Neolamprologus christyi

Synonyms: Lamprologus christyi

Family: Cichlidae

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

 Neolamprologus christyi is found in Lake Tanganyika.  It is found in the southern part of the lake and along the Zambian coast.  The type locality of this fish is Mtosi Bay, Tanzania.  It is found in rubble shore zones.

 This fish likes a pH of around 8.5 and a temperature of 23-28 C.

 In the lake christyis are generalized invertebrate feeders (ie. worms, insect larvae, and molluscs).  They have indentations along their lower jaw which are part of a larger sensory system to detect their prey in the sand.

 This fish has no clear sexual dimorphism other than size. This fish looks a lot like the Neolamprologus brichardi in body shape except that christyi is not as tall in the body.  The colour of this fish is beige.  However this colour completely changes once they have bred.  They (both sexes) turn blue-black.  It is a stunning fish when this happens.  Males become 5" long with the females being slightly smaller.

 In nature these fish dig a site in the sand under rocks to breed.  Both parents vigorously defend their fry.  They are extremely aggressive to conspecifics except mated pairs.  They will attack larger fish.

 I originally bought 5 of these fish from Wet Thumb.  Two were almost 3" long and three were about 2".  I put the two larger ones into a 90 gallon tank.  The other 3 were put into a 20 gallon tank as they didn't look big enough to go into the 90 with many larger fish.  After a month or so one of the ones from the 20 gallon was put into the 90 gallon.  It was immediately attacked by the largest christyi.  The smaller one found a hiding spot and relative peace reigned again.  Now the large christyi began chasing all the other christyis he could find in the 90.  One day I couldn't find the small one.  I discovered him on the floor.  The other 2 christyis in the 20 gallon began to make life difficult for the smaller neets that were there so I put them into the 90 and hoped for the best.  They immediately scurried into some shells and you wouldn't see them unless it was feeding time.  The largest christyi turned black one day.  I assumed it was a male by the size and the behaviour.  It began chasing the next largest one.  This fish would run a short distance and then quiver.  This seemed to appease the larger one.  A week later they began hanging out together near a pile of rocks and a large conch shell.  Shortly the next christyi began turning black as well.  I was hoping for fry since I'd heard they only changed colour at sexual maturity (or when breeding; depends on who you ask).  I waited and waited.  Nothing.  Several weeks later just as I was going to do a water change on the tank I saw a small cloud of fry hanging out by the shell.  I scared them and the female christyi ducked into the shell.  Now I knew where there home was.  I believe there was about 50-60 fry there.  I immediately sucked up 20 fry to put into a 5 gallon tank in case they proved to be bad parents.  They weren't!  They immediately took possession of the middle third of the tank.  They attacked all comers.  They kept 20 larger fish from getting any fry (that I ever saw).  They dug under the shell and the babies would stay there.  The babies ate small particles that were floating by them.  It looked dangerous.  The had to fight the current from the Aquaclear filter and hurry up and grab the piece as it went by and avoid getting eaten by the other fish.  The others in the 5 gallon did not grow as fast.  They also developed velvet.  I only have 7 of the original 20 in there.  But all the other fry (35-40) are still swimming around in the 90 gallon tank.  Now they are about ¾" long.  The parents show no sign of stopping their protective behaviour.  One of the other original christyis have turned black and is guarding a shell by herself (assuming it's a female).  The large male would cruise around her territory earlier so I think he has a harem.  However if the original female was paying attention he would not go there or would attack the smaller fish.  This second female also did the shuddering thing.  The fourth one stays in his/her corner and occasionally attacks the other smaller christyi(the female).  Soon I hope to find out if it is indeed a female.
 The tank is kept at 79 F and has a couple of Aquaclear filters on the back.  There is a gravel bottom.  There are pots, shells, pieces of pots, rocks and PVC pipe for shelters and territory marking.  There is a large piece of Elodea in there for the mbuna to eat.

 This is an interesting fish that is fairly hard to find in the hobby.  I can see why.  They are very aggressive and cannot go in smaller tanks.  I don't think I would've had any luck with them if I didn't have at least a 90 gallon tank.  I do enjoy having them though.

© 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

 Back to Main Page