Most people like myself who get
into Malawi cichlids started with the attractive Mbuna who can
satisfy the keeper very much because of their vivid colours,
remarkable behaviour and easy breeding. But Mbuna are not the only
species in the lake. There are also fish that feed on them. One of
them is Nimbochromis linni, a highly specialized ambush
predator, and one of my most favorite Malawi cichlids. Through his
perfect camouflage colours (shared with the close species
Nimbochromis polystigma) he's almost invisible in the rocky habitat.
There he moves from cave to cave to find young inexperienced Mbuna.
When he sees one of these juveniles he settles down at the edge of a
rock where he waits motionless until his prey shows up again. Once
the young Mbuna gets within reach the linni sucks it in with his
bulging out mouth.
Nimbochromis Linni in it's typical hunting
position: waiting motionless
at the edge of a rock until a prey
First obvious and most
important condition for keeping such large growing cichlids is a
monster tank. The absolute minimum should be 750L or 200G for
the 30cm linni. Of course they will survive in a smaller one but
this won't let the fish stand out as it should. A rule of thumb on
this is keeping fish in a tank with a length of 10X the adult body
size. Also a decent aquarium depth is highly advisable. Decoration
has to be adapted to let the Nimbochromis linni feel at home: big
rocks with large caves for hiding and hunting combined with a sandy
plain will do great.
Nimbochromis linni in action.
The picture above shows the male swimming in the open water with
direct sunlight shining on his body.
The picture left shows the fish upside down: he spares no effort to catch
a prey. It also shows what kind of decoration is needed for such
cichlids: BIG ROCKS!
Suited food for
Nimbochromis linni consists of fish, shrimp or other sea products,
combined with only small amounts of sticks, flakes or pellets. The
question if live fish should be fed is up to the keeper. My opinion
is that it's unnecessary. The occasional fry growing up in the show
tank can stimulate the hunting instinct of this remarkable fish more
Breeding happens only in a short period of the year, especially with
wildcaught ones. It's one of my goals when the new monster aquarium
is built: breed the Linni!