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Melanochromis maingano


Article Roland Tarr

Species Information

Species: Melanochromis maingano

Synoma: Melanochromis cyaneorhabdos

Common name:none

Origin: Africa

Localities/Morphs: Around Maingano Island, between Mbako Point and Membe Point in Lake Malawi.

Maximum size:8cm maximum 10cm in captivity

Natural habitat: Rocky habitat between 3 and 10 meters

Natural foods/prey: Zooplankton and small invertebrates.

Water chemistry in the wild:pH 8-9

Predators:larger fish, birds

Brood size:10-60. They start to breed from 4cm size.

Breeding method:maternal mouthbrooder

Husbandry requirements

Minimum tank size:standard 3ft for a small colony with one male

Sex ratio:1 male with at least 3 females

Tolerance of conspecifics: aggressive towards other males of its kind.

Tolerance of heterospecifics: they can hold their own against other cichlids, even larger ones.

Water chemistry in aquaria:quite tolerant of a range of conditions so long as pH is above neutral. pH 7.0-8.6, carbonate hardness 4-12 dKH

Temperature range:25-28 degrees Celsius. It can also tolerate 30 degrees Celsius.

Foods accepted: Most cichlid flakes and pellets.

Special requirements:none other than water chemistry


The base colouration of the mainganos is blue with horizontal black stripes. The blue can change from navy blue to sky blue depending on their mood and the that depends on the quality of the fish as well. The pattern is the same as for the real Melanochromis johanni males, the difference between the 2 males is that the johanni has deeper body while the maingano has a slender elongated body. Females have exactly the same colouration as males, females also have eggspots on their anal fins. The only difference that I could find between males and females that males tend to have pointy anal fins while the females rounded, also males have stronger colours.

The fry of the mainganos show their beautiful colouration after a few weeks.

I have seen some pictures of mainganos that had checkerboard black pattern on their body instead of horizontal black stripes. This leads me to 2 conclusions. One, is that the maingano has crossbred with the Melanochromis interruptus and these are hybrids. Two, that there are 2 different kinds of mainganos, just like the Melanochromis johanni (johanni and interruptus). This needs to be further investigated.


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