Kenyi Cichlids

Male Kenyi (Maylandia Lombardoi)

Photograph by Vlad Butsky
Photograph by Vlad Butsky

The Kenyi cichlid (Maylandia lombardoi, also known as Pseudotropheus lombardoi) is a Mbuna cichlid species endemic to Lake Malawi. They are sexually dimorphic in that the males are predominantly golden yellow while the females are predominantly blue. Their vibrant coloring and entertaining behavior have made them one of the most popular cichlid species among aquarium hobbyists. However, to keep this species (and their tank mates) healthy and happy there are a few things you will need to know.

Female Kenyi (Maylandia Lombardoi)

Photograph by Steven Viemeister
Photograph by Steven Viemeister

Kenyi basics

Size: Male maximum size = 5 inches (13cm), females will be smaller

Water Ph: 7.5 - 8.6 (although I usually keep mine steady at about Ph=8.0)

Aggression: High. Like most fish from the Maylandia genus, Kenyi cichlids are aggressive. For this reason they are best kept with other African cichlids, preferably with other cichlids from Lake Malawi, who will tolerate the aggression.

Male - Female ratio: I like to keep at least 3 females for every 1 male to minimize aggression and keep all the cichlids happy.


Kenyi and water quality

As with all African cichlids, it is important that water quality is maintained through regular water changes. Small, frequent water changes are best. Changing 10-15% each week is a good idea. If you miss a week or so, adjust the amount accordingly (20-30% fortnightly etc.). However, never change more than 50% in one go. This may stress out your fish with a sudden large change in the chemical make up of the water (or large sudden temperature change). I usually run my African tanks containing Kenyi Cichlids at 82 degrees Fahrenheit (~28 degrees Celsius).

Breeding Kenyi Cichlids

To successfully breed Kenyi Cichlids the first step is making sure you have at least one male and one female. However, as mentioned above, it is always better to have several females for each male Kenyi. This will ensure the each female does not get hassled by the male too much. The male Kenyi will usually claim a territory often on or near a flat rock (although I've seen them claim just about everything at one stage or another). When the male Kenyi wants to entice a female he will swim in front of the female and dance for her. This involves him gyrating quickly while in front of her (it reminds me a bit of old school Elvis gyrations). When the female is ready to spawn with the male, they will go to the males territory and swim slowly in circles (see the video below). You will see in the video that the female (blue) will lay the egg then scoop it up into her mouth. The male will then fertilize the egg while its in the females mouth. They will repeat this process for each egg. The female will then hold the eggs in her mouth until the fry develop and become free swimming. She will not eat while holding eggs or fry (about 3 weeks)!

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