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Lake Malawi Cichlids 3, African Aquarium Technology - Tanks, Lighting, Heating/Temperature and Filters/Water Filtration

Updated on February 14, 2012
Power Canister Filter
Power Canister Filter
Aquarium Filtration
Aquarium Filtration | Source

Aquarium Lighting

Plants are not a major issue because they should be used very sparingly in an African Cichlid aquarium. Of course you will need sufficient lighting to be able to view your fish’s colourations to the best effect but you should also avoid excessively bright lighting as this can make them uneasy. Two or three fluorescent tubes are sufficient for a large aquarium. The selection of colour you get is really down to taste, but you should try to get a daylight colour. Natural white light will bring out the natural colours of the tank. And a timer should be fitted to limit the amount of hours of lighting to around 12, and this should not be any more than 14. One side effect of having the light on too long is that there will be large amounts of algae growing.

Aquarium Heating

The ideal water temperature for Lake Malawi cichlids is between 24 and 27°C, and a thermostatically controlled heater should be used to maintain this. The heater can be placed in the tank or installed in the central filtration system and set to the right temperature. To heat an aquarium situated in the living room at normal room temperature, one watt of heating power per 2.5 to 3 litres so a 500 litre tank will need around 200 watts of heating. In larger aquariums or breeding tanks, it is a good idea to install two lower powered heaters, rather than one high power one, so if one fails the second will prevent damage to your tank and its inhabitants. You will also need a thermometer to monitor the temperature within the aquarium.


A huge amount of effective aquarium filters are available these days, and beginners are faced with a huge choice. The filtration system is at the heart of any aquarium, and never more so than with a Lake Malawi cichlid tank setup, since the fish are used to a sea like currents and their tank requires a correspondingly powerful filtration system. Apart from regular water changes, filters are the only other way of eliminating the toxic matter from the water and enriching it with oxygen. A vigorous water flow promotes vitality, natural resistance in the aquarium and the growth of young fish. It is also advisable to install an additional rapid filter consisting of a power head to circulate the water as well as the filter. This provides water filtration and water movement.

Trickle Filters

Trickle filters have been used in marine tanks, and recently they have been used in freshwater setups too. However they are not really suitable for use with Lake Malawi Cichlids due to the high PH they require.

Biological filters

This is another option that has become popular with aquarists, which is made u of several compartments in which the water passes through the variety of different filtering materials. Biological filters can be attached to the side of the aquarium, or preferably housed in the cabinet underneath the tank. The first compartment of this filter is generally filled with filter wool which acts as a prefiltering material and must be regularly rinsed. The second and third compartments are filled with filter materials such as ceramic chips, plastic pellets, filter wool or sponge. This is where the water is cleaned and purified. The water is then pumped back into the final compartment into the aquarium. One advantage of a biological filter system is that, it provides excellent water clarity, is quick and easy to use and allows easy access to the filtration material. If it is big enough, it will last several months with only minimal maintenance.

Air Powered canister filters

Air powered canister filters are very suitable for Lake Malawi Cichlid tanks because they also increase the oxygen content in the water. They consist of canister filters filled with filter wool driven by an air pump which forces air up into the pipe, and also drawing water up through the filter material and then directing it back into the aquarium. Since all of these pipes are hollow and are fitted with a filter mesh at the bottom, they can be filled with additional coarse filtering material, further increasing the filtration surface area. The simple principle is based on the fact that water is drawn through the pipes to where the colonies of bacteria growing in them.

Powered Canister filters

Theses filters are available to suit all kinds of tank size. They consist of canister filters on top of which a pump will be fitted, and the canisters themselves may contain a wide variety of filtration materials. They are easy to clean. Natural dirt builds up as they pump so fast, and this must be removed regularly.

Never attempt to save money on filters, always buy the right size and remember that the larger the filtration system, the better the aquariums oxygen supply will be.

The Other Parts of the Keeping Malawi Cichlids Guides

Part 1 - Introduction To Keeping Lake Malawi Cichlids

Part 2 - Lake Malawi Cichlid Aquarium Requirements

Part 4 - Malawi Cichlid Aquarium Decoration

Part 5 - Choosing the Right Fish

Part 6 - Malawi Cichlid Nutrition

Part 7 - Cichlid Breeding

Part 8 - Causes Of Diseases


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