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FAQs on Neolamprologus

Related Articles: Neolamprologus pulcher, African Cichlids, Dwarf South American Cichlids, Cichlid Fishes

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Neolamprologus multifasciatus stopped breeding     10/20/19
Hi crew,
I have 20 gallon hexagon tank with multies colony for about 7-8 years. In the past I bought 6 juveniles and since then they multiplied in my tank. I did not do anything to protect fry but I was able to keep steady population at about 9-10 fish at a time. But for last year they stopped breeding. My guess it’s due to inbreeding. Currently only 5 fish left. They look happy to me but does not look they will ever breed again. Do you think adding few new juvenile will help to resolve the problem?
<Hi Mark. While fish probably don't have a "menopause" as such, it's certainly true that fertility declines with age, especially with fish (like these small cichlids) that have lived much longer in captivity than in the wild. Inbreeding can also cause problems, so if your colony is mostly descended from a single batch of locally bred fish, chances are they were all siblings. Even if farmed, there's still a good chance the original six were related. Either way, after a few generations you can end up with a situation where most offspring came from a single dominant pair within the colony, and all the younger fish are closely related to some degree. So yes, freshening up the gene pool with some newly imported offspring may help, ideally wild-caught specimens. Needless to say, a quick review of the environment is always worth doing. Older tanks suffer from pH and hardness declines than can stress Malawian and Tanganyikan cichlids, even if not actually killing them. High nitrate levels also have a strong negative effect on cichlid fertility, so clearing out organic muck while freshening up the filter media in a canister filter, if used, will do something to offset this. Cheers, Neale.>

Neolamprologus pulcher inflamed gills/tumor?   9/17/11
Hey guys, I wanted to seek your expert advise about my Neolamprologus pulcher. I purchased it about 2 months ago and noticed that it constantly appeared to breath heavily... however, I stupidly paid that little
attention since he didn't seek air at the surface and continues to this day to eat very hardily. Tonight, however, I couldn't help but notice that when he came to the front of my tank for food, as he breathed in and out heavily (as usual) his gills were very red and one side appeared larger than the other as if a tumor was developing under the gill. Neither of my other fish have any symptoms/ailments, so it doesn't appear that whatever my pulcher has is contagious. Please advise what ailment my pulcher could possibly have. Thanks.
<... Mmm, likely something environmental at play here... low dissolved oxygen, perhaps a contaminant... I'd be changing more water out, dipping a pitcher at the surface to remove any surfactant there, perhaps using a chemical filtrant (e.g. activated carbon) in an attempt to remedy... Notes on your system, water tests, other livestock will/would help us help you.
Bob Fenner>
Re: Neolamprologus pulcher inflamed gills/tumor? 9/21/11

This is a follow-up to my email on 9/15 about my sick Neolamprologus pulcher. I took a video of my pulcher to the LFS that I purchased it from and the owner--whom breeds pulchers--stated that he never seen one develop what he believes is a tumor on my pulcher's right gill. He stated today that he contacted, the American Cichlid Association whom stated that they don't know an exact remedy/procedure to keep the tumor from growing so large that it eventually cuts off breathing capacity. The owner's subsequent "shot in the dark versus letting the fish die" is to put my pulcher in a sick tank and treat with either (1) potassium iodide; or (2) ionized table salt at 1 tablespoon/gallon for 3-5 days, then return to the main tank and repeat if necessary for an indefinite period of time...wouldn't ionized salt result in the death of my pulcher?
<Mmm, not likely, no... the valence state of iodine in iodized salt is iodide...>
Please prescribe your best treatment idea, otherwise I'll be forced to enact the owner's perceptually idiotic treatment in lieu of no action at all.
<I would try a treatment w/ an iodide-iodate source made/diluted for aquarium use... from a commercial source. There are several of these... made for marine aquarium use. Bob Fenner>
Re: Neolamprologus pulcher inflamed gills/tumor?   9/24/11

