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Lake Tanganyika lamprologine rock dwellers

By , 1996. printer

Classification: Captive maintenance, Lake Tanganyika.

" Fishroom talk taking place on 1996-Feb-28 "

New record number of people on FishRoom: 26 ***

JuanMi says: Horus is the speaker tonight

horus says: ok, first of all I want to say that i am by no means an expert or authority on lamprologus-type Cichlids; I am a hobbyist like all of you, who has worked with a fair amount of these species though. anything I say anything I say is basically my opinion, primarily derived from personal experience, shared experiences with other breeders, and from published literature.

horus says: we will limit tonites disucssion to lamprologus-types, julidichromis, and any other rock dwelleing cichlids of lake tanganyika.

horus says: please feel free to share your personal experiences as what works for me might not work for you.

horus says: lamprologus and similar Cichlids are rock dwellers. they live amongst various rock formations and piles within the lake. Some of these areas are sediment free, some have sediment, and different species tend to occupy different water levels.

Fekton says: Horus, what do you consider "similar cichlids?" horus says: i.e. julidichormis, chalinochromis, telmatochromis, primarily non-mouthbrooders.

horus says: which brings up the next thing. I believe just about all of these fish are substrate spawners...laying their eggs in caves, on smooth rocks, in shells.

fekton asks: what about sand-dwelling neolamps?

horus says: these fish range from tiny sell dwellers like n. Multifasciatus (3/4-1") up to the larger predators such as fish in the lepidiolamprologus genus

Horus asks: sure, sand dwelling lamps are fine. I believe I said any lamp-type fish. shall we widen it to substrate spawners?

Fekton says: ok...gotcha...I thought this was rock-dwelling Tanganyikans tonight.

horus says: most of these fish are pair-formers, some of them forming stronger pair bonds than others, sometimes lasting for life, sometimes only lasting for one spawn.

horus says: some are also polygamous harem brooders, where one or two dominant males will "service" the entire colony. an example is the common "brichardi", or Neolamprologus elongatus.

horus says: the fish in this category that I'm currently working with are n. brevis "Zaire black fin", julidochromis sp. "gombi" and transcriptus "kissi", n. savoryi, n elongatus from Burundi, kipili, and Zambia, Altolamprologus calvus altolamprologus calvus "yellow" and "black", alto lamprologus compressiceps, n. multifasciatus.

horus says: these fish work best in pairs in a species tank, but others seem to breed and proliferate better in community tanks, where these secretive fish are more inclined to come out of hiding.

horus says: the tiny shell dwellers can be bred in aquariums as small as 2.5" for one pair , and up to 20g for a single pair. I'm referring to the smaller to medium lamprologines, not the large predators.

fekton asks: Jeff, there's something....brichardi is now definitely elongatus? I guess this came about after the Lamprologus revision but Lepidiolamprolugus elongatus in a separate genus?

horus says: it is my experience that compressiceps/calvus types, as well as certain dwarf shell dwellers (such as gold ocellatus) do better in a community tank and in a harem situation.

horus says: once a pair bond is formed, spawning is usually inevitable. Spawns can range from a couple to well up in the 100's.

horus says: my breeding species tanks for these are no larger than 20g, all run of tetra double brilliant sponge filters. all have 1/2" of crushed coral sand. Decor is sparse, usually a few pieces of large slate, one or two rocks, a reno cave or two, and possibly a flowerpot. Easier to maintain, and easier to be able to observe the fish.

fekton asks: reno cave?

horus says: reno caves are ceramic caves(made in México, from what I've seen) that are spawning caves for fish. about 2", and 5" in diameter.

Fekton understands

Horus exclaims:: These caves are ideal because there's one opening that can be covered with your thumb, pulled from the tank, and pour all the fry out! easy!

Melissa says: You can make a similar thing yourself. Take a flower pot and the drain bottom that comes with it, cut a hole in the pot and silicon the bottom to the top rim and voila

JuanMi asks: What size tank applies for harems of those cichlids?

horus says: for harems of brichardi type, a 40g (3') tank would be recommended. For some julie-types a 26-29g is fine, preferably a taller tank for these species as they like to utilize the vertical rockwork.

horus says: these fish are generally quite forgiving of neglect...just remember to top off your tanks once a year and they'll probably breed.

horus says: that's about all I have to say. let's open up the discussion to everyone here. And if there is a specific question for me, I'll try to answer it.

