Greater Survival Options for the Cichlid Fish

The fight for the survival of the species is a matter of domination. The female will choose the strongest and most beautiful male, allowing future generations to preserve the best qualities of the species. Most cichlids are no exception to the rule, which allows us to observe scenes of combat or intimidation.

In Lake Malawi, to avoid too frequent scenes, the dominant will always keep bright colors and a proud look. The other males lose their colors, taking those of the females. From time to time a dominated male tries to dethrone the “chief”. We observe these scenes when the dominant is sick or too old and when a female is ready to lay eggs.


Cichlid Fish from Lake Malawi reproduce very well in the aquarium. It is nevertheless necessary to maintain several fish in the hope of obtaining a couple.

They have a varied and very surprising mode of reproduction. A distinction is made between oral incubators (buccal-pharyngeal) and layers on hidden substrate or on uncovered substrate.

Layers On Substrate

They lay a hundred tiny eggs which they   deposit on the ground or are “stuck” to the ceiling of a rock by the female after fertilization and after a few days, fry of 2 to 3 millimeters hatch. They generally remain under parental protection for ten days before venturing out of the nest.

Oral Incubation In The Cichlids Of Malawi

During the courtship display, the male will pursue the female, not to attack her, but to show her her beautiful colors, thereby indicating that he is part of his species. If the female is ready, the classic T-shaped position allows laying and fertilization: the female lays one or more eggs, immediately takes them back into her mouth and positions her head near the genital opening of the male. This then emits its semen that the female sucks, allowing the fertilization of the eggs in her mouth.

Then well sheltered in the maternal mouth, the eggs will hatch after several days and the very young fry will develop until complete maturation; on average about 21 days at 26 ° c. The eggs thus sheltered are no longer accessible to predators.

  • The eggs of cichlids from Lake Malawi measure on average 3 mm, with little variation according to the species.
  • The number of eggs laid and incubated varies depending on the species, the age of the female (and therefore the capacity of her oral cavity) and each individual.

We can say as a general rule that:

  • The younger the female, the less eggs she will have (this can range from 1 to 10 eggs).
  • Some species only incubate one to two dozen eggs (mbunas in general) while others incubate several dozen, even more than a hundred

To know that the female does not eat during the incubation, It is the only way not to lose the eggs which she has in mouth. There is an increase in the volume of his mouth (or throat) during the incubation.

A female in incubation will most often isolate herself or blend into the background so as not to be attacked, the aggression can come from a male always too enterprising or from a male defending his territory but also to preserve his energy.