Electric Blue Mainganos (Melanochromis cyaneorhabdos) are beautiful additions to a cichlid community. Adult males are black with pearly blue horizontal stripes and some blue in the tail and fins. Females tend to be more blue with black stripes and markings. Melanochromis are especially aggressive with other male Melanochromis, particularly if there are females present, and multiple Melanochromis species should not be mixed to prevent cross-breeding.
Malawian and Victorian cichlids are similar in care and temperament, leading to fish from these two lakes being grouped together in the hobby. Several hundreds species of cichlid are found in Lake Malawi, along with many regional variations, but Lake Victoria has far fewer due to the introduction of invasive predators. Most cichlids in both lakes are rock-dwellers. They seldom stray far from the rocky bottoms and sides of the lake and will quickly dart into the rocks to hide. As with all cichlids, they are very territorial and will not tolerate other cichlids around “their” crevice.
Two of the most popular groups of these cichlids are the “Peacocks” (mostly the Aulonocara genus) and “Mbuna's” (native term for “rock fish” and including the genera Pseudotropheus, Labidochromis, Maylandia, Melanochromis and others). While aggression and compatibility can vary from species to species, mixing Mbuna and Peacock cichlids is not usually recommended. Mbuna cichlids tend to be more aggressive and may bully the usually more passive Peacocks but some Mbuna cichlids are far more aggressive than others. Several other groups of cichlids can also be found from these lakes, some of which can be large and aggressive predators; research all choices carefully.
Decor for a Malawi/Victoria aquarium should be very rocky. Rock “piles” and shelf-like backgrounds are common designs and can be made from tufa rock, lava rock or slate. Substrates can range from the whitish coral sand used in saltwater aquariums to black freshwater sand or even regular decorative gravels. Wood tends to lower pH and is not usually recommended for African cichlid aquariums.