Lake Tanganyika Cichlids Care Guide: Tank Setup and much more – 2021

Lake Tanganyika Cichlids


Lake Tanganyika cichlids are usually known to be the best cichlids species with their vibrant and beautiful varieties and colorations. Lemon cichlid is one of them, which has a very pretty rich color and lovely temperament.


Lemon cichlids are one of the most beautiful Lake Tanganyika cichlids, which are vibrantly yellow, orange, or reddish. They are semi-aggressive towards their types and easy to care for in a 20–40-gallon tank. They are best kept with semi-aggressive fishes in a community tank.


Category Rating
Level of care Moderately easy
Appearance Bright yellow, orange, or reddish, with fine blue lips and blue eyes
Temperament Semi-aggressive
Life expectancy 8-10 years
Size 3.9-4 inches
Diet Carnivores
Family Cichlidae
Tank size 20-40 gallon
Tank Environment Hard alkaline water with sand and gravel substrate and lots of cave formation with rocks
Tankmates Semi-aggressive

About Lake Tanganyika Cichlids


Lemon Cichlids or Neolamprologus Leleupi is one of the most exotic Lake Tanganyika cichlid varieties. These beautiful fishes are the inhabitants of Lake Tanganyika in Africa and are usually found in the lake’s southern part.

Neolamprologus is one of the largest genera of cichlids in the Lake Tanganyika group, containing more than 50 fish species. They are easy to find in the rocky coastlines of both the eastern and western sides of the lake within 16-131 ft. depth.

The stunning Lemon cichlids usually come with an elongated body and a continued dorsal fin. Their distinct beauty lies in their caudal fin, which comes in the shape of a fan. Their lips are usually larger.

Well, they are quite a smaller species of Lake Tanganyika cichlids but serve as very exotic tank mates.  Their refreshing color is the secret to their gorgeous beauty.

The specimens of the Lemon Cichlid group usually vary in wide colors. They are most commonly seen in a bright yellow, orange, or reddish hue. Also, they can appear in deep brown color, based on their origin.

Their fine blue or green line on the lips is quite distinctive and gives them a unique look. Moreover, their light blue eyes are one of their very notable traits.

These Lake Tanganyika cichlids are not that tricky to care for. But in the aquarium, their vibrancy of color highly depends on the type of care and diet they are receiving.


Other Types of Lake Tanganyika Cichlids


Well, besides Lemon cichlids, there are a few other vibrant and beautiful Lake Tanganyika cichlids, which are great for keeping in your tank. Here are some of them.


Blue Neon Cichlids


The blue neon cichlids are one of the most famous Lake Tanganyika cichlids, which are vibrant in color and gorgeous with their yellow or lighter neon blue bodies. They are usually 4⅓-inches in length and live up to 5-8 years.


Brevis Shell Dweller


Brevis Shell dwellers are usually smaller fishes with elongated bodies. With their light brown fins and fluorescent blue-bordered eyes, they are pretty mysterious and best visible under lights.


Compressed Cichlids


Compressed cichlids are one of the most popular Lake Tanganyika cichlids having a laterally compressed shape. With their white and bluish spots, they are unique in color and can grow up to 6-7 inches in length.


Daffodil Cichlids


Daffodil cichlids are elegant in their look and nature. Their lyre-shaped tail fin and pleasant coloration make them an excellent choice for any tank. Their light green and icy blue appearance are great to add more beauty to your tank.


Fairy Cichlids


Fairy cichlids are truly fairies in the species of Lake Tanganyika cichlids. They have a very pleasing color with a yellow and sky-blue color combination and 4-5 inches in length.


Lake Tanganyika Cichlids Temperament


Lemon cichlids are one of those particular types of Lake Tanganyika cichlids that are not at all aggressive. They have a very peaceful and calm temperament.

Thus, it is pretty easy to keep them in a small same-species tank or a large community aquarium with other fishes. Lemon Lake Tanganyika cichlids are best kept with mild or relatively calm tankmates. You can easily keep them with other less aggressive species of Lake Tanganyika cichlids.

They are well-behaved and quickly become friends with other fishes. But just because they are too peaceful, it doesn’t mean that they will never get aggressive. Lemon Cichlids are aggressive towards other fishes of their kind.

In the wild habitat, they are usually found alone or in a pair. These cichlids come together only during the reproduction phase.

