Fairy Cichlid - Neolamprologus brichardi
Neolamprologus brichardi is an enchantingly beautiful cichlid endemic to the northern parts of Lake Tanganyika. It is named Fairy Cichlid in English due to its otherworldly appearance, and Scandinavian aquarists call it “Prinsessan av Burundi” (the Princess of Burundi).
When keeping Neolamprologus brichardi, it is important to be really careful and focused during netting, because these fishes truly hate being netted and will do anything to avoid it. They are highly skilled when it comes to avoiding capture and once they have been startled, they will squeeze themselves into the smallest possible space in the aquarium and stay there until they feel safe again. They can also try to evade you by jumping out of the aquarium and may injure them selves in the process.
Housing Neolamprologus brichardi
The easiest way of getting Neolamprologus brichardi to breed in captivity is to house a large group of juveniles together and let them grow up together. As they reach sexual maturity, they will start forming their own pairs.
Neolamprologus brichardi can reach a length of 8.5 cm, but as long as they are juveniles you can house over 20 specimens in an 80 liter aquarium. Eventually, the ones who become dominant males will divide the aquarium into different territories, while the submissive males will do their best to stay out of trouble. The females will join the dominant males and form breeding groups. As long as the submissive males do not challenge the dominant ones, the aquarium will be quite a peaceful place. If several couples start breeding in the same aquarium, that is not a problem, because each group will defend their own territory without being exceptionally violent towards other fish. Sometime fry can even be seen moving from their own parent group to another parent group. If you manage to get one group of fish to spawn, it will often trigger spawning in all the other groups as well.
Neolamprologus brichardi will appreciate a well decorated aquarium where it is easy to claim small territories. Add coal mounds or similar to form great spawning sites. Keep the pH-value in the 8.0-9.0 range, the water hardiness between dH 9 and 19 and the water temperature from 22 to 25 degrees C. Feed them plenty of nutritious food, e.g. high-quality cichlid pellets combined with live brine shrimp.
During spawning, the couple will force themselves into a crevice and spawn inside. It is therefore hard to witness the actual spawning, but you can get a clue from how the rest of their group reacts. If a group suddenly becomes much more territorial than before, a couple within the group has most likely spawned in the aquarium. Do not loose heart if the first batch of eggs becomes eaten. The second batch will normally be raised okay and the first batch of egg will often serve to make the other fish groups interested in spawning.
Newly hatched fry is really small but can be fed microworms and powdered flake food as soon as they become free swimming. Within the group, all he females can act as if they are caring for the fry, not only the mother. Older fry can also stay around to help out (or appear to help out) with new batches, even though this can make the spawning couple somewhat agitated.
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