Thanks for the help, Bob...my last few questions are: (1) can i use Seachem Reef Iodide to treat my fish's tumor and (2) if yes, please indicate whether i should follow the dosage on the bottle
<Yes and yes>
or if you suggest a different dosage amount...as well as how long you feel the fish should remain in the sick tank.
<As long as necessary... Do keep an eye on water quality of course>
You guys are my last resort for a knowledgeable plan of attack.
<Mmm, would rather be toward the first end. BobF>

Lamprologus ocellatus and Cyclop-eeze 12/30/09
Would *Lamprologus ocellatus *eat Cyclop-eeze? If so, do you think it would be good for them?
<Tanganyikan Shell-dwellers are zooplankton feeders and will eat Cyclops, Daphnia and Artemia nauplii, but you'll want to augment that with a good quality flake or micro-pellet as well (Spectrum, Hikari, etc) simply to ensure the full range of vitamins. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Lamprologus ocellatus and Cyclop-eeze 12/30/09
Thanks Neale. I'm decided I'm going to go with your suggested "species tank" for these. I think it will be a lot of fun. I don't suppose they'd leave any cherry shrimp alone though...
<No idea; probably risky, but worth a shot.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Neolamprologus & Hymenochirus 12/12/09
I am wondering if I could put an African dwarf frog with a shell dweller (Neolamprologus) together.
<Not a chance.>
I understand that the dweller is aggressive, but I'm just wondering. Also, do you know where I can find the shell dweller at a store (not online, I feel horrible when they send them) like PetSmart or Petco??
<Gosh, you'll get happier, healthier fish mail order from a dealer that specialises in cichlids than from a generic pet shop without any cichlid expertise at all. Any halfway decent aquarium shop should be able to order in Neolamprologus multifasciatus and the other commonly traded species.>
Thank you,
P.S Thank you very much for featuring Neolamprologus in the aquarium stocking page, it's a perfect fish for my tank!! :)
<Glad to have been helpful. They are very cool fish. Cheers, Neale.>  

Where could I possibly buy Neolamprologus from?   12/13/09
Dear Crew,
Where could I possibly buy Neolamprologus from? A website or possible store would be nice.
<Depends where you are. Here in the UK, stores like Wildwoods do mail order and have a good reputation for getting wild-caught Tanganyikans, which are the best. Elsewhere in the world your best bet would be to do a search on Google for "mail order cichlids", or perhaps join a local or national fish club, and find out who your fellow members recommend. At least some of the print magazines will have listings for suppliers, e.g., TFH Magazine will
have retailers and fish clubs in the US.>
Thank you for all of your help,
<Interesting name. Cheers, Neale.>

Leleupi, stkg.   11/18/09
Good Morning, I hope all is well at Wet Web towers.
Quick (and hopefully easy) question.
How many N. leleupi can I keep in a 60gal tank, with no other Cichlids, just some dithers?
<Difficult to say. Pairs of Neolamprologus leleupi are very intolerant of conspecifics, so if you want them to settle down without aggression. They can harass conspecifics even in quite large tanks, and there's no reason at all to expect a 60 gallon tank to be big enough for more than one pair (one of my books recommends 75 US/62 Imperial gallons for keeping more than a pair). You might try getting six and letting them grow up together, but that's with the warning that removing surplus specimens may be necessary in
due course. It also assumes you have lots of rockwork, with rocks and hidey-holes all the way up to the surface.>
<Cheers, Neale>

Re: Leleupi  11/18/09
Thank you Neale.
<You're welcome.>
Are Leleupi girls as equally intolerant of others as the boys, or would a harem with only one dominant male work?
<Pairs will be intolerant of any other conspecifics, but I'd expect aggression towards females to be less than towards males or other pairs.
But these are not haremic cichlids so far as I know.>
I would like to keep 4 or 5, however I will of course take heed of sage advice!
<I'd go with 5 rather than 4... odd numbered groups seem to work best with cichlids.>
If I could only keep a pair, how would they feel about sharing the space with a group of Juli. Ornatus?
<Given space, they share well.>
If they'd tolerate it, how many Juli would I be advised to get?
<Again, these are pair-forming cichlids, though quite a bit less aggressive than the N. leleupi.>
I imagine this tank to have space for about 4-6 small/medium cichlids and am trying to come up with the right "recipe".
<Oh, easily space. Quite a bit more than 6 in a 60 gallon tank. But the art is choosing species that aren't going to view each other too aggressively.
Maybe a pair of Neolamprologus, a pair of Julies, a pair of
Altolamprologus, and a school of Cyprichromis could be quite fun (or better yet, and they are being traded now in the UK, Tanganyikan Killifish).
<Cheers, Neale.>

