African cichlids come in two varieties. Lake Tanganyika cichlids and Lake Malawi cichlids have very different habits and diets, even though they are from the same family.
The main types of cichlids found in Africa can be grouped into two categories. Mbuna or rock fish tend to get most of their sustenance from picking algae from the rocks that are just under the surface on the shoreline. Haps have a much more diverse diet. They eat algae but will also eat zooplankton, scales and meat from other fish. They will also eat whole fish if they are small enough. The fish that stay in the shallow areas have also been known to pick bugs from the surface of the lake.
Cichlids are a hardy fish that do very well in home aquariums. There are a variety of fish foods available. Most contain a blend of plant and fish so that they are adequate nutrition for most fish. In order to maintain optimum health in your aquarium, the food needs to contain high amounts of protein and low amounts of fat and fiber. For best coloration, the diet needs to contain large amounts of spirulina. Cichlids can live without spirulina but will have very bland coloring.