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Lamprologine Shell Dwellers

Here is a L. ocellatus spawning article by Dave Sanford, and a L. multifasciatus spawning article by Bob Frangooles, from the Greater Seattle Aquarium Society Archives.


  1. Neolamprongus Brevis
    by radharc/ (Mike Noreen) (15 Oct 95)
  2. Julies or Shell Dwellers
    by jluckshire/ (Jluckshire) (19 Nov 1997)
  3. Tanganyican Snail Shells for breeding..
    by jluckshire/ (Jluckshire) (24 Nov 1997)
  4. Shell dwellers
    by fkdyorbich/ (Fkdyorbich) (16 Feb 1998)
  5. Shell dwellers
    by jluckshire/ (Jluckshire) (16 Feb 1998)
  6. Tang. dwarf shell dwellers
    by "Shawn Williams" <shawnw/> (12 Mar 1998)
  7. Separating N. Multifactius
    by jluckshire/ (Jluckshire) (31 Mar 1998)
  8. RE: Shell Dwellers?
    by Kathy Olson <kathy/> (Sat, 22 Jan 2000)
  9. Snails
    by "gkadar" <gkadar/> (Sat, 25 Mar 2000)

Neolamprologus ocellatus

Neolamprologus similis

photo by Erik Olson

Neolamprongus Brevis

by radharc/ (Mike Noreen)
Date: 15 Oct 95
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria

Thusly spake unto All:

 r> If anyone has any experience with Brevis I would like to hear from you.

I have. Very nice guys. I kept them in a community tank with no problems.

 r> I currently have a pair in a 25 gallon with some electric yellows,
 r> daffodils (which may be moving shortly), red-finned caudopunctatus,
 r> and a red-tail shark (shouldn't really be counted).  I am thinking of
 r> moving the daffodils out in order to put another set of brevis in the
 r> tank but I am not sure how two sets will do in the tank.  Will they
 r> fight?  Can you have more than one female in the tank with one male?
 r> How many shells should be provided?  Are there any conditions that are
 r> necessary for breeding to occur (or will they just do it when they damn
 r> well please?)

They defend very small territories - just 15-20 cm from their shell. You can
fit two pairs in a 25 gallon easily by placing shells in two-several
locations. They will probably fight some, but its unlikely they'll kill
or harm eachother, although I have on one occasion had one male which
absolutely did not tolerate other brevises in the tank. Generally they're
very peaceful, and often gets harassed by more aggressive fish.

 r> They seem really skittish when I walk by the tank.  Interesting since
 r> my big tank fish usually come out rather than hide when I walk by.

They are a bit nervous, yes. The male in my pair was very over protective
towards his female. Whenever there was a disturbance in the tank, he'd
chase her into their shell, and then block the entrance with his body. If
the disturbance was severe (ie I had captured him with a hand net) it could
take days before he allowed the female to leave the shell.

Place a handful shells (a few at a time) on some open places in the tank
where they're less likely to be harassed by your other fish - they can't
really defend themselves against more aggressive fish like leleupis,
brichardis and the like. Also, you might want to lose the redtailed shark -
the fishes defend themselves by hiding, and if a fish manages to enter the
shell and starts eating on the hiding fishes, they wont defend themselves
or leave the shell. I had an algae eater which discovered this, and I had
to replace several mysteriously vanished females before I caught him at it.
I can easily see a redtailed shark making the same discovery.

 r> Any Brevis advice would be greatly appreciated.

Just one last note - if you decide to keep other shell-dwelling cichlids,
do NOT get Neolamprologus multifasciatus. The other ones are about the same
as brevis, but multifasciatus is extremely aggressive, keeps huge
territories, will dig more than you care to know, and fights in packs.
If you keep only a pair, they'll get themselves killed, if you keep a bunch,
they'll kill everyone else. They're tiny, they're pretty, they're social,
and they're rabid monsters. Avoid.

 r> Rich.

MVH: Mike Noreen   Internet:
                    FIDONet: 2:201/411.14

Julies or Shell Dwellers

by jluckshire/ (Jluckshire)
Date: 19 Nov 1997
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria.freshwater.cichlids

>I;m looking for a recommendation. I have a spare 10 gallon tank. I know
>thats small, but I don't want to put ordinary FW fish in there.
>Will it work for a pair of small Julies or 2-3 shelldwellers. I hear they
>stay pretty small.
>My water is 7.6 -- 7.

As the others have said both would work.  I recently sold a whole COLONY of
 multifasciatus that built up to about 35 fish in a 10 gallon tank!