Neolamprologus splendens breeding ? 11/11/09
Hello Crew, Just a non-emergency question here :>)
<Fire away!>
I have five Neolamprologus splendens (Brichardi Cichlids ).
<Nice fish. Part of the Neolamprologus brichardi species complex, and much of what applies to Neolamprologus brichardi applies to Neolamprologus splendens as well.>
I got them when they were three months old from a local breeder. These fish are now 14 months old.
<Should be sexually mature by now.>
Bear in mind that I have asked this breeder this question to which their reply was "I dunno ". They have a 45 gallon to call home. They have the place to themselves. They have Cichlid Stones to hide in and they do hang out in them frequently.
<Sounds great.>
The question is, "How old are they when they begin to reproduce ?"
<In theory, the best part of a year ago! Most cichlids are sexually mature around about 6 months old, though whether they will actually do so depends on various factors, not least of all the ability of a male (or a pair) to hold a territory.>
BTW, There are 2 males and three females.
<There is an argument for keeping them either in pairs or in bigger groups than just 5 specimens. At the very least, if these are all siblings (i.e., from the same parents, and so sharing the same genes) I'd add some more fish from another breeder so that you avoid inbreeding and its common associated symptoms of decreased fertility and increased congenital defects.>
The large male seems to hang out with one female more so than the others and all keep poor Stubby, the little male up high in the corner.
<As I say, pairs work well, and large groups work well. In smaller groups, you can end up with one pair who tolerate excess females but are aggressive to excess males.>
They do allow him time to eat. Stubby is so named because he has a short, stubby nose. A natural birth oddity, I think.
<As I say, inbreeding = defects.>
They were tiny when I got them. Too tiny to sex. Any way, all info I have been able to find has only said a pair would form and the word used was "soon".
<Sounds as if you already have a pair. The lack of fry may reflect reduced fertility, but equally likely parents unable to rear any fry they produce (a common problem with inbred cichlids, e.g., virtually all domesticated Angelfish).>
Thanks ! Sooz
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Neolamprologus splendens breeding ? 11/11/09
Hi Neale,
<Hello Sooz,>
Thanks once again for your valuable input.
<Happy to help.>
This makes everything so much more clear. The Brichardis in the breeder's tank ( a 37 gallon ) are many in numbers. In fact the tank appears to be v e r y crowded with many generations doing their thing.
<I see. This groups of species is often kept thus, and public aquaria can create lovely displays with hundreds of these "Fairy Cichlids" congregating over some type of reef. While not especially colourful, they are surely among the prettiest of all the cichlids.>
What attracted me was the first time I saw the newly born fry being sucked in and out of the parents mouth. My first thought was that the fry were being eaten but as I watched I could see this was indeed not so ! I found this so fascinating.
<The Brichardi species group is noted for its good parenting behaviour. But it is also known for the fact older siblings help their parents look after the next set of fry. It's sort of training for them, presumably, but it
also comes across as being almost like a colony behaviour, something we don't normally associate with fish.>
Had to get another tank and set it up because I had to have some. My, my. I have been hooked and reeled into this hobby, hook, line and sinker !
When my fish became available I got six. Within a week the largest (a male ) became very nasty and began attacking the smallest. This happened quickly over the course of a day and I removed this one that evening. He started attacking Stubby the next day. I got Stubby out quicker this time. The large male then started on the next smallest the following day, so I got her out and I'm starting to think I should just take him out and leave the rest in there but the attacks stopped. I lost the first, smallest one, and Stubby and the female had to bunk with some Danios for a few months .
