Kenyi Cichlid (Maylandia lombardoi): Ultimate Care Guide

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Kenyi Cichlids are moderately large and aggressive Mbuna that come from Lake Malawi in East Africa. They typically live 32 feet underwater in an area where the rocky bottom and the sand come together. Other names these fish typically use are Lombardoi Cichlid, Kennyi, Cichlid, Blue Kenyi Cichlid, Golden Zebra Cichlid, and Kenyii. This type of fish is a type of Mbuna, the name deriving from the Tonga people of Malawi, which means “rockfish” or “rock-dwelling.”

This appropriately describes the environment that they live in. The males and females can be easily differentiated as the males are yellow and the females are blue, with faded dark bars across their bodies. Younger males will be blue when they are younger and eventually become their normal yellowish color when they are old enough to begin breeding. The colors of these fish are unique as in other mbunas, their females are typically yellow, and the males are blue.

When growing in nature, they can reach up to 5 inches lengthwise but have the capability to grow larger when living in an aquarium.  

Kenyi Cichlid (Maylandia lombardoi)
Kenyi Cichlid (Maylandia lombardoi)

Kenyi Cichlid Care

Since Kenyi Cichlids are not the easiest fish to care for, they are best for experienced fish owners. This is mostly due to their aggressive nature and sensitivity to water temperature and pH. Kenyi Cichlids are not community fish, meaning they do not do well with any type of fish. The males will fight and kill to protect their territory, especially if females are involved. Even though these fish are considered aggressive, they are majestic and can recognize their owner.


The temperature of the tank that houses the Kenyi Cichlid should be between 76-82 degrees Fahrenheit. This is important as they are sensitive to the temperature of the water.

Water pH

The water pH of an aquarium that holds Kenyi Cichlid should be 7.6-8.8. In addition to monitoring the pH level, ammonia levels should also be monitored as well because if it increases too fast, it can become toxic for the fish.


The Kenyi Cichlid typically grows up to 5 inches when living in the wild. When these types of fish live in an aquarium, it is possible for them to grow larger than this.

Food & Diet

The Kenyi Cichlid live primarily on a diet of algae in the wild as they are omnivores. This is their primary food source, but they will also eat plankton and aufwuchs. When the Kenyi Cichlid reside in an aquarium, they will accept a diet of frozen or live brine shrimp, mysis, high-quality flake, pellets, and spirulina. This type of fish will also enjoy eating bloodworms, live feeder guppies, and daphnia. If they are given high-protein food, this can cause digestive issues.

If needed, vegetable foods can be used to supplement their feeding regime, such as spinach, zucchini, and peas. The vegetables should be soft enough to be crushed with two fingers easily. If they are harder than that, they will not be safe for the fish to consume. These types of food will help to maintain their vibrant colors. They should be fed daily with multiple small feedings daily rather than one large feeding. Doing this preserves the water quality for longer periods of time as it prevents the water from becoming cloudy from too much food.


The Kenyi Cichlid can live approximately 10 years.

Tank Size

Traditionally, this type of fish is known to be aggressive and requires large amounts of space. The minimum tank size needed for the Kenyi Cichlid is a 50-gallon tank, although a 75-gallon tank is preferable. The males are especially territorial, and a larger tank will allow them to move and claim their territory while allowing the females and young fish to swim freely. A tank exclusively full of males will see little to no aggression as there are no females to fight over.

Tank Setup

The Kenyi Cichlid are well known for being an aggressive breed of fish. The Kenyi Cichlid’s aggression led to the requirement of larger tanks to avoid fighting and killing other fish. The tank should include many caves and overhangs, and flat surfaces for the Kenyi Cichlids to search for and graze on algae. They enjoy hiding in caves and having enough room to swim, which imitates their natural habitat.

To keep the pH balance of the water filtered, crushed coral and oyster shells can be added to the sump or canister filter. When doing this, it will help to raise the pH balance.

The Kenyi Cichlid enjoy rearranging their environment and will do so at any given a chance. This means that any rock work or plants in the aquarium must be anchored down to keep them from redecorating their home.


Typically, 50 eggs are collected and fertilized by the female Kenyi Cichlid. The male Kenyi Cichlids will change to a yellowish color to resemble a female as well as multiple egg spots on their fin are used to trick female fish into thinking it is their eggs they have lain. The male and female fish will chase each other around the tank in circles, and the female will lay her eggs on a flat surface.

She will then go back to collect them, and once she does so, the male will trick her into thinking the egg spots on his anal fin are her eggs and release his milt into her mouth. This will fertilize her eggs, and she will keep her mouth closed for 18-21 days until the eggs have hatched.

While the female Kenyi Cichlid is holding the eggs, she should be removed from the main tank for her safety. Once the fry has hatched, it will swim out of her mouth if the female does not eat them. Most will survive. Once they have hatched, they will require a diet of Cyclopeeze and finely crushed Cichlid flake food. Before placing your female back in the main tank, she should be well-fed and her strength built back up, as it is common for weak females to be killed.


Parasitic infections, fungal infections, and bacterial infections are all possible for the Kenyi Cichlid to contract, just like any fish. On top of this, they are also susceptible to Malawi Bloat. Malawi Bloat is a disease of the digestive system that causes swelling and can lead to death if not treated. The cause is usually a poor diet, poor water quality, or too much sodium chloride.

Ich, another common disease of fish caused by parasites, is possible with the Kenyi Cichlid. Different ways to treat this include increasing the tank temperature to 86 degrees Fahrenheit for three days. If increasing the temperature does not cure the Ich, copper treatment must be utilized. Copper medication can be used, as well as increasing the temperature of the tank to ensure that the Ich is completely gone. This disease is contagious, so treating the whole tank instead of only the infected fish is best.

Tank Mates

The Kenyi Cichlids are not considered a community fish as they are well known for being aggressive and will target peaceful fish if placed together. When holding an aquarium with this type of fish, it is typically recommended to have one male to three females as too many males together will try to kill each other. Kenyi Cichlid may live peacefully with other mbuna fish from different families with different colors.

A compatible tank mate for the Kenyi Cichlid would be the Yellow Lab, as they are both similarly sized and approximately from the same region. Other compatible fish include the Snow White Cichlid, Auratus, Red Zebra Cichlid, Blue Socolofi Cichlid, Demasoni Cichlid, and Zebra Obliquidens. On the other hand, Peacock Cichlids should not be in the same tank as the Kenyi Cichlid as they are a more peaceful type of fish.

Fish that would also not fare well in the same tank would be Guppies, Tetras, Goldfish, and Catfish. Any fish that are friendly and good community fish are not recommended to be placed in a tank with Kenyi Cichlids, as they will attack and prey on them.

Where Can I Find Kenyi Cichlids For Sale?

Kenyi Cichlids can be sold online and in many fish stores. Hybrids of this type of fish are easily reproduced, so it is best to ensure you get them from a reputable source. This fish has a price range of $6-$20, depending on where they are purchased from and the time of the year.

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