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Malawi Mbuna Cichlids


Most of the mbuna are primarily herbivores or omnivores, requiring some green food in their diet. In the natural habitat, many of them feed on 'Aufwuchs' - a German word which refers to the algae covering on the rocks and the organisms within it. To meet the requirement for green foods, one option is Spirulina- and veggie-based flake or granular foods, as well as veggie-based floating pellets for larger fish.

Other green food worth trying includes cucumber or spinach chopped into small pieces, or a lettuce leaf which has been slightly crushed or briefly boiled (to soften). Other than this they can be fed a staple of cichlid pellets, normal flake and granular foods, and frozen/live foods such as brine shrimp, mysis, daphnia and krill. As many mbuna are essentially grazers, they will benefit from regular smaller feeds, so ideally feed them twice a day.

The Malawi tank in the aquarium
at Chester Zoo, UK.

Avoid feeding only dry foods, or high meat-protein foods such as bloodworm, tubifex and beefheart. These are not suitable for mbuna, and are often linked with the fatal "Malawi bloat" condition.

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