Livingstoni Cichlid Care (Nimbochromis livingstonii)

Livingstoni cichlid

Last updated on September 24th, 2022 at 11:50 am

Livingstoni cichlid, also known as Nimbochromis livingstonii or haplochromis livingstoni fish, is one of the most popular types of cichlids in the aquarium hobby because of their striking coloration and personality. Like other Mbuna, Livingstoni cichlids are one of the most aggressive cichlid types and should only be kept with other Mbuna in an aquarium that has plenty of swimming room.

Also known as kalingono, livingstoni cichlid stands out from other types of fish because of its vibrant colors and the shape of its body. With proper care, this type of fish can live up to 20 years.

A beautiful freshwater fish that lives in Lake Malawi and other African lakes, the Livingstoni cichlid can be difficult to care for if you aren’t familiar with its specific needs.

This guide will teach you all about this species of African fish, including its diet, its environment, and any special care it might need to stay healthy and happy in your home aquarium.

Here’s what you need to know about caring for a Livingstone cichlid in your tank.

Origin and descriptions

Livingstoni cichlid

Livingston’s cichlid, or Kalingonos as they are commonly called in Africa, were named after Dr. Walter S. Livingston, a biologist who was first to collect and describe these fish back in 1930 when he was working at Pretoria Zoo in South Africa.

These piscivores are endemic to Lake Malawi and like all Cichlids found there, live exclusively in rock crevices along shorelines and cliffs of rocky areas on both sides of Lake Malawi where they feed mainly on smaller fish.

They have been introduced into some nearby lakes like Nkhata Bay where they have flourished and become very popular with cichlid hobbyists. But despite their popularity, they remain little known outside Southern Africa due to their relative scarcity in collections; still highly prized because of their rarity, breeding them can be tricky though not impossible but, first, let’s discuss a bit more about these cool fish!

Apistogramma Borellii (Umbrella Cichlid)

Species profile

The Livingstoni Cichlid, Nimbochromis livingstonii, or Kalingonos, is a medium-sized predator endemic to Lake Malawi. Although their diet consists of a wide variety of live foods, these fish are capable and accept frozen bloodworms, tubifex worms, cyclops, and brine shrimp.

They are mouthbrooders and will spawn in caves where they build little stone nests for their eggs, so aquarists often move them once spawning has occurred to ensure egg safety.

The beautiful Livingston’s cichlid is a freshwater fish species belonging to Lamprologini tribe of African fish. They are endemic to Lake Malawi and its various other lakes. A medium-sized fish, growing to a maximum length of 10 inches (25 cm) at adulthood.

One thing that sets them apart from many African Cichlids is their peaceful demeanor. If you decide to go with Livingston’s cichlids, make sure you choose a tank that will allow them plenty of room to roam around in. Their large size and active swimming will ensure they need plenty of space on which to exercise themselves while keeping your aquarium well-fed with food scraps.


The Livingstoni cichlid is a relatively easy fish to care for and makes an excellent beginner fish. They come from the shallow, highly oxygenated waters of Lake Malawi. To ensure their happiness, it’s important that you replicate their natural habitat as closely as possible.

Livingstoni cichlid size

This species can grow up to a maximum size of 25 cm (10 inches) in length.

Livingstoni cichlid tank size

Due to their big size, the minimum recommended tank size is 125 gallons (473 liters) for a single specimen, bigger tanks are needed for a pair.

Tank requirements

While a 30-gallon tank can be suitable for some fish, Nimbochromis livingstonii will require at least a 55-gallon tank. In addition to an ample swimming room, Nimbochromis livingstonii needs an established aquarium with hardy plants, driftwood, and rocks.

Algae-covered logs and rocks provide shelter for mature Livingstoni cichlids as well as breeding grounds for fry. Like most African Cichlids, Nimbochromis livingstonii prefer acidic water conditions around ph 5.5–6.0 and a general hardness of around dGH 12–20; they should also be kept in temperatures between 74–78 degrees Fahrenheit, which is warmer than many other Mbuna species.

Etroplus suratensis (Green Chromide Cichlid)

Unlike most Mbuna species, however, Nimbochromis livingstonii are not substrate spawners but use bubble nests instead. These requirements may vary depending on individual preferences for tannins or pH levels of different water sources; if your tap water does not match their ideal requirements you can modify it using a reverse osmosis filter.

Livingstoni cichlid tank mates

Livingstoni cichlids are territorial and can be aggressive toward tank mates, so it’s best to keep them in an aquarium by themselves. They will sometimes try to eat smaller fish, so if you do want to house a Livingstoni with another species, make sure it’s one that is big enough and aggressive enough to protect itself from being eaten.

