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Neolamprologus pulcher "Daffodil"

By Chuck Rambo

Pix by Chuck Rambo

The first Lake Tanganyika cichlids I had ever seen were in a small tropical fish store in Southern California back in 1971. They had Tropheus dubosi, Julidochromis regani and "Lamprologus savoryi elongatus". In 1974 the fish was re-described as Lamprologus brichardi in honor of the late exporter Pierre Brichard. Over the years there were many different geographical color varieties imported into the United States that came from different collection points around the lake. The yellow varieties from Tanzania, just north of the Zambian border were referred to as "Daffodils". Many aquarists thought for years that some of these color morphs may indeed be different species. In 1985 the genus had been broken down into many different genera and all the Lamprologus brichardi types were put in the new genus neolamprologus. All brichardi types, including the daffodils that had the two slightly curved vertical lines behind the eye on the gill were described as a new species, Neolamprologus pulcher.

Back in the 1970's I had purchased a pair of brichardi from a fellow aquarist for $50. They retailed as fry for 20$ each in the stores so it wasn't that bad a deal. I placed them in a 40 gallon aquarium all by themselves with a tower of rockwork in the center of the tank and a couple of air driven box filters in the corners. These fish were pretty new and at the time nobody really knew what to feed them. So they were fed Tetramin flake food and live brine once a week. In Southern California the water is hard and alkaline so it already was perfect for these fish. Never saw any color changes or real behavioral change like we had seen with the Central and South American cichlids prior to spawning. One day a small cloud of free swimming fry would be seen around the rocks. The fry were fed crushed flake food and baby brine. I siphoned out the fry into a 5 gallon aquarium with airline tubing. The spawns were never more than about 20. This was probably due to the lack of nutritional food. The stores and fellow aquarists were eager to buy the fry for about $4 to $5 each. When the market died down I moved on to other new fish that were coming in.

In the mid 1980's I moved up to San Jose and joined the PCCA ( Pacific Coast Cichlid Association, www.cichlidworld.com). I was eager to participate in the Breeders Award Program so I had picked up a small group of Lamp. brichardi at the auction and took them home. They were placed in a 10 gallon tank for awhile to grow them up. At about 2 inches they were starting to pick on one another so they were placed in a 25 gallon tank. Instead of the tower of rockwork that I had used long ago I had placed a couple of Rhino (Pronounced RENO) caves in the tank instead. These are ceramic structures are hand made to look like rocks but are hollow with an opening of some size built in. These little ceramic caves were specifically designed to breed small Lake Tanganyika cichlids. Eventually two pair formed and the others were removed. They were fed California black worms, brine shrimp and flake food. With the better diet the spawns were much larger , up to 50 sometimes. By this time the brichardi's were common in the hobby and not really worth too much. I turned in some fry for BAP( Breeders Award Program) points and sold the rest of the fry and the adults off at the action at the meetings. The daffodils were becoming somewhat available through the American Cichlid Association's Trading Post,( www.cichlid.org) but I had moved on to work with some South American fish instead.

In Oct. 2002 my wife and I were able to take a trip to Lake Tanganyika with Ad Konings on one of his" Cichlid Safaris". We had gone up to Tanzania a couple of times and went diving among some wild Neolamprologus pulcher "Daffodil". This is where the real true daffodils come from. There were thousands of them along the steep rocky slopes of Kantalamba and Kambwinba. They were stunning. I couldn't remember these fish looking so good in the hobby. Everyone on the trip commented on how beautiful these fish looked. When we returned home we obtained a dozen wild adult daffodils from Pam Chin (ChinsFins). As adults they are easy to sex from a direct examination of the genital area but the males are also larger and have a slight hump on the forehead. Wild fish are very aggressive in the aquarium. A lot of torn fins, a few were killed outright and another few jumped out. Eventually I ended up with three pair. I gave one pair away and keeping two.

Each pair was given their own 20 gallon tank with a sponge filter and a box filter. A Rhino cave was provided for each pair with a couple pieces of PVC pipe. Each pair was fed Spectrum pellets, OSI brine shrimp flake, California black worms and a home made peas/shrimp mixture. Spawns were now 50 to 100 fry. The free swimming fry were fed baby brine once again and grew pretty quickly at 80 degrees F and 25% water changes every 2 weeks. As the fry grew the pair would continue to have successive spawns. Older larger fry are found along the perimeter with the smaller spawns being found down towards the sand. Eventually the older fry are not tolerated and could be found in adjacent tanks. Evidently the adults had chased them out. I put in some floating plastic plants to give the older fry a placed to hide until I could remove them. The fry from these fish have been well received at local auctions. I have had the adults for over 2 years and the fish have great extensions as well as beautiful color. I have found that the ZooMed Flora Sun bulbs bring out their best color. The male is nearly 4 ½ inches and the female is almost 4 inches long. They are probably best kept in a species tank so their full finnage can develop. In a community aquarium the extensions are likely to get bitten off.

This is really a great fish that is often overlooked as a common aquarium fish. With the proper set up and the right pair of daffodils you will have an awesome display for your aquarium.

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