<Unfortunately yes, this isn't uncommon. All these Neolamprologus are territorial, and do best either in pairs or groups so large that no one male becomes dominant.>
When they all were placed into the 45 where they now live, everyone got along though lil Stubby is odd man out, still . He will sometimes hang with the female he bunked with but I can't say they are a pair. When he ventures out into the cave area he will be chased away by the big male and dominant female. At least the large male is not tearing Stubby apart anymore. He just keeps Stubby away.
<Neolamprologus claim relatively small territories, so one approach you could take is to choose a tank with enough surface area at the bottom, create two distinct piles of rocks with clear sand between them, and allow one pair to hold one pile of rocks, and the other pair (or at least male) another pile of rocks. At a guess, I'd expect them to claim areas about 45 cm radius around their spawning site.>
Interesting thing about these two is the way they eat flakes. Having learned how to eat the flakes from the Danios, they will feed at the surface while the others wait until the flakes fly around in the water.
Eating soaked smashed pellets, he goes into the gang and eats like the others. What this big male would do is just pick, pick, pick until the lesser fish was so worn out and weak and very terrified and he would adjust
the length of finnage as well.
<Sounds grim.>
With that first one I just waited (too long, I'm afraid) to see if they were going to work it out. It was just too late for this one and he did not survive. This all went down so fast. I was beginning to think it was not
going to end and I was out of room to re-locate fish. The fact that they're not breeding is ok as I can very honestly say I don't 'need' any more fish.
If they do decide they are going to make babies, cool. If not, cool, too.
<A good approach to take. While I'm always pleased to see my fish *spawning*, since that implies good health and happiness, I'm less bothered about actually *rearing* the fry. But that said, rearing a batch of fish is a delight, especially if it's a species you can easily share with others.>
The "Cichlid Stones" caves have been in their tank a little over a month now and I see they are using them more and more.
<You could try arranging the rocks in such a way the burrows look "out" in different directions. Ideally, such that the territorial pair have a burrow that looks at the back or side of the tank, so when they hang about there, they don't see any other fish. Simply adding lots and lots of rocks is another good approach. Let's be clear here, what Tanganyikans like best of all is a solid wall of tufa rock from the bottom to the top of the tank, and running the full length of the tank too. The result should look more like a reef tank than anything else. Incidentally, there's nothing to stop you adding some fake corals or whatever to such a tank, and while that sounds a bit hokey, it can actually be a great fun way to liven up a cichlid aquarium.>
One female stays way to the left, one stays to the far right and the third, Stubby's girl, stays in the back in a pocket under the caves. Perhaps she feels safer having a " back door ". The big male is in and out of all the
caves and patrols throughout the day. His main caves are the large upper and large lower in the center. Nobody uses the small lower cave. There are five caves. Of all my fish these Brichardis have to be the most unique to watch.
<Certainly a fascinating species much loved by discerning hobbyists.>
Have a great day, Neale, and thanks so much. Sooz
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Neolamprologus splendens breeding ?  11/11/09
Forgive me, this message arrived terribly muddled up. If you want/need a reply, could you send the message once more, with your "new bits" clearly marked out, perhaps by using a couple of carriage returns to separate new paragraphs from existing text?
Cheers, Neale
Re: Neolamprologus splendens breeding ?
