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For the last couple of years my 240G has been overrun by Julis. I have the comparatively small species known as Julidochromis marlieri 'Gombe', and they live in the crevices of the rock background I have in that tank. They might not be the most visible fish in the tank, but there are literally hundreds of them! I have several times sold around 50, and never noticed a dent in their population. Yet, one thing I had never seen until today is them spawning out in the open, where I can take photos. The pictures below show a pair guarding their eggs. You can see some of the eggs on the algae covered Anubias leave and some before it, but the main part of the clutch is hidden under the leaf.





I've also got a video of them fending off another Juli:


This video shows mostly the other end of the tank, following the alpha male of my group of Burundi Frontosa on his patrol around the tank:

 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
prov356 said:
Are those leleupi that I see in there also?
Yes, they have an interesting coloration :D

They are actually a bright yellow strain that turned darker when I started keeping them on my black substrate. I think if I had bought a darker strain, they might have turned brown!
 

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Mutliple leleupi in one tank, cyps with fronts, you're doing stuff many say can't easily be done, if at all. How'd you pull it off?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
1. It's an 8' tank.
2. I had a lot of luck with that setup

1. is important, but 2. probably more so :D

Most of the cyps where already adults when the fronts were around 1", and I have not changed the setup much since then - about 5 years ago. I have sold fronts from that colony, and in other people's tanks they've eaten whatever other fish fit into their mouth. Just in this tank where they grew up it never seems to occur to them that they could eat the fish they've seen for so many years.

I don't see as many leleupi fry any more as I used to a couple of years ago. The main change is that the julis have started breeding so heavily, and I think it's them who prey on the leleupi fry - maybe they even steal the eggs. Before then I had at least 3 pairs of leleupi breeding with the huge males staking out territories in different areas of the tank, but juveniles swimming all over the place. I have never seen any excessive aggression of the leleupi between themselves or towards other fish in the tank.

One thing that also seems to work very well is the rock background I have. It has countless nooks and crannies and provides hiding spots for a huge number of fish.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Maybe a dozen pairs? But impossible to tell - it could be two dozen. I bought six and thought I was down to one when I started finding fry in the sumps. Well, I figured with fry there must be more than one, and after two days of searching, I found a pair going in and out of a space between two rocks in the background. That's where they were breeding, but I had not seen them in weeks, maybe months. Now there are Julies all over that background. I am guessing they are producing hundreds of fry, but nothing the other julies, leleupi, comps, helianthus, cyps, petricola, and fronts could not cope with :lol:

The only fish that have not bred in the tank are the helianthus. I bought three, and am guessing they are all females or all males.
 

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I like how you let the tank grow and mature on its own. Was it part of the plan to allow the fish to sort their own stocking list out? I have never heard of a setup with a dozen breeding pairs of julies and I doubt people would tell you to go for it lol. Very interesting that it works for you.

Do you think the fronts keep the smaller fish from being more aggressive? I would think the larger fish would make them more cautious.

Very unique tank, if I was closer I would be begging to come watch it :thumb:
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
ahud said:
I like how you let the tank grow and mature on its own.
Yes and no. I always expected to have to pull out many of the smaller fish - especially the cyps - when the fronts mature. So far it hasn't been necessary, but I have pulled out some fish:

Fronts: thinning the herd. I started with 50!
Leleupi: thinning the herd. I sold dozens of them a couple of years ago when they were in full swing breeding.
Julis: also thinning the herd. I have sold around 50 of them twice, without making a noticeable dent in the population.
Brevis: all of them, because the males were fighting between themselves, and I lost some females.
Comps: I pulled out a trio to breed them in a 75G.

I also pull fry out of the sumps whenever I clean them - lots of BN plecos, but also some petricola. I might pull out some of the adult petricola at some stage for breeding in a separate tank.

That said, the colonies of smaller fish I wanted to see develop mostly by themselves. I had been mainly thinking of the helianthus, envisaging a colony where the juveniles help to look after smaller fry. Yet the helianthus never bred and the Leleupi population took off. Then later the leleupi took a backseat and the julies took off. I imagine the development of these colonies in my tank is very similar to what you would observe around a certain rock or cliff in the lake. Even if they don't show quite the cooperation of brichardi types, other lamprologine and julis also live in large colonies, we just usually don't have the space in a tank to allow them to do that. I feel privileged to be able to observe that type of behavior.

I wish I was in South Carolina to show it to you - especially with the freezing cold we had in Ohio lately
 

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Yes I would think you are correct about the behavior you are seeing being similar in the lake.

Just curious, what not try to introduce the Helianthus now?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
ahud said:
Just curious, what not try to introduce the Helianthus now?
There just isn't any space. Any little crevice in the rocks is occupied by the julies, leleupi, or petricola. If I put further helianthus in that tank now (I already have 3), and they would form pairs, they would have to evict some of the other fish, which would end up dead very quickly. Then if the helianthus colony grew, there'd be WW3. I am pretty sure the helianthus colony would grow, since a brichardi-type-colony is a very successful successful strategy to out-compete other fish in a tank environment.

An interesting observation for me is that substrate spawners like julies and leleupi easily out-compete mouthbrooders in a tank environment - otherwise my 240G should have been overrun by cyp and frontosa fry, but that did not happen! I made the same observation in my first African cichlid tank when I was a teen. It housed some type of mbuna and N. brichardi. The mbuna barely managed to grow up a handful of fry per year, while the brichardi colony soon numbered in the hundreds.

I find that interesting, because mouth brooding is considered to be more evolved, and mouth brooders obviously compete very successfully in the wild. Apparently in the cramped environments of a tank, mouth brooding is no advantage.
 

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:drooling:

This is tough for me to look at. I look at your tank, and then at my 6.5g and think, what happened? I will say that the 6.5g was almost completely inspired by your occie tank and the info you gave me so thank you.

Keep up the great work, and keep those pics and vids coming. I think I could watch those all day long!
 
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