Pam Chin, 2002
Cichlid Room Companion

Neolamprologus savoryi

By , 2005. image

Classification: Captive maintenance, Lake Tanganyika.

" An aquaristic review on this wonderful Tanganyikan cichlid, a pair for life! "

Neolamprologus savoryi

Neolamprologus savoryi male at Magara, Burundi, lake Tanganyika

I was already keeping Neolamprologus savoryi (Poll, 1949) when I figured out that they were in a group of fish we call Neolamprologus brichardi-type or complex. This Lake Tanganyikan substrate spawner is found throughout the lake and always with other members of the complex. It is a striking brown fish because of its vertical barring, which shows a contrast of dark brown and ivory cream stripes. It also has a swallow tail, but no trailers or filaments to speak of. Like other members of the N. brichardi complex it has a cheek marking, N. savoryi is shaped like a "V." The only other cichlid in this complex that sports the "V" marking is Neolamprologus splendens. N. savoryi is not a common cichlid in the hobby, and it could be because of their reputation of being aggressive, especially towards each other. I have just always liked this fish, and have kept it for many years; it will always be one of my favorites in the brichardi complex.

Once I have a pair they rarely fight among themselves, and will continue to spawn for many years

In the wild Neolamprologus savoryi is more of a loner, while typically large groups of N. brichardi and N. pulcher of all ages are found together, N. savoryi is only seen in pairs or alone. Their stripping pattern allows them to blend into the rocky cover with ease. They react in the same manner in our tank; in a community setting, they stay to themselves. They do not grow as fast as N. brichardi either, and so it may take them a bit longer to become sexually mature. They don't usually look for trouble, but if it does come around, they have no problem holding their own, and they are more apt to beat up each other than other species.

Placing 6 - 12 juveniles around 4 - 5 cm (1.5 - 2") in a community type setting with other Tanganyikan species about the same size, will allow them to pair off naturally. I like to provide them flowerpots, PVC and spawning caves for cover. They will learn to defend a territory, which is the first key in being able to find a mate. N. savoryi is a very private about its reproduction behavior, and because of their solitary nature, it may take some time before a pair(s) begins to form. They prefer caves, with only once entrance. They show the typical behavior where the male polices the perimeter and the female stays in the pot only coming out if needed for defense. This pre-spawning behavior helps the pair develop a bond, which is so important when working with substrate spawners. It has been my experience that once I have a pair they rarely fight among themselves, and will continue to spawn for many years. It is this type of strong pair bond that is the reason why I am drawn to them; you don't experience the frustration of a pairs killing each other off as you often do with other lamp types.

Neolamprologus savoryi

  • 8.5 pH
  • 25.5° C (78 ° F)
  • Male 9 cm. (3.5")
  • Female 7.5 cm (3")
  • Water: Hard
  • substrate spawner
  • excellent parental care
  • 38 liters (10 gallon) tank
  • Sponge filtration

What is nice about this lamp species is its size, at around 7.5 - 10.0 cm (3" - 4") it is easy to manage in smaller aquariums, especially after you get a breeding pair. I generally use a 38 liters (10-gallon) tank, I like to provide plenty of cover, with several spawning caves, they prefer caves off the floor, and so they should be elevated. They won't spawn unless they find what they think is the most secure site; giving them a choice seems to speed up the process. They are very secretive about their spawning and the only clue something is up may be the female not coming out of the pot, and the male attacking the front of the glass as you walk by. The spawns are quite small, after years of working with them, I doubt I have had any spawns larger that 20, but they are very consistent. The fry are incredibly small, but you will see them inching out from the spawning site slowly but surely.

The parental behavior is a joy to watch, as they herd their brood about the tank. They feed mostly on plankton in the lake, and do fine on a cichlid staple flake or pellet in our aquariums. To get them in good condition you can add black worms or shrimp mix to their diet. Once they have fry, I go back to dried foods and freshly hatched baby brine not only for the fry, but also the parents love it. Let the algae go in this type of set up, the fry will feed on it too; I usually just wipe the front of the tank so I can see in. As they get a little larger the pair will push them away from the site a little further and proceed to spawn again. I usually remove the fry after they are around 3/4" and place them in a 10-gallon grow out tank.

Then the cycle begins again, as I cherry pick a few fry and raise them up for myself. I have had many species slip through my hands over the years, and sometimes you feel like if you don't keep them going, you won't see them again. For this reason, and as one of my favorites in the brichardi complex, Neolamprologus savoryi will always have a place in my fish house, I can't imagine not having any. It really is a neat little brown fish to work with.


  • Tanganyikan Cichlids In Their Natural Habitat by Ad Konings, 1998, Cichlid Press.


Chin, Pam. (Feb 02, 2005). "Neolamprologus savoryi". Cichlid Room Companion. Retrieved on Mar 02, 2024, from: