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Nimbochromis livingstonii
by Marc Elieson

Nimbochromis livingstonii is very similar to its cousin Nimbochromis venustus in many ways. Both are large, active predators that need lots of room to move about. N. livingstonii also has its own unique deceptive method of hunting small Cichlid fry.

Nimbochromis livingstonii femaleThis Hap lures unsuspecting fry and other small fish within range by feigning death. It hunts the fry of mbuna and other Cichlids among the rocky and shallow areas of the lake. When this fish finds an area that it wants to hunt, it will lay completely on its side, pretending to be dead, and patiently waits for small fish to come within range. Then, when it's ready, it leaps off the sand, devouring its prey. This unique method of hunting has earned this fish the name Kaligono by the people living around the lake, which means "sleeper."

Fry and juveniles should not be paired with N. livingstonii because it will prey on small fish in the aquarium. This Hap usually reaches an adult size of 10", or 25cm, Nimbochromis livingstonii malealthough I have seen some much larger than this. Females tend to be a little smaller, and are decorated with brown and white camouflage. Males sprout a blue tint to the brown and white coloring.

As mentioned already, this Hap needs lots of room to move. Nothing less than 135 gallons will do for an adult N. livingstonii, and really 150 gallons and up is recommended. The food of choice for this predator is Spirulina and the European Shrimp Mix. If you decide to feed this fish live food (e.g., guppies), be aware that doing so will only encourage its predatious nature, which could later be directed towards more valuable tank mates. Also note that live food has the potential of carrying diseases that could be transferred to your fish.

Nimbochromis livingstonii male in breeding dressBreeding males of N. livingstonii turn a dark blue, which almost completely obscures the blotched pattern of brown and white. Breeding males refrain from feeding during the breeding period, as they have lost their camouflage. Remember, they rely entirely upon their "death shamming" predatory technique and never pursue prey. During the breeding period, they stay close to the shallow, saucer-shaped crater they will later use as the spawning site. It seems that males feel very vulnerable in breeding dress as they quickly flee when divers show up. □


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