Dev asks: why would fish that apparently "bonded" suddenly get a "divorce"?

horus says: Some fish are whores and sluts. some have no parental instinct to even care for the eggs.

Melissa says: With my brichardi it was the stress of being moved, Took them 2 months to re-bond

horus says: exactly, Melissa. some don't like to be moved. If you must move a bonded pair to an unfamiliar setup, use a dither fish immediately to insure the pair bond.

Dev says: I'm talking about my trio of occelatus Jeff, oddly enough the female that was more strongly bonded to the male is now under siege and hiding in the corner of the tank- I moved her to another tank for now, but there's now, but there has been no drastic changes in the tank

Horus asks: when was the last time she spawned?

Dev says: probably 2 weeks ago.

Horus asks: did the male eat the fry?.

Dev says: Not until he started picking on her and not allowing her to go near her shells. I think her fry are gone, although they may be hiding.

Horus asks: Is he courting the other female or has he already spawned with her?

Dev says: he was spawning with both at the same time, on and off- both had spawns in the tank.

Horus asks: so where is the "beta" female now?.

Dev says: still in the tank, with her fry, no qualms with the male.

Horus asks: who else is in the tank?.

Dev says: that's it- I moved the female out into another tank so now it's just the male and the second female in a 10g.

horus says: when I first bred gold ocellatus, I had wilds and I brought in 10 fish. ended up with one pair. put them together one at a time in 40g tanks, and the females would always kill the males.

Dev says: I heard this story, how bloody :).

horus says: it has a fairly nasty disposition. brevis seem to form a better pair bond, often lifelong.

Dev says: thing is, I haven't changed much in the tank, so no reason to stress.

Dev asks: will she ever be allowed to return to this tank?.

horus says: can't account for everything, but maybe some dither would be a good idea...just one fish, that's expendable.

horus says: you have to redo the tank, especially if she's not being allowed to eat at all.

Dev says: well, I'd rather keep her in another tank rather than try to get her back to the marriage- I've still got one spawning and more than enough fry.

horus says: introduce the alpha female first, wait a day, introduce the second female. wait a few more days before introducing the male. give that a try and let me know if it works.

Melissa asks: At what size can brichardi start breeding? Is it different for males and females?.

horus says: I've seen female F1 brichardi breed at 1.25". usually they have to be about 2" to produce a sizeable (25+) spawn.

Melissa asks: What about males?.

horus says: I think brichardi males would be viable at 1.5", if you raised a spawn I think that'd be about the size differential in the sexes at that age. once again, age and size are two different things.

Melissa says: I was just wondering if perhaps my brichardi female had paired with one of the large fry instead of her original mate.

Severus bubbles:: is a fish pairs for life and its mate dies, will it pair again and will it be affected in any way?.

horus says: don't know. by the time I lose a pair, I usually lose interest and sell off the survivor.

Dev says: how do you convince brevis to use their shells? :).

Robin says:: good question dev, my brevis aren't touching their shells, but my multifasciatus love theirs...

Dev says: same here Robin- occelatus love them, brevis don't even know they exist.

Horus asks: how big are the openings in your brevis shells.

Dev says: some are big, some are small Horus.

Robin says:: 1" x 1/4".

horus says: for brevis the opening should be only 1/2". the 1" openings might be too large for them to fend off their mate.

Horus asks: they don't use any of them?.

Robin says:: mine don't, but they are relatively new to the tank (about 2 weeks); on the other hand, the multifasciatus dived into theirs within 30 seconds..

Dev says: I sometimes see one peek into one, but that's about it.

Robin says:: me too.

Dev says: when I spook them, they never dive for the shells like the occelatus do.

Horus asks: what is your other decor in the tank?.

Dev says: lots of rocks, and some tall plants in the back.

Horus asks: do they hide in the rocks?.

Dev says: yep, the occelatus took to the shells like fish to water :).

Dev says: they mostly flee to either midwater in the back among the plants or sometimes into the caves, whichever is closer.

Robin says:: not really for mine, just kinda hang out and swim around.

horus says: when they are ready to breed, believe me, they will take to the shells.

