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Tanganyika Cichlids: The Inhabitants of Lake Tanganyika
The Tanganyika Cichlids are from Lake Tanganyika in Africa. This lake is one of the oldest in the world, and it contains 200 cichlid species, many of which are endemic to the lake.
Having an area of 34000 sq. km., Lake Tanganyika is the seventh largest lake in the world. It is also the second deepest lake as it has a maximum depth of about 1470 m. There are different conditions prevailing in different parts of the lake. This has given rise to different habitat, and to nearly 200 species of cichlids, each with their own specific behaviors.
The surface temperatures of Lake Tanganyika are between 23oC and 31oC. However the fish are found in areas having temperatures ranging from 24 oC to 29 oC. The pH of the water is between 7.8 and 8.8.
Unlike the cichlids of Lake Malawi, the different species of Tanganyika Cichlids differ considerably from each other in both looks, and in behavior. The smaller Tanganyika Cichlids are 2" in length while the larger ones measure up to 14".
A small group of Tanganyika Cichlids can be housed in a 30 gallon tank. In larger tanks, different species can be accommodated together.
Tanganyika Cichlids are of two basic types: those that live in the rocky shores of the lake, and those that live in the sandy areas.
The former should be placed in a tank having a lot of rock work. Rocks can be used to form caves, and tunnels which prove useful for spawning. These also serve as havens of safety for distressed fish, and as private territory for the aggressive ones.
The sand-dwellers require a tank with a sandy substrate. You could also scatter some snail shells on the tank floor. The shells double up as spawning sites and as places of refuge.
All Tanganyika Cichlids will require a large area for swimming. The water should be calm, hence use a filter that does not cause too much movement in the water. Coral sand can be used to buffer the alkaline level of the water.
Tanganyika Cichlids get more affected by the water chemistry than do their counterparts from Malawi. Polluting compounds should not be allowed to accumulate, by carrying out frequent water changes in small quantities.
Tanganyika Cichlids generally love live foods like aquatic insects and their larvae, but some also accept pellets and flakes, while others eat algae. These cichlids are healthiest when given a balanced and varied diet which includes not only live food but also vegetable matter.
These cichlids are usually Shelter Brooders. Shelter Brooders are of two types: Cavity Brooders, and Mouth Brooders. The former dig a depression either in the substrate, or in the rock structures and lay their eggs in these. Some lay their eggs in snail shells. The parents fiercely defend this area against intruders. Among the Mouth Brooders, once the eggs have been fertilized, the female carries them in her mouth. Sometimes even after the fry have been released, they take refuge in her mouth.
Tanganyika Cichlids are also fairly aggressive, and should be provided with adequate hiding places. Keeping several fish together would also be a good idea. These cichlids can be kept with other Tanganyika Cichlid species, or with other equally aggressive, similar-sized cichlids.
More than 95% of these species are not found elsewhere in the world. These fish are very beautiful and are quite popular among fish hobbyists.
[The picture used in this article is copyrighted, but the copyright holder allows anyone to use it for any purpose. It has been obtained from Wikipedia.]
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