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Lepidiolamprologus attentuatus
by Brett Harrington (aka Fogelhund)

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There are two forms of this fish, the Tanzanian fish that is a brownish tone, and the Zambian fish, which has a more attractive yellowish tone. The variant that I have kept is from from Ndole, one of the more yellow variants.

A good friend of mine visited Lake Tanganyika this past year, and took many pictures of the fish and Lake. Out of all of the pictures, the Yellow variant of Lepidiolamprologus attenuatus was one that really stood out for me.

When the opportunity arose, I ordered myself a group of wild caught specimens, to try to breed these fish in the aquarium. My friend's pictures, and the information I've read about them, have them living in the mixed rubble/sandy areas in the lake, where they dig pits, or lay their eggs in rocky crevices. They very aggressively defend their territories in the wild, and are strict pair breeders. The males grow to about 6, (15cm) and the females to about 4.

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With their size, and potential attitude, I setup a six foot, 100 gallon aquarium for them. I was unsure of what to keep with them, but thought I would try some wild Altolamprologus calvus, and Lamprologus brevis. In truth, I didn't know how the brevis would fare, but I didn't have anywhere else to put them.

I received 2 males, and 5 females, and they took to the aquarium quite well. Despite being predators, primarily on small fish, but also crustaceans and insect larvae, they took quite quickly to flake food, pellets, mysis shrimp, and even baby brine shrimp.

I had built up a rocky area, thinking that the males would stake out a cave to defend, and try and attract a female to. Much to my surprise, they ended up in the open area of the tank with the brevis. The brevis were spawning, and didn't try and chase away the attenuatus at all. Interestingly enough, the attenuatus didn't bother the brevis or their fry at first.

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The attenuatus were quite peaceful towards each other, and didn't bother their tankmates, and I thought: "This is a most amazing fish" Then they started spawning.

When I came home, my usually active tank was desolute. The attentuatus females had mostly disappeared, a lone male was stalking the tank, the brevis were nowhere to be found, and the calvus were hiding in their cave. To my amazement, they chose to spawn in the same small shells that the brevis used, escargot shells approximately the same size as neothauma shells. It is an amazing sight to see a 3.5 female attenuatus completely disappear into such a shell. FOUR females spawned on the same day for the first spawn. Each female produces between 150 and 300 eggs, and will spawn every four to five weeks.

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At first I had been a bit disappointed with the colour of my fish, but after a few spawns, they really started to get the yellow I had seen in wildcaught specimens. The brevis were of course removed from the tank, though the calvus remained. The calvus were not harmed by the attenuatus, but the aggression level was enough to stop the calvus from spawning. I later added in a pair of Telmatochromis sp. "Temporalis" shellies, which did quite well with the attenatus, and did spawn in the aquarium with them.

This is a beautiful fish, and the sight of clouds of fry is quite amazing. Keeping them in an aquarium with other fish could prove to be a challenge though. If you've got a 6-ft aquarium, and wish to give them a try, I'm certain that they would mix fine with equally aggressive fish, such as; Neolamprologus tretocephalus, Telmatochromis sp. "Temporalis" shellie, and Variabilochromis moori.
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