They go well with their newly born young siblings. But they will not at all tolerate other species’ babies at any cost. So, if you are thinking of keeping lemon cichlids in your tank, start with keeping only one.  But if you want to pet more than one, then consider keeping them in a larger tank.


Lake Tanganyika Cichlids Tank Requirement


This species of Lake Tanganyika cichlids are usually active swimmers. Hence, they swim around in the aquarium all day long. So, it is better to offer them sufficient space in the tank.

Also, the water movement in the aquarium needs to be strong enough. Besides, do you know, Lemon Cichlids are pretty messy? And that is why you need to ensure that the filtration rate of the water is adequate.

In their natural habitat at Lake Tanganyika, the water is enriched with oxygen. Thus, the tank requires a proper oxygen level to offer adequate care to them.

They usually prefer a bit of hard water. Thus, the pH range needs to be a bit high. Also, make sure you are regularly checking the nitrogen level in the water. The presence of too much nitrate in the water will be very harmful to them.

Also, the water temperature needs to be moderate enough. Too cool water or too hot water will not be suitable for these fishes.

Usually, the water chemistry of Lake Tanganyika does not change much over time. Hence, you need to ensure that you are offering well-buffered water with proper maintenance and regular water changes.

You can keep your lemon cichlids in slightly brackish water conditions. But make sure the water is not entirely salty. The water chemistry must properly mimic their natural habitat to let them show their best color.


Lake Tanganyika Cichlids Tank Set-Up


The cichlids of Lake Tanganyika are pretty easy to care for in your tank. Especially lemon cichlids are easy and fun to care for. But make sure the tank set-up is top-notch for them.


So, here is how you can ensure the best tank set-up for your lemon cichlids.

  • For keeping lemon cichlids, a minimum of a 20-gallon water tank will be much more suitable. If you are thinking of keeping them in pairs, you can opt for a 40-gallon tank to offer them the best care.
  • Ensure a proper filtration rate for the tank water to keep the movement appropriate.
  • You can add bubbles for maintaining a proper oxygen level in the aquarium water.
  • Keep checking the presence of nitrate regularly. The nitrate level in the tank water should not be more than 25 ppm.
  • The water of Lake Tanganyika is not soft. Instead, it is hard enough. Usually, the water pH remains near 9, which is consistently alkaline. Thus, make sure the water in your aquarium is sufficiently alkaline. Keep the pH level higher than 7.
  • The hardness of the water should be near about 12-14 dGH.
  • The tank water temperature should be between 72-86℉.
  • Add salt as a buffering agent to increase the carbonate hardness of the aquarium water.
  • You can also use chemical filtration to enhance buffering of the water.
  • For the substrate, you can use a very small-sized gravel substrate. Also, a light-colored substrate will be excellent for your lemon cichlids.
  • You can add some crushed corals to the substrate to keep the water’s pH level up.
  • A moderate to normal lighting intensity in the tank will be fine for caring for these Lake Tanganyika cichlids.
  • In the case of decoration of the tank, consider placing a lot of rocks and cave formations.


Lake Tanganyika Cichlids

Lake Tanganyika Cichlids Tank Mates


Lemon cichlids of Lake Tanganyika are very peaceful and gel well with other tank mates. They are aggressive towards fishes of their kind but go well in a community tank.

You can easily keep them in an aquarium with other durable fishes. While picking the tank mates for your lemon cichlids, make sure you are not keeping them with aggressive fishes. They can also be kept with the same species of fish.

So, it’s always better to keep them with other peaceful fishes. Make very sure that you are not keeping them with large semi-aggressive or predatory fishes. Even slow swimmers and eaters can be a threat to them. Moreover, do not keep them with shrimps, crabs, or snails.

Here are the tank mates that you can house with your lemon cichlids of Lake Tanganyika.

  • Julidochromis
  • Convict Julie
  • Dickfield’s Julie
  • Compressed cichlid
  • White Pearly Calvus
  • Synodontis catfish


What Does Lake Tanganyika Cichlids Eat?


Are you thinking of keeping lemon cichlids in your tank? Well, then you must be concerned about their feeding behavior. Feeding them is not at all that challenging.

Lemon Cichlids are usually carnivorous by nature. So, they highly prefer protein-rich foods for their diet. In the wild, they easily eat zoobenthic organisms, copepods, or aquatic insects.

For maintaining a good balance, you can give them high-quality flake food or pellet regularly. You can also supplement this food with good-quality brine shrimps, daphnia, or cyclops.

