Paracyprichromis nigripinnis is found throughout Lake Tanganyika. Some of the popular sites where they are collected include Chituta Bay in Zambia, and Kigoma, and Msambu (Nkove) in Tanzania. The adults range in size from 10 - 14 cm. This is a beautiful fish that looks like the Cyprichromis in that it is "sardine-like". However, the 2 fish couldn't be more different in behavior.
Since I first was attracted to the unique "sardine-like" shape of the Cyprichromis leptosoma, I really loved the look of the Paracyprichromis. This fish, in my experience, has been a difficult find. I was on the lookout for a colony for over a year before I finally had the wonderful fortune of having some appear at an auction! As luck would have it, a fellow HCCC club member was also looking for a colony. We compromised, he bought a bag of 6 and I bought a bag of 4. I brought them home and put them in my 75g Tanganyikan Community tank. Their tankmates included a colony of Cyprichromis leptosoma, a colony of Gold occelatus and a trio of Julidochromis regani. Unfortunately, I lost 1 of the original fish within a few days. The remaining 3 began to thrive. All of the inhabitants of the tank began to spawn, except the Paracyps. I was at a loss! I gradually accepted the fact that I would just enjoy the simple beauty of these fish without successful spawning. I continued on the lookout for more fish to add to my colony. I thought maybe the problem was that I didn't have enough. I knew that I had at least 1 male. Typically, these fish look very similar. Males and females are not easy to differentiate. However, the male will usually be a bit darker and I noticed that my dominant male will really darken on the underbelly. With his pelvic and anal fins almost turning black when he is showing off or agitated. For the most part this mild mannered fish sticks to the rock structures in the tank. The male, particularly, hangs out - sometimes upside down - in the crevice of a large rock structure. The females will swim around, but usually hang out near the same rock structure. This is very different behavior than the Cyprichromis, who are open water dwellers.
About 6 months ago, while visiting with Dave at Dave's Rare Aquarium Fish - he asked if I was still looking for Paracyps. I had gotten rid of my Gold Occie colony and my Julidochromis regani. I had also added a group of Moba frontosa fry (about 1") to grow out before moving to their permanent home in a 180g. I still had my original 3 so I said, "Sure." He brought me 2 wild-caught females! One was about half the size of the other, but both looked in great condition. I added them to my little group - not expecting much. I was SHOCKED to notice, several weeks later - that the smaller female was holding!! I almost couldn't contain my excitement! Within a week, the larger female was holding. Both of them had large bulging bucchal cavities - so I was hoping for the best.
I use a time table of about 14-18 days when dealing with mouth brooders. If I am wanting to salvage the fry - I will pull the female and strip at that interval. I find that this yields an almost fully developed fry with little or no egg sac remaining. Within another week - both females were no longer holding... I was more than a little disappointed. But, my philosophy has always been: "If they did it once, they'll do it again". In the meantime, I mentioned to Dave that they had both been holding but had apparently spit at a very early stage. He said that this is a common problem with Paracyps. I went to my favorite resource, the internet, and found this to be well documented. Apparently, as they get older, the females get better at the process and will hold longer. Having no idea how old my WC females are - I wasn't taking any chances if they held again.
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