You are at The Krib ->Fish/Animals [E-mail]

Fish from lake Tanganyika


  1. If you feed them they will come...
    by (Kaufman M.E.) (3 Nov 1993)
  2. (F) Tanganyikan (long) (was Re: How start African tank?)
    by (Tom Fredericks) (5 Mar 92)
  3. (F) Tanganyikan (long) (was Re: How start African tank?)
    by (matthew.kaufman) (5 Mar 92)
  4. Rift Lake Cichlid questions
    by Jim Hurley
  5. Rift-Lake Chiclid questions
    by <APARKER-at-MAINE.MAINE.EDU> (Thu, 19 May 1994)
  6. setting up J. dickfeldi tank
    by "Ron Golubosky" <> (20 Oct 1996)
  7. African crossbreeding
    by bae/ (Beverly Erlebacher) (21 Nov 97)

Neolamprologus "daffodil"

Altolamprologus calvus

photos by Erik Olson

If you feed them they will come...

by (Kaufman M.E.)
Date: 3 Nov 1993

I had been trying to spawn some Lamprologus leleupi I'd had in a 20L for
almost a year; they were small juveniles when I got them, and only in
the past couple months could I guess which were the males and females
(looks like 1 happy male and 4 females.) Anyway, lots of false
spawning attempts (wiggling females, hiding in rocks,) but frustratingly
no results. Now what to do - they're supposedly among the easiest Rift
Lake cichlids to spawn.

Asking around the local fish clubs, I got some advice that the parents
wouldn't spawn "unless they were sure there was enough food for the
Personally, I don't give any fish credit enough for such sophisticated
thinking, but perhaps what is happening is simpler - maybe in the wild
seasonal variations in the supply of food animals (my guess is some sort of
plankton for micropredators like leleupi) occur, since (I guess) that
temperature in large bodies of water like Lake Tanganyika are small.
So, I started hatching extra brine shrimp and began putting in around
1/2 tsp. of hatched eggs a day (yes, a solid writhing orange lump of nauplii.)

Result? 1 week of this and there are easily 40 freeswimming leleupi being
*very* well guarded by their mother. The father occasionally takes his turn
but mostly shoos the other females away. One other interesting thing I've
seen is when I feed 'adult' foods (paste, cichlid pellets, adult brine
the mother would regularly swim over to the mass of fry and spit chewed-up
food out for the youngsters to pick at. And here I thought only New World
cichlids practiced such fine husbandry.

I also in parallel upped the nauplii input into my large tank of
Julidochromis regani, which had been a cichlid factory for me until some
violent spat led to the loss of my largest, presumed female, juli last
December. Result? A new pair formed and a few offspring seen lurking about
2 weeks after increasing the amount of nauplii, and giving the filters
a good cleaning. This tank has a nice carpet of that yucky black fur
algae; this stuff seems magic for juli fry, they love to root through it
for edibles. Don't discourage it in your tanks if you want to breed
fish in them.

Anyone else ever hear this voodoo about food availability for offspring
being a gating factor for spawning? Maybe there's something there, I dunno.
Fast.                |copyright 1993, All rights reserved.
Good.                |Permission for reproduction by USENET and like free
Cheap.               |facilities explicitly allowed. No other reproduction
Choose 2 of the above|rights are granted or implied.

(F) Tanganyikan (long) (was Re: How start African tank?)

by (Tom Fredericks)
Date: 5 Mar 92

In article <>,
(e-mail) (Erik D. Olson) writes: 
> In article <23068-at-scorn.sco.COM> jamesb-at-sco.COM (James Bahn) writes:
>>I'm planning to turn a 20-gal or 29-gal freshwater
>>tank into a tank suitable for African Cichlids.  I
>>understand that limestone will help condition the
>>water properly, and I can easily raise the pH in
>>one of my existing tanks.  But I can use some advice...
> Hey, so could I!  

....stuff deleted

> First, I looked up anything I could find at the University Library (we have
> a fishery library even!).  Found two sources: Axelrod's African book (second 
> edition,1974), and a really technical one published around the same time.  I 
> then scoured the last year or two of FAMA in the stacks (and found about 3 
> pages of useful information related to African tanks).  Not sure if Axelrod's
> newer edition has more updated stuff (anyone have this?).  I too would
> be interested in a good "new" book.

