Chalinochromis popelini

Synonyms: Chalinochromis sp. bifrenatus " Congo "

Common Name: Lyretailed Chalinochromis

Family:     Cichlidae

Order:       Perciformes (perch-likes)

Class:      Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)

Distribution:  East Central Africa: Endemic to Lake Tanganyika.

Type Locality: Moba, Lake Tanganyika. Moba is on the southwestern side of the lake, approximately two thirds of the way down the lake

Size: Max. length:  15.0 cm

Description: It is very hard to differentiate the sexes in popelinis.  There are a few minor differences.  The genital papillae is different for males and females.  The male has a more pointed genital papilla slanted towards the rear.  Females popelinis stay smaller in size.  These are a creamy coloured long slender fish with three longitudinal stripes.   The caudal fin is more forked than in other Chalinochromis species.

Behaviour: In the lake it is only found in pairs or alone.  Very antagonistic to others of its own species.  They are found in the upper littoral (rocky) region within the upper 2 meters (6 feet).

Breeding: Chalinochromis popelini are cave spawners.  They can lay up to 100 eggs.  These eggs are guarded by both sexes.   They hatch after 2-2 ½ days.  The fry are freeswimming after 5-6 days.

Feeding: Wild fish eat small crustaceans, aufwuchs, insect larvae and other prey.  In an aquarium setting they seem to accept most foods.  They really enjoy baby brine shrimp, even the adults.  They eat flakes, frozen and pelleted foods quite well.

I originally won a bag of 5 fry in a raffle at a regular club meeting.  These were placed into a 20 gallon tank by themselves.  This tank was kept at around 78 F and is filtered with a sponge filter.  The pH is around 7.8.  This tank was kept as a bare bottomed tank for cleaning purposes.  They were kept in that tank for several months to grow out a bit.  I ended up moving to a different house and at that time moved them into a 25 gallon planted tank.  This tank contains a large Bolbitis plant, Java Fern and a large Anubias barteri.   It is filtered by 2 Aquaclear minis.  I found these Chalinochromis to be slow growers.  They seemed to not get along too well but I never saw too much fighting in that tank as I had added a shell and a flower pot for them as well.  The other 3 hung around in the plants as their hiding spots.  One day I came home to a crispy on the floor.  One had found its way out of a small area on the back of the tank.  I did not think anything of it at the time.  However in a week I found another popelini that had been beaten to death.  This left me with three popelinis.  I later discovered the third fish badly beaten up and put in a breeder trap to hopefully recover.  It later recovered and I sold it.  I discovered why the tank had gotten so upset.  The two fish that were left in there had spawned in the conch shell.  There was a hole in it so I could see the brown coloured eggs inside.  In approximately a week I could see the fry hanging around the edge of the shell being guarded by what I figure is the female.  The other popelini had taken up a position in the pot and occasionally would dart out to hit the breeder trap containing the other popelini.  The fry immediately took baby brine shrimp.  I also saw them eating small pieces of flakes as they fell past them.  Within a few days the fry were swimming all over the bottom of the tank.  There were 15 or so fry.  They were kept in 2 small groups by the parents.  They each seemed to have their own group to take care of.  Within 5 weeks I saw a new batch of eggs.  There were a lot more eggs this time.  I wondered if the new fry would get eaten by the original fry but the y weren't.  I was told Chalinochromis act like Julidochromis.  So far that seems to be the case.  I have two batches of fry swimming around in the tank right now.  The second batch was a lot bigger then the first.

© 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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