Kawanga Gold Zebra - Metriaclima sp.
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.
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**Note about scientific naming: As African cichlids are continually being discovered and redescribed, many scientific names have been changed over time. One of the most affected groups are the fish from the genera Pseudotropheus, Maylandia, and Metriaclima. Many of these fish were originally classified in the Pseudotropheus genus but the "Zebra" group was separated into the Maylandia genus created in 1984. In 1997, the new Metriaclima genus was created as a proposed "more correct" genus to replace Maylandia. However, the true "correctness" of the classifications is still highly debated and those three genera are still used interchangeably to refer to the same fish in some references.**