Altolamprologus compressiceps

Altolamprologus  compressiceps  (Boulenger, 1898) The species name refers to the compressed head.

Synonyms: Lamprologus compressiceps , Neolamprologus compressiceps , Haplochromis compressiceps

Family: Cichlidae (Cichlids)

Order: Perciformes (perch-likes)

Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)

Distribution: Endemic to and widely distributed in Lake Tanganyika.

Type Location: Kinyamkolo (Mpulungu) Southeastern part of Lake Tanganyika

Max. size: 12.3 cm (5") males and 8 cm (3") females

 There are several colour varieties of this fish: Chaitika (yellow body), golden head (pale body and a bright yellow head), kalambo, kasanga, kigoma (shows a lot of red in the fins), and tanzania. One variety is also found together with A. calvus at Cape Chaitika.

 Feeding: In the lake compressiceps feed an insect larvae and small crustaceans.  Some also feed on small fish that they will stalk from crevices in the rocks.  In the aquarium I have found they will eat whatever I feed them including flake, frozen, and live foods.  The live food is greatly relished.

 Habitat: A. compressiceps are found along rocky shores and are not abundant in the lake.  They have extremely intraspecific (against the same species) combative behaviour (especially between males).  In the lake they are found either alone or in breeding pairs only.

 Requirements: A temperature of 23 - 25°C with a pH of approximately 8 will suit these fish.

 Breeding: These fish are egg layers that prefer to spawn in either caves or shells.  They will lay approximately 50-200 eggs.  The fry are very slow growing in this species.

 I first received these at an auction.  I bought 2 bags of 4 fish each.  I was not planning on getting any fish at the time but they were such a deal that I could not refuse them.  I placed all in a 20 gallon tank figuring I'd move them to larger quarters when they became available.  Since I was in the process of repairing my 225 gallon tank I did not have any free space and left them there since none of them were showing any damage from being in such close quarters to each other.  I'd heard that these fish don't breed until they were fairly large. So I thought I had lots of time for them to grow larger before I had to prepare for them to breed.  The tank they were in has a gravel bottom and a large Hydrosponge filter.  I put in a bunch of large mystery snail shells for them to hang out in if they wanted.  The only other original occupant was a bristlenose pleco.  Later I added 6 baby Pseudotropheus saulosi since I had nowhere else to keep them.  At this time only 2 of the compressiceps seemed to spend any time near any shells.  They generally stayed out in the open and put on displays for each other.  They would puff up their jaws trying to look bigger and then if that didn't work go after the flank of the fish they were trying to intimidate who would then basically let them.  It was like a stand off since no fish ever really seemed to win and none ever caused any damage which surprised me since these fish have large teeth that are very obvious.
 It was around this time that one of the fish seemed to be defending a shell fairly vigorously but I didn't pay very much attention since it had always seemed to guard it to a point.  One day while doing a water change on the tank I thought I saw a sliver of movement in the shell.  Being curious I got a breeder trap and took the shell and started tipping the shell to see if anything came out.  To my surprise and delight several fry came out of the shell.  I kept shaking the shell until I could get no more babies out of the shell.  The mother was not there since she left the shell when I stuck my hand into the tank to move the shell.  There was about 20-25 fry from this batch.  I was so excited.  The fry were too big to get though the breeder trap so I left them in there.  They were fed baby brine shrimp until they got older.  They took to small flakes very easily.  They still get fed baby brine shrimp and flakes together now.  As of the writing of this article, these fish have spawned again.  I can't wait to get the fry.

© Copyright 2000, 2001 Lisa Boorman
All Rights Reserved

Suggested Viewing:

Lake Tanganyika:Jewel of the Rift (National Geographic1997)

Suggested Reading:

Pierre Brichard's Book of Cichlids and All the Other Fishes of Lake Tanganyika by Pierre Brichard

Tanganyika Cichlids in their natural habitat by Ad Konings

Guide to Tanganyika Cichlids  (Back to Nature) by Ad Konings

Lake Tanganyikan Cichlids: Everything About Purchasing, Care, Nutrition, Behaviour, and       Aquarium Maintenance (Barron's Complete Pet Owner's Manuals) by Mark Smith

The Cichlid Aquarium by Dr. Paul Loiselle

Baensch Aquarium Atlas by Dr. Rüdiger Riehl & Hans A. Baensch

Success with Cichlids from Lake Malawi & Tanganyika by Sabine Melke, U. Erich Friese

Fishkeepers Guide to African Cichlids by Paul Loiselle

To see more references on cichlids:

Cichlid Book List

Back to Main Page