In the wild, the Maingano inhabits the shallow rocky shorelines of the northern and north eastern areas of Lake Malawi, Africa. It has a beautiful dark blue and black coloration and unique color pattern. They are very aggressive and territorial in nature, with a single male specimen dominating a small area of rocky caves and crevices and a small group of female specimens. There natural habitat consists of shallow rocky shoreline flats, with highly oxygenated waters and an abundance of small rock caves and crevices.
Ideally, in the aquarium the Maingano should be kept in a small group with a single male and 2 or 3 females. Maingano Cichlids can be kept together in an aquarium that is either large enough to provide adequate territory or overcrowded with African Cichlids so that no single specimen can establish its own territory. In either scenario, a 300 litre or larger aquarium is recommended with a substrate of either sand or mixed sand and crushed coral. Plenty of rock formations, rock piles or rocky caves should be included with some vegetation. Maingano Cichlids are used to warm waters and high levels of dissolved oxygen within the water.
In order to replicate the waters of their natural habitat, it is best to provide plenty of water surface agitation or wet/dry filtration to provide high levels of dissolved oxygen within the aquarium. The main tank filtration should consist of a canister filter or wet/dry filter with additional water movement via a powerhead or wave maker being recommended. The aquarium decor should provide plenty of open sandy areas for swimming combined with plenty of rocky formations to provide caves and crevices for the fish to retreat to when it feels threatened. Hardy plants that can tolerate the high pH of the African Rift Lake environment are also recommended for their looks and additional filtration properties.
Maingano will accept most any type of foods that are offered, but they need a good amount of vegetable matter in the form of spirulina flakes, blanched spinach etc. Vegetable matter should form a large proportion of their diet, with meaty foods being a rare supplement. It is best to feed quality flake, freeze-dried or frozen foods a couple of times a day in amounts that the fish will consume within a few minutes.
Maingano Cichlids are not too difficult to breed in the home aquarium when provided the proper environment. You will need to isolate a small group consisting of a single male and 3 to 5 females in a species only aquarium setup. The tank should be at least 150 litres in size and be furnished with areas of open substrate and a few large flat stones or slate.
It is important to closely replicate the water conditions that the Maingano Cichlid would expect during the breeding season, which consist of a pH between 8.2 & 8.5 and a temperature around 26°c. It is very important that the water quality is excellent and that the fish are fed a high quality diet consisting mainly of quality frozen foods with plenty of vegetable matter.
When the male is preparing to breed he will exhibit very intense coloration and will choose a spawning site that he will then attempt to attract one of the females to join him and mate. In addition to exhibiting brilliant coloration, the male will also aggressively court the females by pursuing them vigorously about the tank.
Because of this aggressive courting behaviour it is important to have a group of females in the tank so that the males overtures are spread out amongst the group and do not overwhelm a single female. Once a female has been successfully courted, she will lay her eggs in the nesting site that the male has prepared. The female will then scoop the eggs up into her mouth, during which the male which exhibits egg shapes spots on his tail fins will swim in front of the female and deposit his sperm while the female and the eggs are next to his tail fin.
The female will carry the eggs in her mouth for about 1 month before she release the free swimming fry. It is important that the female is not stressed during this time as she will not be feeding and will be somewhat weak from lack of food and carrying the fry in her mouth. If she is stressed she may spit out the brood prematurely or even eat the young fry. It is for this reason that the other breeding fish should be removed from the aquarium so as not to cause undue stress to the brooding mother. However, once the female has released the fry from her mouth she should be returned to the main group of fish, so that she does not lose her place in the group hierarchy.
- Species – Melanochromis maingano
- Common Name – Maingano
- Origin – Lake Malawi
- Diet – Herbivore
- PH Range – Alkaline 7.5 – 8.5
- Water Type – Hard
- Temperature – Tropical 24°c
- Breed Type – Mouth brooder
- Current Size – approximately 5cm (Grows to approximately 10cm)
- Sex – Un-sexed