Kenyi Cichlid is a cute-looking Lombardoi Cichlid from the Malawi lake of Africa. But don’t be fooled by their beauty as they are famous for their anger among the group of cichlids called Mbunas, also known as “Rock Fish.”

If you have planned to bring them home for your fishkeeping hobby, this article is a brief guide for you to understand the stats and care of these Zebra-Malawi Cichlids. But let’s look at some quick stats first.

Quick Stats

Scientific names Metriaclima lombardoi, Maylandia lombardoi (previously Pseudotropheus lombardoi)
Common names Lombardoi Cichlid, Kennyi Cichlid, Blue Kenyi Cichlid, Golden Zebra Cichlid, Kenyii
Distribution Rift Lakes, Lake Malawi in Africa
Fish Size 4-6 inches
Care Level Moderate
Aquarium Temperature 78-80 oF
Temperament Aggressive; can live with fish of different colors
Aquarium conditions Moderately hard; KH 10-15, pH 7.8-8.6
Aquarium Size At least a 55-gallon tank; must be lengthy rather than tall

Scientific Classification

Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Actinopterygii
Order Perciformes
Family Cichlidae
Genus Maylandia
Species Lombardoi

Know the Facts and Stats About Kenyi Cichlid

If you are a fish keeper who loves enticing colors in the aquarium, the Kenyi Cichlid is for you. The most exciting feature is the Kenyi Cichlid lifespan that can reach up to 18 years with proper care.

These Kenyi Cichlids native to Malaki Lake are 4-6 inches long with a typical muscular and elongated Mbuna body.

Male Kenyi Cichlid looks a tad deeper than other members of the Mabuna group. They have a yellow body base with vertical faint black barring, a lighter-colored stomach, and an egg spot on the anal fin. On the other hand, the Female Kenyi Cichlid is bluish-colored with dark black bars and a lighter stomach area.

In Malawi Lake, the African Cichlid dwells down towards freshwater rocks to a depth of more than 32 feet, where there are sandy and muddy spots with sediment-rich substrates. The male cichlids create nests from a pit in the sand, while the non-territorial males, females, and juveniles form their small groups for protection.

Here are some basic details to remember about the Kenyi Cichlid:

  • Body shape: typical Mbuna cichlid body, muscular and elongated, male Kenyi Cichlids are a tad deeper as compared to other Mbunas
  • Color: yellow base with faded black barring in males, females are bluish with black bars.
  • Lifespan: 5-18 years
  • Suitable Habitat: sandy and muddy rocks; sediment-rich substrates

Breeding Kenyi Cichlids in a Tank

Kenyi Cichlids are easier to breed but difficult to pair up in a tank. But the good news for you is that, once pairing between a male and female cichlid is complete, the female lays eggs fertilized by male sperm.

An interesting fact about the breeding activity of Kenyi Cichlid is the process of stimulating the male cichlid to release the milt (sperm). The female cichlid is fooled by the egg spot on the male’s anal fin, and mouthing of the female triggers the release of milt by the male cichlid. Then, the female, using her mouth, takes up the released sperms to fertilize the eggs.

As the Kenyi Cichlid is a mouthbreeder in the freshwater, all the processes after egg laying occur in the mouth of the female cichlid. There are about 50 fertilized eggs in the female mouth during every breeding season. In the wild, the fry is released after three weeks of fertilization from the female’s mouth.

However, in the aquarium, it is dangerous for the fry to stay around the adult fish. Therefore, they must be separated from the female and kept in a separate tank for growth. You can put them back in the adult tank once they grow enough to protect themselves from danger, preferably when they reach one to two inches in size.

Below mentioned details might help you in setting up your tank for the new fry:

  • Size of the fry tank: 20 to 30 gallons
  • Temperature: 78 to 80oF
  • Water conditions: pH – 7.5 to 8.5; dGH 10 to 15 (up to very hard); Sponge filtration for first two weeks and submersible or HOB filter later for a reasonable rate of flow
  • Water change frequency: 10 percent daily or 25 percent weekly
  • Fry Feed: baby brine shrimp, crushed flakes, infusoria, mini pellets. Feed the fry three times a day

Compatibility with Tank Mates

The Kenyi Cichlid is known to have an aggressive temperament. Therefore, it is not regarded as a community fish in the aquarium business. If you have a small tank of about 30-gallon capacity, it is enough for a breeding pair of Kenyi Cichlids.

However, to add more tank mates, at least a 50-gallon capacity of the tank is needed, while for a community tank with other Mbuna mates, there should be a bigger tank with about 75-gallon capacity.

