Neolamprologus pulcher

Common Names: Princess of Burundi, Fairy Cichlid, Queen Cichlid, Lyretail Lamprologus

Synonyms: Neolamprologus elongatus, Lamprologus savoryi elongatus, Lamprologus brichardi, Neolamprologus brichardi 'daffodil'

Family: Cichlidae

Synonym name of elongatus refers to the form of the fins. Elongatus (Latin)=elongated.

This fish was originally described in 1952 by E. Trewavas and M. Poll.

It was introduced to hobbyists in 1971.

There are two other morphs of Neolamprologus brichardi - "Kasegera" and "Kiku".

N. pulcher is found in the northern half of Lake Tanganyika in Africa. It is found in boulder and rock zones about 5-10 metres deep in extremely large congregations. This fish is an omnivore which means that it eats plants and meat. Its preference is meat. It will eat live, frozen, and flake food in an aquarium.

This fish should be kept at a temperature of 72-77F. A pH of 7.5-8.5 with a dH up to 20 is recommended.

This fish has no clear sexual dimorphism. However, some feel that the males have longer fins (maybe more pointed) especially the dorsal and anal. These fish reach up to 4" in length; occasionally growing larger. It is shaped somewhat like a torpedo. Its caudal fin is lyretailed. It is a beige coloured fish. However each scale appears to have a reddish-orange mark on it. The dorsal fin is bright yellow-orange. The dorsal also has a long thin blueish white stripe. Almost all the fins have this stripe except for the pectoral fins. I found that my male shows a bright orange area running from the top of his head running back to the dorsal fin. It also has a bright yellowish-orange colour to the dorsal and all his other fins except the pectorals. It also has dark spot directly behind the eye. There is a short dark line running on the edge of the gill cover. Additionally there is a very bright orange spot above this line.

It is a schooling fish in the lake. It will form groups consisting of (up to 100,000) thousands of individuals. The breeding parents are situated in the centre of this group. They not very aggressive in the wild. It is a cave spawner. N. brichardi prefer lots of hiding places. They are prolific breeders. The fry are not driven away as soon as the parents are ready to spawn again. The older fry help defend the younger fry up to a certain point. This is called "stepped breeding". At about 3-4 cm they leave the area and go to the outer edges of the group.

This behaviour also shows up in an aquarium. You can have several batches of fry in the same tank as the parents. However, once they get approximately 1 inch long the parents will start killing them. Once they reach this size they seem to stop protecting their younger siblings and would rather eat them (just hatched batch). It is fascinating to be able to see literally hundreds of fish of different sizes swimming in your tank. The small ones hang around together in a small cloud drifting across the bottom of your tank.

Pulchers are zooplankton pickers which means that it eats mostly 'bugs' that are part of the plankton clouds. They also eat small creatures that are in the biocover. This means that they do not go much above the bottom. They also do not move around much. They can be found at the same location year after year.

The females will lay their eggs in caves but some will lay them out in the open on rocks. Large females can lay up to 200 eggs. The females are the ones that guard the eggs. The fry generally are not protected strongly. Except in my tank. The fry were generally well protected except when eggs and newly hatched fry were in the shell. They would attack the scraper I used to clean the bottom in preparation for a water change.

This fish needs good filtration and clean water. Rocky areas and fine substrate (sand) are recommended as a tank setup.

They will also interbreed with Julidichromis marlieri. However I don't know if this hybrid is fertile.

I obtained a group of four "Daffodils" at a pet store. They were F1. They turned out to be two males and two females. One of the males was definitely the dominant one. I had them all together as I did not know at the time what sexes I had. I kept them in a 20 gallon tank with a shell and overturned flowerpot. There was no gravel in this tank. This tank is kept at 77F. The pH generally runs about 8-8.2. About two weeks after getting them, I noticed that one had jumped into the tank beside it. I did not think anything about it and returned the fish to his home. The next day he was extremely battered. His dorsal and caudal were in shreds and he was missing scales from the left side of his body. The dominant male was attacking him! So I put him into a tank with some P. pulcher fry to recover. The other two females and the male were hanging around the shell that I had put in their tank. A few days later I discovered 18 fry sitting on the bottom of the tank near the shell. Every time one would try to leave, one of the adults would suck it up in its mouth and put it back in the shell.

Two weeks later I noticed 30+ new fry swimming by the shell. From this I concluded that I had two females in with my male. In another two weeks I had a new batch of fry. However this time the subdominant female was attacked viciously as well. Since my other male was recovering nicely I figured I would put her in with him and end up with two breeding pairs. Some time during the night he battered her even more and she subsequently died.

It appears that I am getting a new batch of fry every 22-24 days. These batches are about 100-150 strong. I feed my fish basic flakes and brine shrimp flakes with treats of live brine shrimp. The adults love the brine shrimp as much as the fry. I feed the fry live brine shrimp. Mostly they get powdered food. So far they seem to eat everything that I have fed them. These fish are extremely prolific as the book states.

© Copyright 1999-2003 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

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