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The Maingano Melanochromis cyaneorhabdos is a newer arrival as a recognized species. It was scientifically described as recently as 1997 by Bowers and Stauffer. It is endemic to Lake Malawi, Africa, but is found in a very limited area. It occurs only at Likoma Island situated the halfway point of the lake, but on the eastern side close Mozambique.
It belongs to a group of cichlids called Mbunas. There are 13 genera full of very active and aggressive personalities of Mbuna cichlids. The name Mbuna comes from the Tonga people of Malawi and means “rockfish” or “rock-dwelling”. This name aptly describes the rocky environment these fish live in as opposed to being open water swimmers like the Utaka cichlids and other “haps” . Some other common names this fish is known by are Melanochromis Maingano, Maingano Cichlid, and Mangano Fish or Mangano Cichlid.
This cichlid is not as aggressive as other Melanochromis species, but is a typical Mbuna in size and shape. It has an elongated body and rounded snout along with a continuous dorsal fin. It will only reach about 3 inches (7.5 cm) in length in the wild but is a bit larger in the aquarium, reaching just under 4 inches (10 cm).
With beautiful coloration and a small size, the Maingano is a ‘must have’ for cichlid enthusiasts who have smaller tanks to fill. Both the male and female are very pretty. Their natural coloring of electric blue horizontal stripes against a dark black to blue body makes these guys a gorgeous fish for any hobbyist. The females are very similar, but with a lighter blue belly. This fish has long been bred in captivity resulting in many captive strains that are far cry from the wild caught coloring.
They can easily be mistaken for their close relative, the Electric Blue Johanni Melanochromis johannii. Some people mistakenly call this fish an Electric Blue, but don’t confuse the two. Although these two are members of the same genus and very similar in appearance, the M. johannii. is a distinct and separate species. The female Electric Blue Johanni is not going to be confused because it is distinctly different, having a golden-orange body coloring. But the male M. johannii and both sexes of the Maingano have dark blue to black horizontal bands that runs across the back, but on the M. johannii they are often broken up with spots of light blue. When obtaining either of these fish, it is best to know the scientific name as well as the common name to make sure you get the species you want.
This is a great fish for both the intermediate and experienced aquarists. It is moderate to easy in care, depending on the aquarists willingness to do frequent water changes and provide appropriate tank mates. To house one male and several females in a specimen tank, the minimum recommended tank size is 30 to 40 gallons and 36” long. Lots of rockwork providing plenty of hiding places is needed for success. A much larger tank is needed for a mixed African cichlid tank.
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Video of Maingano Cichlid (Melanochromis cyaneorhabdos)
Infographic of Maingano Cichlid (Melanochromis cyaneorhabdos)
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