Dev says: still can't tell the sexes apart, they all look the same in size. Although they are all already bigger than my biggest occelatus

Robin asks: I have got conflicting info on keeping Altolamprologus calvus with smaller species in a 40 gal tank. Goal is one pair each of brichardi, multifasciatus, brevis, calvus. What is your opinion, horus?.

horus says: I would only have one dwarf shell dwelling species in a 40g. What is the size difference between your calvus and brichardi? And how is your tank decorated?.

Robin says:: so far all are babies (tank is 11 weeks old) I currently have 4-6 of each species but plan to thin out once pair bonds form. Lots of small rock piles with a larger bumpy/cavy rock along the back wall, several anubias in-between rock piles,

horus says: you can breed brichardi and calvus in the same tank, but set up the calvus shells/caves on the side opposite from the brichardis's home.

Horus asks: at about 1", brevis females start to slow down growing tremendously. give them a little time. robin, how old are you brevis?.

Robin says:: they are young, I think. (again, the tank is only 11 weeks old...) but they range in size from 3/4" to a little over 1".

Dev says: I can't imagine combining shelldwellers in a tank, unless it was a very long tank.

horus says: I'm breeding calvus with ventralis and Xenotilapia spilopterus.

horus says: Robin, the fish are probably too young to breed at that size. The multifasciatus will definitely breed at that size but not the brevis.

Robin says:: so are you saying my plan is ok? or would you have problems with the calvus ultimate size attainment.

Horus asks: how big are your calvus?.

Dev asks: is this 40g a 4 foot long tank?.

horus says: I would assume a 40g is 3'.

Robin says:: unfortunately, it is a tall... only 28" long. I know this is not optimal.

Dev says: that's a discus tank Robin :).

horus says: 28" is a species tank. you have two fish that occupy the mid/lower rocky area, and the two fish that will eventually compete for shell space(the dwarfs).

Robin says:: I am willing to have less number of pairs and less variety to accommodate my stupid tank... I'm just not sure what expectations I should have.

horus says: brichardi will raise fry and let some grow out to adulthood. calvus/compressiceeps types will eat them.

Robin says:: right now, I have 4-6 each of all types, but they are all very young, I'm assuming. I have one pair of multifasciatus that is adult-breeding size.

Robin says:: oh, well, better planning next time :).

Dev grins.

horus says: You could do either the brichardi or calvus, and a shell spawner (dwarf) in that tank. would be optimal if you had something in the open water too. seems to get the fish spawning more. I have Cyprichromis in most of my community breeding tanks for this keep everyone out and moving around.

horus says: You could always get another tank, like most of us. :) Dev starts chanting the oh-so-common "MORE TANKS!" cheer...

Rickdf says: dev sounds like me.

Juanmi grins.

Robin exclaims: If I get another tank, I will get a divorce!.

Robin says:: I think I will wait to see what happens and remove the ones I like the least, when conflict begins to occur.

Robin says:: like most obsessive compulsive types, I am planning to get a 4th tank, but keep it at my office so my husband can't find out... :).

Kat grins.

Dev says: isn't that more dangerous than an affair at the office? :).

Robin says:: "honey, I swear, I was only doing a water change".

Dev asks: don't you worry abut the cyps eating fry?.

horus says: nah, lamp and juli-type parents are fairly protective and will beat the crap out of any cyp, providing it's not completely overmatched in size.

Dev says: prob with cyps I thought was that they themselves require a rather large tank.

horus says: btw, an example of a good pair bond. I have a pair of F0 Neolamprologus savoryi breeding in a 5g tank. if you know this fish, you know it's one of the nastiest tempered fish in the lake. makes gold ocellatus look like look like babies.

horus says: on the other hand, I moved my pair of gracilis and the male killed the female who was defending the fry in a shell.

Severus bubbles:: would brevis/calvus/ventralis bred together in a 76?.

horus says: yes, severus.

Arcas says:: horus ... I just added a dither fish in the red-spot brichardi tank... the Brichardi's are really protecting their territories...:).

Horus asks: it works! what did you add?.

Arcas says:: a rainbow fish...

Dev asks: just one?.

Arcas says:: just one...I have the other one in the brevis tank..

Dev asks: how big is the tank you added it to?.

Arcas says:: its a 3 ft tank...with 7 brichardi...

horus says: I guess m. praecox could be useful for dither for brevis...he he...

Dev says: rainbows are expensive here, like $10 so it's not quite the cheapest fish to use as a target fish :).