Usually, Kenyi Cichlids can live as small groups of females with one male in a large aquarium. Remember not to put more than one male in a tank as males of the same species will kill each other.

However, you can keep these blue Kenyi Cichlids with other Mbunas of similar size but different colors such as Yellow lab, Auratus, Snow-white Cichlid, Blue Socolofi Cichlid, Red Zebra Cichlid, Zebra Obliquidens, and Demasoni Cichlid, etc.

As the Kenyi Cichlid has an aggressive temperament, make sure you don’t have these aggressive fish with other peaceful cichlids in your aquarium.

Below are some points to remember while setting up an aquarium for Kenyi Cichlid:

  • Temperament: Aggressive
  • Compatibility:
    – Same Species: more than one female can live with one male, but more than one male cannot live together in a tank. However, if the tank is massive, two males can survive by creating their territories.
    – Peaceful fish: being aggressive fish, Kenyi Cichlids are a threat to other peaceful Cichlids.
    – Shrimps, snails, and crabs: Kenyi Cichlid is also aggressive in the presence of these tank mates.
    – Plants: need to monitor response to different plant species.
    – Slow swimmers & eaters: threat

Aquarium Care Guide for Kenyi Cichlid

Being an aggressive and territorial species, Kenyi Cichlid is an exciting fish for you to keep in an aquarium with other tank mates. The best way to keep these African Cichlids in a tank is to keep one male and many female members of the same species in at least a 50-gallon tank.

Interestingly, the aggression of Kenyi Cichlid reduces when in a larger tank where the male fish digs a nest in the sand and protects it. Moreover, these cichlids prefer to spend most of their time at the middle and bottom of the tank.

Even after knowing stats and facts about a fish, it often becomes difficult for beginner aquarists to take good care of fish in the aquarium. Here’s a brief guide on how to take care of Kenyi Cichlid in an aquarium.

– Aquarium Setup

Setting up a well-decorated tank is an essential aspect of keeping Kenyi Cichlid in your aquarium. These cichlids need to have a well-decorated tank that looks similar to their natural habitat to suppress their aggression and grow happily. Kenyi Cichlids are known as Rock Fish native to the sediment-rich substrates and muddy and sandy rocks of Lake Malawi.

Thus, the first step in tank décor for this Lombardoi Cichlid is to set up the rocky bottom with a sand cushion to help the male fish dig and build a nest in the sand just like their natural habitat. We recommend placing clay pots or rock caves for helping in pairing and spawning the Kenyi Cichlids in a tank.

You can mix gravel along with crushed coral as a substrate for the aquarium. The aragonite sands or crushed coral are preferred because they do not dissolve easily and keep the pH of the tank high. The arrangement of these rocks and corals must facilitate the territory formation by males in the tank. Open spaces can help them create their shelters in the aquarium.

The water of Malawi Lake is rich in minerals and is alkaline because of evaporation. This lake is known for its clear and stable water with unique chemistry and pH. Thus, as an aquarist, it is necessary to watch these parameters to keep the Lake Malawi fish happy in your tank.

These rift lake cichlids like hard alkaline water, so use salt as a buffering agent to improve the water’s carbonate hardness. Although these Kenyi Cichlids tolerate salt, they can live in only slightly brackish waters and avoid full brackishness in their habitat. In simple words, you should keep the water salinity of your tank to about 10 percent with less than 1.0002 specific gravity.

Moreover, these African Cichlids also need efficient and robust water filtration. Slow acclimation of different pH levels is necessary for this fish, but it can also result in higher ammonia in the tank, which means more toxicity in water. Therefore, you must change the water of the tank regularly.

A powerful filter with efficient and regular water change keeps the aquarium healthy for the Kenyi Cichlids. You’d love the hand-on-back filters for their affordability and quality.

Note these points before setting up your Malawi tank:

  • Minimum Size of the Tank: 50 gallons for a group of females with one male. For other tank mates, larger tanks are needed
  • Nano tank: not suitable
  • Substrate type: any; preferably crushed coral and aragonite sands
  • Lighting: Moderately needed
  • pH Range: 7.8 to 8.6
  • Temperature: 76 to 82oF
  • Range of hardness: dGH 10 to 15
  • Brackishness: no salt in their natural habitat, but they are slightly tolerant to salts; keep salt level of the aquarium below 10 percent and specific gravity of less than 1.0002
  • Movement of water: moderately needed
  • Region of swimming: middle and bottom of the aquarium

Aquarium Diet

Kenyi Cichlid is omnivorous, so in the wild, it primarily feeds on algae, plankton, crustaceans, tiny zooplankton, and invertebrates. However, in the aquarium, you can feed them with live or frozen brine shrimps, high-quality flake, mysis, spirulina, pellets, and other diets of omnivorous cichlids. Interestingly, they also like live feeder guppies, bloodworms, and daphnia.