OOps! I put my replies in a different color text for you. Don't know what happened here.
<Ah, we don't have coloured text here. The e-mail program is strictly plain text!>
Just unimportant conversation. I need to clean a tank right now so I will get back to you .
On a different matter that unexpectedly arose yesterday, I started a 29 gal for a pair of Jewel Cichlids- Hemichromis bimaculatus- last Tuesday. For a substrate I used the Carib Sea Cichlid sand. I know this would increase the PH. The tank has been so very cloudy since.
<It is quite normal for new tanks to be cloudy. Silt is one issue, but you also get bacterial and diatom blooms that go away after a while.>
No fish are in there yet. I did a stupid thing. I assumed these lovely Jewels needed a high PH like the rest of the Tanganyikans but for some reason I double checked yesterday morning and on the six websites I looked at they each said Jewels should go 6 - 7.8 on the PH.
<This is why I don't use the term "African cichlid". It's misleading. Jewel cichlids are West African riverine cichlids that come from habitats not very different to South American cichlids. The cichlids that need hard, basic water come from three giant lakes in East Africa: Malawi, Tanganyika, and Victoria.>
I tested the water and it showed at 9. YIKES. Neale, when I screw up I just don't fool around. I do it big. I went to the LFS and got two bags of this Carib Sea Instant Aquarium substrate.
<Very good.>
This is a fine gravel and does not appear to be sand to me. The bag says it instantly cycles your tank with good bacteria. Have you ever used this product ?
<No. Easiest to "clone" filters by removing up to 50% of the biological media from a mature filter and placing this in a new filter.>
I mainly got it for the particulate size. I have one new Penguin 150 up and running right now and another Penguin 150 already cooked (established ) in another tank ready to go. I just have to move it. I am going to tear the whole thing down this afternoon , all the water goes and the sand will need to go as well and put the new gravel in etc. Going by what the bag says, you can put the fish in that very day ?!
<If you clone the filter as described, yes, you can add fish immediately.>
Is this so ?
<No idea; I'd be cautious, if not completely dubious, and would act slowly, doing water changes and testing nitrite levels as if the tank was only partly cycled.>
I think to be safe I will wait a few days as the new heater is not running to my satisfaction yet. It just wants to keep creeping up warmer and won't stay stable.
This is an Aqueon 100 watt heater and I have had this problem with them before. I use Marineland heaters in my other tanks with the only problem being their 25 watters seem to be stuck wide open- all three, even the replacements directly from the manufacturer.
<Have had problems with heaters in the past, and tend to prefer to replace ones that are flaky rather than risk boiling/freezing my fish. They aren't terribly expensive items.>
No hurry on the reply, my friend, I am off diving now.
<Have fun!>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Neolamprologus splendens breeding ?  11/11/09
One down one to go !
So, since I am running Penguin 150's which have bio wheels and two media baskets I would need to take one of the old filters from the established 150 and place it in the new one, correct?
<You can remove up to 50% of the biological media (e.g., sponges, bioballs, ceramic noodles) from a mature filter (i.e., one more than 2-3 months old) without problems. Put new filter media into the vacated space, and the old media will quickly colonise the new media. Take the biological media you removed and place into a compartment within the brand new filter. The bacteria you move this way will quickly colonise any new media alongside them, and will also ensure good water quality. Whether or not you add just a few fish or lots of fish depends on how much media you move. It's a good idea to add just a few fish, check the nitrite levels, and then add any more fish over successive weeks just as you'd do with any new aquarium.
Cheers, Neale.>