Arcas says:: I got my rainbow for 1.83 at a wholesaler..

Dev shops at the Tiffany of pet stores :).

Dev says: by the way Arcas, you meant target, not dither right? :).

Robin says:: different rainbows are different prices. I've seen them 4-12 dollars.

Arcas says:: I forget the name of this rainbow... the turquoise rainbow [blue] was going for 3.35 wholesale...

Arcas says:: Horus...what's the biggest brichardi colony that you worked with..

horus says: never kept a large group of brichardi, would get 6 and end up with a pair, then let that grow.

horus says: I always start with a wild pair because you don't have to grow them out and they are sexable and ready to breed. Seems wild fish have more of an incentive to procreate than tank-raised, but this is a generalization

Horus asks: anyone else here breeding any of these substrate spawners?.

Rickdf says: I am.

Horus asks: what are you working with, rickdf?.

Rickdf says: I have some j. gombis, cn'dobhoi, c. bifrenatus, telmatochromis, bifrenatus, Neolamprologus caudopunctatus, and altolamprologus compressiceps.

Horus asks: I haven't worked with the n'dobhoi or either of the bifrenatus, are you breeding any of them?.

Rickdf says: horus it took me three years to get the n'dobhi to spawn.

Horus asks: what was hard about them, Rick?.

Rickdf says: I'm not sure they just took their on sweet time but I got them very small also.

Horus asks: do they form a strong pair bond?.

Rickdf says: yes like julis.

Horus asks: how large are the spawns?.

Rickdf says: they went from about 25 to about 150 as they got larger.

Robin asks: my multifasciatus were known breeders in the fish store. Now have dug a deep pit and turned their shell upside down at the bottom of the pit, only 2 weeks after I got them. Hummmm, wonder what's up?.

horus says: try emptying the shell. :)

Robin asks: BTW, I am worried about the undergravel filter sucking the babies into it. What is your experience?.

horus says: I don't use undergravel and strongly advise against it.

horus says: I don't think you'd have problems unless there were exposed areas in the filter plate.

Robin exclaims: yes.. as you can tell by my x-tra tall, narrow tank and my judicious use of the undergravel filter, I REALLY did my homework before this impulsive purchase - NOT!.

horus says: robin, you can breed julis, a brichardi or calvus , and even leleupi in that tank. it's how you set it up as well.

Robin says:: at this point, I am planning to just see what happens, remove the fish that don't work and make a new 4th tank at my office, and do it right next time.

Stevenp says: I had convict fry sucked under a UGF.I thought the eggs had been eaten till I saw little wiggle movements in the space under the UGF at the front of the tank

Severus bubbles:: do brevis like rocks in the aquarium?,

horus says: I think brevis prefer rocks to open water,

Severus bubbles:: how about calvus, what type of furnishings do they like?,

Severus bubbles:: could leleupi go in a tank with brevis / calvus / ventralis / multipunctatus?

horus says: yes, ken

Dev asks: are leleupis good parents Horus?,

horus says: if you get a good pair of leleupi they are good parents. the thing about them is they will defend the fry in their territory but if the fry wander to the other side of a community tank where say, the calvus are....they don't care.

Robin asks: I've been told that calvus like the midwater vs. the bottom. Is this your experience?.

horus says: yes, robin, but they will inevitably spawn in a shell, usually located in the bottom. the way you can tell if they have spawned is if the female is guarding the shell. or cave.

horus says: the calvus aren't too choosy and will hide among the rocks.

Robin asks: calvus spawn in a shell?.

horus says: robin, the only thing I've ever spawned any of the altolamprologus in are shells. the reno caves are generally too big.

Dev says: good luck Robin, and don't forget- there's always room for one more tank :)

Robin says:: my birthday is in July. I am asking for a huge tank from my generous husband ( I was only kidding about the divorce)

horus says: if there are no more questions... :).

Robin says:: thanks horus.

horus says: you're welcome.

horus says: stick with it and don't give up. there is no "right" method. it's whatever works for you.

Kat says: Nice talk Horus.

Rickdf says: good talk horus I agree with every thing you said


Chin, Jeff. (May 27, 1996). "Lake Tanganyika lamprologine rock dwellers". Cichlid Room Companion. Retrieved on October 20, 2019, from: