Maingano cichlid stats infographicThe Maingano Cichlid is a small, territorial fish that can be easily identified because of its electric blue coloration. This fish does not grow as large or as menacing as other Cichlid species. This makes it the perfect Cichlid starter for novice fishkeepers or those who are unsure if they are prepared to handle the combination of large and aggressive species.

Reading this article, you will learn about the Maingano Cichlid’s background, how to prepare the perfect home for it, how to care for and breed it, as well as which fish you can house with it.

What is a Maingano Cichlid?

The Maingano Cichlid is a freshwater fish that packs a strong personality in a small body. It comes from the same group as the popular African Cichlid fish. However, what makes the Maingano Cichlid unique is that it only grows to about four or five inches in length.

Maingano Cichlid Stats

In this section, you will get to know more about the Maingano Cichlid in terms of some of its most common facts and statistics. Read the information given in the table below to learn more about the Maingano Fish in terms of its required care level, size, and breeding type, among others.

Common Name Maingano Cichlid
Scientific Name Melanochromis Cyaneorhabdos
Care Level Moderate
Average Lifespan 8 to 9 years
Maximum Size 3 to 4 inches in length
Diet Omnivorous
Breeding Type Egg-layer
Minimum Tank Size 40 to 50 gallons

Below is another information table that details the taxonomic classification of the Maingano Cichlid. Here, you will see how it is related to other larger species of Cichlids and even some of the Oscar fish.

Order: Perciformes
Suborder Labroidei
Family Cichlidae
Genera Melanochromis
Species Melanochromis Cyaneorhabdos

Maingano Cichlid Care

Now that you have a firm grasp on the Maingano Cichlid’s background and key facts, you can move on to learning about how to care for this fish. Caring for a Maingano Cichlid might be challenging at first, especially if you are a novice fishkeeper. However, reading this article should give you all the information you need to feel more confident about introducing the delightful yet headstrong Maingano Fish into your freshwater tank.

– Diet

Maingano cichlid the small blue cichlid with a big personalityThe Maingano Cichlid is an omnivorous fish, which means it would digest both meat and vegetables.

However, experienced aquarists will be quick to tell you that this particular Cichlid enjoys a diet that is heavier on vegetable and plant-based foods rather than on meaty food.

You should feed your Maingano Fish with a mix of leafy and fish-safe vegetables, a few servings of protein-rich food, and daily dietary supplements in the form of commercial Cichlid pellets or flakes.

Your Maingano Cichlid can eat either live or frozen food for its protein requirement. If you are a novice fishkeeper, consider stocking up on frozen meaty food such as brine shrimp and bloodworms instead of feeding your Maingano Fish with live food.

It is commonly knowns that live food is one of the easiest ways for parasites and bacteria to enter your aquarium, that is why it might be best to put that food source off until you are more experienced with caring for your Maingano Cichlid. We recommend that you feed the Maingano Cichlid frozen meaty food three to four times a week, and be careful to offer this type of food in bite-sized or cut-up pieces.

The bulk of your Maingano Cichlid’s diet should consist of high-quality commercial food designed for Cichlids and some servings of fish-safe vegetables. Offer your Maingano Fish the Cichlid pellets at least once or twice every day. You can also provide vegetables such as lettuce, peas, and cucumbers around three times a week.

Be sure to wash these vegetables thoroughly and cut or cube them into pieces that easily fit into your Maingano Cichlid’s mouth.

– Frequent Feeding

Unlike their larger Cichlid cousins, the tiny Maingano Cichlid will not thrive on once-a-day meals. On the contrary, it would be in their best interest to feed them small amounts of food at least twice or thrice a day. It is important to note that the average Maingano Cichlid size is around three to four inches only. You should not provide this fish with more food than it can handle at any time to avoid bloating and other possible health conditions.

– Water Parameters

Moving along from preparing a healthy diet for your Maingano Cichlid, you will need to achieve and maintain some crucial water parameters. These water parameters are essential in maintaining your fish’s health and preventing it from getting stressed or prone to illnesses. Take a look at the information table given below to learn about the different water parameters you need for the ideal Maingano Cichlid tank.

Temperature 72 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit
pH Level 7.6 to 8.8
Water Hardness 6 to 10 dGH
Light Level Moderate
Substrate Sand or mixed gravel

– Tank Setup

When it comes to setting up the best Maingano Cichlid aquarium, you should keep in mind that you are going to care for an active fish that likes open spaces as much as it appreciates natural shelter. Furthermore, you will need to prepare a tank that has a capacity of at least 40 or 50 gallons.

Note that this aquarium size is for a single Maingano Fish, or at most a breeding pair of Maingano Cichlids. If you want to raise more, a general rule you can follow is to allow 20 to 30 gallons of capacity per Maingano Cichlid.

Consider the filtration and lighting system that you intend to use. Maingano Cichlids fare well in tanks with moderate to strong water flow. When you first introduce your Maingano Cichlid to its tank, consider using a moderate water flow only, and increase this later on when your fish has settled in well enough.

The Maingano Cichlid will also appreciate having rock caves or platforms as well as some hardy live plants in its enclosure. Having these decorations is completely optional, but they do help your Maingano Fish relax and feel more at home in its new environment.

Some of the aquarium plants you might want to consider adding to your Maingano Cichlid’s aquarium include the reliable Anubias, the common Java Fern and Java Moss, and the resilient Cryptocoryne flora.

– Lifespan

This peculiar fish is considered to have an average lifespan of about eight to nine years. However, if raised in an ideal environment and with consistently excellent care, they may live for up to ten years in captivity.

On the other hand, if they get to be raised in a poorly-kept tank, with indigestible food they might only live for a scant two to three years and it might not even reach its maximum size as normally would.

– Common Diseases

The Maingano Cichlid is an active and robust fish in terms of health, on another notion it can also succumb to some of the common diseases that haunt other Cichlid species. Some of these common diseases to be aware of include Malawi Bloat, Ich, and Swim Bladder Disease.

In this section, you will learn the causes, treatment, and effective prevention methods you can apply when it comes to dealing with the aforementioned health conditions.

– Malawi Bloat

Malawi Bloat, or Bloat for short, is a condition that affects almost all kinds of fish that live in captivity. Your Maingano Cichlid can struggle with this health condition if it is forced to live in poor water or is fed a nutrient-deficient diet. If your Maingano Cichlid is suffering from Malawi Bloat, it is possible that you will need to rethink its diet and feeding routine.

Having a nutrient-deficient diet doesn’t always mean that the fish is fed too little food; the opposite can also be true. Remember that the Maingano Cichlid is smaller than its cousin Cichlids.

If you keep feeding it large amounts of food, your fish will either try to consume it all despite being full or allow the remaining food to go to waste at the bottom of your tank. Either way, too much food can cause your Maingano Cichlid to deal with internal digestive problems or a filthy environment: both of which eventually lead to Bloat.

Your Maingano Cichlid can also suffer from Bloat if it is not given enough fiber-rich food. In the wild, Maingano Cichlids feed on vegetation and other available plant matter. Round out your Maingano Fish’s diet by offering leafy greens every once in a while. This will help prevent Bloat and keep your Maingano Fish’s digestive system healthy.

– Ich

Ich is also called the White Spot Disease. It is caused by a parasite that is known in the scientific community as the Ichthyophthirius multifiliis. This disease is fairly easy to notice in a Maingano Cichlid. The infamous white spots that appear around a fish’s gills, fins, and face are stand out in stark contrast to the Maingano Cichlid’s blue coloration.

Other symptoms of Ich include decreased mobility, obvious labored breathing, and a loss of appetite. If you notice these symptoms and you also see the beginnings of white spots on your Maingano Cichlid, it probably has Ich. Ich is a notoriously fast-spreading disease. As such, to effectively rid your Maingano Cichlid of this illness, it would be best to treat the entire aquarium and all of its residents.

Start treating the Ich by performing a water change, increasing the aquarium’s water temperature to kill the remaining parasites, and helping your affected Maingano Fish heal. To maintain a species-specific tank, you may subject them to a salt bath as they can tolerate 10 percent of the salinity of usual saltwater tanks. Additionally, make use of treatments and liquid solutions found at your local fish store.

To prevent Ich, all you really have to do is clean your aquarium religiously and ensure that you give your fish’s food that has been washed and prepared properly. You can set up weekly or bi-weekly tank cleaning reminders to help you get into the routine of maintaining your Maingano Cichlids’ home.

– Swim Bladder Disease

The Maingano Cichlid is particularly susceptible to Swim Bladder Disease even if it is not as large as other Cichlid species. Swim Bladder Disease is a health condition wherein your Cichlid’s swim bladder or abdominal sac is negatively affected, causing your fish to float at an odd angle or else have difficulty moving to the bottom and middle layers of your tank.

Some of the causes of Swim Bladder Disease in Maingano Cichlids include physical trauma to the abdominal area, a poor diet, and tumor growths.

The Swim Bladder Disease is closely-related to constipation, especially if the Maingano Cichlids which would consume more food than their bodies can process. To treat and prevent Swim Bladder Disease, you need to provide your Maingano with bite-sized pieces of food and feed them small meals at regular intervals, rather than one big meal for the entire day.

In addition to paying attention to how much fiber your Maingano Cichlids are getting; providing your fish with enough fiber will prevent them from becoming constipated and harming their abdominal sacs.

Tank Mates

The Maingano Cichlid is not recommended as a community fish. It may tolerate living with other Maingano Cichlids, but you should still exercise caution when housing them in a single aquarium. For instance, you may raise a single male Maingano Cichlid with several female Maingano Cichlids. This will prevent episodes of aggression in your aquarium.

