Bird Families

Lake Tanganyika Weaver / Ploceus reichardi


One of the deepest freshwater bodies of the planet - Tanganyika - is considered the longest lake.

Lake Taganyika on Tanzania map

It is one of the African Great Lakes, and is second only to Baikal in size and age.

The average depth of the lake is 570 m, and the maximum depth is 1470 m. The width of the reservoir is 72 km, and its length reaches 676 km.

The water is so transparent that from the surface it is possible to discern objects under the thickness of 30 meters.

History of Lake Tanganyika

A giant natural reservoir was formed about 10 million years ago during the formation of the East African system of fractures of the earth's crust.

The fresh water of the lake, giving not only drink, but also food, has attracted people for centuries.

One of the autochthonous tribes gave Tanganyika the name - "Etanga yanya", translated from the adverb bembe as "water teeming with fish." Fishing is the most important economic component of coastal areas.

Fishing on Lake Taganyika

Among European explorers, the honor of discovering Tanganyika belongs to British travelers - John Speke and Richard Burton, who visited here in 1858. The legendary African explorer David Livingston, who was looking for the source of the Nile in these parts, also made a great contribution to the study of the banks.

In memory of those years, the former military ship "Graf von Götzen" remained, renamed the Liemba ferry and has been serving peaceful purposes for a hundred years.

Flora and fauna of the lake

Tanganyika is inhabited to a depth of 200 meters, below which the increased concentration of hydrogen sulfide prevents the spread of living organisms.

With a decrease in the level, the temperature of the water also drops - if near the surface it often heats up to 30 degrees, then in the bottom depths it is only 6-8 degrees Celsius.

View of Lake Taganyika

Due to the depth and isolation of the reservoir, unique populations have formed in it. The most notable vegetation is the beautiful nymphaean water lilies and the wildly growing water hyacinths.

The reservoir's inhabitants are incredibly diverse - of the 2000 species found here, 600 are endemic.

The fauna of Tanganyika includes:

  • Hippos,
  • Crocodiles,
  • Swamp turtles,

  • Waterfowl
  • Crustaceans,

  • Molluscs and small jellyfish,
  • More than 200 species of fish, of which 170 are endemic.

The most famous inhabitants of Tanganyika are cichlids, since 98% of these fish are not found anywhere else.

Cichlid fish. Lake Taganyika.

They are extremely diverse - sizes range from a couple of centimeters to a meter, and the color is famous for its brightness and bizarre patterns.

The beauty and interesting behavior of these fish has attracted aquarists all over the world for many years.


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Tanganyika cichlids

Cichlids (Latin Cichlidae) are freshwater fish from the order Perciformes.

They are very intelligent fish and they are the leaders in intelligence and intelligence in the aquarium hobby. They also have very developed parental care, they take care of both caviar and fry for a long time.

In addition, cichlids are able to perfectly adapt to different biotopes and use different food sources, often occupying quite exotic niches in nature.

They live in a fairly wide range, from Africa to South America, and inhabit reservoirs of different conditions, from very soft water to hard and alkaline.

The most detailed video in Russian about Lake Tanganyika
(although the translation of the names of the fish is crooked)

Various biotopes of Lake Tanganyika

Having considered the different biotopes in the lake, we can understand how the cichlids have mastered this or that niche.


Surf zone

Just a few meters from the coast can be considered a surf zone. Constant waves and currents create water with a very high oxygen content here, since carbon dioxide is eroded instantly.

The so-called gobi cichlids (Eretmodus cyanostictus, Spathodus erythrodon, Tanganicodus irsacae, Spathodus marlieri) or goby cichlids have adapted to life in the surf line, and this is the only place in Tanganyika where they can be found.

This biotope is rich in fish of various behavior and habits. Both territorial and migratory species live here, cichlids living alone and in flocks, those that build a nest and those that hatch eggs in their mouths.

