Malawi Cichlids for algae control

Liisa Sarakontu wrote:

>Few days ago I chatted with a friend of mine, who is a pet shop
>owner and a freshwater aquarist.  We talked about red algae, and she
>said to me that the best red algae eaters she have ever met, far better
>than SAEs, are the MALAWI CICHLIDS.  Whenever she has a plant that
>is badly attacked by red algae, she throws it into a Malawi tank and
>they clean it in no time, and don't damage the plant.

It would depend on the species, but in general I would say that this is a
bad idea. I have stands of giant val that I move from a planted tank to a
cichlid tank when I am thinning plants and the cichlids devour them. The
only plant that I haven't seen cichlids eat is Anubias. Some will tear it
apart and let the leafs float around the tank, they just don't eat it. I had a
very aggressive Tropheus Duboisi that actually did eat it. Very young
Mbuna might work but they will probably outgrow their usefulness
rapidly. I would be interested which species she uses. Maybe there are
some that will be gentle with the plants.

>and when they fight, they do it with each other and don't harm other
>fishes.  No, I didn't ask which species she was thinking of, but I guess
>that any of the common types.

I would be VERY careful about putting most Malawi cichlids into a
community tank. They will fight with each other and ANY fish which
comes into their territory. Their aggressiveness does vary from species
to species and between individuals. A rule of thumb would be DON'T DO
IT. Most will also eat anything that fits in their mouth and the brightly
colored community fish will attract aggression from male malawi
cichlids. And of course there are exceptions to every rule. I have a
serpae tetra that has lived with some cichlid young for about 8 months.
They keep getting bigger but they leave him alone.


Brad Lauchnor                    blauchno at email_state.ut.us
Environmental Engineer       (801) 538-9403
Chemical Demilitarization     Salt Lake City, Utah
Utah Department of Environmental Quality