Besides, you can also add vegetables such as peas, zucchini, and spinach to Kenyi Cichlid’s diet. Moreover, adding supplements and vitamins to fish food is always beneficial for their health.

But remember to avoid larger feeding sizes. Instead, give them small-sized foods at regular intervals throughout the day. This practice is necessary to maintain the quality of water as well.

Here are few points to note for the diet of Kenyi Cichlid:

  • Feeding behavior: omnivorous
  • Meaty food: part of their diet
  • Flake food: high quality
  • Live food: other small fish, worms, and shrimps
  • Pellet/Tablet: vitamins and supplements
  • Frequency of feeding: small feeding sizes at regular intervals in a day

Common Fish Diseases in Blue Kenyi Cichlid

Poor water conditions are bad for the health of these Blue Kenyi Cichlids. Poor oxygenation of the tank and stale water can also cause other fish diseases in these Malawi Cichlids. Therefore, you must change their water either 10 percent daily or 25 percent weekly, depending on water quality.

Also, lack of quality food in their diet leads to a disease called Malawi boat. It is also caused by excessive protein intake by the Kenyi Cichlid. Like other fishes, they also catch undesirable conditions like skin flukes and other bacterial, fungal, and parasitic infections (from worms and protozoa).

Ich is another common disease in all aquarium fishes and is treatable by increasing the tan temperature to 86oF for about three days. After that, the fish needs copper-based medications or the addition of copper in tank water.

It is essential to keep the copper levels in the tank within proper levels to avoid ich. For this purpose, you can go for regular copper tests. For severe ich, elevated temperature with ich medication can also be used as a treatment.

Now, you must keep in mind a few points about the fish diseases possible in the aquarium:

  • Diseases: Malawi boat, ich, and other fish ailments
  • Treatment: Increased temperature to 86oF and copper medication
  • Prevention: Regular water changes; proper copper levels in water


This article talked about the stats and care of the beautiful Kenyi Cichlid, an aggressive creature but can be a colorful choice for your aquarium hobby. We have shared a detailed guide about the habitat, lifespan, aquarium needs, diet and care, and breeding behavior of these Malawi Cichlids.

Let us summarize the main points discussed above in detail for you to understand what you need before setting up your Kenyi tank:

  • Male and female Kenyi Cichlids are different in color, with males being yellow and females with a bluish body base. All stages have vertical bars on the body
  • Males have an egg spot on the anal fin, which the female thinks of as having eggs and the mouthing of the female helps in stimulating the release of milt
  • Kenyi Cichlids are mouthbrooders, i.e., the female keeps the eggs in the mouth all the time. But in the tank, it is necessary to separate the fertilized eggs from the adult fish to help them grow in a separate tank
  • The Kenyi Cichlid fry can grow in size up to one inch within three weeks, after which they can be returned to the adult tank.
  • Kenyi Cichlid has a wild habitat of muddy and sandy rocks with sediment-rich substrates. So prepare your tank accordingly
  • Crushed coral or aragonite sand can be your stuff for the tank decoration
  • The minimum tank capacity for a breeding pair is 30 gallons, while a group of one male with several females needs at least 50 gallons of water in the tank. Community fish tanks should have a 75-gallon capacity
  • The preferred tank temperature for the Blue Kenyi Cichlids is 78-80oF
  • Other aquarium conditions needed are moderately hard water with KH 10-15, and pH 7.8-8.6
  • Kenyi Cichlid can live up to 18 years with proper care and can have 4-6 inches.
  • They are omnivorous in the wild and can be fed with live shrimps, frozen food, and vegetables in the aquarium
  • Feeding should be done in small sizes three times a day instead of one large portion to maintain the quality of water
  • Like other Cichlids, Kenyi Cichlids are also susceptible to diseases like ich and other fish ailments. Malawi boat is another disease-specific in Kenyi Cichlids that happens because of excessive protein intake and poor quality of food
  • For ich, elevated temperature and copper medications can be used as a treatment. As a preventive measure, copper levels of the tank must be maintained properly within levels.

If you are a beginner in the aquarium hobby, we’ve covered all the necessary information for you to keep the Kenyi Cichlid in your tank. These Malawi Cichlids can be a colorful addition to your aquarium hobby and can remain with you for a longer time with proper care. Find this fish in a store or online, and follow this guide to set up your tank for your new pet.

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