How to Identify Types of African Cichlid Fish

An African cichlid.

An African cichlid.

The beautifully colored African cichlids originally came from the three African freshwater lakes of Malawi, Tanganyika and Victoria. Today they are one of the largest groups of freshwater fish in the world. Known for their intelligence, they adjust well to captivity and are easy to keep as pets.

Find out which of the three African lakes -- Malawi, Tanganyika or Victoria -- your African cichlid originates from by studying the fish's breeding and eating habits. You can visit the links to the three lakes below to see the different feeding and breeding habits the cichlid has depending on which lake it originates from. Remember, however, there are more than 400 species of cichlids in Lake Victoria more than 500 species in Lake Malawi and more than 200 in Lake Tanganyika.

Examine the defining characteristics of your African cichlid. What are his colors? How big is he? What is his shape? Clicking the African Profiles link, provided in the Resources section of this article, you can find out which family of cichlids your African cichlid comes from.

Determine which type of cichlid your African cichlid is within his particular family. For example, the major difference between a Melanochronis Auratus and a Melanochronis Chipokae is that a Chipokae has a black outline around it lips. Both fish have several black horizotal stripes across their bodies.

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About the Author

Simon Thomas has worked as a writer and journalist since 2004. He has contributed articles to several online publications, including Smashing Magazine, an art-and-design e-zine. Thomas holds a B.A. in film and media from Winchester University.

Photo Credits

  • african cichlid image by Earl Robbins from