Kenyi Cichlid (Maylandia lombardoi): Ultimate Care Guide

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The Kenyi Cichlid 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 go by 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, both with faded dark bars across their bodies. Younger males will be blue when they are younger and then 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 Care

Since Kenyi Cichlid are not the easiest fish to care for, they are best for experienced fish owners. This is mostly due to their aggressive nature and their sensitivity to water temperature and pH level. Kenyi Cichlids are not a community fish, meaning they do not do well with just 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.

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


The Kenyi Cichlid typically grow 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, liver 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 that they can easily be crushed with two fingers. 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 and multiple small feedings per day rather than one large feeding. Doing this preserves the water quality for longer periods of time as it avoids the water becoming cloudy from too much food.


The Kenyi Cichlid can live approximately 10 years.

Tank Size

Traditionally speaking, this type of fish is known to be aggressive and require 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 aggression that the Kenyi Cichlid exhibit lead to the requirement of larger tanks to avoid fighting and killing of other fish. Included in the tank should be many caves as well as overhangs and flat surfaces for the Kenyi Cichlids to search for and graze on algae. They enjoy hiding in caves as well as having enough room to swim as this 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 chance. This means that any rock work or plants in the aquarium will need to be anchored down to keep them from redecorating their home.


Typically, 50 eggs or so 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 eggspots on their fin 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 eggspots 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, they 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 the same as 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 from 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. There are different ways to treat this, such as increasing the tank temperature to 86 degrees Fahrenheit for three days. If increasing the temperature does not cure the Ich, copper treatment will have to 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 it is best to treat the whole tank as opposed to only the infected fish.

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 be able to live peacefully with other mbuna fish from a different family with colors that are different from them.

A compatible tank mate for the Kenyi Cichlid would be the Yellow Lab, as they are similar sized and both approximately from the same region. Other compatible fish would include the Snow White Cichlid, Auratus, Red Zebra Cichlid, Blue Socolofi Cichlid, Demasoni Cichlid and Zebra Obliquidens. Peacock Cichlids, on the other hand, 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 fair 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 found for sale both online and in many fish stores. Hybrids of this type of fish are easily reproduced, so it is best to ensure you are getting the fish from a reputable source. This fish has a price range of $6-$20 depending on where they are purchased from and what time of the year it is.