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Neolamprologus signatus
by Robert De Leon

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After not having a Lake Tanganyika shelldweller for some time, I got an itch for them again. Something about how they change their environment by digging and/or burying their shells makes them extremely amusing and addictive. For such little fish, they pack a ton of personality. The question was which shell dweller to choose? In the past I had kept 'Lamprologus' multifasciatus and 'Lamprologus' ocellatus "gold". I decided I wanted to try something different for a newly vacant 29gal tank.

Fin Iris Fish Underwater Marine biology

A little research (actually a lot of it) led me to consider various species. I wanted something
with a little color but also with some distinctive markings. I considered some 'Lamprologus' brevis, but had heard that they weren't always active or even visible. I settled on a species that is not very common in the hobby, Lamprologus signatus. It took me a while to track them down but I was finally able to obtain a group of 6 juveniles.

As they grew, I became disappointed with the make-up of the group. A group of 4 males and 2 females is not ideal for pairing. Fortunately each of the females picked out a male of their own and the two extra males were removed. The tank was set up with a sand substrate and divided into 3 separate areas by 2 pieces of holey rock. Each of the three areas had an abundant amount of shells. The pairs took up residence on opposite sides of the tank, leaving the middle area as a no-man's land. I hoped that as their fry got larger, they would migrate to the "undeveloped" section of the tank.

Fish Fin Marine biology Electric blue Tail

Lamprologus signatus has a more elongated body shape compared to other shell dwellers. Another difference is that the male and female have their own distinct patter/coloration. Most other species of shelldwellers, with a few exceptions, share the same color patterns in both males and females. Usually the only difference between the sexes is size.

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