Lake Tanganyika Species • Juludochromis ornatus group

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Juludochromis ornatus group

Postby napoleaovn » Sat May 16, 2020 11:33 am

I've got a group of 5 julidochromis ornatus which are stocked in my 55G tank along with 12 Cyprichromis leptosoma. One of the ornatus (the largest one, but they are almost all of the same size about 2 in) is very active exploring all the rock work. The other four ornatus keep all together in one corner of the tank away from the the rocks. Now and then the dominant ornatus comes by to harass them. They seem to be fine and are eating regularly. I introduced all fish together a week ago. Is it a common behaviour? Will they be able to settle themselves sooner or later?
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Re: Juludochromis ornatus group

Postby sir_keith » Sat May 16, 2020 12:52 pm

Yes, things will settle down. You currently have an alpha male establishing a territory. Once he does that, he will search for a mate; hopefully one of the other four will be a female to his liking. Once two of them pair up the male will defend the territory, while the female will spend most of her time in the rockwork, tending her eggs. Eventually, super-tiny fry will appear, which will soon develop their stripes. In a setup like this, it is useful to have rockwork at both ends of the tank, with an open space between them; this will serve to limit the pair's territory to one end of the tank.

I have a similar setup- 5 young J. ornatus that became one breeding pair plus 3 'extras' in a 40L tank, which has the same footprint as a 55, along with some grow-out Cyps. The female ornatus seems to lay a few eggs every day or two, because I have a whole range of differently sized fry. J.marlieri does the same thing. It's very cool, and except for removing the young as they grow up, such a community is largely self-sustaining. Have fun! =D>
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Re: Juludochromis ornatus group

Postby napoleaovn » Sat May 16, 2020 6:55 pm

Thanks a lot for the prompt reply and for the encouraging message. I will wait hoping that they get along soon.
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Re: Juludochromis ornatus group

Postby napoleaovn » Sat May 23, 2020 9:27 am

Well ... the dominant ornatus is getting meaner and meaner. Should I still wait a bit more? I was wondering if I should remove him instead!

Here it is my tank setup ...

tank.jpg


All the water parameters are fine:
pH 8.4
kH 8
gH 16
Amonia 0.0
Nitrite 0.0
Nitrate 40.0
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Re: Juludochromis ornatus group

Postby sir_keith » Sat May 23, 2020 11:03 am

Judgement call here. Is the dominant male actually damaging the other fishes, or just harassing them? If he's not hurting the other ornatus, and you're willing to be patient for a little while more, I'd suggest that you rearrange your tank, as follows.

First, try to identify which area of the tank the dominant male is actually defending. A 55 is way bigger than a typical ornatus territory, so unless this male wants the whole tank to himself, you should be able to identify the area that he is defending- it's the place that he will retreat into after chasing the other fishes. Once you've done this, try to move the rocks that define this territory to the nearest back corner of the tank; don't spread them out, but push them together to make this territory as small as possible. What you're trying to do here is to help define the boundaries of his territory. Next, move all the other rocks to the other end of the tank in order to create a large open space between the dominant male's territory and the other fishes, because Julies don't generally defend open spaces, except as extensions of their rock-defined territory. This by itself should help temper his aggression, but the final thing you should try to do is to interrupt the sight lines between the dominant male's territory and the other fishes, because fishes don't worry about things they can't see. You seem to have Anubias in your tank; locate these in the middle of the tank, and possibly add more of them and/or single large rocks to create a visual barrier between the two ends of the tank. I've found that this is a very effective way of dividing up the space between adjacent territories of sand-nesting cichlids such as featherfins and Xenotilapia.

If none of this works, you might consider removing the dominant male. You would still have 4 ornatus in this tank, and most likely another individual would then become the dominant male, but hopefully he would be less aggressive, and find a mate more quickly. It seems to me that the root problem here is that your current dominant male has simply not found a mate to occupy his time more productively, for whatever reason. It is possible, although unlikely, that all five of your fishes are males.

