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Fish of the Month
Issue: August 2004

Neolamprologus brichardi

POLL 1974


Steve Edie

Common Names: Many, but often just "brichardi

Type Locality: Kisoje, Burundi

Range: the northern part of Lake Tanganyika

Taxonomic Troubles: Like most Rift Lake species, this one has had its share of taxonomic confusion. For a while, it was Lamprologus savoryi elongatus. It has bounced between Neolamprologus and Lamprologus, and both this fish and Lamprolus callipterus have been known as (Neo

Size: 9 cm (3.5 inches)

Preferred Water Chemistry: Tropical, hard, basic; pH 8 to 9, 150 to 300+ ppm, 23 to 26 degrees Celsius (74 to 79 degrees Fahrenheit)

Difficulty: Very hardy

Tank Setup: Rocks! These fish love to make their home in caves, or in tunnels they burrow under rocks. They can be kept with other Tanganyikan cichlids, but they tend to be the most aggressive fish in the tank for their size. Once they spawn they will dominate most

Feeding: In nature a micropredator and plankton feeder; all aquarium foods are readily taken.

Breeding: A substrate (cave) spawner, easy to breed, especially if allowed to pair up naturally. A compatible pair will produce offspring regularly, and the young will assist in the rearing of subsequent broods.

Description: A graceful, lyretailed cichlid.  OVerall, copper bronze with gold highlights, black stripe through eye, irregular black splotch on percle, boreded in gold-white.  Iridescent markings on the face may indicate opopulation or species differences.  Often the male of a spawning pair is larger, but size itself is not a reliable indicator of sex.

Notes: This fish was an instant hit, and it's remained popular since its introduction. It is beautiful and graceful, engendering names like Princess of Burundi that belie the robust and aggressive nature of the beast. Of more than a dozen fishes named for Pierre Brichard, it is this one that is the default brichardi, and even forms that are considered to be different species are often called "brichardis" by aquarists, meaning the name is applied to the whole species complex. This fish is not a mouthbrooder, and it practices sibling care. Often a pair starts with a small spawn or two, and as those young become large enough to help protect new fry, the spawns become larger. In the lake, colonies of thousands live together, with all the adults and larger fry contributing to the defense of the group. In the aquarium, however, they are typically intolerant of conspecifics, unless they were raised together or they are related, the group consisting of a pair and their young from various spawnings. It is not uncommon for a pair of brichardi to commandeer even a large, 6-foot tank, raising their fry calmly while keeping all the other inhabitants--even much larger fish--crowded at the far end. This is an excellent species for someone wishing to get started with Rift Lake cichlids, and its beauty and fascinating spawning behaviors endear it to experienced African cichlid aquarists as well.

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