Mbuna Cichlid Compatibility Chart And All Things You Need To Know

Mbuna Cichlids are so beautiful that fish owners want them to liven up their aquariums. However, raising these species is not an easy task, especially when it comes to choosing their tank mates.

Which species can these animals live with? The complete Mbuna Cichlid compatibility chart will help you solve this problem easily.

Let’s read on to discover!

Mbuna Cichlid Tank Mates

Mbuna is the name given to any rock-dwelling cichlid varieties that live in Lake Malawi. This place is home to over a thousand different kinds of cichlids.

Here are the most popular Mbunas to raise in tanks

  • Bumblebee Cichlid
  • Yellow Lab
  • Red Zebra
  • Yellowtail Acei
  • Golden Cichlid
  • Auratus
  • Elongatus Jewel Spot
  • Clown Lab
  • Chilumba

Mbunas are tough fish that can live in different environments. However, it doesn’t mean that you can pair any of them.

When choosing tank mates for them, you should consider their aggressiveness.

Before choosing the Mbunas and their tank mates, please check this Mbuna Cichlid compatibility chart first.

Y: Yes

N: No

C: Yes, but with caution

  Bumblebee Yellow Lab Red Zebra Yellowtail Acei Golden Cichlid
Golden Cichlid C C C C C
Auratus C C C C N
Elongatus Jewel Spot C C C C C
Clown Lab C C C C C
Chilumba Y Y Y Y Y

As you can see from the chart, most Mbuna Cichlids can live together but require a high level of care. These fish are aggressive, and it is not a good idea to put fighters in the same tank.

If you are new to this species, it will be best to choose the Chilumba, a Tropheops species, because it’s easier to coexist with others.

Chilumba is a good choice for beginners

How Long Does It Take Mbuna To Reach Full Size?

The growth rate of Mbuna Cichlids varies depending on the species. Some grow more quickly, while others take their time.

Most of these fish can grow to their maximum size in one to two years. Only a few have more than two years to reach adulthood.

For example, Electric Yellow Cichlid can grow very fast. It only needs one year to reach its full size. Other fish in this family can grow big quite fast.

Cichlids from Africa are more challenging to raise and handle than ones from America. The same rules, though, remain.

If you wish to accelerate the growth of your pets, you should work on four factors:


To grow quicker, these fish require constant feeding. Also, a well-balanced diet is vital for Mbunas to promote an ideal growth rate. Try to feed your pets enough fat and protein for the best result.

However, overfeeding is a terrible idea. Your pets will become stressed and bloated. Overfeeding leads to illnesses as well.

You can learn more feeding tips right here:


Water condition

Always keep the water temperature between 70 and 80°F and the pH level between 7.8 and 9.

Mbunas love hard water, although the DH should be between 4 and 6. However, they don’t like plants. It’s necessary to add only rocky substrates to the tank.


If a fish is sick, it can’t grow at an average rate. Several causes, such as fights with other fish in the tank, will make your pets stressed and suffer from the attacks.

Can Plecos Live With Mbuna Cichlids?

Cichlids and Plecos have a lot in common. They are excellent beginner fish because some species in two families are easier to deal with.

Their fast growth rate may also interest many people who have just started their aquarium hobby.

On the other hand, experienced fish raisers love these fish as they can choose more difficult and rarer species in their big family to challenge their skills.

Plecos are powerful and active tank mates

However, since there are many members in these two huge families, you need to check the species you want to raise carefully. They should be able to coexist.

Here are some factors for your consideration.


Aggression is a universal pattern among Cichlids. For example, African species are famous for bullying their tankmates.

A Pleco of comparable size might tolerate such behaviors, but it’s not a good condition. Violent Cichlids and Plecos are terrible tank mates since they can hurt each other.


Fish size is vital in determining if they can live in the same rank. The rule of thumb is to choose species that have the same size.

Cichlids and Plecos have both big and small fish. For example, while a regular Pleco can reach up to two feet, an Oscar fish can be one foot.

Meanwhile, the Ram Cichlid is quite small, around two inches. You can pair it with a Dwarf Pleco, whose full size is one inch and a half.


Mbuna Cichlids are pretty aggressive. Hence, you will find it hard to find tank mates for them.

Thankfully, this family has many members, and not all are violent. Remember to check the compatibility chart to determine if your pets can live in harmony.

Hopefully, we have satisfactorily answered your question. For any further information, please feel free to ask. Thank you for reading!