In discussions with European hobbyists, they have noted that, on several occasions, the Neochromis omnicaeruleus they maintain will throw both piebald and orange blotched fry. I have not witnessed this and regular correspondence on the matter with American hobbyists in my circle relates that they have not experienced this either. Thus far, my OB females have thrown OB fry that have only been female. The males are blue. I have not gotten and OB males from these fish. The piebald females have produced only piebald female fry with blue and the rare piebald males. The piebald Makobe Island males have only produced piebald females and blue males. Perhaps I have not produced and raised the number of fry needed to see all the circumstances witnessed in Europe or, possibly, the new line we are in procession of will breed and produce fry in the matter mentioned.
To maintain Neochromis omnicaeruleus in captivity, one should employ the largest aquarium available. I would not recommend a size of less than 230 liters. In a tank of this size it is possible to set up large rock pilings that these fish seem to enjoy. I don’t believe substrate is very important but I would advise to go with sand rather than gravel. The reason behind this is that many Lake Victoria haplochromines will tumble their eggs with small pebbles. I feel that while spawning the female is so frantic to pick her eggs up that she also grabs these small rocks that she might mistake for eggs. In the process of tumbling, a small bit of gravel can tear the fertile eggs apart. Even though this species is most a herbivore, I have several colonies housed with live plants. These plants are generally very hardy species including Aponogeton, Anubias and Cryptocoryne. I have housed other haplochromine species with groups of N. omnicaeruleus, Mbipia lutea, Paralabidochromis sp. “fire” and even the Malawian species Pseudotropheus saulosi have been tank mates without any problems. As is my preference in most of my aquaria, Synodontis species inhabit my tanks and are of little consequence to the N. omnicaeruleus. So long as your pH is kept on the high side of neutral, water conditions seem inconsequential. I have very hard mineral laden water and this seems just fine for all East African species I have kept. If you have any experience keeping the Tropheus species from Lake Tanganyika or the mbuna species from Lake Malawi, your familiarity should translate easily to N. omnicaeruleus husbandry.
Although breeding is frequent, I have had more successful and higher numbers of fry from the wild caught OB from Makobe Island. This might be an environmental peculiarity rather than a trait true to the variant. Regardless, if I am able to secure a spawn over 10 fry from the piebald fish, I am fortunate while the OB fish regularly have in excess of 30 fry.
All in all, Neochromis omnicaeruleus is an incredible fish to keep in the aquarium. It is also a species in need of our assistance. Although populations in the wild appear to be stable, the entire Lake Victoria ecosystem is considered stressed. Thus, N. omnicaeruleus is included on the C.A.R.E.S. priority listing as vulnerable.
Originally published in AfricanCichlids.Net