_Tanganyika Cichlids_ by Ad Konings.  $45. This book is published in Holland, I
think, but is in English.  Verduijn Cichlids & Lake Fish Movies, pub. 1989(?)
 This may be hard to find but is well worth it.  You
won't be disappointed.  One source is the American Cichlid Association.  I'm
not sure if you need to be a member in order to buy from them but you oughtta
join anyway. Addresses:

American Cichlid Association, Inc.           ACA Book Sales
Glenn Eaves                                  213 Joliet Road
P.O. Box 32130                               Plainfield, Illinois  60544
Raleigh, North Carolina  27622
Dues:  $15us/yr

_Malawi Cichlids_ by Ad Konings.  $45.  Companion to the above book, and as
good.  If you like these fish, you'll want to get this book.

_Cichlids and all other Fishes of Lake Malawi_  by Ad Konings, TFH pub. 1990?
This is a hefty coffee-table sized book. Tons of info, tons of color photos,
lots of photos of locations around the lake.  Pretty good map of the lake, too.
You can get this one from That Fish Place mail order for around $65. 

_Lake Tanganyika and its Life_, edited by G.W. Coulter, Oxford University
Press, 1991.  I haven't seen this one yet but I'll be getting it from our
library next week some time.  After I get a look at this one, I'll post a 
short overview.  This is about Tanganyika's natural history, limnology, and
biology.  Obviously cichlids are covered but I don't know how well.

Ad Konings also puts out a cichlid yearbook with all the latest discoveries.
I haven't seen this one either but I've heard it's good.  Available from ACA
book sales for $30.

> One thing I have been having trouble with is getting the pH and hardness
> up past 8.0 / 6.4GH.  I have been adding one of those "Cichlid Additives"
> to the new water, and after an initial increase in pH, it always drops back
> to alternating between 7.6 and 7.9.  Perhaps I can buffer this better with
> crushed coral as gravel instead of that junk that I got with the tank.
> I read somewhere that limestone only buffers the pH at about 7.6, not
> enough for an african tank.

  I use SeaChem's Marine Buffer which claims to buffer to pH 8.3.  My tank
according to Tetra High-range pH test kit stays about 8.0
...Stuff deleted...

>     Erik Olson

Tom Fredericks
Ithaca, New York

(F) Tanganyikan (long) (was Re: How start African tank?)

by (matthew.kaufman)
Date: 5 Mar 92
Newsgroup: alt.aquaria

In article <> (e-mail) (Erik D. Olson) writes:
>In article <23068-at-scorn.sco.COM> jamesb-at-sco.COM (James Bahn) writes:
>>I'm planning to turn a 20-gal or 29-gal freshwater
>>tank into a tank suitable for African Cichlids.  I
>>understand that limestone will help condition the
>>water properly, and I can easily raise the pH in
>>one of my existing tanks.  But I can use some advice...
>I just started a Tanganyikan tank this year, so I could mention what
>I have learned thus far.  This is my third concurrent tank, the other two 
>being a 10 gallon Serpae tet (hopefully breeding soon) species aquarium,

Good luck. Tetras ain't easily bred, despite what you read.
Africans are much easier, if you have pairs.

>and the other being a 20 gallon wanna-be plant tank.  When I started this

A small plant tank. If you are halfway successful with plants, they'll
rapidly fill a 20.

>third tank, I wanted to do it "ichthiologically correct" this time, ie:
>try to duplicate native habitat, don't mix lakes, put in some plants,
>allow space for growth, etc.  I don't think I've done it, but I'm 
>much happier with this thank than the two others.
>First, I looked up anything I could find at the University Library (we have
>a fishery library even!).  Found two sources: Axelrod's African book (second 
>edition,1974), and a really technical one published around the same time.  I 
>then scoured the last year or two of FAMA in the stacks (and found about 3 
>pages of useful information related to African tanks).  Not sure if Axelrod's
>newer edition has more updated stuff (anyone have this?).  I too would

