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Rocky littoral

Areas with typical rocky shore can be found in all the countries bordering the Lake Tanganyika. Very popular among aquarists is the area around Cape Chaitika in Zambia. Steep cliffs continue underwater. Often fall below 75 angle, so near the coast the depth can be of 50-60 m. In the Cape Chaitika habitat, the terrace gradients occur every 5-10 m, which are covered with sand or fine gravel. The presence of sand and gravel and square or round rocks carpeted with algae in this area allows the life for a large number of many different fish. Besides the cichlid genus Tropheus and Petrochromis and many Neolamrologus, there are also cichlids called "Goby", which usually prefer rocky littoral. Small groups of silver Xenotilapia that otherwise occur over sandy bottom, living in terraces. Also many representatives of the genus Ophthalmotilapia occur here. In open water on the front of the rocky walls the large groups of Cyprichromis are swimming. Mothers protect their fry in the mouth. Several different Cyprichromis are often seen in these impressive groups like fish of different genera (eg. Haplotaxodon microlepis, which occurs either in pairs or in groups). At the foot of the cliffs there is sand and detritus. Here, for example cichlids live in empty Neothauma snail shells. The water around Cape Chaitika is very clean throughout the year. An underwater visibility is 15 to 20 m and the water clarity allows observation as to the aquarium.


Scree littoral

A wide stone field lies southeast of the Mpulungu that make up the scattered stones the size of the ball. Among these tightly stacked, algae covered rocks countless small and medium-sized cichlids are hiding and hunting. Rocks looking like normal European boulders are often surrounded by fine to medium grained sand. These fields fall from the coast to a depth of about 20 and greater depth is reached only slowly. Upon entering the lake, there is a large sandy field that is spread to a depth of about 3.5 m. At the top level of the lake, Eretmodus are the most obvious fish species. They usually seek shelter among the rocks in pairs. In addition, Tropheus moori occurs in big number, so it may seem that it is their principal place of occurrence. Indeed, although Tropheus moori is often found in rocky littoral, his home is in scree littoral. In fact, scree is rocky littoral with slightly different character. Between Mpulungu and Mbete, Simochromis and Ophthalmotilapia ventralis occur. This species requires sand between the rocks, where they built small sandy nests. Sometimes cichlids of the sand littoral live in the scree zones. Xenotilapia roam outside the nearby sandy coves, and if they are disturbed, they will not hide among the rocks, but to save themselves by trying to swim away quickly. A large number of cichlids spawning in caves live in scree area, while these small cichlids find small crevices between rocks. Almost every square meter is occupied by a one pair of fish. In Zambia, there is an infinite number of fish species Neolamprologus moori and N. tetracanthus.

Sandy littoral

Slightly sloping flat sandy bays and beaches are deserted not only in terms of their construction, but also in the number of species present. Large school or small groups of silver cichlids here and there are variably oriented to either the bottom or live at different distances from the bottom. These cichlids belong to the genera Xenotilapia, Grammatotria, Ectodus, Lestradea, Cardiopharynx, Callochromis and sometimes Simochromis. Empty snail shells lying here and there on the sand are inhabited by small cichlids. An example of such habitat is in Burundi. Long sandy beaches continue underwater and slowly falling into greater depths. Depth of 10 m is reached quite far from the coast. Since there are not stones, the only change here is the sand waves, which cause ripples on the water. Cichlids are usually adapted to their environment by the coloring which is either sand or silver. Males of some species (eg. Xenotilapia) may be attractive during the reproduction. Shiny color occurs usually in the open environment and is important for spawning females, as can be seen that male is ready for courtship. However, it can also be fatal, because the gleaming under water is a signal for birds of prey lurking on the surface. Cichlids that live in this habitat and do not have an empty shell as a possible hiding place, move in large groups close to the bottom, as do most inhabitants of sandy areas. This social life is important for an individual fish, because it can survive only in the group. The predator is easier to catch an individual fish as find its way in a large group that is moving and it and the number of eyes monitors him. Variability of species in sandy littoral is small, but the number of individuals in the group can be very large. In greater depths the bottom is more and more sandy and muddy and in some places has a solid consistency. In such places, some species build tube or cave spawning places. These cichlids belong to the genus Triglachromis and Limnochromis.


Transitional zones

Whenever two different littoral habitats will meet, there are transitional zones. In these areas there are cichlids with various lifestyles. Such areas are for example in Kalambo Fall Lodge near Resha and in Ndole Bay Lodge. Both of these coastal areas are very similar. Underwater are wide sandy areas, rocky islands and stone areas. Inhabitants of the rocks remain close to the hiding places and cichlids living in free areas of sand swim around the rocks. Near the rocks or directly on them there are big nests of fish of the genus Cyatopharynx. They excavate large crater in the sand or move sand in its mouth on the rocks. Aulonocranus dewindti builds the nest just near the stone and digs the cavity in the sand. In this habitat, the boundaries between species living in different habitats (rocky, pebbly, sandy) are not so visible. Therefore, individual fish of the genus Tropheus or Petrochromis, as well as other inhabitants of the rocky areas can be observed over a sandy bottom. In Kalambo Fall Lodge, there is a wide vesture of plants among rock and sandy areas. Altolamprologus live here which live otherwise in rocky or stony region. The typical inhabitant of the mixed zone is Limnotilapia dardennii and Gnathochromis pfefferi, although Neolamprologus tetracanthus also swims between plants. It seems that fish tolerate all of these transition zones, where the large number of individuals occurs.

Copyright © 2003 - 2017 Robert Toman

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