General Article: Lake Tanganyika

Introduction to Lake Tanganyika

by Greg Steeves

Lake Tanganyika is the largest of the rift lakes in terms of water volume. At 4700 feet deep it covers 12,700 square miles. The aquatic life here is the most diverse of all the African lakes and its niches closely resemble those found in the oceans.

In addition to the many and diverse cichlid species, the lake hosts sponges, jellyfish, crustaceans and other forms of life usually thought of as sea life. Puffer fish can even be found in the lake's estuaries.

The pH in Lake Tanganyika hovers at 8+, with an average temp of 26C (about 79F). Cichlid species have adapted to almost every environment within the confines of the lake. The only place you will not find any cichlid is in the depths of the lake where oxygen deficiency restricts life to only slight bacterial forms.

Favorite open water cichlids for aquarists include the Cyprichromis, Paracyprichromis and Benthochromis species.

The tidal surge areas include the goby cichlids; Spathodus and Eretmodus are the most common to aquarists.

Large boulders form reef-like areas that host an abundance of cichlid species, such as Tropheus, which is one of the most common in the hobby. Here fish feed on algae, rich with tiny crustaceans, that is known as aufwuchs.

Open areas with sandy bottoms are home to the featherfins, whose nest-building behaviour makes them a very intriguing fish, as well as Enantiopus and Xenotilapia species.

Even the empty shells of snails have a place in the lake. There are a a number of fish we have dubbed "shell dwellers" that have found their niche here.

In between the rocks submerged within Lake Tanganyika, we find a number of beautiful fish such as Julidochromis, Telmatachromis and Chalinochromis.

The depths contain the genus Cyphotilapia which include the majestic frontosa, a fish very well known to aquarists.

Lamprologines are found almost everywhere in the lake and comprise a huge number of fish.

Add to this the various catfish species, eels, killifish and others, you have a fish-keeper's paradise.


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