Observations on Julidochromis dickfeldi

Julidochromis dickfeldi pair outside breeding cave. Photo by author.

Julidochromis dickfeldi is not only one of the smaller Julie species, but I find it also one of the easiest to keep and breed. A beautiful little lamprologine, dickfeldis are reasonably mild mannered but are very protective of offspring, even when juvenile offspring are 1/2″. A pair doesn’t need a large tank to spawan by any means. I’ve bred them in a 20g long and in a 33g long. I’m sure they would spawn in a 10g as well. 

In my experience, this species just needs a hidden, somewhat dark crevice or cave to successfully spawn. One thing that has worked well for me is a small pile of rocks. They’ll find a crease inside the pile and do their thing. I’ve also had them spawn in rectangular ceramic caves. These are caves I have had custom made that are closed on one end.  I partially seal off the entrance with a rock, leaving just enough room for the larger female to enter. You can see the cave and the dickfeldi in the two photos above. 

The female, which will be twice as large as the male, doesn’t do much but defend the spawn area once she lays the eggs. The male will closely guard them and will even continue to guard the fry until they begin to wander. In other words, you won’t see the male a lot while there are eggs or very small fry. The female, on the other hand, will be readily visible most of the time. 

Breeding pair ofJulidochromis dickfeldi. Female on the right. Photo by author.

An interesting observation I have made about one female (in the 20g long above) is that she will even attempt to protect much larger juveniles. I typically trade my juveniles at my LFS. When I attempt to catch the juveniles, the female will not swim away from the net. Rather she will put herself between the net and the juveniles when they are pinned in a corner. This is extraordinary behavior and one I have not witnessed in other Julies species that I have spawned. 


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