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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'd like to make a shameless plug for what has become my favorite fish.
I'm 55 years old. I've been keeping fish since I was about 10. I started keeping African cichlids about 20 years ago, moving from Malawians and Tanganykans to exclusively Tangs about 10 years ago. I've always enjoyed behavior over fish color or beauty.
I developed an interest in adding shellies a couple of years ago and went through three different species without much success.
I friend suggested I try Lamprologus' similis in early spring. I started with a group of six, which were probably too young when I bought them. I lost four of six. I went back to him mid-summer and bought six more, probably related to the first six I bought.
Within minutes of adding the new fish, a holdover male and a new male locked jaws and fought for 5-10 minutes. After that, the two parted ways and dominance was established.
Since then, there have been no issues with aggression, but the group of seven (lost one of the newbies) has been split into groups of four and three. They both have established spots in the 20-gallon long and preside over their own shell beds.
A week ago, I noticed fry within the group of three! The largest fish are probably 1 1/2 inches long, so they are not full grown, and I doubt they are even a year old.
Before I purchased them, my research told me similis form colonies and don't eat each other's fry. So far, that has been the case. The group of four keep their distance, don't try to pick off fry and rarely need to be chased off.
The mother is meticulous in her maintenance of the spawning bed. Dad hovers over top and occasionally helps out. But the best part is the third member of that group, what I assume is a sub-dominant female, assists in the grooming of the spawning bed. And the mother allows it. I have NEVER seen that in 45 years of fishkeeping!! I'm used to aggressive cichlid temperament in general and conspecific temperament in particular.
It's been refreshing and a joy to watch this group develop, and I'm looking forward to watching a colony develop and the evolution of this fantastic cichlid behavior. Thanks for letting me share.
 

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Hey!

I am currently in the process of setting up my first 'Tangs' tank. I have Lamprologus Ocellatus on my list, do you have any experience with these?

I love the shell dwelling species and I can't wait to add them.
 

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Dandy Don - you are so right about Similis! I started a tank a few months ago with 6 unsexed juvies - I chose them because I have hard water and wanted fish that "do something" other than swim around looking pretty and they definitely are interesting to watch. I loved watching them arrange their shells and it's amazing to see how well they take care of the eggs and fry. I have been so lucky - I ended up with 2 males and 4 females and I'm sure the male watches over the fry, too. The oldest fry look like real fish now and are starting to explore the territory.

The biggest male moved over to the other end of the tank (29 gallons) a while ago. I'm hoping some of the fry will move over, too, so they can start another colony. Do you know if there is a way to encourage them?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Mmerose, I've only been keeping Similis since early Spring, so I'm not an expert on this fish. Since my original post, I've had what appears to be a second and maybe a third batch of fry. So I have the largest at almost 3/4 inch, some at 1/4 to 1/2 and some very small. I've read that the older fry will help take care of the younger fry with this species, but I have had some of the younger fry disappear. I would say you could encourage them to separate by adding an additional shell pile in a separate area of the tank. Some of the juveniles may move off in that direction.
 
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