Good luck, and keep us posted. :thumb:
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Re: Juludochromis ornatus group

Postby napoleaovn » Sun May 24, 2020 8:45 am

The dominant male is still exploring all the tank, but maybe he has a preference for the rocks on the left, since the other ornatus stay grouped in the right front corner of the tank (usually heads pointing up :-? ). It is hard to say whether the dominant male is damaging the others or not, but at least the fins remain ok, they are eating, and I don't see any apparent damage. Now and then there is some chasing, and one of them eventually ends up standing in the very upper right back corner of the tank. I will rearrange some rocks and try to be more patient. Assuming that I can vent them, would you suggest me to keep just a pair of them? Thanks a lot for your advices.
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Re: Juludochromis ornatus group

Postby DJRansome » Sun May 24, 2020 10:15 am

Which collection point of ornatus do you have?

I see last year Konings provisionally named the Julidochromis transcriptus/marlieri Gombe as Julidochromis sp. ornatus Kombe.

For the Gombe/Kombe I did have the experience where a pair formed and drove the others from the tank (to the upper corner). I have had trios and a few fry live together for extended periods, but that was more the exception than the rule for me. And eventually (years) the 3rd of the trio was rejected from the group.
125G Borleyi, Multipunctata
75G Demasoni, Msobo, Lucipinnis
75G Calvus, Similis, Petricola
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Re: Juludochromis ornatus group

Postby sir_keith » Sun May 24, 2020 11:43 am

napoleaovn wrote:The dominant male is still exploring all the tank, but maybe he has a preference for the rocks on the left, since the other ornatus stay grouped in the right front corner of the tank (usually heads pointing up :-? ). It is hard to say whether the dominant male is damaging the others or not, but at least the fins remain ok, they are eating, and I don't see any apparent damage. Now and then there is some chasing, and one of them eventually ends up standing in the very upper right back corner of the tank. I will rearrange some rocks and try to be more patient. Assuming that I can vent them, would you suggest me to keep just a pair of them? Thanks a lot for your advices.


Venting small ornatus is non-trivial, and except for eliminating the unlikely possibility that you have 5 males, it doesn't give you any useful information going forward, so why bother?

It's not a good idea to put one male with one female and expect them to form a pair bond; the far better strategy is to raise several young fishes together, and let them choose their mates. That's what you're trying to do, but so far the spanner in the works has been your overly aggressive male. I'd rearrange the tank as I suggested earlier, and if things don't calm down in a few days, I'd move the alpha male to another tank. That should reset the social hierarchy, and hopefully the next alpha male won't be so aggressive.

Julies can be unpredictable; sometimes a well-bonded pair will make life miserable for any and all conspecifics, sometimes they will tolerate neighbors, as long as they don't invade their territory. Tank size and population density seem to play a role in these behaviors, but beyond that they seem somewhat unpredictable. Currently my alpha male has a mate tending fry in one end of the 40L, but seems interested in another female at the other end of the tank. He's still attentive to and protective of the first female and her fry, so this doesn't look like dissolution of the pair bond, at least so far. I've never seen behavior like this, so it will be interesting to see how things work out. For me, this is why cichlids are so interesting.
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Re: Juludochromis ornatus group

Postby Fogelhund » Mon May 25, 2020 11:38 am

IMO, you don't really have near enough rocks in there. Far more rocks, and hiding places, and there is less chance of harassment. I too started with five, though in a 29 gallon tank. It took a month before a pair had formed, and they kicked the three others to the top of the tank.... It surprised me, as they are too young to start spawning, but they've formed a pair anyway. I removed the rest of the fish.

So, to your problem... .well, add a bunch more rocks, and they really prefer flat rocks, that can form caves.... maybe the dominant one calms down, and chooses a mate, or maybe you've got a fish that's a problem, maybe there isn't enough rockwork, and you will see better behaviour once you add some. If this persists for months, I'd remove the problem fish for a while, and see if the others form pairs.
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