On the other hand, if you still wish to keep your Maingano Cichlid in a community tank with different species of freshwater fish, you’ll be happy to learn that it is possible to do so. On another aspect, it is important to keep in mind that you should at least know which ones would make ideal neighbors and which fish should be avoided completely.

– Ideal Tank Mates

While the Maingano Cichlid does best on its own or with the same species in the tank, you can consider pairing it with fish that are of medium size and have a similar or more peaceful temperament. Many aquarists have reported successfully housing a Maingano Cichlid with other species of Cichlids as well. These species include the Red Zebra Cichlid, Cobalt Blue Zebra Cichlid, and the Lemon Cichlid.

You may also try pairing your Maingano Cichlid with medium or large-sized catfish. These fish often have a peaceful disposition and are large enough that your Maingano Fish will leave them alone if the aquarium is spacious and if food is not a problem.

– Tank Mates To Avoid

On the other hand, you need to absolutely avoid having more than one male Maingano Cichlid in the same aquarium. Once your Cichlids mature, the male Maingano Fish will fight each other for territory and for mates. This can be prevented if you keep the ratio at one male Maingano Fish per six female Maingano Cichlids.

Do not include Cichlid species that are known for both their size and aggression. In particular, avoid South American Cichlids at all costs. This is a well-known and respected rule in the freshwater community. Housing African and South American Cichlids will only lead to chaos in the aquarium, as well as multiple injuries or even fatalities among your fish.

You should also avoid including small and shy fish in your Maingano Cichlid tank. Though Maingano Cichlids are not the most aggressive member of the Cichlid group, they can still bully aquarium members that they deem to be weak.


It is possible to breed Maingano Cichlids in a home aquarium, though this task might pose a bit of a challenge to beginner aquarists. In this section, you will learn all you need to get started on this fulfilling aspect of Maingano Cichlid care.

– Pre Breeding Care

Before you breed your Maingano Cichlids, you need to be able to differentiate the males from the females. An easy way to identify the gender is to take a look at the color of their bellies. A female Maingano Cichlid will have a light blue belly and a deeper or rounder-looking body. On the other hand, a male Maingano Cichlid will have a darker belly that might also appear to have stripes on it.

Once you are aware of their gender,, you need to prepare the following equipment: a breeding tank, a spawning site, a heater (optional), and food for both the parent Maingano Cichlids and their future fry.

Cycle the water in the breeding tank thoroughly before introducing your selected Maingano breeding pair. Place the breeding tank in a dimly lit, quiet area of your house. You can then begin raising the temperature of the breeding tank and feeding your Maingano Cichlids with protein-rich food to encourage them to spawn.

The male Maingano Cichlid will then choose a spawning site in the tank. This is why it is important to provide the breeding pair with choices of flat rocks or semi-open rock caves on a soft, sandy substrate. He will clean his chosen spawning site, and then signal to the female to lay her eggs. The male will then approach the eggs and fertilize the entire clutch which the female will later pick up and carry in her mouth until they hatch.

– Post Breeding Care

You can expect your Maingano Cichlid eggs to hatch 12 to 14 days after successful fertilization occurs. Before the eggs hatch, be sure to remove the male Maingano Cichlid from the breeding tank to prevent him from eating the fry when they are released from their mother’s mouth. The female Maingano Cichlid may carry her newly-hatched fry for up to two weeks. She may let the fry out for short periods of time so that they can feed.

At this point, it is important that you provide both the mother and young Maingano Cichlids with enough food to survive. Feed the female Maingano Cichlid its regular diet of pellets, meaty food, and vegetables. Then, feed the Maingano fry with infusoria at first, and baby brine shrimp when they have grown a little larger.

Once the female Maingano Cichlid has stopped allowing the fry to reenter her mouth, you can put her back in the main aquarium. Keep the breeding tank clean and constantly check to ensure that its water parameters are in a safe range for the Maingano fry. Gently move the Maingano fry to a larger tank after they have survived three to four weeks without their mother.


Maingano cichlidThe Maingano Cichlid may not be the biggest member of the Cichlid family but it is certainly one of the most interesting. Here is a recap of the key points we tackled about the Maingano Cichlid.

  • The Maingano Cichlid is an African Cichlid that is known for its small size and electric blue body.
  • Despite its three to four-inch size, the Maingano Cichlid still needs a large aquarium due to its active and territorial nature.
  • This fish is classified as an omnivore, though it thrives more on a herbivorous diet in the wild.
  • This fish does not make the best community tank member, but it is possible to house it alongside other African Cichlids and large, peaceful fish.
  • The Maingano Cichlid is a mouth-brooder that can easily be bred in a home aquarium if you have the right knowledge and equipment.

With all that said, you should now feel more comfortable when it comes to bringing a Maingano Cichlid or two to be a member of your home aquarium. Just remember what you learned from this care guide, and you should be able to raise happy and healthy Maingano Cichlids in no time!

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