Nimbochromis Livingstonii (Livingston’s Cichlid)

Nimbochromis livingstonii

If you’re an aquarium enthusiast, chances are you’ve heard of an African cichlid known as Nimbochromis livingstonii (also commonly known by its nickname, the kalingono). This beautiful freshwater fish boasts intense orange and black stripes and has been popular in the aquarium hobby for decades.

If you’ve considered bringing one of these species into your own home, however, it’s important to know that they can be very aggressive fish if not properly socialized.

The Nimbochromis livingstonii, commonly known as the Livingston’s cichlid or kalingono, is a species of cichlid endemic to Lake Malawi where it is only known from rocky habitats and pinnacles at depths. They are one of the most popular aquarium fish among both beginner and expert aquarists. The specific name honors the explorer and naturalist Charles Livingstone (1813 to 1873).

Origin and description

The Livingston’s cichlid is a rare species of African freshwater fish. It is in the family Cichlidae and the genus Nimbochromis, which also includes the Mbuna. This fish was first discovered by scientists in Lake Malawi, Africa in 1936.

The Livingston’s cichlid has been historically known to live only in Lake Malawi, but recently they have been discovered to be able to survive in other lakes as well. They prefer shallow waters with sandy bottoms, and eat algae as their main food source. There are many different color variations for this fish, such as brown, black and yellow-green.

Species profile

Nimbochromis livingstonii

Nimbochromis livingstonii, also known as Livingston’s Cichlid, is a member of the Mbuna group of Lake Malawi. Males in this species exhibit extraordinary coloration that can change depending on the depth at which they are found in the water column and their social status.

These males have been observed to have a range of colors from green, brown, and black with light blue hues. Females are generally darker in color with less variation. They tend to be grayish-green with an orange stripe down the center of their bodies. They stay closer to the bottom of the water column where they will lay their eggs among pieces of rock or live near areas where there is open sand for fry development.

Melanochromis dialeptos (Dialeptos Cichlid)

Common name

The common name of the Nimbochromis livingstonii is Livingston’s Cichlid or kalingono.


Although it has been recorded in deeper water (over 100m depth), Nimbochromis livingstonii is usually found in shallow waters around the shoreline. Soft mud or sand substrates are typically found in these areas, which are often densely vegetated with Vallisneria beds.

Livingstoni cichlid size and weight

The Nimbochromis livingstonii has a stocky body and is generally smaller than some other Cichlids. It can grow up to 10 inches (25.4 cm), with males usually growing larger than females.

Tank size

A 125 gallon tank (473 liters) is a good size for this fish, but it can be housed in smaller tanks. The tank should be at least 24 inches deep and have plenty of hiding spaces and live plants. They are territorial so if you want to keep two males together, then the tank should be at least 180 gallons (681).

Tank mates

Nimbochromis livingstonii can be housed together with Dimidiochromis compressiceps, Frontosa, larger mbunas, and other large Rift Lake species. In the aquarium, it should be kept in its natural state as a single specimen or as a harem with several females and a single male if breeding is to be attempted.


Nimbochromis livingstonii

There are about 100 eggs deposited by the female Nimbochromis livingstonii which are fertilized and then taken into her mouth. Afterward, she hides in rock crevices. After about three weeks, the fries are released. The female takes intensive care of them and guards them for the first month.

When they are in danger, they are put back in their mouths.
Juvenile Nimbochromis livingstonii can be raised with brine shrimp nauplii, crushed dry food, or rearing food.

Are they aggressive or peaceful?

Although they are generally peaceful among themselves, they get very territorial when they are spawning. Mbunas (smaller rock-dwelling cichlids) should not be kept with them.

Cobalt Blue Zebra Cichlid (Maylandia callainos)

Nimbochromis livingstonii care information

Nimbochromis livingstonii

The Livingston’s cichlid, Nimbochromis livingstonii, is a species of fish endemic to Lake Malawi in Africa. It lives in both the littoral and pelagic zones of the lake, though it is most often found near shore. The Livingston’s cichlid has been introduced to other regions outside of Lake Malawi where it inhabits smaller bodies of water like streams and reservoirs.

They are generalist feeders who will eat any kind of food that is offered to them.

Decorate your aquarium with natural elements and create water conditions that fit the nature of these African Cichlids. They like to swim, bury themselves, and hide in wood, rocks, sand, and freshwater plants. Changing the water regularly keeps the pH alkaline and the ammonia levels low.

What they eat

They are omnivores, but the bulk of their diet is made up of fish, mollusks, and crustaceans. Invertebrates, like insects and worms, can also make up a significant portion of the Livingston’s Cichlid’s diet. They will also eat algae, plant matter, and fruit when they have the opportunity to find it.

Tank requirements

The tank should have a sand substrate and rocks, with a few large pieces of driftwood for hiding. Floating plants are recommended for shady areas. Provide shelter from intense light, such as tall leafy plants or floating plants.

The water should be deep enough to cover the fish when they swim close to the surface, but not so deep that they can’t move around. The minimum tank size is 125 gallons. The temperature range should be 68-79 degrees Fahrenheit. Livingstoni prefers lower temperatures than other Mbuna.


This species of fish can live for up to 10 years.

Parasites and diseases

A common parasite is the protozoan ich. Ich can be recognized by small white cysts on the body and fins of the fish. There are a number of treatments including salt baths, aquarium nets dipped in malachite green, and tricaine methane sulfonate. When medicating, it is important to remove as many parasites as possible and change 25% of the water every day for seven days to ensure all parasites are killed.

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Regularly check the temperature and pH levels of your tank. The ideal temperature range is 77-84 degrees Fahrenheit with a pH between 6.5-8.0. Make sure you have an airstone that provides adequate aeration for your fish because stagnant water leads to increased bacteria growth which can lead to illness in both humans and animals alike.

Predators (What animals prey on them)

Predators of Nimbochromis livingstonii include other carnivorous fish, piscivorous birds, and mammals. Carnivorous fish and piscivores birds prey on them in the water while mammals prey on them on the shoreline.

Do they make good pets?

Yes. Nimbochromis livingstonii is a colorful freshwater fish that is also known as the Livingstoni cichlid. Although they’re not as hardy as some other freshwater fish, they’re still relatively easy to care for and a great pet for beginners. Nimbochromis livingstonii need an aquarium with plenty of space and live plants.