The most widespread are cichlids that feed on algae growing on stones, but there are also those that eat plankton, and predatory species.

Sandy bottom

Soil erosion and wind create a thin layer of sand at the bottom in some areas of Lake Tanganyika. As a rule, these are places with a relatively sloping bottom, where sand is carried by wind or rainwater.

In addition, in such places, the bottom is abundantly covered with shells from dead snails. This is facilitated by the nature of the bottom and the parameters of the water, in which the disintegration of shells occurs rather slowly. In some areas of the bottom, they form a continuous carpet. Many cichlid species living in these areas have adapted to live and spawn in these shells.

Usually cichlids living in sandy biotopes are gregarious. After all, the best way to survive for fish that live in open places and do not differ in large size is to get lost in a flock.

Callochromis and Xenotilapia live in flocks of hundreds and develop a strong hierarchy. Some are instantly buried in the sand in case of danger. However, the body shape and coloration of these cichlids is so perfect that it is almost impossible to see them from above.

Muddy bottom

Something in between a rocky and sandy bottom. Places where rotting algae residues accumulate and soil particles are washed from the surface. As a rule, these are the places where rivers and streams flow into the lake.

Silt serves as a food source for a variety of bacteria, and these, in turn, for a variety of bioplankton. Although some of the plankton is eaten by cichlids, the bulk is eaten by various invertebrates, which also serve as food for the cichlids.

In general, places with a muddy bottom for Tanganyika are atypical, but they are found and distinguished by a variety of life.

Lamprologus callipterus also uses shells, but in a different way. This is a schooling predator that attacks its prey in a school, together they kill even larger fish.

Males are too large to fit in a shell (15 cm), but females are much smaller in size. Sexually mature males collect large numbers of Neothauma shells and store them on their territory. While the male is hunting, several females hatch eggs in these shells.

The cichlid Altolamprologus compressiceps has adapted to life in the lake by developing a unique body shape. This is a fish with a very high dorsal fin and such a narrow body that it can easily slip between stones in order to catch a shrimp.

They also eat up the eggs of other cichlids, despite the frantic attacks of their parents. To protect themselves, they developed sharp teeth and even sharper and stronger scales that resemble armor. With their fins and scales exposed, they can withstand attacks of equal-sized fish!

Another group of cichlids that have adapted by changing their body shape are the gobi cichlids such as the Eretmodus cyanostictus. To survive the waves of the surf line, they need to maintain very tight contact with the bottom.

The usual swim bladder, which all fish have in this case, rather interferes, and gobies have developed a much smaller version of it. A very small swim bladder, altered pelvic fins, and a compressed body helped cichlids colonize this biotope.

Other cichlids such as Opthalmotilapia have adapted to breed. In males, there are spots on the pelvic fins that resemble eggs in color and shape.

During spawning, the male demonstrates the fin to the female, since after laying eggs he immediately takes her mouth, she is mistaken and tries to capture these eggs as well. At this moment, the male releases milk, which fertilizes the eggs.

By the way, this behavior is typical for many cichlids that hatch eggs in their mouths, including those popular in the aquarium.

Benthochromis tricoti are cichlids that live at depths and reach sizes of 20 cm. They live at depths from 50 to 150 meters. Despite their large size, they feed on tiny creatures - plankton and small crustaceans.

To accommodate this diet, they have developed an elongated mouth that acts like a tube.

Trematocara cichlids also feed on various benthos. In the daytime, they can be found at depths of more than 300 meters, they are the deepest cichlids in the world. However, they also adapted to life in Tanganyika.

When the sun goes down, they rise from the depths to the surface and can be found at depths of several meters! The fact that fish can withstand such pressure changes is amazing! Moreover, their lateral line is very sensitive and serves to detect food in complete darkness. Thus, they found a free niche, feeding at night in the upper layers of water, when competition is minimal.

