When we talk about the diet of Tanganyika cichlids, we have to look at their habitat, which is a lake 1928 km long and up to 1470 km deep. This fantastic lake, which, like the sea, has crabs, jellyfish, sponges, and zooplankton clouds – is still entirely freshwater. Despite this, it is home to almost 200 species of cichlids. They have adapted to a unique life within their borders.
Lake Tanganyika’s cichlids have also adapted to fill every possible feeding niche: from eating algae or shrimp to fish and even the scales and fins of other fish. They range from the reduced Neolamprologus multifasciatus at 3 cm in length to Boulengerochromis microlepis of 90 cm / 35 inches – the largest cichlids in the world.
Despite the differences in size, many species reach less than 20 cm in length, making them great for an aquarium.
The largest cichlid in Lake Tanganyika – Boulengerochromis microlepis grows up to 90 cm and can weigh more than 3 kilograms. A large predator lives in the upper layers of water, which are constantly migrating in search of prey. And the smallest cichlid – Neolamprologus multifasciatus grows up to 4 cm and multiplies in shells. We can already see the incredible diversity here and how much we have to pay attention to their diet in the aquarium.
As with Malawi cichlids, when it comes to food, we must first see how they are feeding in their natural habitat:
Carnivores Tanganyika cichlids
Carnivores primarily attack other fish. It is common for Tanganyika carnivorous cichlids to eat almost all fish small enough to fit in the mouth. You need to keep this in mind when choosing their mates.
Shellfish are highly specialized species of carnivorous Tanganyika cichlids. They are fed by tearing off the shells of other fish. Flake pickers can also stay close to open wounds and feed on them. Due to this particular feeding habit, cichlids that break their shells can cause problems for other fish in the aquarium.
Carnivorous biocover peckers can be confused with the species that eat algae. They will spend most of their time inspecting the thick carpet of algae in Lake Tanganyika. However, they feed on small crabs and other types of “beetles” found among algae. They are therefore carnivores and must be provided with carnivorous food in the aquarium.
Sand exchangers feed by catching a bite of sand and sifting through the gills. They are capturing crabs and other small animals hiding in the sand. You can recognize sand exchangers on their sloping teeth in fronT.
Insectivores Tanganyika cichlids
Insectivorous fish are a species of carnivore, but they usually fall into their category. In Lake Tanganyika, fish insects can be seen near the water’s edge, feeding on insects and insect larvae. Some eat only insects that have fallen into the water, while others jump hard and catch insects far above the surface.
Rock-eating herbivores feed on the plant carpet of the bio-cover that grows on the rocks in Lake Tanganyika. Providing them with a 100% herbivorous diet in an aquarium is not a good idea. In the wild, herbivorous pastures will always bring in small amounts of tiny animals hiding inside carpets. An aquarium without such animals can develop nutritional deficiencies (especially protein deficiency) unless the aquarist makes sure that they are occasionally given treats in the form of meaty food.
Phytoplankton collectors feed mainly on floating phytoplankton found in the middle of the water. Because phytoplankton performs photosynthesis, phytoplankton pickers are a type of herbivore, but planktivores usually fall into their category.
Cleaners can help keep your aquarium clean by eating leftovers and breaking down unnecessary substances. They feed mainly on dead or incapacitated fish. They can therefore be considered a predatory species. Still, scavengers will never attack live fish unless they are already seriously injured or sick and can thus be combined with most fish species in the aquarium.
And lastly, take care of the way your pets eat, don’t forget that they have requirements for a variety of foods. In the offer, you will find a vast array of products for feeding your fish, from the most common dry food of the third class, to top quality dry food from renowned European and world producers to various types of frozen and even live food. Depending on how many fish you have, determine the amount you will give during the first weeks of feeding. Remember that it is always better to give a little less food (because even in nature, fish do not have food in abundance), than to overdo it with the amount because then you will cause a biological imbalance.
Feeding time is significant. Align it with your obligations and free time, and make sure you always respect it because your pets will create a habit over time.