Some good tank mates are other types of African cichlids and medium-to-large-sized catfish, such as Synodontis or Plotosus.

In terms of schooling fish, you might be able to house several juveniles together in one aquarium, but they will likely outgrow each other quickly as they reach adulthood. Once your Nimbochromis reach full size, it’s best to keep them in a species-only tank.

Other good tank mates are other species of African cichlids that can protect themselves from being eaten by a Livingstoni. Some examples include pike cichlids, peacock basses, larger swordtails, and mollies.

Livingstoni cichlid breeding

Livingstoni cichlid

Kalingono is a mouthbrooder and must be bred in pairs. Female kalingono keeps their eggs in their mouths until they hatch. This makes caring for more than one male tricky because each pair will only have room for one of its own young at a time.

The female is usually darker than her mate, which helps hide her from unwanted suitors. She is larger as well but doesn’t get quite as large as he does. He can reach six inches while she rarely gets over five inches. These fish prefer to spawn on fine-leaved plants such as Anubias or Java Fern along with areas of dense floating plants such as moss balls.

Venustus Cichlid (Nimbochromis Venustus)

Both parents take turns guarding and fanning their tiny fry while they swim around them by themselves. They have an easygoing temperament so getting another breeding pair shouldn’t be difficult.

They should fare just fine in captivity if housed in similar conditions to other Lake Malawi Mbuna like Pseudotropheus sprengerae and Melanochromis auratus. Their diet consists mainly of live foods when younger, switching to frozen Mysis shrimp once settled into adulthood.

Are they aggressive or peaceful?

It is not uncommon for them to get very territorial when they are spawning despite being generally peaceful among themselves. It is not recommended to keep them with Mbunas (smaller rock-dwelling cichlids).

Livingstoni cichlid care

Livingstoni cichlid

The Livingstoni cichlid, also known as Limpopo cichlid or Petricola, is found in Limpopo Province in South Africa. They are very aggressive and territorial fish and should only be kept in a community tank if large enough. Although they can tolerate warmer water temps, they do best between 75-82 degrees F.

A ratio of 3 females per male is recommended for breeding purposes. Best tank mates include Mbuna such as Pseudotropheus sprengerae, Lamprologus callipterus and Labeotropheus fuelleborni. If you’re interested in keeping juveniles, try adding Peacock/Midas tetras such as Ancistrus dolichopterus because they will usually outgrow your Livingstoni before picking on them too much.

They’re omnivores so provide a balanced diet consisting of algae wafers, spirulina flakes, fresh foods like bloodworms & brine shrimp, frozen foods like brine shrimp & daphnia as well as sinking pellets. A varied diet will ensure optimum health! Be sure to change 10% water weekly/biweekly depending on the bioload. Maintain good filtration – an under-gravel filter works great for these guys!

Livingstoni cichlid diet

Livingstoni cichlids are omnivores, which means they eat both meat and vegetable matter. They will eat many different foods including flakes, pellets, freeze-dried bloodworms, tubifex worms, brine shrimp, feeder fish such as livebearers, guppies (if large enough), and veggies such as kale or spinach.

Aulonocara Jacobfreibergi (Malawi Butterfly) Profile

Livingstoni cichlid lifespan

Their estimated lifespan is 10–12 years in captivity if well cared for.

Parasites and diseases

Livingstoni cichlid

Livingstoni cichlids are susceptible to internal and external parasites, which can be spread from fish to fish through water. Give your fish extra attention during their first two weeks in a new home, ensuring they’re eating well and that there are no visible external parasites.

If you notice unusual behavior in your fish, they may have internal parasites or diseases. Internal parasites can be treated by adding salt to your tank and performing regular water changes, but if your fish is suffering from an illness, you should treat it with aquarium-safe medicine like Quick Cure.

Be sure not to over-medicate, if one dose doesn’t solve the problem, try another after waiting a week before doubling up on medication again. This way you won’t damage healthy tissue while killing harmful bacteria.

Do Livingstoni cichlid make good pets?

Yes. Nimbochromis livingstonii are fascinating fish and relatively easy to keep, they typically reside in rocky outcroppings of Lake Malawi and Lake Tanganyika, preferring to live among exposed areas. If you happen to find a captive-bred Nimbochromis Livingstoni brought into your home, be sure to give it a large enough space with plenty of rocks or other cave-like features so it can feel comfortable and secure.