Another cichlid that feeds at night, Neolamprologus toae, hunts insect larvae, which hide in chitinous shells during the day, and crawl out to feed at night.

But the cichlids Perissodus, which are scale-eating, went even further. Even their mouth is disproportionate and adapted to more efficiently tear off scales from other fish.

Petrochromis fasciolatus also developed an unusual structure in the oral apparatus. When other Lake Tanganyika cichlids have a downward mouth, their mouth is directed upward. This allows her to pick off algae from places where other cichlids simply cannot get them.

In this article, we only briefly reviewed the amazing biotopes of Lake Tanganyika and even more amazing inhabitants of these biotopes. Life is not enough to describe them all, but keeping these cichlids in an aquarium is possible and necessary.

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Lake Tanganyika: where is more information

The natives called him "Etanga yanya" - "a water reservoir full of fish." Lake Tanganyika is located in the central part of the African continent. The reservoir is located in the deepest tectonic depression on the mainland and is part of the East African rift system. Geographically, the reservoir belongs to 4 countries at once: Burundi, Zambia, DR Congo and Tanzania.

The lake is located at an altitude of 773 meters. Near Tanganyika there are 2 more large African lakes: Victoria and Nyasa.

The depth of Lake Tanganyika is 1470 meters - according to this indicator, only Baikal is ahead. The average depth is 570 meters. In terms of area, the African wonder of the world ranks 6th among lakes, yielding to the Caspian Sea, Lake Victoria and the three Great American Lakes: Michigan, Huron and Upper. Baikal, by the way, ranks 7th.

Dimensions of the lake Tanganyika are also slightly ahead of Baikal: length - 673 kilometers (from south to north), width - 72 km. The length of the coastline is 1828 km.

Lake Tanganyika - Fresh or Salty?

For schoolchildren and those who are still interested in whether Lake Tanganyika is fresh or salty, I answer. The reservoir is located in the African mountains. Therefore, it is naturally insipid. Moreover, in terms of fresh water volume, Tanganyika ranks 2nd in the world among lakes. After Baikal.

Lake Tanganyika - sewage or closed?

Those who are interested in information about Lake Tanganyika: sewage or internal drainage, let's say that rivers flow into and out of the lake. More precisely, the Lukuga River flows out of the lake, which is a tributary of the Congo, the second largest river in Africa.

The lake is fed by tributaries (37%) and precipitation (63% - 1200 mm per year). The main tributaries are the Ruzizi, Malagasari (before flowing directly into the Congo) and Kalambo (the second highest waterfall in Africa is located on it).

61 million km³ evaporate from the lake, and 4 million km³ flows through the Lukuga. Earlier, the lake was closed for a long time, which formed the unique local fauna.

Lake Tanganyika - fauna

Fish lives in the lake. There are especially many cichlids here, of which there are 250 species. Their length is 2.5 cm and a whole meter. 98% of all cichlids are endemic. Live cichlids of lake Tanganyika along the banks. This is due to the fact that a dead zone begins from a depth of 200 meters, since there is no oxygen at such a depth. The level of hydrogen sulfide rises closer to the bottom. By the volume of water without oxygen, Lake Tanganyika is in second place after the Black Sea.

In addition, another 150 species of fish, crabs, crustaceans, shrimps, leeches, jellyfish and other invertebrates live in the lake. Many of them are also found only in this lake.

If you want to fish, in Tanganyika or any other lake, then to increase the bite you can use gammarus for fishing as bait.

Lake Tanganyika: who discovered the reservoir

The famous travelers Richard Burton and John Speke, who discovered it in 1858, are considered the discoverer of the lake. They searched in these places for the sources of the Nile, which in those years were of interest to many. The most famous explorer of the lake is David Livingston.

Now there are 2 ferries operating on the lake: between the cities of Bujumbura and Kigoma and between Kigoma and Mpulungu.

Lake Tanganyika on the world map

That's where it is Lake Tanganyika on the world map.