Lake Victoria Cichlid

« Back to Fish

LAKE VICTORIA CICHLID




Lake Victoria Cichlid

© Jay Hemdal, Toledo Zoo

 

The endangered Lake Victoria cichlid (Haplochromis spp.) is found only in the Lake Victoria basin, the most important freshwater fishery in Africa. 

The greatest threats affecting the Lake Victoria cichlid are human-related and include pressures from the introduced Nile perch, pollution, and algae build-up.  These factors are causing cichlid species to go extinct before scientists can even name them all.  Biologists believe that 300 of the possible 500 cichlid species native to Lake Victoria have already gone extinct. 

The AZA Freshwater Fish Taxon Advisory Group and the Lake Victoria Cichlids Species Survival Plan® Program manage over 2,800 cichlids representing 13 different species at 15 AZA-accredited aquariums.   These institutions have created a collaborative breeding program that strives to preserve many cichlid species for the future. 

The AZA Conservation Endowment Fund has provided over $15,000 to the Toronto Zoo, New England Aquarium, and Columbus Zoo and Aquarium for their conservation and education work with the local National Museums of Kenya and the Fisheries Resources & Research Institute (FIRI) in Uganda. The goal of the FIRI is to implement conservation methods for cichlid biodiversity in the region by developing aquariums and pond aquaculture for breeding purposes, to educate the local population about the issues affecting these species, and to urge local fishermen to throw back fish that are too small to eat in hopes of building a sustainable population for the future.

Lake Victoria Cichlid Facts

Status Endangered
Size Their color may vary.  Males are generally brightly colored, while females are more muted in color.
Appearance
Cichlids are only found in the Lake Victoria Basin of Africa, which includes the countries of Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya.
Habitat Cichlids are only found in the Lake Victoria Basin of Africa, which includes the countries of Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya.
Diet Their diet differs between species, but cichlids eat algae, plants, snails, crustaceans, other fish and even members of their own species.
Breeding Cichlids are "mouth brooders," which means eggs and wrigglers develop in the female’s mouth and can number from 10 to 80 wrigglers!