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Callochromis pleurospilus
by Brett Harrington (aka Fogelhund)

Callochromis pleurospilus is a fish that is stunningly beautiful, in a very subtle way. You may not notice the colours from across a room, but once you get up close to a male who is displaying, it is an assault of colour you won’t soon forget. The colours vary depending on which location, but in most there is a light green and pink shine on every scale on the sides, the unpaired fins combine opaque white with pink patches and the anal fin often has a pink tinge. The heads of the males are bluish-green and bright blue lips. In many strains, the pink on the sides can be quite red in colour, and the dorsal fin will show a great deal of red in some strains. Unfortunately, females are plain silver, but the beauty of the males, makes keeping this fish well worthwhile.

Male Callochromis pleurospilus

The pleurospilus can be observed between 1 meter and 30 meters deep, usually in sandy bays that are enriched in sediment. Rarely are rocks or stones found in its natural biotope. This fish is a bottom dweller, and sifts through the sand to locate its food, which primarily consists of microorganisms, though they have been found to have small cichlid fry in their stomachs as well. In the aquarium, even wild caught specimens will readily accept most prepared foods, including flakes. They thrive on mysis shrimp, Cyclops, brine shrimps though. Like many other open water fish, they can be sensitive to deterioration in water quality.

This fish shows quite a bit of conspecific aggression, particularly to the other males. If you get lucky, you may be able to house a small group in a 4ft tank, though certainly a 6ft tank would be recommended as a minimum. The minimum group size should be one male to three females, though if you can get more females, do so. More than one male will certainly not be tolerated in a 4ft tank, though it may be able to find hiding places in a 6ft tank.

In the wild, females form schools, while the males will defend a territory singularly. The male may build a small depression or utilize an existing one. They are a mouth brooding cichlid (buccal incubation), and may have as many as 50 eggs, which have a diameter of about 2 mm at spawning. The care of the brood is only carried out by the female, and will last for 18 to 20 days, at which time the fry will be released. Callochromis pleurospilus are not known for extended care giving to their fry. At this stage, the fry may be raised on freshly hatched Artemia nauplii (Brine shrimp), in addition to crushed flake.

Some suitable tank mates include Cyprichromis, Opthalmotilapia species, or some of the more assertive Xenotilapia. You can keep Callochromis pleurospilus in with a smaller Lamprologine, but most of the tank should be devoted to the open spaces that Callochromis will require. If you can obtain this species, and keep it in a larger tank, then it will certainly reward you with its beauty and lively antics.

 

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