Neolamprologus pulcher compatibility...Neale?   7/17/09
Hi Neale! I hope you are well. I have a few questions for you, if you don't mind.
<Fire away!>
Whilst trying to sell my 29 gallon aquarium via my local online classifieds, I accidentally bought another one (doh!)
It's a real beaut, a 55 gallon tank with wrought iron stand for $75. It came with a hang on the back filter (300 gph) - don't worry, those silly modules are getting tossed and replaced with open cell sponges and filter floss. A canister filter rated at 115 gph will supplement it.
Anyhow, I had so much fun keeping mbuna - their personalities are something else - I would like to give African cichlids another try. Last time, due to my ignorance about hybridization, I ended up with 20 full grown fry I
couldn't sell or trade. That's not happening again! This time I am trying a colony of a single species, Neolamprologus pulcher. (Am I correct in assuming that N. pulcher and N. brichardi are one and same?)
<This has been argued, but Fishbase treats them as separate species, so for now, I'd assume they're distinct. Certainly don't mix them!>
I also have a 6" Synodontis eupterus that looks ridiculously out of scale in my 55 gallon community tank with tetras and Kribensis. I do not know as much as I intend to learn about these so called "Daffodil" cichlids yet, but there seems to be a consensus that they are relatively docile.
<"Docile" by cichlid standards perhaps, but they're still jolly aggressive fish when compared with what we call community fish. That said, both these species look superb in large schools when kept in big tanks, and the more
specimens you have, the more likely they are to school rather than bicker.>
So here are my questions:
a) Might my big fella work in a Daffodil cichlid species tank? I figure it would make it a slightly biotopic display...
<Synodontis eupterus should be fine in a Tanganyikan tank. They are quite docile fish, so make sure he has a good hiding place he can call his own; some cichlids will attack them, and that lovely fin is a target for nippy fish.>
b) If he had an ample cave to hide in, would he be able to hold his own, even if they decide to breed (which they probably will)? I intend to aquascape so there are lots of caves.
<Can't foresee any major problems.>
c) Do Synodontis catfish "need" wood, like Loricariids do? Both my upside down and Featherfin catfishes have always hung close to driftwood. I would rather leave it out of this display, since it clashes with Tanganyikan
fish, but I can purchase some pre-cured driftwood that won't leach, if it turns out that driftwood is beneficial to this species.
<Synodontis don't eat wood, so no, they don't "need" the stuff. Rocky caves work just fine, and I have kept Synodontis in big Central American tanks with just granite boulders and gravel, and they were fine.>
Thanks so much for your time! Have a great weekend.
<Will try my best.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Neolamprologus pulcher compatibility...Neale?   7/17/09
Thanks so much for your speedy reply. I figured Synos didn't eat wood per se, but I have on occasion seen him mouthing at the driftwood, so I didn't know if maybe there was some kind of driftwood equivalent of aufwuchs that he was munching on...
<Ah, yes, Synodontis do eat algae, probably in substantial amounts in the wild; my specimens are fed primarily on Hikari Algae Wafers which seem to make a good staple.>
Sorry, I can't resist but ask you one more question! If I do move the Featherfin catfish to the 55 gallon Tanganyikan tank, I was wondering if it would be possible to keep loaches of some sort in the community 55 gallon tank.
<Certainly some loaches are better than others; at the moment I am very impressed with Cherry-fin Loaches (Acanthocobitis rubidipinnis), of which I have three specimens, and they are thriving in an aquarium of similar size with things like pufferfish and a somewhat territorial Garra. So they seem robust and fast-moving, but not at all aggressive so far as I can tell, except amongst themselves, in the normal boisterous Loach kind of way.
Horseface Loaches (Acantopsis choirorhynchos) are another excellent species for use in tanks where you have semi-aggressive tankmates; given space and a sandy substrate, they simply vanish from view! Anyway, some thoughts on various loaches here:
Kribs nipping is what I'm worried about. I would love to have a school of some sort of sort of Brochis or Botia in there - I have been reluctant to put Corydoras in there, since I've seen them firsthand get nipped at by cichlids. It's true what they say - they don't learn the concept of territories very well, if at all, and inevitably keep coming back for more bruisings.
<Corydoras live in very shallow streams, often barely covering their backs, so there's probably zero selection pressure on them to evolve behaviours that would allow them to negotiate habitats divided up into territories.
You might instead consider dwarf Synodontis, which are generally ignored by dwarf cichlids, but if pressed, can defend themselves very well. I have a group of three in my pufferfish tank, and they're doing extremely well (the female as fat and round as an egg!)>
Since loaches are more assertive, could it possibly work out?
I was thinking Botia almorhae (yoyo) or maybe Botia striata (zebra).
<Either should work, with allowances for their temperament being a bit on the pushy side. Do also consider Garra spp.; while they aren't "true" loaches as such, they're superb algae-eaters (among the best) and very hardy. Some are colourful, and they're all fairly tolerant of tankmates, given space. Garra flavatra is reasonably easy to find, and in groups, quite charming, if a bit reserved.>
They are relatively abundant here, unlike the impossible to find (and very pricey) Dwarf Chain loaches...sorry, I'm not going to try to type that scientific name!
<Hah! Most any decent aquarium shop should be able to order in the less commonly seen Loaches, so do read around and maybe invest in something less widely kept.>
Thanks one more time,
<Cheers, Neale.>

