Adult in Pemba
An adult of Julidochromis transcriptus in Pemba, Lake Tanganyika [Democratic Republic of Congo].Photo by Ad Konings. (27-May-2011).








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Julidochromis transcriptus Matthes, 1959


Original description as Julidochromis transcriptus:


  • Matthes, H. 1959. "Un cichlide nouveaux du lac Tanganika Julidochromis transcriptus n. sp". Revue de Zoologie et Botanique Africaines. v. 60; pp. 126-130 (crc00113)

Taxonomic history:

  • Julidochromis transcriptus, Matthes, 1959:126, original combination

Diagnosis: J. transcriptus has horizontal and vertical bars that appear to be a checkerboard pattern..

Size: males 3" (7 cm) females 2.5" 5 (cm).

Sex dimorphism: It is difficult to determine the sex by coloration, typically males are larger then females.

Type locality: Makobola.

Distribution: Endemic to Lake Tanganyika and found only in the north and southern parts of the lake.

Localities: Kapampa (Congo, Democratic Republic, native), Luhanga (Congo, Democratic Republic, native), Pemba (Congo, Democratic Republic, native).

Habitat: They prefer the rocky habitat, where they have oxygen rich water, with a temperature around 23 – 27 Degrees C. and a pH of 7.8 – 9.5. There are no plants present to speak of but the rocks are covered with algae.

Conservation: Julidochromis transcriptus is evaluated by the international union for the conservation of nature in the iucn red list of threatened species as (LC) least concern (2006). The habitat is stable at this moment..

Feeding: They graze for invertebrates present on the algae growth that covers the rocky habitat. This microfauna hides out in the algae covered rocks and on sponges, and as they pick at these foods they take in more algae then we realize and also particles of the sponges.

Breeding: There is not a breeding season for this species, as they will breed year round. What is most interesting about Julidochromis transcriptus is how they lay a few eggs everyday and soon there is a group of fry around the parents that are all different sizes, only a few days separate their ages. It is this site that we all strive for.

Aquaristics: Start out with juveniles and house them in a Tanganyikan community tank, with other Tanganyikan cichlids about the same size. As they mature, they will naturally pair off, planned marriages rarely work. Once you have a pair they can easily be moved to a 40 - 80 liters (10 or 20 gallon) tank, where you can have your own ultimate site, where many fry of all different sizes swim about the tank with their parents, grazing on the algae. In smaller tanks it is easier to get food to the fry, and easier to remove the fry when they get larger. They are excellent parents, you only need to provide freshly hatched baby brine shrimp and regular water changes.

Comments: They are found in the northwest and southern part of the lake, at different locations the pattern and coloration may vary. In addition to this well-defined black and white coloring the fins are edged with an iridescent blue. They lay a couple of eggs every few days, and soon you will have fry that is all different sizes, all over your tank, it is the ultimate site when you are working with J. transcriptus. The fry should be nearly jet black with just slits of white, while the belly and chin should be a brilliant white. J. transcriptus are considered a true dwarf and usually reach around 7.5 cm (3 inches).

References (1):

  • Matthes, H. 1959. "Un cichlide nouveaux du lac Tanganika Julidochromis transcriptus n. sp". Revue de Zoologie et Botanique Africaines. v. 60; pp. 126-130 (crc00113)


Chin, Pam. (December 25, 2004). "Julidochromis transcriptus Matthes, 1959". Cichlid Room Companion. Retrieved on April 13, 2021, from: (crc10366)