Livingston’s cichlid Care Guide: Diet, Tank Mates, Diseases, Breeding & More

Updated: December 17, 2022

Livingston’s cichlid is a beautiful and unique freshwater fish that is native to Lake Tanganyika in Africa. This fish is not commonly found in the aquarium trade, but is becoming more popular due to its striking colors and interesting behavior.

This guide will teach you everything you need to know about Livingston’s cichlid care. You’ll learn about their diet, size, lifespan, and more!

Species overview

Livingston’s cichlids (scientific name: Parachromis livingstonii) are found in various parts of Central America, specifically in Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras.

They prefer freshwater lakes and rivers with a lot of vegetation and hiding places. This is something to keep in mind when setting up their tank because they will need a lot of places to hide.

Livingston’s cichlids are known to be quite aggressive, especially toward their own species. They are also known to be very territorial, so it’s important to give them plenty of space.

These fish are a popular choice for many aquarists because of their beautiful colors. They are also a relatively hardy species, which is always a plus.


Livingston's cichlid

The Livingston’s cichlid is a large and colorful freshwater fish. They have a torpedo-shaped body that is covered in large, colorful scales.

The base color of these fish is typically a dark blue or green. However, their scales are iridescent and can reflect a wide range of colors, from yellow to orange to red.

Livingston’s cichlids have a large dorsal fin that starts about halfway back on their body. This fin is tall and triangular in shape.

Their anal fin is also tall and triangular, and it’s roughly the same size as their dorsal fin. These fish have a forked caudal fin that is tall and narrow.

Their pectoral fins are large and paddle-shaped, and their ventral fins are small and thin.

Livingston’s cichlids have a large and protruding lower jaw. Their upper jaw is smaller and less pronounced.

Their eyes are large and kidney-shaped, and they have a small but noticeable black spot on their operculum (the bony plate that covers their gills).


The average lifespan of Livingston’s cichlid is 10 to 15 years.

As with most fish, the lifespan of Livingston’s cichlid can be impacted by a number of factors. Poor water quality, stress, and a suboptimal diet can all lead to a shorter lifespan.

Providing these fish with the best possible care will obviously help them live a long and healthy life.


Livingston’s cichlids can grow to be about 10 inches long.


Tank Size

The recommended tank size for Livingston’s cichlids is 125 gallons. If you want to keep more than one fish, you’ll need to add at least another 55 gallons for each additional fish.

Livingston’s cichlids are large and active fish that need plenty of space to swim and explore. They are also known to be aggressive, so it’s important to provide them with enough space to avoid territorial disputes.

Water Parameters

The Livingston’s cichlid (Nimbochromis livingstonii) is a large, predatory cichlid that is native to the waters of Lake Malawi in Africa. These fish are known for their aggressive behavior and are not recommended for beginners.

If you are experienced with keeping cichlids and are looking for a challenge, then the Livingston’s cichlid may be the fish for you. These fish are not for the faint of heart and require a large tank with plenty of hiding places.

When it comes to water parameters, the Livingston’s cichlid is not too picky. They can tolerate a wide range of conditions, but prefer slightly alkaline water with a pH of 7.5-8.5. The water temperature should be kept between 76-82 degrees Fahrenheit.

What To Put In Their Tank

When it comes to setting up the inside of an aquarium for Livingston’s cichlids you have a few different options.

You can go with a classic gravel substrate, or you can do something a little more unique like sand. These fish love to burrow and sift through the substrate so a softer option might be a better choice.

As for decorations, these cichlids love to have plenty of places to hide. This can be in the form of rocks, driftwood, or caves.

Plants are a little trickier since they tend to uproot them when they’re digging around. If you want to include plants then we recommend going with something that’s firmly rooted in the substrate or floating plants.

You should also avoid using anything that has a lot of sharp edges. These fish are known to be a little clumsy and they can easily hurt themselves on something like that.

Common Diseases

There are a lot of potential diseases that your Livingston’s cichlid could come down with. Some of these diseases are more common than others, but they all have the potential to affect your fish if they’re not properly cared for.

The most common disease that these fish experience is hole-in-the-head disease. This disease is caused by poor water quality and the presence of activated carbon in the tank.

This disease will present itself as one or two pits/holes in the skin of your fish’s head. While it’s almost always curable (fixing your water quality and removing activated carbon is usually all you need to do), it will usually leave some scarring on your poor fish!

Another disease that these fish are susceptible to is ich. This is obviously not a Livingston’s cichlid-specific illness, but since ich is so common it’s definitely worth mentioning here.

This will show itself as white spots on the body, fish, and gills of your fish. We won’t do a full ich treatment guide here (there are plenty of those online) but it’s something you need to take very seriously if it affects your Livingston’s cichlid.

The best way to prevent your fish from getting sick is to simply maintain good water quality in their tank. A clean and stable environment is always the best way to keep your fish healthy and disease-free.

Behavior & Temperament

The Livingston’s cichlid is a peaceful fish that typically doesn’t bother other tank mates. However, they can be aggressive towards other cichlids of the same species. If you’re keeping more than one Livingston’s cichlid, it’s best to have at least a 3:1 ratio of females to males.

These cichlids are also known to be jumpers, so it’s important to have a tight-fitting lid on your aquarium.

Livingston’s cichlids are typically bottom-dwellers, but they will also swim in the middle and upper levels of the tank. They are active fish that are constantly on the move.

When it comes to feeding, Livingston’s cichlids are not picky eaters. They will eat just about anything, including flake food, pellets, frozen food, and live food.

Tank Mates

When it comes to choosing tank mates for a Livingston’s cichlid, you have to be strategic.

This species is semi-aggressive and can be territorial at times. They’re also known to be nippy, so any fish that can’t hold their own is likely to get bullied.

That being said, there are still plenty of fish that make good tank mates for a Livingston’s cichlid.

The key is to choose fish that are fast, agile, and can hold their own in a fight.

Some good tank mates for a Livingston’s cichlid include:


Livingston’s cichlids are egg-layers that build nests out of rocks, plants, and other materials. The female will lay anywhere from 20 to 100 eggs in the nest, and the male will guard them until they hatch.

To encourage spawning, you should provide the fish with a large tank (at least 50 gallons) and plenty of hiding places. You can also add some rocks to the tank to help the fish build their nests.

The water temperature should be between 77 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit. The pH should be between 7.5 and 8.5, and the hardness should be between 10 and 20 dGH.

When the fish are ready to spawn, the female will lay her eggs in the nest and the male will fertilize them. He will then stay with the eggs to protect them from predators and to keep them clean.

The eggs will hatch in about three days, and the fry will be able to swim and feed on their own within a week. You can feed them live foods or finely ground flake food.


The Livingston’s cichlid is a great fish for anyone who wants to add a little bit of personality to their tank. They have a great temperament and get along well with other fish, making them a great addition to any community tank.

They are also very easy to take care of, which is always a bonus. Overall, we think this is a great fish for anyone who is looking for a low-maintenance option that will still add a lot of personality to their tank.