Maingano Cichlid (Melanochromis cyaneorhabdos)

Maingano cichlid

Maingano cichlid, scientifically known as Melanochromis cyaneorhabdos, are among the most popular freshwater aquarium fish due to their vibrantly colored scales and relative ease of care in captivity.

A popular African cichlid among aficionados, Melanochromis cyaneorhabdos is fun to keep and breed, but still suitable for beginning aquarists as long as they’re willing to invest some time in learning about fish behavior and nutrition.

People often think that keeping cichlids as pets is very difficult, but I think it’s just as easy as keeping goldfish or guppies! If you provide your fish with the right environment and treat them well, you will have a long and healthy relationship with them.

Origin and description

The Maingano cichlid is a relatively new species of cichlid that was discovered in the waters of Lake Malawi. This species of fish is not yet officially recognized by any major ichthyologist and has not been classified as a separate species. The Maingano cichlid’s scientific name, Melanochromis cyaneorhabdos, comes from the Greek words melanos meaning black, and chroma meaning color.

The Maingano cichlid is a species of freshwater fish in the Cichlidae family. It is endemic to Lake Malawi and its tributaries, including the Shire River, in East Africa.

Species profile

Maingano cichlid

The Maingano Cichlid is an African cichlid and one of the most popular cichlids for aquarium hobbyists. They are fairly easy to keep and breed but do not get along with other Mainganos.

Males will also fight with each other, so it is recommended that you only have one per tank, or if you have a large enough tank, two males can be kept together. Male Mainganos can be distinguished from females by their more intense coloration on their bodies and fins.

The females are duller in coloration than the males, but otherwise, look similar. The females are larger than the males and have fewer stripes running down their bodies when viewed from above. Like many fish, they will defend their eggs by fanning them away from threats using their fins or mouth.

African Bumblebee Cichlid (Metriaclima crabro)

Scientific name

The scientific name of the Maingano Cichlid is Melanochromis cyaneorhabdos

Maingano Cichlid habitat

Maingano Cichlids belong to a group of cichlids known as Mbunas, which means “rockfish” or “rock-dwelling”. As opposed to swimming in open waters, they are typically found in rocky areas of depths between 10 to 33 feet (3 to 10 meters).

The Maingano is a freshwater fish that thrives in a tropical climate with pH levels between 7.2 and 8.0, and a temperature between 77 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. They can also be found near the coast of Africa and Madagascar, but their population has been declining due to the introduction of invasive species into the water bodies they inhabit.

Maingano cichlid size

This is a small cichlid, growing up to about 4 to 5 inches (10 to 13 cm) in length. They are not very heavy and can be kept with other smaller cichlids or in a large community tank.

Maingano Cichlid tank size

For a single fish or a species tank containing one male and several females, a 30 or 40-gallon aquarium with a minimum length of 36 inches (91.4 cm) is recommended. If these cichlids are mixed with other African cichlids, a tank of 100 gallons or more would be necessary.

Maingano cichlid tank mates

The Maingano Cichlid is a compatible tank mate for Cichlids such as the Red Empress, Cobalt Zebra, African Butterfly Peacock, Lemon Cichlid, Cuckoo catfish, and Electric Yellow Cichlid.

Do not mix with other Melanochromis Cichlid species as they will either attack and/or interbreed.


Maingano cichlid

There has been a long history of breeding the Maingano cichlid in captivity. Males start by choosing their preferred spawning site and displaying intense colors in order to attract females. Females that are interested in spawning lay their eggs in the spawning site and pick them up with their mouths, then follow the spots on the male’s anal fin where she thinks there are more eggs to collect, releasing his sperm and fertilizing the eggs in her mouth.

Melanochromis dialeptos (Dialeptos Cichlid)

Before the free-swimming fries are released, the female Maingano Cichlid carries the eggs for about three to four weeks in water at 82 degrees. Fine powder foods and brine shrimp can be fed to the fries once they have been released. It is recommended to keep a male with three females in order to achieve the best breeding results.

Are they aggressive or peaceful?

Generally, Maingano cichlids are aggressive and territorial and should be kept in a species-only aquarium, but they can be kept with other Mbuna if they do not resemble each other in shape or color.

The species does best in a tank with only its species, and you should avoid overcrowding to prevent aggression.

Maingano cichlid care information

Maingano cichlid

Maingano cichlids are a popular choice for aquarium enthusiasts. These cichlids prefer freshwater with a pH of 6.8-7.2, and a water temperature between 25°C and 28°C. They require plenty of hiding places, as well as caves or rocks to spawn under.

Maingano cichlid care is best accomplished with at least 30 gallons of water per fish in order to provide them with the ideal environment for survival and health.

Maingano cichlid diet

Mainganos are omnivores and will eat a variety of meaty and vegetable-based foods. They enjoy live, frozen, or freeze-dried foods as well as flakes, pellets, freeze-dried blood worms, tubifex worms, brine shrimp eggs, and daphnia.

Tank requirements

These fish enjoy having plenty of room to swim and being provided with lots of hiding spaces and plants. Rocks, driftwood, and other decorations should be added to provide more hiding spaces for the Maingano Cichlids.

The pH level should range from 6-7.0 with a temperature between 70-82 degrees Fahrenheit. The water should be slightly alkaline with clean gravel or sand substrate and a lot of plants for them to hide in.

A school of six to eight juveniles will usually get along well together in an aquarium that is at least 40 gallons. Adults can be housed by themselves but will need an aquarium that is at least 100 gallons because they are very territorial when breeding.

Pseudotropheus perspicax (Trewavas, 1935)


The Maingano Cichlid has a lifespan of around 9 years in captivity with proper care but could be lesser in the wild due to predation and diseases.

Parasites and diseases

A small percentage of fish may suffer from a disease called ich. Ich is caused by a parasite and can be identified by white spots all over the body. The best way to prevent it is to quarantine new arrivals for 30 days and keep them in an environment where other fish cannot come in contact with them.

Ich can also be treated with medication or salt baths. When choosing salt, make sure you use aquarium-grade table salts and not food-grade table salts. When treating your tank, always remember to follow the dosage instructions on your medicine bottle!

Predators (What animals prey on them)

The Maingano Cichlid is prey for aquatic birds, giant otters, and larger fish. It can also be preyed on by an introduced species called the Nile Perch. Nile Perch is much more aggressive than other types of cichlids and they can consume these fish in a matter of seconds.

Do they make good pets?

Yes, but should be kept by an experienced aquarist. The Maingano cichlid is an aggressive fish that can be difficult to care for. This fish should not be kept with any other species, as it will become territorial and aggressive when breeding.

The Maingano cichlid is a very sensitive fish that requires certain conditions, which may not be obtainable by beginners. It is recommended you research this species before purchasing one.