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Kenyi Cichlid (Maylandia lombardoi)

The Kenyi Cichlid, scientifically known as Maylandia lombardoi, is a vibrant and energetic freshwater fish native to Lake Malawi in Africa. Renowned for their striking coloration and dynamic behavior, these fish have become increasingly popular in the aquarium hobby. This article aims to provide comprehensive insights into the African Cichlid Kenyi, covering their profile, coloring, aquarium setup, breeding, diet, feeding habits, and compatibility.

Kenyi Cichlid Facts

Fact Detail
Scientific Name Maylandia lombardoi or Metriaclima lombardoi
Common Names Kenyi Cichlid, Kenyi Mbuna, Kennyi Cichlid, lombardoi mbuna, Blue Kenyi, Lombardoi Kenyi
Natural Habitat Lake Malawi, Africa
Group Mbuna (Rockfish)
Adult Size Up to 5 inches (12.7 cm)
Lifespan Approximately 10 years
Behavior Aggressive and territorial
Coloring Juveniles and females: Blue/Purple; Males: Yellow/Golden
Diet Omnivorous, preference for algae
Breeding Mouthbrooders
Aquarium Conditions Min 50 gallons, 76°F to 82°F (24°C to 28°C), pH 7.8 to 8.6
Compatibility Suitable with other robust Mbuna species

Kenyi Cichlid Profile

Kenyi Cichlids belong to the Mbuna group, a term that means “rockfish” in the local Tonga language. This name is apt, as they naturally inhabit the rocky shorelines of Lake Malawi. They are known for their territorial nature and are typically more aggressive compared to other Cichlids. An adult Lombardoi cichlid can grow up to 5 inches (12.7 cm) in length, with a lifespan of around 10 years in well-maintained aquarium conditions.

Kenyi Cichlid Coloring

One of the most distinguishing features of the Kenyi Cichlid is its vivid coloring. Juveniles and females generally exhibit a blue or purple color, while males turn yellow/golden as they mature. This dramatic change in coloration is a fascinating aspect of their biology and makes them a visually appealing addition to any aquarium.

Kenyi Cichlid Habitat

The African Cichlid Kenyi, native to the rocky shores of Lake Malawi in Africa, thrives in a unique ecosystem. In their natural habitat, these fish inhabit clear, alkaline waters with plenty of rocks and caves providing shelter and breeding grounds. The lake’s stable temperature and pH levels offer an ideal environment for these vibrant and territorial cichlids.

Kenyi Cichlid Aquarium Setup

Setting up the right aquarium environment is crucial for the health and well-being of Kenyi African Cichlid. This section will guide you through the necessary steps and considerations for creating an ideal habitat for these vibrant fish.

  • Tank Size and Configuration

A minimum of a 50-gallon tank is recommended for Kenyi Cichlids, considering their active nature and territorial behavior. Larger tanks are preferable, especially for keeping multiple individuals or a community of fish. The tank should offer ample space for swimming and territories. Use a sturdy stand, as a fully equipped aquarium can be quite heavy.

  • Water Conditions

Lombardoi cichlids thrive in water temperatures between 76°F to 82°F (24°C to 28°C). The pH level should be maintained between 7.8 to 8.6, mimicking the alkaline conditions of their natural Lake Malawi habitat. Regular water changes are essential to keep the water clean and maintain the appropriate pH and hardness levels.

  • Substrate and Decoration

The aquarium substrate should consist of fine sand, which is similar to the sandy bottoms of Lake Malawi. Decorate the tank with plenty of rocks, caves, and crevices to provide hiding spots and replicate the rocky landscape of their natural environment. This setup is not only aesthetically pleasing but also essential for reducing stress and aggression among fish by establishing clear territorial boundaries.

  • Filtration and Lighting

Efficient filtration is crucial for maintaining water quality, especially considering the bioload of these fish and their preference for clean water. A high-quality canister or hang-on-back filter can ensure proper water circulation and filtration. For lighting, standard aquarium lights are sufficient, but it’s important to mimic the natural light cycle with periods of darkness to ensure a healthy day-night rhythm for Lombardoi Kenyi.

  • Water Movement and Aeration

While Kenyi fish do not require strong water currents, moderate water movement helps in oxygenation and mimicking their natural habitat. An air pump or a water pump can be used to ensure adequate water movement and aeration, contributing to the overall health of the aquarium ecosystem.

Kenyi Mbuna Breeding

Breeding Blue Kenyi offers a unique and fascinating experience for aquarium enthusiasts. Understanding and replicating their natural breeding environment and process in captivity is crucial for successful breeding.

Breeding Environment

To encourage breeding, the aquarium should closely resemble the lombardoi mbuna’s natural habitat. This involves creating a rocky landscape with plenty of hiding spots and potential breeding sites. The water temperature should be maintained slightly higher than normal, around 78°F to 82°F (25.5°C to 27.8°C), with a pH level between 7.8 to 8.6. Regular water changes and maintaining excellent water quality are essential to mimic the pristine conditions of their natural habitat and promote spawning.

Spawning Process

Kenyi Cichlids are maternal mouthbrooders. The breeding process begins with a colorful display from the male, who performs a mating dance to attract the female. After spawning, the female collects the eggs in her mouth. Fertilization occurs through a process called ‘egg-spot fertilization,’ where the male displays egg-like spots on his anal fin to trick the female into picking up his milt (sperm) as she tries to gather more eggs.

Once fertilized, the female carries the eggs in her mouth for about 21-28 days until they hatch. During this period, she may not eat and can appear reclusive. Post-hatching, the fry are also kept in the mother’s mouth for protection, especially when there’s perceived danger. The fry are released when they are capable of fending for themselves, which is usually within a week or two after hatching.

It’s important to monitor the tank’s conditions closely during this period, as the aggressive nature of Lombardoi kenyi can pose challenges. Providing a separate breeding tank for the female can ensure a safe and stress-free environment for her and the fry.

Kennyi Cichlid Diet & Feeding

Lombardoi cichlid are omnivores with a preference for algae in their natural habitat. In an aquarium setting, their diet should consist of high-quality cichlid pellets, supplemented with occasional treats like brine shrimp, daphnia, or blanched vegetables. Overfeeding should be avoided as it can lead to health issues and water quality problems.

Kenyi Cichlid Compatibility

When considering tank mates, it’s important to choose other species that can coexist with the Kenyi mbuna’s aggressive nature. Suitable companions include other robust Mbuna species like Red Zebra, Auratus, Snow White, Demasoni Cichlid, Electric Yellow Lab, Pindani, Johanni, and Cobalt Blue. Avoid housing them with smaller, more peaceful fish, as they may become targets for aggression. Adequate space and hiding spots can help manage territorial disputes.

Kenyi Cichlid Common Diseases

Kenyi African Cichlids are susceptible to common freshwater fish diseases like Ich (White Spot Disease), characterized by white spots on the skin, fins, and gills. Bacterial infections, manifesting as fin rot or ulcers, are also prevalent, often due to poor water quality. Malawi Bloat, a type of gastrointestinal disease, is another concern, particularly due to dietary imbalances.


In conclusion, the Kenyi fish is a fascinating and vibrant addition to any freshwater aquarium. With proper care, including appropriate tank setup, diet, and compatible tank mates, these fish can thrive and provide an engaging and colorful display. As with any aquarium endeavor, understanding and catering to the specific needs of your Kenyi Cichlids will ensure a healthy and harmonious aquatic environment.