Livingston’s Cichlid [Some Interesting Facts]

Livingston's Cichlid

Livingston’s Cichlid, also locally known as Kalingono, is a freshwater fish native to Lake Malawi in Africa. It’s also found in the upper Shire River and Lake Malombe.

This fish lives close to the shore, usually over sandy areas. Livingston’s Cichlids possess the ability to adapt to different habitats but prefer places with plants in calm bays.

They like soft, muddy bottoms but can survive in rocky environments too.

These fish eat other fish and have a unique hunting strategy where they pretend to be dead until small fish come close.

Livingston’s Cichlids are typically solitary and territorial.

Livingston’s Cichlid Interesting Facts

  • Native to Lake Malawi, Africa: Livingston’s Cichlid is a freshwater fish found in Lake Malawi, the upper Shire River, and Lake Malombe.
  • Adaptable habitats: These fish prefer plant-filled calm bays with soft, muddy bottoms but can survive in rocky environments too.
  • Unique hunting strategy: Livingston’s cichlids pretend to be dead to attract and catch smaller fish.
  • Mouthbrooding species: Female Livingston’s Cichlids carry their babies in their mouths for protection until they are self-sufficient.

Livingston’s Cichlid Habitat

Livingston’s Cichlid is commonly found in Lake Malawi, the upper Shire River, and Lake Malombe in Africa.

It lives in freshwater environments near the bottom (demersal) and doesn’t migrate. The ideal pH range for this fish is 8.0, with a hardness (dH) between 9 to 19.

It’s found at depths of 0 to 114 meters but usually stays within 0 to 78 meters. The preferred water temperature for Livingston’s cichlid is between 77°F to 82°F (25°C to 28°C).

It’s also typically found in tropical areas between latitudes of 9°S to 15°S.

Water Temperature:77°F to 82°F (25°C to 28°C)
Water pH:Unknown
Water Hardness:9 to 19 dH

Livingston’s Cichlid Physical Characteristics

Size: Max length: 9.8 inches (25.0 centimeters) TL male/unsexed; max length: 7.9 inches (20.0 centimeters) TL female.

Male Livingston’s Cichlid grows up to 9.8 inches (25.0 centimeters), while females grow up to 7.9 inches (20.0 centimeters) long.

This fish has 15 to 16 dorsal spines, 10 to 11 dorsal soft rays, 3 anal spines, and 9 to 10 anal soft rays.


  • Unique color pattern with four dark bars around the eye,
  • Body color varies from silvery, yellowish, or blue with black blotches, and
  • No speckles on the head and body.

Physical Features

  • Head length is about one-third of the standard body length,
  • Body depth is roughly one-third of the standard body length, and
  • Teeth in the jaw change as fish grow older.


  • Three to four rows of cheek scales, and
  • 5 to 6 scales between pectoral and pelvic fins.


Livingston’s Cichlids have different colors based on their sex, age, and territorial status.

Adult Territorial Males

  • Mostly blue with some grey in dorsal & anal fins; orange lappets & white bands on the dorsal fin,
  • Brown markings are not very prominent.


  • White or yellow with dark blotches; yellow unpaired fins,
  • Reddish-brown dorsal fin lappets.

Immature/Non-Territorial Males

Colors are intermediate between females and territorial males; more intense blue as they become territorial.

Preserved Specimens

Yellow to dark brown body with dark head stripes radiating from the eye.

Livingston’s Cichlid Reproduction

Female Livingston’s Cichlid carries her babies in her mouth and looks after them until they are old enough to survive on their own.

Livingston’s Cichlid Scientific Classification

Scientific Name:Nimbochromis livingstonii
Also Known As:Livingston’s Cichlid, Kalingono
Conservation Status:Least Concern

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