I'd rather get something remotely accurate - Loiselle's 'The Cichlid Aquarium'
is a must, his 'Fishkeeper's guide to African Cichlids' as well. Both books
are relatively low priced, the former under $20, the latter under $10.
>be interested in a good "new" book.
Both are within the last 5-6 years and pretty accurate.
>I wanted to go overboard on rocks.  Lots of em!  Big rocks!  small rocks!
>Cave-like rocks!  Enough to hide the heater and back glass.  Large algae
>surfaces. Lots of fish hiding places.
>I asked the local aquarium store about getting rocks, and they suggested
>"check the beach".  NADA!  Another store had a "fine selection" at $1-2 a 
>pound.  I ended up buying 120 pounds of granite from a local rockery for 
>about $20.  About half the weight is three large (about 8cm) rocks that I 
>use in the back under others to give the tank more of a slope. It all fits 
>in the 29gal quite nicely (and is really striking to look at as well!).  I 

Do note, however, that a 29 isn't a big tank for Africans. Fortunately you'll
won't have tons of offspring growing up as you have noted fry predators in
lelupi and brichardi in the tank. Personally I like 4' long tanks for
african community tanks and have 2, rapidly becoming 3.
>tried to get it close to the photos I saw in the Axelrod book of the bottom 
>of Lake Tanganyika.  (why not).  Also made sure there were a few inverted 
>flat rocks that the could be used for spawning.  1 1/2 months later, it is 
>now growing a crop of reddish (blue-green?) algae that the fish are chomping 
>at constantly.
Good! That algae makes great fry food! I used lava rock for my aquascaping
in one heavily crowded (due to successful reproduction of the parents
every 3 weeks or so) juli tank, it has a nice thick crop of that algae
and looks great.
>One thing I have been having trouble with is getting the pH and hardness
>up past 8.0 / 6.4GH.  I have been adding one of those "Cichlid Additives"
>to the new water, and after an initial increase in pH, it always drops back
>to alternating between 7.6 and 7.9.  Perhaps I can buffer this better with
>crushed coral as gravel instead of that junk that I got with the tank.
>I read somewhere that limestone only buffers the pH at about 7.6, not
>enough for an african tank.

Uhh. I use that Instant Ocean salt, combined with my hard tapwater keeps the
pH about 8.4. Africans love it (well, Rift Lakers, anyway, which is what
you're talking about.)
>I bought 6 fish initially, one pair L. brichardi, one pair L. lelupi, and
>one pair Julichromis marlieri, in the hopes (from a complete novice) that
>one of the pairs might breed when grown.  The Julies I knew I was going to 
>get right away because I was intrigued by the pictures & the specimens in
>the store.  I got the brichardi because they were cheap, I saw them in the 
>Axelrod book all over (even in native habitat with Julies) and I like the 
>lyre tails.  The lelupi were an impulse item: bright orange/yellow.  
>Bought them just for the way they looked.

Lelupi are noted for aggressiveness. Most julies are sort of furtive
and not real nasty. Brichardi are somewhere in between.
>(in response to the "fish color" question, I didn't see any Tanganyikans
>that passed a color test.  Maybe you want Malawi cichlids, which
>do seem have more of that RGB style).

>The "pairing" scheme has resulted in one dominant of each pair, who
>is eating most of the food, and growing faster than the other, and tends to
>boss the other around.  With the lelupi, this was most annoying as the 
>smaller would hang out in its territorial nook and never come out.  
>After about 4 weeks, I decided that maybe six wasn't quite enough, and 
>bought a pair of L. savoryi (because they were not $30 each like everything 
>else left in the store).  I was wary of the "don't add new africans singly, 
>and add bigger ones than the natives or change all the rocks around" rule, 
>and after a day of mild terrorism by the established fish, the two newcomers 
>were quite at home.  And for some reason, the addition has caused the small 
>lelupi to eat with the others (perhaps more distraction for the dominant 
>one).  I suppose that in 6 more months I will have to move it all out into a 
>55 gal or so, but I can accept that.

Sooner than that, I think. Never heard of savoryi, sure you got the spelling
right? What's it look like?
>One thing I have never been able to get a consistent answer on is PLANTS.
>My favorite fish store tells me that fish'll chomp the hell out of anything.
>The Axelrod book says that Val grows native there, but of course says 
>nothing really useful about keeping them in aquaria. One basic book I 
>have suggests pondweed as a good aquarium plant in a Tanganyikan tank.
>Plant books say nothing.
Ehh. I don't bother to try - I use a lot of salt, and I have black mollie
'dither fish' that eat anything green. Duckweed will grow in it, java moss
will grow, anubias and vals and stuff all dissolve in the salty water
(1 tsp/gallon of instant ocean).
>As an experiment, I put one "Italian Val" from my other tank in the corner 2 
>weeks ago, and though the algae has been nibbled at, the plant is doing fine.
>Perhaps the fish are not old enough yet to destroy it. :) If it stays alive,
>I may plant 2 more on outlying edges to get that sparse vegitation look.
Ahh... but can you not	| Copyright 1992 Permission for
also make bridges	| reproduction in printed media or by pay-for-read
out of stone?	 	| services explicitly disallowed. Permission granted
			| for reproduction by USENET and like free facilities.

