Neolamprologus comes from the following Greek words: neos = new
& lampros = light (or bright) & logos which refers to the white
of the eye. Multifasciatus comes from the Latin word multi which means
many and fascia which means banded or striped. This refers to the
stripes on the body.
Common Names: Multies, Multi.
Described: Boulenger 1906
Synonyms: Lamprologus multifasciatus
Max Size: 4 cm (1.5") for males and 3 cm (1.2") for females. This is
one of the smallest cichlids in the world.
Distribution: Africa: Endemic to Lake Tanganyika. (Mbita Island
NW Point Mpulungu, Niamkolo, Kapembwa, Ndole Bay, Musende Bay, Mbita
Island – Zambia) (Luvu, Lumbu Bay, Ubwari, MYUNGA – Congo Democratic
Republic) Tanzania, Burundi.
are found in rock crevices and shell beds in the lake. They utilize the
empty Neothauma shells for protection and breeding. They will
congregate in large groups in the wild but tend to stay in pairs. They
will also be harem spawners if the opportunity arises.
Natural Diet: N.
multifasciatus feeds upon zooplankton that drift by their colonies.
Aquarium Diet: Will accept most foods, even flake. Frozen and live food
are preferred such as baby brine shrimp.
Aquarium Care: 24-27oC (75-81oF), Hard and alkaline: pH 7.8-9.0
Description: Light biege to brown fish (I suspect the slight colour
difference has to do with the different locales) with many thin stripes
running vertically down the body. These bands also appear on the
unpaired fins. A fine yellow stripe can be on the end of the caudal and
Tank setup: A small tank (10g) can do for a few of these fish. A sand
substrate with appropriately sized shells should also be included in
the tank. I would recommend that you have more shells than actual adult
fish in your colony. You can use empty Mystery snail shells. Multies
will dig their shells down to the glass but do not tend to bury their
shells like a lot of other shelldwellers. Generally, a species setup is
preferred. However, you can add them to a tank with other fish as long
as the other fish cannot eat the multies.
Breeding: More females than males are preferred. As these cichlids are
shelldwellers, they lay their eggs inside their shells. Several batches of
fry can peacefully co-exist in the tank. Brood size is generally small
(approx 5-15, with 15 being a very high number). Fry hatch in about
I received the first
of these fish who sent them up to me from Texas in early 2005. He had
sent me a ‘goody box’ of fish and these were sent along to fill up the
box. They were extremely small yet. He sent me 5 but the stress of the
trip had wiped out all but 2. I placed them into a 10 gallon tank
by themselves and hoped for the best. I fed these littles guys on
flake food and live baby brine shrimp. The tank has a sponge filter but
no heater as the tank stays around 72-74 depending on what time of year
it is. The tank is at the top level of one of my tank stands. The duo
survived and thrived but neither of them appeared any different in size
to the other. After many months I figured I ended up with 2 females.
This led to a trip to Wet Thumb in early 2006. I bought another 2
fish to add to my little colony of Neolamprologus multifasciatus. They
tried to sex them for me. I supposedly bought 1 male and 1
female. They were promptly added in with my other multies. Again,
several months go by and no one fish was larger than any others and no
sign of any fry at all. I was getting a little discouraged by this.
This, in turn, led to an offer from a friend. He needed to move
out some fish from his tanks. Some of these were multies. He gave me
what he was sure was his breeding pair and the shell they had claimed
as theirs. I added these to my colony.
I found it interesting to note that for each of these multies I had,
that I could pick out which 2 multies came together by their colour. It
was only a matter of ‘shading’ but I could pick them out.
The last pair I added did not stay together it appeared. I hoped that
the male would go back to his female or at least pair with another one
in the tank. Within a couple weeks of adding the last pair to the
tank, I noticed a couple of fry scooting around a shell at the back of
the tank. I was excited! Finally!! After all this time, it was finally
a breeding colony of multies. The next week I looked and realized
after adding in some live baby brine that I had several batches of fry
in with their parents. Soon, all 5 females had babies around
their shells. I do not know how many fry I have right now, except
that it’s a lot.
One interesting thing happened with one female. She seems to be the
lowest fish in ranking in the tank among the adults. This female had a
single shell slightly away from everyone else in the tank. Her shell
was somewhat near the tank wall. Instead of laying her eggs in
the shell like all the other females, she laid hers on the tank wall! I got to
watch the development of the eggs. At one point after hatching she
moved them close to the shell. This was before they were freeswimming.
It took 9 days from when I first saw them as wrigglers until I saw the
fry actually freeswimming.
I absolutely adore the attitude of these tiny fish. They seem to think
that they’re big fish. They try to show you that. However, if you show
them that you’re not intimidated (by not moving a siphon, etc.), they
hide in their shells. There’s no way you can miss with these wonderful
little cichlids. I think everyone should at least try them.
© Copyright 1999-2006 Lisa Boorman
All Rights Reserved
Tanganyika:Jewel of the Rift (National Geographic1997)
The Cichlids Yearbook - Volume 5 by Ad
Brichard's Book of Cichlids and All the Other Fishes of Lake Tanganyika
by Pierre Brichard
Cichlids in their natural habitat by Ad Konings
to Tanganyika Cichlids (Back to Nature) by Ad Konings
Tanganyikan Cichlids: Everything About Purchasing, Care, Nutrition,
Behaviour, and Aquarium Maintenance
(Barron's Complete Pet Owner's Manuals) by Mark Smith
Cichlid Aquarium by Dr. Paul Loiselle
Aquarium Atlas by Dr. Rüdiger Riehl & Hans A. Baensch
with Cichlids from Lake Malawi & Tanganyika by Sabine Melke, U.
Guide to African Cichlids by Paul Loiselle
To see more references on
Cichlid Book List
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