
Telmatochromis bifrenatus Fish eggs (L.elongatus of which young fish resemble) & invertebrates.
Telmatochromis burgeoni Hard shelled insects & small molluscs.
Telmatochromis dhonti Small invertebrates.
Trematocara Lives at deeper levels but moves higher at night to feed on insect larvae & crustaceans. These are located by a lateral line near the mouth.
Trematocara caparti & kufferathi Zooplankton.
Trematocara marginatum Prefers soft, small foods.
Trematocara nigrifrons & stigmaticum Generalised feeders taking anything they can get into their mouths.
Trematocara unimaculatum Snails & small invertebrates.
Trematocara variabile Insect larvae & crustaceans.
Trematochromis schreyeni Plankton.
Triglachromis otostigma Rakes the mud bottom with spines on the pectoral fin in search of insect larvae & anything else edible. Stmach contents show large quantities of mud.
Tropheus duboisi Found in deeper areas than T.moorii (although young have been found in upper levels). This suggests they ae not so dependant on algae to feed.
Tropheus moorii Tropheus should be fed mainly vegetarian foods such as Spirulina. Kelp is useful as this contains many trace elements. Diet can also consist of Cyclops, Daphnia & Mysis in small quantities. Foods to avoid are high protein animal foods such as Beef Heart & the insect Bloodworm.
Tylochromis polylepis Stomach contents show sand grains which suggests this species collects food from the bottom. Some authors suggest they eat plants such as Vallisneria. The intestine is 2 times as long as the body which suggests a generalised diet.
Xenochromis hecqui Scale eater.
Xenotilapia Invertebrates found by sifting the sand.
Xenotilapia bathyphilus, nigrolabiata & ornatipinnis Plankton.
Xenotilapia burtoni & longispinis Invertebrates.

References - Tanganyika Cichlids. Ad Konings