Rift-Lake Cichlid Questions

by Jim Hurley, 19 May 1994

I posted my previous article before I read all these later postings
saying your tanks is too small, etc. etc.

All I can say is, everyone has opinions, everyone's experience is
different, etc.

As for tank crowding. Two months ago at the Pacific Coast Cichlid
Association (which specializes in Africans) there was a research
biologist from Mardel Labs who just returned from the Rift Lakes.
He told how crowded the coastal waters were with fish. After the
talk I asked him how many 3" fish he would put in a 100g tank
to duplicate the same population density and he said "About a
hundred, but you'd have to filter the h*** out of it."

As for the fish being sensitive to water changes - I find it
extremely hard to believe that a fish would mind nice clean water
at the same pH, hardness, salinity, and temperature as the muck
it is currently swimming in.

I already mentioned that I do weekly 50% water changes, but it could
even be as much as 60-70%, depends on my mood. I've never noticed any
untoward behavior or illness. In fact - I'd better not brag - but
I've been keeping these cichlids for about a year and a half, and I
haven't seen any illnesses at all. I see a few deaths of fry, and I've
had a few misshaped juveniles, but the only deaths have been due to
jumping. {Once I saw a L. brichardi in with the Julidochromis -
it jumped from an adjacent tank}. 
Jim Hurley ---
Jim Hurley ---

Rift-Lake Chiclid questions

Date: Thu, 19 May 1994
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria

Just to throw in my two bits, the posts on this thread describing how
rift lake cichlids will inevitably chase and kill non cichlids in
their tanks were more than a little bit alarmist.  I have kept various
catfishes, scats, barbs, rainbowfish etc with rift and neotropical
cichlids, and had excellent luck with all except an exceptionally
mean Nandopsis salvani, and a breeding pair of N. brichardi, both
of which killed other fish.  Other than that, the general rule in
my experience is that cichlids are FAR more agressive towards
other cichlids, especially closely related ones, than towards

I would also agree that small Tanganyikans are the only rift fish
liable to be happy in a 10 gal, and they'd still look better/act
more natural in a bigger tank.

setting up J. dickfeldi tank

by "Ron Golubosky" <>
Date: 20 Oct 1996
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria.freshwater.cichlids


Ph:  My books state that J Dickfeldi's like a ph of 8.0.  The important
thing to remember is to have your ph the same as the ph of the tank the
fish were purchased from.  Test both waters with the same test kit.  Once
you have the fish you can slowly acclimize them to the ph that you want . 
I (My experience) feel that anywhere between 7.8 and 8.3 is a good ph.  As
long as it's stable and you don't have to constantly add chemicals to keep
it stable.

Most of their time will be spent in the lower 1/3 of the tank.  I also
would suggest a 20 long versus a 29.  20 longs are nicer looking and
because of the surface size  You can put about as many fish as in a 29.

I don't know what aragonite sand is but, I use a sand blasting GRAVEL (NOT
SAND).  It's dirt colored and doesn't get siphoned up during water changes.
If you do use sand get a darker color (it's less intimidating for the fish.

Breeding:  First I would start with five juveniles (unless you can buy a
breeding trio).  Once you determine that you have a breeding trio (1 male
and 2 females), sell the other two back to the store.  By the way, in
Dickfeldi, females are usually bigger than males.  Make sure you give alot
of hiding places, that is where they will breed.


African crossbreeding

by bae/ (Beverly Erlebacher)
Date: 21 Nov 97
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria.freshwater.cichlids

In article <652o2m$>,
Lasse.F <> wrote:
>Beverly Erlebacher skrev i meddelandet
>>Fryer & Iles is one book I plan to read over the Christmas holidays.
>>I have read Keenleyside (1991, I think), and get the impression that
>>sympatric speciation is not entirely ruled out.  But I'm not a professional
>You don't need to be it either, use common sense instead, and read Fryer and
>Iles book!!!

