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General Care for
Tanganyikan Fish

Fish from Lake Tanganyika.

Fish from Lake Tanganyika.

By Tony Griffitts

Tanganyikan fish come from Lake Tanganyika in Africa.  Tanganyika is one of the great rift lakes of Africa.  Tanganyika was created by the continent of Africa pulling apart.  It is one of the lakes in Africa that is known for it's diverse cichlid population, and unique water chemistry.

List of Tanganyikan fish that are commonly sold:

Altolamprologus calvus, Cyphotilapia frontosa (Frontosa), Cyprichromis microlepidotus, Eretmodus cyanosticus (Goby Cichlid), Julidichromis dickfeldi, J. marlieri, J. ornatus, J. regani, J. transcriptus, Tropheus duboisi, T. moorii, Neolamprologus brichardi, N. cylindricus, N. falcicula, N. pulcher (Daffodil Brichardi), N. leleupi, N. tetracanthus, N. multifasciatus, N. brevis, Dimidiochromis compressiceps, Synodontis petricola, Synodontis multipunctatus, Lamprologus ocellatus.

Synodontis petricolaTropheus duboisiNeolamprologus falciculaJulidichromis regani

All the fish pictured above are endemic to Lake Tanganyika. Left to right, Synodontis petricola, Tropheus duboisi, Neolamprologus falcicula, and Julidichromis regani.


Lake Tanganyika has a very high mineral content.  The pH in the lake can range from 8.6 to 9.4.  In the aquarium it is recommended that a pH no lower than 7.8 is maintained in order to keep these fish healthy.  Most tap water will require some type of alkaline buffer additive to keep the pH up.


70° to 85° F (21° to 29° C)


7.8 to 9.4

Habitat/Proper Aquarium Set up:

Aquarium should have coral or aragonite sand to help maintain a high pH.  The aquarium should be decorated with lots of rocks, and have plenty of caves for the fish to hide.  Plastic plants can be added if so desired.  Most live aquarium plants do not do well in an aquarium with Tanganyikans, because of the high pH and the fact that many of them like to eat vegetable matter.


Most Tanganyikans will eat frozen brine shrimp and dry foods.  Tropheus should be given dry food (flake, pellets, or algae wafers) that has spirulina.

Special Note:

Many of the Tanganyikan cichlids like to dig.  The shell dwelling cichlids should be given plenty of shells to make a home.  Many of the cichlids form nuclear families, with older siblings helping defend the territory of the parents and young fry.  Fish from the Tropheus genus are mouth brooders.  The female carries the eggs and fry in her mouth.  If fish from the Tropheus genus are purchased, Aquaworld recommends that 4 or more be introduced to the aquarium at the same time.  Tropheus can be very aggressive towards their own kind.  Introducing several will spread the aggression out amongst many individuals.

Published - 2003

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