I happen to enjoy the N. ocellatus and meleagris - both of which will also do
 well in that size tank - but MAKE SURE YOU USE SAND - the fish will thank you
 with their behavior as they shoot jets of sand across the tank - lowering
 their shells into the sand - and burying any nearby so no others can set up
 too close!

Either way...enjoy em

Tanganyican Snail Shells for breeding..

by jluckshire/ (Jluckshire)
Date: 24 Nov 1997
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria.freshwater.cichlids

>Can any of you help sexing the Ocellatus' I have 4 gold, and I think one
>variety, they all (except for 1) have red tips along their dorsal fin....does
>that denote male? It's kinda hard to determine the sexing by looking at
>genitals, if the second they get scared they run to their shells!
yeah Chris - easyiest way I've found in the gold variety is that the males have
gold edge to the dorsal and females have white.  When full grown the male is
definitely much larger and MUCH more full bodied.

Great fish!

Shell dwellers

by fkdyorbich/ (Fkdyorbich)
Date: 16 Feb 1998
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria.freshwater.cichlids

> We have a 25gal tall tank given as a
>gift from our LFS.

Just wondering what are the dimensions?

>Since we have
>Cichlids that are really into rock, that is all we have.  

What type of Cichlids are they?  South American, West African, Tanganyikan,
Victorian, Malawian, Asian?

>I need to know
>decor:  shells, flower pots, PVC pipe
>Gravel:  can we use crushed coral? 

      It all depends on what you want to do.  For breeding purposes, PVC and
clay pots are not a necesary but add cheap caves.  Shells are a necessity for
fish such as Neolamprologus Brevis,  " " Ocellatus, " " Ornatipinnis, and " "
Multifaciatus.  For breeding purposes shells maybe needed as such as
Altolamprologus Calvus, Lepidolamprologus Nkambae etc.  Those fish I just
listed are all from Lake Tanganyika in Africa, there are some Pseudotropheus
Sp. in Malawi that are shell breeders/dwellers.  As for Crushed Coral, that's
what I use in all of my tanganyikan Tanks.  All cichlids from east Africa (Rift
cichlids) need a higher PH and other elements that a crushed coral offers.  I
prefer it... but for any S.A. or any other locale of cichlid I'd recommend
regular gravel or sand.

>My LFS said most of the Lake Tang shell dwellers get only to 3" at the max
>usually.  Do they eat the same things?  Any and all suggestions would be
>appreciated.  Thanks

Very rarely will a tanganyikan shell dweller get larger than 3".  I have a
"Kalumbie Island" (a rather new species) that is about 3" and is the largest
shell dweller I own.  I do, however have one small Lepidolamprologus Nkambae
which will get to around 6" and breeds in shells..  But as for the normal
Tanganyikan shell dwellers, regular golden snail and turbo snail shells work
fine (just go to your LFS' and ask for extra shells.


Shell dwellers

by jluckshire/ (Jluckshire)
Date: 16 Feb 1998
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria.freshwater.cichlids

>Those fish I just
>listed are all from Lake Tanganyika in Africa,

Just thought I'd pipe-in here.  If you decide on N. ocellatus or meleagris and
you choose OTHER than sand.  You are doing yourself AND the fish a dis-service.
 There behavior in engineering and "spraying" sand in a jetstream by wiggling
their bodies is not only a joy to behold - but THEY will enjoy it - as this is
what they themselves are adapted to.


Tang. dwarf shell dwellers

by "Shawn Williams" <shawnw/>
Date: 12 Mar 1998
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria.freshwater.cichlids

I have some signatus and they are interesting. The reason they transfer
eggs & young is because their eggs have lost the ability to stick. The
ocellatus are very attractive as are the melagris & speciosus (sp?). They
are usually sold as pearly & black ocellatus respectively. The
multifaciatus are also fun and you can keep a large colony in a 20gal. I
currently have all of these as well as some brevis. The multi's are my
favorites because they are so small. I keep all of my on sand substrate,
they love to dig. You can get pool filter sand at your hardware store and
it works great.


Separating N. Multifactius

by jluckshire/ (Jluckshire)
Date: 31 Mar 1998
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria.freshwater.cichlids wrote:

>I have a 10 gal. tank with 4 adult Multi's and approx. 30 fry.
>I have been trying to seperate the fry from the adults, without >much sucess. 
I have been trying to move them to another tank, >so hopefully the adults will
start breeding again.  Any advice or >recommendations appreciated.

