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Greater Seattle Aquarium Society

Neolamprologus multifasciatus (Boulenger 1906)

by Robert Frangooles
Greater Seattle Aquarium Society Newsletter, June 1996

For quite some time I’ve toyed with the idea of keeping a aquarium on my desk at work. Many scenarios played through my mind: from keeping a killi fish in a bowl, to creating a mini-reef. Finally, this past Christmas I received a 8.7 gallon Tropiquarium as a gift. A decision was now required. The majority of my fishkeeping has been dedicated to the keeping of cichlids, and that was the avenue I chose to continue down. Having seen and read about the shelldwelling cichlids from Lake Tanganyika I began to search the local shops. Neolamprologus multifasciatus is found in relatively deep waters, up to 10 meters, where the shells in which it lives will not be disturbed by wave action. My sights were initially set on N. multifasciatus and it didn’t take too long to locate some. However, in the adjacent tank there were some Neolamprologus ocellatus which I was talked into buying by my girlfriend. Unfortunately, having temporarily situated the N. ocellatus in a spare tank at home, the aforementioned persuader decided she liked the fish too much and there was no chance I was taking the fish to work.

Neolamprologus multifasciatus has a series of narrow vertical stripes running the length of the body. It reaches a length of no more than two inches.

Another trip to the store and I had my fish. I chose two, with the goal being a spawning pair. Having been told that size would be one method for sexing the fish I chose a large and small one and placed them in the tank. The tank had been aquascaped with a sand substrate, a small lace rock outcropping, and several small snail shells. The pair immediately dove for cover in the shells.

The author’s pair of Neolamprologus multifasciatus.

Neolamprologus multifasciatus spawns in the shells and has small spawn sizes, often less five fry per spawn.

The fish were very shy and would hide with any abrupt movement outside the tank. The most common comment I received was are there fish in that tank? Within several weeks the female had become noticeably gravid and the pair were spending time together at the entrance to one of the shells. A week later and a tiny wiggling baby could be seen around the base of the shell. Over the course of the next month a half several more fry appeared in the tank. From the size difference in the fry I assumed that they were from several spawnings.

Neolamprologus multifasciatus is not a picky eater and will thrive on flake foods.

The fish have been spawning regularly for four months now and are among the favorites I currently keep. They are perfect for a small tank, though in small quarters it is perhaps best to keep them in a species tank. I say this after watching the pair hunt and kill a Julidichromis transcriptus that was initially in the tank with them.

Neolamprologus multifasciatus are pretty darn cute.

As far as the water parameters for keeping the fish I maintain a temperature around 78 degrees Fahrenheit, and add commercially available Tanganyikan cichlid salt. The salt is to help replicate the ph and mineral content found in Lake Tanganyika. I don’t closely monitor water conditions.

These fish are an excellent choice for someone wanting to try their hands with a rift lake cichlid, or for an old timer who appreciates intersting behaviour in their fish.

References: Brichard, Cichlids of Lake Tanganyika
Richter, Complete Book of Dwarf Cichlids, 1989, TFH.