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Related Articles:  Julidochromis by Mary Bailey,


Julidochromis regani "Sumbu"


By Chuck Rambo

Pix by Chuck Rambo

While staying at Kalambo Falls Lodge, Zambia along the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika, I noticed a very nice regain type in one of the concrete vats. Toby Veal, the owner, said it was a regain from Sumbu Island. We did not go to Sumbu, but Toby sent a collecting team there to get some fish. The trip took a few days since it was all the way across the lake on the Western shore. When the fish have been caught, they are placed in plastic 55-gallon drums. The water is changed every half-hour or so depending on how many fish are in the drum. After a few days the collecting team had returned with all the fish. The regain were very nice. They are probably one of the yellowiest of the regani. I think only the regani from Kipilli in Tanzania is yellowier. There are already regani in the hobby named Zambian regani, but I don't think they are as yellow and they have dark markings in the center of the unpaired fins. The regani from Sumbu has yellow fins trimmed in black with very light blue edges. Typically the yellowier regani come from shallower intermediate habitat of sand and rocks (Konings, 1996), where they eat invertebrates and small snails. Darker but less yellow regani types were observed in deeper rockier areas like Nangu. Some of Toby's regani had escaped his compound and were found while diving in front of the lodge. There are no regani naturally found here (Konings per. com). When I returned back home I was able to order some from Old World Exotic Farms in Homestead Florida.

Prior to my shipment arriving I prepared a 30-gallon flat for them. Two inches of fine sand was placed over the bottom. Two box filters filled with matting and fine gravel had already been cycled in another tank and were ready to go. Numerous rocks and pipes had been haphazardly placed to create lots of caves. San Jose tap water in my area here has a pH of around 7.4. Since these were wild fish, and the pH can exceed 8 in the lake, I added some buffer to bring the pH up to 7.8. A Ebo-Jagger heater kept the water at 82 degrees F. While diving in some of the shallow bays in Lake Tanganyika, I measured water temperatures as high as 84 F. A bright overhead light was kept on the tank to keep their color up. The yellow type of regani sometimes lose their color over time when kept in darker aquariums.

I got twelve adult fish. Four were a little over two inches in total length and the other eight were slightly less than four inches in total length. They can be easily sexed by venting them and observing the differences in their genitalia. For inexperienced aquarists, generally females are larger than the males assuming they are the same age. All twelve fish were placed in their new tank and they accumulated just fine to the aquarium. They were fed brine shrimp, black worms, Spectrum and Bio-Blend pellet foods. After a couple of weeks, there were some fish that were being obviously picked on and being driven away from the rocks and into the corners. Ten fish had been moved to another tank leaving, hopefully, a compatible pair. The same thing happened in the tank with the ten fish. Now that two pair had established themselves I had sold and given away the others. In the wild adults are generally observed as pairs (Konings, 1993) and other aquarists recommend keeping them as such.

Unfortunately, when these fish spawn there really isn't much of a signal from the parents. Many New World and non-rift lake cichlids go through an elaborate courtship and spawning rituals. With these fish there was only a slight excavation of the sand under a overhanging rock. There were no radical color changes or jaw locking by the parents. After careful observation there were some small fry seen clinging to the rocks. They seemed to be scattered all over. Up to 150 eggs are usually laid on the ceiling of a horizontal cave. This may be a defensive mechanism to protect the eggs. In the lake there are many predators like eels and synodontis catfish swimming in and around the rocks that would definitely eat a spawn if found. The fry eat newly hatched baby brine and crushed flake food. After a couple of weeks the pair seemed to spawn again. The fry were tolerated but not allowed to come close to the eggs. When the fry reach approximately one inch they are no longer welcome by the parents and are driven up into the corners of the tank. Plastic plants were allowed to float at the surface. The older fry were netted out by netting the entire floating plant mass out with the fry.

In the first Cichlid Yearbook by Ad Konings, there is an article by a gentleman by the name of J. Szwechlowicz (1991) that solved the problem of removing the fry without disturbing the adults spawning site. An aquarium of approximately 40 to 50 gallons is divided in half. A waterproof shelf is constructed so that half of the bottom of each end of the tank is elevated six inches off the bottom. The shelf is sealed off so no fry can get underneath. Rocks, flowerpots and pipes are constructed on top of the shelf. A pair is then placed in each half of the tank. With a pair in each end they focus their attention on that other pair and thus they are less likely to pick on their respective mates. When it comes time to remove the fry, the tank is siphoned down below the shelf. All the fish are in the lower part of the tank and the fry can be netted out. The tank is then refilled and the pair returns to their undisturbed spawning site. Breeders in Florida replace their stock after two years. The pair may still be productive but either the number of spawns begins to dwindle or the size of the spawns grows fewer and fewer.

The genus Julidochromis has been around the hobby in the United States for over 30 years. These attractive little fish are very easy to care for and do quite well in a medium sized Tanganyika community aquarium with other tank mates that are of similar size. Do not mix J. regani with other Julidochromis species or other regani geographic races. There is a chance of hybridization that would result in substandard looking fish. The race of regani from Sumbu is very nice as it is and can still probably be found around the area from local breeders. Try them if you can find them.

Literature Cited


Konings Ad, (1996) Back To Nature Guide to Tanganyika Cichlids, Cichlid Press, El Paso, TX

Konings, Ad, (1993), Enjoying Cichlids, Cichlid Press, El Paso, TX

Szwechlowicz, J. (1991) A Julidochromis Breeding Tank. The Cichlid Yearbook, Vol. 1 pp 92-93

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