Species Article: Lake Tanganyika

Neolamprologus brichardi

by Greg Steeves

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First of all, the brichardi is a fish, not a rum. Seriously though, this may be as close to "the perfect fish" as you can get. Nl. brichardi look and act great when kept in a "species only" tank, and mix well in a dwarf Tanganyika cichlid tank. I have found them to be not nearly as shy and retiring as other "tangs". Their appearance is quite striking with a light brown body speckled with small reddish dots. The tail fin is what usually catches a persons eye when viewed for the first time. Long, white rays edge the lyre tail. The eye sockets are a neon blueish-green. This is truly a beautiful fish in itself, but its appeal does not stop there. Pairs are mildly territorial and rarely harm other fish. Most interesting to me is the group behavior they exhibit towards fry. Most brichardi will protect a brood of young from other fish, even though they themselves are not the parents. Even older fry from previous spawns will display brood care to some extent. This is truly amazing and beautiful to see.

Brichardi will adapt to a wide range of water conditions. My water is from a well and has a pH of about 7.8, I'm not sure of the hardness. I add a tablespoon of marine salt to 10 gallons. Further buffering of the water is done by the addition of crushed oyster shells to the substrate. I've always used gravel from local brooks that has been boiled to kill any unwanted visitors that may be introduced to my tanks. I find this gravel to be much nicer than anything you can buy. Stones range from marble size to almost sand. The dark coloration shows fish off at their best. No mater what size tank I am keeping them in, decor is the same. I use shale fashioned into caves, and various sized seashells scattered throughout.

I have kept and spawned brichardi in many different sized tanks, starting out with a 29 gallon and evolving to my present setup which is a 100 gallon species only tank. A wet/dry filtration system powers this tank. Every two weeks, about 10-15 percent of the water is changed. A larger change of water slightly cooler seems to induce spawning, but I cannot truthfully attest to this. Reproduction occurs regularly and I believe diet has more to do with this than anything else. The main source of protein for my brichardi come from a equal mix of tetra min and spirulina flake. Once a week they are given a treat, an ample feeding of daphnia. To watch them go at these little creatures is amazing. Daphnia gets them very excited and I attribute these tiny creatures for much of my success. All dwarf tanganyika's take to daphnia like there is no tomorrow. If you can get a culture of this I highly recommend it.

Brichardi which have formed a pair will dig out a pit near the soon to be spawning site. In my tank the gravel is about 2" deep and they will dig down until the bottom of the tank is exposed. Favorite spawning sites are small caves and inside snail or small conch shells. Eggs are a tan colored and laid on the sides or roof of these sites (see the last picture on the left). First spawns will number around 20 eggs, but more experienced breeders will lay upwards of 75 eggs. As I stated before, many different brichardi will guard the fry with the parents being at the forefront. I have covered the intakes of my power heads with thick sponge after losing many young to the suction power they have. I have a thick coat of algae on the back and sides of my tank and the fry seem to glance off of it, most likely eating the microorganisms that reside there. Raising the young is no problem in this tank. I wait until they are about half an inch long and remove them to a tank of their own. Any young that I don't capture are left to grow in the main tank. The only reason I remove them at all is because I have heard that if there are too many fish in the tank then the breeders will not spawn as frequently. Removal of fry is much easier when they are this size. One word of caution, if a colony of brichardi is left to spawn at will, deformities will be common in succeeding generations. This is a good reason to introduce new blood every now and then. Only introduce new fish after a change in tank decor, or they may not be able to find a territory of their own and will be harassed by other fish with established territories.

The brichardi is a forgiving and hardy little fish growing to three inches. If you are just starting out with dwarf tanganyika's, this is the fish to have. I have kept brichardi for ten years now and have never grown tired of them. Many hobbyist have gotten the tanganyika "bug" by starting out with fry from my breeders, and even though they now have other neolamps, almost all keep brichardi still.

 





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