Steps for Setting up An Aquarium of Lake Malawi

The aquarium of Lake Malawi shows how rich tropical freshwater aquariums are. To show an ocean landscape or something completely different from the conventional one, coral sand, and limestone-like ocean rocks can be used for aquarium decorations.

Best choice to show color and fish

If you want to show the color and swimming style of the fish, the Malawi cichlid (Cichlid) fish is the best choice. Cichlids come from Lake Malawi in the Great Rift Valley, where this fish is called Mbuna. They have amazing bright blue and yellow tones, which will make people mistakenly believe that they are marine fish, and they do not ask for the special attention required by marine fish, as well as the aquarium equipment and large expenses necessary for marine aquariums. A landscape similar to the ocean can still be achieved.
Malawi cichlids naturally live in alkaline water on rocky shores with sufficient oxygen, so rocks must be placed in the aquarium to provide a space for fish to feed and breed. In nature, they scrape algae along the shore and fight each other for the best territory.

To overcome the characteristics of fighting for territory in the aquarium, we would suggest you stock them in large quantities so that the chance of a certain fish dominating the entire aquarium and selecting other fish will be reduced.

Malawi cichlids will successfully reproduce in such aquariums. As a mouth-hatching species, to protect the survival rate of offspring, females first put eggs and fry in their mouths, and wait for the fry to grow up before they spit out these fry among the rocks.

Choose a large aquarium to raise Malawi cichlids, because you will add a lot of fish. The average length of cichlids is 15 cm. Choosing the right type of Cichlid for your tank size is most important.

Steps to set up Lake Malawi

Install the filter

A large and powerful filter shall be selected to deal with all the contaminants that the fish in this overcrowded aquarium will produce. Install the heater Malawi cichlids are tropical fish, so a heater is needed to maintain a stable water temperature. Choose a heater large enough to heat the entire aquarium.

Install the air pump

Because there are a lot of fish stocked in this aquarium, an air pump is needed to oxygenate the water. Connect the water pump with the check valve, air pipe, and air stone outside the aquarium.
Lake Malawi Cichlids Tank

Place the rocks

Place rocks and pile them up at the back of the aquarium to provide a lot of caves and hiding places for the fish. Any rock can be used in the Malawi cichlid fish aquarium. Limestone can be used to buffer the pH and hardness of the water body, and it can also simulate the ocean landscape.

Place the rocks directly on the bottom of the aquarium so that the fish cannot dig under them, and cause the rocks to fall. Stack the largest and flattest stones first, and put them in place. Lean the entire pile of stones against the rear glass to increase stability. Shake the rocks gently when setting up the tank to check if they will fall off.

Clean the substrate, and then place the substrate around the rock base. No need to use other decorations, so as not to distract the viewers, and fish is the main focus of the aquarium.

Pour tap water into the aquarium – The water will be a bit cloudy in the first few days, but the filter will quickly make the water clear.

Add de-chlorinator – Add enough to treat the water in the entire aquarium.

Run the filter, and turn on the switch of the air pump – The water circulates under the combined movement of the filter and the air pump helps the dechlorination work. Plug the heater into the power source and activate the switch.

Add nitrifying bacteria to prepare the water – Strong, oxygen-filled water will help the growth of nitrifying bacteria.

Add ammonia – check the water quality every day, and do not add any fish, until the ammonia and nitrite reach the peak value and return to zero.

Use a thermometer to check the water temperature.

More guide to setting up a Cichlid tank includes tips and ideas.


The finished aquarium looks very different from the standard tropical fish aquarium. Bare sandy beaches and rocks will contrast with gorgeous fishes, and the whole landscape will look simple and stylish. Since Malawi cichlids must be overstocked to minimize their aggressiveness, a 120 cm tank must contain 20 or more similar-sized fish.

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