Lamprologus meleagris

(Büscher, 1991)***

Synonym: Lamprologus stappersi*** (Note: I believe these have been now changed to stappersi)

Family:  Cichlidae (Cichlids)
Subfamily: Pseudocrenilabrinae

Common name: pearly ocellatus, lace Lamprologus

Distribution: Africa: Lake Tanganyika - Central Zairean coast south of Kalemie.

Size: 7 cm

Colouration & Sex Differences: Silver bodied with brown splotches along its flanks. The flanks are speckled with a scattering of pearly spots . The underside can also show tinges of purple.  There is a touch of a blue tinge near the mouth. Females are slightly smaller than the males.  Their colours are not as intense.

Maintenance: 23 - 27°C, pH 7.8-9.5

Habitat: Shelldwellers with sand bottom.

Breeding: L. meleagris breed in their shells.  Approximately 8 days after being hatched the fry are free-swimming.  There is no obvious signs of breeding until fry are seen.  Fry have reddish-brown splotches across their body much like the adults.

I first got my meleagris from Wet Thumb several years ago.  At the time I had gotten 6 small fry.  I placed them into a 20 gallon tank and watched them grow into beautiful almost fully grown adults when one pair decided to spawn and between the two of them, nearly destroy the other 4.  I lost 2 to death and gave away the other 2 to save them.   I'd never seen fish so nasty to each other before.  In fact these were the very first fish to bite me!  I had gotten about 20-25 fry from them when disaster struck.  I lost all of them, including the adults.  I still  don't know to what.
I really enjoyed these fish so the next time I went down to Wet Thumb I got some more.  I only got 4 this time.  The tank I had used the first time was still somewhat open except for some Xenoophorus captivus.  They were placed in this tank.  The tank is 20 gallons with a sand bottom mixed with some chick grit.  There are shells of all sizes in the tank.  It is fairly heavily planted and is kept at 78F.  The pH is around 7.8 and the tank gets weekly water changes of about 25-30%.  I lost one of the fish when it got stuck in a shell somehow and another just disappeared on me.  I never found it back.  I had two meleagris that didn't seem to get along with each other.  They never left marks on each other.  I figured they were safe enough together.  I noticed that one of them seemed to get a little more of a purple belly one day and thought I should pay a little more attention to that tank.  Sure enough, a little while later the one meleagris seemed to be really guarding a shell.  Knowing that none of the fry would be saved (if they had spawned) while they were in with the captivus, I decided to shake out the shell and see if I could find anything.  When I swished out the shell in a container I was excited to see about 15 or so little meleagris fry.  They were not quite freeswimming but very close.  I placed them into a breeder trap in the tank and waited for them to swim so I could feed them.  A few days later they got their first meal of microworms and a little bit of baby brine shrimp.  They have mostly been on this diet up til now along with a little bit of crushed flake too.  The adults are mostly fed flakes and get baby brine shrimp sometimes too.  I think these are probably one of my most favourite shelldwellers.

*** There is some debate as to what name this fish really has.  There is a distinct possibility that this fish really is Lamprologus stappersi (Pellegrin 1927).  Stappersi was named for a South African doctor who collected the fish and died in WWI.
The following is an exact quote from Tanganyikan Cichlids in their natural habitat by Ad Konings
"When Buscher (1991) described L. meleagris he pointed out that it differed very little from L. stappersi, but that type locality of the latter species was about 100 km further north of L. meleagris, which at that time, was known only from the near Bwassa (65 km south of Moba).  Later he also recorded L. meleagris from Kalemie, where it was found in the river mouth (Buscher, 1998).  The holotype of L. stappersi was collected near Mpala, in or near a river.  This locality lies between Moba and Kalemie, and it seems very unlikely that such similar forms, both found on muddy bottoms near river mouths, are not conspecific.  Although it is agreed that L. stappersi was initially poorly described, Buscher has re-described this species, and there is no doubt that L. meleagris is synonymous with L. stappersi, originally described by Pellegrin in 1927."
I cannot find any other source to substantiate this and it seems to be called L. meleagris elsewhere, so I'll leave it up to the experts to make up their minds.

© Copyright 2001-2003 Lisa Boorman
All Rights Reserved

Suggested Viewing:

Lake Tanganyika:Jewel of the Rift (National Geographic1997)

Suggested Reading:

The Cichlids Yearbook - Volume 5 by Ad Konings (editor)

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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