Oh, dear.  

Well, I went to the university library last night and somebody had taken
Fryer and Iles out, so and got the proceedings of a conference on cichlid
biology that took place in Belgium in 1991.  Fryer had a paper in which he
outlines the changing lake levels as a method of allopatric speciation,
which makes sense.  However, there is another paper about the four endemic
tilapiine species in Lake Malawi, which are open water fish and found
throughout the lake.  Since they are more closely related to each other
than to congenerics from neighbouring rivers, the theory that they arose
from repeated invasions from the rivers over time is no good.

One fascinating thing in Fryer's paper is reference to another paper that
claims that a prolonged dry spell from 1500-1850 AD resulted in Lake Malawi
receding all the way back to its deep basin.  The evidence comes from several
sources, including sediment cores, carbon-14 dating of dredged material
and accounts by the local people of the level of the lake in the past.  The
first European observer of Lake Malawi was Livingstone in 1860, and levels
were apparently rising then.

This implies that speciation may occur in mbuna in as little as 200-300 years,
which is pretty amazing, I think.  It's also encouraging, in that if/when
these populations are damaged or exterminated, it may be possible for similar
assemblages to arise again in a fairly short time.

>Just one little comment about sympatric speciation. If it should appear
>among chichlids with their special breeding habits and small broads, it
>demands that one of the first genes that should mutate should be some of the
>genes that is connected to species reconation and it had to happen in at
>least one female and one male the same time, in the same population. And
>that the broad should inherrent this and interbreed. And you have to admit
>that this demand a very fast evolution. And how plausible is this?

But you said (in a part I deleted) that you think evolution proceeds by
revolution! :-)

Actually, there is a mechanism for this - suppose the mutation takes place
in the gonads of one fish.  It will be passed on to a substantial fraction
of the fry, and these fry could easily be the ones to interbreed, establishing
a new population.  A similar mechanism has been proposed for the evolution
of modern species of horse (zebra, donkey, etc), which has proceeded by 
chromosome breakage or joining to rapidly create populations that cannot
interbreed.  Since the females in a herd are mostly the aunts, sisters,
half-sisters and daughters of the male, a mutation in the gonads of the 
parent of the herd male could cause reproductive isolation and hence speciation
in two generations!

At any rate, most of the speciation of mbuna may have occurred by allopatry
and the rising/falling lake levels, but from my limited reading, I don't
know how allopatry can explain the four endemic tilapias of Lake Malawi,
or the eleven tilapiines of Barombe Mbo crater lake.

The proceedings I mentioned above had a paper about two species of Oreochromis
that interbreed both in captivity and occasionally in nature, and the authors
think the behaviours may be more important than the markings in species

A while back I read about a fish (a stickleback, I think) in a lake in
British Columbia (Canada).  These lakes are all very recent, since they
are in an area glaciated during the Ice Age.  Anyhow, this species in 
this lake seems to be separating into two populations.  The original
population, found in the surrounding area, feeds both on the bottom and
in midwater.  In this lake, a group has arisen that has some slight
specialization for bottom feeding.  Since they are better at bottom
feeding than the originals, they out compete them, so the rest of the
fish are tending to specialize a bit towards mid-water feeding.  Now,
fish of the original population, or crossbreeds between the two specialized
populations, are at a disadvantage at either feeding method, so the
tendency to further specialization is expected to increase.  This fish
in this lake may be a model of how sympatric speciation can begin, and
may resemble processes that are further advanced in some African cichlid

>>Again, I am not a professional biologist, and all this is just my opinion.
>>It is certainly an exciting time for evolutionary biology, and I hope the
>>scientists can beat the clock because it looks like these unparalleled fish
>>communities in Africa are doomed by increasing human intervention.
>Don't be sorry for that, in this case I agree totally with our opponent in
>the species busniess.

Well, all this is inspiring me to read more technical literature.  Let me
suggest to anyone who has read this far, that you have a look at some of
the scientific papers about cichlids.  They aren't all that hard to read
and understand, unlike a lot of technical literature, and there's a lot
of neat stuff in them!

Up to Fish/Animals <- The Krib This page was last updated 03 October 1999