Lake Malawi Cichlids 6: The Right Nutrition and Foods for Your African Cichlids

Updated on March 19, 2018

African/Lake Malawi cichlids have very specialised feeding habits that have been adapted so that they can survive in their natural habitat. However aquarists tend to make it easier for themselves by getting readily prepared flakes and pellets. But you will have to take into account whether your fish are herbivores or ‘piscivores’ (feed on other fish). Mbuna species are normally herbivore, so they will mainly feed on the algae that grows on rocks, so they must be fed on plant food. These fish cannot digest animal fat and will suffer from indigestion if fed on it.

On the other hand most Lake Malawi cichlids will eat small crustaceans like Brine Shrimps.

A lot of cichlid breeders make up their own homemade food, made from chopped up shrimp and peas.

Here is a basic recipe for a homemade deep frozen food:

500g deep frozen shrimps

500g deep frozen peas

25g dissolved gelatine powder

10 drops of multivitamins (available from aquatic centres)

50-100g cichlid pellets or granulate

Thaw out the shrimps and peas and mince them finely in a food mixer, then add the vitamin drops. Finally pour in the dissolved gelatine. The gelatine will bind the mixture, producing a thick paste after it has cooled. Place the paste into a freezer bag, flatten and then freeze. Now this nutritious fish food can easily be cut up into convenient pieces, and given to your fish.

A wide range of foods are commercially available, like flakes and pellets. It has been noticed that cichlids feed very enthusiastically on flakes, while pellets sink to the bottom, so any other inhabitants like catfish can get it. The choice is yours.

A further important source of food for your African cichlids, are frozen foods like white and black mosquito larvae, brine shrimps and krill.

Mixes including beef heart and frozen RED mosquito larvae are not suitable for Lake Malawi Cichlids.

Correct feeding

How often you feed your Lake Malawi cichlids depends on their age. Fry (Newly born fish) must be fed more frequently and in smaller portions than older fish. Fry should literally be swimming in food in order to grow quickly and develop properly.

Herbivores are more used to feeding in small portions over the day, so feeding them once a day will not be enough. And you must take care to only put in the right amount of food. It should take about 1 minute for all of the food to be eaten.

Adult cichlids should be fed 2-3 times a day while the fry should be fed 5-7 times a day. If the fish are fed regularly then their aggression should be reduced.

Never feed your fish just after you have switched the light on as they will need reach their full levels of daytime activity. The African cichlids rest at night and it takes them about thirty minutes to become fully active. And for similar reasons, you should not give them their final feed just before turning the light out.

If you don’t think that you will be able to feed your fish at the correct times each day, then you should consider installing an automatic feeding machine.

It is important not to overfeed your fish as your cichlids will consume anything, and in huge quatities if they can, which can harm their health. Healthy African Cichlids will always await their food eagerly.

If an adult cichlid is eating poorly or refusing food then don’t feed them at all for one full day afterwards as it may be overfed. If they still fail to eat after the day off, then they may have contracted a disease.

The Other Parts of the Keeping Malawi Cichlids Guides

Part 1 - Introduction

Part 2 - Aquarium Requirements

Part 3 - Aquarium Technology

Part 4 - Aquarium Decoration

Part 5 - Choosing The Right Fish

Part 7 - Breeding Cichlids

Part 8 - Causes of Diseases

Questions & Answers


      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment
      • profile image


        2 years ago

        Hi what type of species is that yellow Vickie with young in her mouth I have the same one and can't find what species it is

      • TylerSteele profile imageAUTHOR


        7 years ago from London, UK

        They are. Were they cichlids or tropical fish? Thank you for your comment by the way.

      • lovelypaper profile image

        Renee S 

        7 years ago from Virginia

        I love aquarium fish and used to keep quite a few of them. They are a lot of fun and beautiful to watch.


      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

      Show Details
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)