A real beauty originally from Lake Victoria, Xystichromis phytophagus is now found in the protective papyrus stands of Lake Kanyaboli. X. phytophagus is possibly extinct in Lake Victoria due to the Nile Perch and hybridization due to cloudy water conditions from erosion and farming runoff.
In the aquarium Xystichromis phytophagus is like many other Lake Victoria region cichlids. They are hardy species that accept all types of food and a variety of water conditions. Males can be extremely aggressive toward other males and even females who are unwilling to spawn are picked on. They are best kept in groups on one male to multiple females. X. phytophagus gained popularity about 15 years ago when images like the one above started showing the species’ wonderful coloration. For more information check out the species article by Greg Steeves and visit the Lake Victoria Basin forum for discussions.
A short video by apanhaesta showing a holding Xenotilapia spilopterus.
Xenotilapia is a genus of fish from Lake Tanganyika characterized by an elongated shape and various colors along the body and fins. The appear and are quite delicate. Stress and rapid water condition changes can be deadly. They live in large groups along sand close to shore throughout the lake.
In the aquarium Xenotilapia spilopterus would do best in a species only tank or with mild mannered tankmates. Sand is a must, especially if you will to see their unique brooding behavior. A pair will spawn in an small sand pit. What happens afterwards is only found in a few other genus. X. spilopterus a biparental mouthbrooders. About halfway through the mouth-brooding process the female will spit out the eggs for the male to collect them. He will then continue to carry the developing fry until they are old enough to be released. This type of behavior is also found in Eretmodus cyanostictus.
One of the many varieties of Tropheus from Lake Tanganyika is the brightly colored Tropheus sp. “Ikola”. This variant’s contrasting yellow and black make a stunning display in large groups. Like other Tropheus, T. sp. “Ikola” should be kept in a large tank and it large groups. This is important not only for their well-being, but also so they can display their natural behavior.
As always, care should be taken when housing Tropheus. Aquarium size, diet, tankmates and group size are important when considering any fish from this genus. Although not always recommended for novice hobbyists, anyone who is willing to make the effort should be able to keep Tropheus. Make sure to read up on the articles in the Tropheus Corner. To discuss Tropheus sp. “Ikola” visit the Lake Tanganyika Species forum.
Below is a short video showing a colony of Tropheus sp. “Ikola” by Gökçe Gençel
Julidochromis transcriptus (Pemba). Photo by Dave Hansen
Julidochromis transcriptus is one of the rock dwelling species from Lake Tanganyika. The genus Julidochromis is made of only a handful of species which in turn have several variants. Pictured above is the Pemba or Kissi Bemba variant. Although the different species vary in size and coloration, all Julidochromis have an elongated body perfectly suited for living and hunting in caves and crevices.
In the aquarium Julidochromis transcriptus will form a pair for breeding, becoming aggressive toward other Julidochromis. A pair is best kept alone or if kept with other Julidochomis a large tank is a must. To see the different types of Julidochromis check out the genus profiles. A couple articles on other Julidochromis species can be found here and here. Discussion can be done in the Lake Tanganyika Species forum.
Neolamprologus furcifer fry hiding with snails. Photo by Shun Satoh
Neolamprologus furcifer is a solitary cichlid from Lake Tanganyika. It lives within the cracks and crevices of rocky areas, hiding in the shadows. Its large eyes tell of a preference for darkness. It isn’t often seen in the hobby, but can be found if you are determined to own some.
Researcher Shun Satoh of Osaka City University, Japan discovered that counting Neolamprologus furcifer fry can sometimes be very difficult. Apparently N. furcifer fry look just like Reymondia horei, a Lake Tanganyika snail. Researchers discovered that when the snails were present, the fry had banding that resembled the banded snails. When snails were not found in the tank, the fry did not exhibit the banding. In addition, mother Neolamprologus furcifer had to spend more time chasing away potential predators when the snails were not present. The study is behind a paywall at ScienceDirect.com. However, a summary article can be read at New Scientist. To discuss N. furcifer visit the Lake Tanganyika Species forum.
Labidochromis sp. “gigas pombo”. Photo by Ad Konings
No widely known or available, Labidochromis sp. “gigas pombo” is a Lake Malawi mbuna that shares similarities with some popular species in the hobby. L. sp. “gigas pombo” is from the same genus as the ever popular Labidochromis caeruleus and can be found on Pombo Rocks, the same collection point as Pseudotropheus demasoni.
In the wild, Labidochromis sp. “gigas pombo” spends its time in rocky areas feeding on algae and invertebrates. L. sp. “gigas pombo” is isolated from other groups Labidochromis. This isolation is what has probably led to the many different variants of Labidochromis, many of which have not been officially described. To see the many different forms of this genus, visit the Species Profiles. To discuss this species and any other Labidochromis visit the Lake Malawi Species forum.
Neolamprologus brichardi is a beautiful fish from Lake Tanganyika. In the wild, N. brichardi form large schools feeding on plankton found in the water column. What sets them apart from other schooling fish is that they are substrate spawners, laying upwards of a 100 eggs in a single spawn. Once hatched, parents, older siblings and other adults will help take care of the young fry. In the aquarium this behavior is interesting to watch as older siblings look after the new fry.
Neolamprologus brichardi can also be a handful in the aquarium. Parents can become very aggressive toward perceived threats. Add to that their large spawns and a tank can easily become overwhelmed with N. brichardi of all sizes (see video below). Suitable tankmates include Lake Tanganyika rock-dwellers like Altolamprologus and Julidochromis. However, tank size and places to hide should be considered when mixing other species. It is often recommended that N. brichardi be kept in species only tanks. More information can be found in the species article by Brett Harrington. Discussion can be done in the Lake Tanganyika Species forum.
Ever wonder what you fish are up to when you aren’t home? A new product should be hitting stores soon that will allow you do know exactly what they are up to. Although setting up a streaming camera isn’t exactly revolutionary, a new product will allow you to record content from inside your aquarium. The REEF-Cam by TMC offers the ability to watch your fish anywhere by streaming video from inside your aquarium.
When I first read about this product I thought it was a gimmicky adaptation of existing technologies, great for helicopter-hobbyists who have to constantly know what is going on with their fish. The more I thought about it, I realized REEF-Cam may be great for capturing elusive behavior or secretive spawners since it can also be set to record. The camera can be placed inside the tank where external cameras wouldn’t be able to see that spawn deep in a cave or behind the rocks. With this product we may start to see videos of never before captured spawns.
The Cichlid-Forum staff would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year 2017. This year will mark the 15th year Cichlid-Forum has been online. Of course, C-F would be nothing if not for the dedication of the staff and the daily contributions from hobbyists both seeking help and giving it. This coming year we hope to continue to provide information on everything cichlid related. Updates on the site happen regularly including the library and profile sections.
Known commonly as the royal blue hap, Otopharynx heterodon can be found throughout Lake Malawi. Color patterns vary somewhat depending on their location, but a blue body with a yellow chest are most common. In the wild they live in the intermediate zones between sand and rocky areas. O. heterodon, along with O. lithobates, have cyclical popularity in the hobby. Every few years gaining popularity before losing it again.
Growing to about 5 inches Otopharynx heterodon does well in an aquarium with other malawi haplochromines or peacocks. O. heterodon are very mind mannered and don’t do well with overly active or aggressive fish. Males will display their colors when not stressed and if a sand bottom is provided, O. heterodon will spend its time looking for food like they do in the wild. For more information or to discuss O. heterodon visit the Lake Malawi Species forum.