Cichlid TDS and PH, Africans   8/17/08 Hello All, Great site, Thank you for all the helpful information. <Kind of you to say so!> I would like ask a question on TDS and PH levels in my tank and the possible effects on my Lamprologus Multifasciatus breeding pair. <OK.> First some background information on my system. The tank is 80 litres with a fine crushed coral substrate; I use an Eheim 2213 canister filter and additional air stone for aero ration. A Lamprologus Multifasciatus breeding pair is the tanks only inhabitants. <Sounds nice.> When doing water changes I use a mix of 20 litres of tap water to which I add a mix of. * 1 teaspoon baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) * 1 tablespoon Epsom salt (magnesium sulphate) * 1 teaspoon marine salt mix (sodium chloride + trace elements). <OK.> My tank readings are as follows Nitrates: 1-2ppm Ammonia: 0.1ppm <Here's your problem: this is dangerously high for cichlids generally, and Tanganyikans especially. You're either overstocked, underfiltered, or overfeeding.> Nitrite: 0ppm PH: 8.8 -9.4 <Probably a bit high; try reducing the mineral salt mix by 25% and see how things go. If it's still high, try reducing by 50%. A pH around 8.0 is ample, and you're really more interested in the carbonate hardness and general hardness, which should both be "hard" on whatever scales you're using. For example, I'd be aiming for 7+ degrees KH and 20+ degrees dH.> Now to the problem with the tank, my pair of multi's had recently breed 4-5 weeks ago all seemed to be well until quite recently the male started to lose appetite, followed shortly by what appears to be heavy breathing. As the levels seemed to be OK, I talked to my LFS for suggestions. Their response was that my water mix was wrong and that the TDS would be too high for the fish causing the heavy breathing, so to go home do a 40% water change with a dose of 20ml Bactonex. <The ammonia... the ammonia...> Well I followed that direction and needless to say my male died 1-2hr later. What I would like to ask is could excessive TDS levels cause this or is it more likely the high ph cause have caused the difficulties in breathing? <The pH is a trifle high for these fish, and reducing the salt mix will help. As I say, reduce by 25% first and see what happens. In other words, if you change 20 litres, add 0.75 teaspoons or 0.75 tablespoons of the various salts per 20 litres and see how you go. Use your pH and carbonate hardness (KH) test kit to keep track of things.> The second part to the story is that after the male died I watched the female closely for a week that appeared fine, did water change 30% and purchased new fish. These consisted of a breeding pair, single male, additional two females and two fry (came free in shell). <Hmm...> Well all hell broke loose with the original female fighting and lip locking with the new largest female, the males started to follow suit to the point the next day one male was dead, the original female injured herself fighting and died two days later. From there on in a fish died each two days to the point of the only the one smallest fry has survived. <Not uncommon. Adding new fish to a small tank with an established cichlid population is always difficult.> As this was occurring I tested the water each time and found the only spike was a rise in Nitrates so I did water change 30% and dose of Stability to the water. <Nitrates tend not to kill cichlids outright; rather, what happens is their immune system weakens, and things like Hexamita/Hole-in-the-Head become more common.> Can you suggest any possible causes or what may have happened to the fish? Could the deaths of the new fish be stress from settling in even if they appeared to be breathing heavy like the original male who died? Or could the joker from the LFS have a point? Thank you in advance for any advice. Regards, Darren <Not sure what the "joker" in your local fish shop said, so can't comment there! But there are two things going on here: ammonia toxicity, and aggression between established and new fish. To fix the first, review filtration/stocking/feeding. For the second, there's no guaranteed solution, but moving the rocks about to break up territories, leaving the lights off for the rest of the day when introducing the new fish, and praying to the Fish Gods can help when done together. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Cichlid TDS and PH   8/18/08 Hello All, Thank you Neale for your prompt and helpful advice. <No problem.> I would like to ask further questions on Ammonia please. My tap water is reading between 0ppm and 0.1ppm to start with, so I age the water and treat with "Prime" which claims to detoxify Ammonia. <Correct. But as ever, if one product doesn't work for you, do try another!> My question is there a better product for removing the Ammonia? Or should I be encouraging my good bacteria to grow through sound tank conditions so as to deal with this level on its own? <A little from Column A, a little from Column B. I'd certainly try another product, and I'd also check my dechlorinator removed chloramine as well as chlorine, as using the wrong product can yield ammonia from the improper breakdown of chloramine. And yes, if you have a healthy biological filter, it should remove small amounts of tap water ammonia quite briskly. If this was a persistent problem, I'd make this recommendation: do frequent, small water changes, say 10% every 2-3 days. That way you're only adding small amounts of new ammonia, and giving the filter sufficient time to remove that small amount before it harms the fish. Doing 25-50% every week would be dumping a big pile of ammonia in the tank.> The second question relates to my filter and overfeeding. I have always found it difficult to feed small amounts as the canister moves a large quantity of water and the food blasts around. <A common problem. Some aquarists recommending switching off the canister filter for a couple minutes while feeding. You can also use a turkey baster to "blast" small amounts of food-laden water right into the cichlids' patch of ground.> Could the prime be working on the ammonia but my overfeeding because of excessive water movement causing the problem? <Overfeeding certainly is one possibility here. Here's the test: check the ammonia level before feeding, and then 30 minutes later.> Is turning the filter down at feed times the solution? <If you do this, be careful: leaving the filter off "suffocates" the bacteria quite quickly. No more than a couple minutes is safe, in my opinion, though up to 20 minutes is said not to do irreversible harm.> Once again thank you for any advice and keep up the great work your saving countless little fish lives each day!! <Happy to help, Neale.>