To let them achieve a brighter color, you can offer them protein-rich carotenoid foods. Feed them in 2-5 smaller parts of the food in a day. Do not provide a large quantity of food to them at once in a day.

Giving them a food-free break for one day a week will also be very beneficial for their growth. In general, they prefer a meaty diet. Thus, frequently offer them meaty foods for their enhanced growth.


Care for Lake Tanganyika Cichlids


Caring for lemon cichlids of Lake Tanganyika is pretty easy. To offer them the best care, you must perform regular water changes up to 10-20% in a week. Also, you may need to do it more frequently as per the wastes generated.

Lake Tanganyika cichlids usually cannot handle substantial water changes until the new water chemistry goes well with the tank water they are currently living in.

Besides, Lake Tanganyika cichlids are very prone to thyroid malfunctioning. Thus, to let their thyroid function properly, you must offer an adequate amount of iodine in the water through salt. It is also beneficial for their healthy growth.

They can tolerate a salinity of about 10% of the ordinary saltwater. So, to provide these cichlids the best care, the specific gravity should be less than 1.0002.

Keep them in a light-colored substrate. It will help these cichlids show their best colors.  Make sure the ambiance is not too dark. In such an environment, they tend to look muddy.

Nevertheless, there are a few difficulties associated with keeping lemon cichlids. So, these fishes are best kept by experienced cichlid keepers.

The care is moderately easy as long as you feed the lemon cichlids with live foods. But during the water change, you need to be very careful to match the new water chemistry with the previous one to keep your fishes healthy.


Lake Tanganyika Cichlids Breeding Guidelines


Lemon cichlids are typically egg layers. The female fishes are usually sheltered substrate spawners that prefer to spawn in caves. During breeding, they will form monogamous pairs and a nuclear family.

The female cichlids begin by depositing 50-150 eggs on the roof of the cave. Then the male fishes traverse to the rooftop to fertilize them. And soon after fertilization, the female fishes hide within the spawning site to guard the eggs. The males, on the other hand, protect their territory. These Lake Tanganyika Cichlids thus breed in captivity and quickly spawn.

For better and successful breeding, you can start with 6 or more lemon cichlid juveniles and let them pair up. To ensure proper breeding, you need to transfer them to a breeding tank with 20–30-gallon capacity.

Decorate the said aquarium with rocks and other decorations to create caves and offer them perfect spawning sites. It will be ideal if the caves possess a small opening that is big enough for the female fishes to enter.

Do you know when the shelter is not enough, the male fishes can even kill the female counterparts if she is unwilling to spawn? Dangerous, isn’t it?

However, make sure that the breeding tank has slightly alkaline water. The pH of the water should be medium to hard with a range of 7.5-8. Maintain 10-15 dGH for the hardness of the water. For the breeding tank, maintaining a water temperature of about 77-86℉ is too obligatory.

Also, with 50% of water changes, you can easily stimulate proper spawning.

How to Care for Lake Tanganyika Cichlids Fry?


The eggs will hatch within 4 days. During this time, both the parents are going to defend their fry.

As the fry becomes able to swim, you can feed them with newly hatched brine shrimps and crushed flakes.


Where to Buy Lake Tanganyika Cichlids?


Lemon cichlids are also popularly known as Leleupi or Gold cichlid. Thus, you can ask any of your nearby aquarists about them. You can also get them in fish stores.

Moreover, you can look for them in the shops of a hobbyist. These Lake Tanganyika cichlids are also readily available in online stores.


How Big Do Lake Tanganyika Cichlids Get?


Well, lemon cichlids usually grow up to 3.9-4 inches or 9.91 cm long. In the wild, the males grow up to almost 4-inches.

But in the aquarium with the best care, they can also grow up to 5-inches. The female lemon cichlids of Lake Tanganyika, on the other hand, are slightly smaller. They typically extend up to a maximum of 3.5-inches in length.


How Long Does Lake Tanganyika Cichlids Live?


Lemon cichlids are one of those Lake Tanganyika cichlids that are very easy to care for and live for long years.

If you offer them the best care, they can easily live up to 8-10 years of age.


Final Thoughts


So, are you thinking of adding some fresh vibrance to your tank with one of the famous Lake Tanganyika cichlids?Well, then lemon cichlids are the most suitable buddies for you. They are vibrant in color, peaceful in nature, and a perfect companion to live for a long time, subject to proper care.

Hence, bring these playful fishes to your home; trust us, they will be a great mate for your tank.