These fish are interesting in that they allow multiple generations to exist in
a tank that size.  If you're trying to start a fish factory <grin> - then if
you have a siphon hose (can't imagine anyone in the hobby not having one)
simply siphon them out.  I am NOT talking about airline tubing - I'm talking
siphon hose.  I do this with all kinds of fish - and sometimes I get every
single fry in the tank - although I do try to leave some in the tank.  The
multifasciatus will not be stopped by a few fry(or several) hanging around
-they're a little different than some fish that won't spawn again with fry
about.  Just give them time.


RE: Shell Dwellers?

by Kathy Olson <kathy/>
Date: Sat, 22 Jan 2000
To: apisto/

Oops on that last one guys, I meant to keep it off list, since I didn't oh

Bailin....where did you find the boulengeri....I have been looking for
those guys forever.  
I hear they are alittle more aggressive then the typical shell dwellers
and harder to spawn, but look like beautiful fish.  I buffer my water with
magnesium carbonate and calcium carbonate.  Lots of shells in the tank.
Cichlid exchange does a nice job with the Lake T. salts.

On another note for Kym (KD Martin), Ad Konings book is can
get it from ACA (if that is a member
only site then try the general aca site, or the cichlid exchange sells
them as well).
On shell dwellers  Neolamprologus (and occasionaly the species are under
lamprologus..the names keep changing even in the last
year)...multifasciatus, similus, gold occelatus and speciousus are all
good.  I have spawned all those guys as well as the pearly occelatus...aka
mellagrus...the later was much more aggressive.  The speciosus are really
pretty fish and I don't see them around a lot, I thought they were much
milder than the gold occelatus who can get aggressive with each other.

Kathy England is a good source in texas....I know she is part of the Texas
Cichlid assoc.  

On the Brichardi, we spawned those in a 60 gallon, definitely go with the
35 gallon tank.  10 is way too small and you would likely see aggression
In a 5 gallon tank I would say think about killis, livebearers, or as some
people have said borelli.  I never do apisto's in smaller than a 10, but
have heard of others doing 5 gallon tanks.  David Soares, believe in 20
gallons or up for his fish.


On Tue, 11 Jan 2000, Bailin Shaw wrote:

> Hello All,
> Again off list, but I can't find a good site that will give descriptions of 
> shell dweller care.  I have 4 - 0.5 inch Neolamprologus boulengeri shell 
> dwellers.  I've only had them about a week and would like to know how often 
> to do water changes, what to add as far as buffering, and would a larger 
> tank be better.  Any information and sites on these little guys would be 
> appreciated.
> Bailin
> >From: "dominic stones" <>
> >Reply-To:
> >To: <>
> >Subject: RE: dwarf fish
> >Date: Wed, 12 Jan 2000 15:38:34 -0500
> >
> >I know this is very off topic, but having kept many shelldwellers and 
> >various other species of lamprologines, I would be very hesitant about 
> >putting any of them in a 5.5.  N. multifasciatus is, I believe, a colony 
> >breeder and does not do well unless in a group. In my experience, 
> >Lamprologus ocellatus have been the least aggressive (I spawned a pair in a 
> >15 gal). Another factor to remember is that Tanganyikan, Malawian and 
> >Victorian cichlids all tend to be quite finicky in regards to nitrate 
> >levels. These would be difficult to maintain in an office 5.5.
> >
> >At least, that's my experience so far. I would have to agree with other 
> >suggestions like borelli.
> >
> >Good luck
> >
> >dominic
> >
> >oh, and btw - i've had N. brichardi and N. pulcher beat the @#$%^ out of 
> >everything else in a 100 and 130. Once they start guarding fry, they are 
> >extremely territorial and dangerous.
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by "gkadar" <gkadar/>
Date: Sat, 25 Mar 2000
To: <apisto/>

Maybe you haven't yet jumped the gun.  Why don't you try one of those
grocery stores that sell the snail shells for making escargot au gratin
etc.?  They've got lots and lots of snail shells in clear plastic tubular
containers.  And given they are supposed to be used for preparing meals for
human consumption, they are in all likelihood safe.  Probably cheaper per
shell than any lfs presentation.


>Jumped the gun. I found a website for Shell Horizons
>  good prices.
>----- Original Message -----
>From: "Jerry F. Kasey" <>
>To: "Apisto List Digest" <>
>Sent: Saturday, March 25, 2000 4:09 AM
>Subject: Snails

Up to Fish/Animals <- The Krib This page was last updated 30 July 2000