Re: Cichlid TDS and PH  08/18/2008 Hello all, Thanks for the great advice and information, I shall try to put it to good practice. Keep up the great work , Thanks again Darren. <Glad we could help, and good luck! Neale.>

Breeding Neolamprologus brichardi  12/18/07 What's up, WWM? I have a mix cichlid tank which has one Neolamprologus brichardi. If I added more will they all school or no? I want to have a little school of fish in my tank that are small cichlids. Any tips for schooling them and breeding them? Thanks Chris. <When you make a small school of these cichlids they will soon pair up. The single pair will dominate the tank and chase or kill the remaining fish. The pair will soon spawn and the fry will form a small school. If they are well feed the parents will continue to spawn and the older siblings don't seem to mind them being around. Some are eaten but many continue to grow. All these spawns produce a large school that gets along remarkably well.-Chuck>

Neolamprologus Brichardi Population Control   5/18/07 Hey guys, I have been using WWM for a few months now, mostly researching saltwater issues, and having great success in finding solutions. However, I and having an issue that I have been unable to find a solution. I have been keeping NeoLamp Brichardis for about a year now. Their elegant finnage make them beautiful fish. I was also intrigued about their colony behavior  towards raising the fry. The problem is an issue of too much of a good thing. The colony was originally in a 55 gallon planted tank where they were healthy and extremely prolific, to the point that I was concerned about the system crashing due to overpopulation. Then around the time of Christmas, The 55 gallon tank had a failure. The spreader brace at the top of the tank broke, causing the glass to begin to bow....not good.  I also had a 75 gallon tank that housed a variety of Peacock Cichlids ranging in size from 2 1/2" to 5". There is also a 6" Chinese algae eater and a 8" Pictus cat. I put the Brichardi in this tank. At first I was really concerned because I was unsure how Peacocks and Brichardi would interact.....everything turned out fine. I thought that by having the larger Peacocks present, the Brichardi would either stop reproducing or have the fry eaten. Neither has happened. I now have at least three mating pairs, with a near consistent presence of fry. I have checked with LFS to see if they were interested in the fry once they were large enough to sell.....no luck. There are currently about 35-40 fish not including the babies (about 70). I have already culled two batches of fry....of which I'm not proud. There again I don't want to risk losing all the fish due to a sudden crash. I guess what my question(s) is(are): Is there a type of fish I could introduce to keep the Brichardi from breeding or eat the fry, without also abusing the other fish. Or is there something I could do that would prohibit the Brichardi from breeding. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Jeremy < In 2002 my wife and I took a trip to Lake Tanganyika. There was a single colony of N. pulcher, (Very similar to brichardi's), that went from the surface down to over 100 feet deep and was at least 300 yds wide. They just ran out of rocks on both ends or else the colony would have need even larger. In the wild the fry are preyed on by African spiny eels, large predatory Lamprologine species, electric catfish, freshwater jellyfish and Nile perch. Most of these predators would be attacked and probably killed by the parents or too big for a normal aquarium. Too bad they cannot be sold to the local stores. Lowering the temp to 75 F and fewer feedings may slow them down and produce fewer fry but I don't think they can be stopped.-Chuck>

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