Good looking fish but not for beginners

Adult male Altolamprologus calvus. Photo by author.

A long time ago, one of my “must have” species was Altolamprologus calvus. A physically unique cichlid from Lake Tanganyika, calvus are laterally compressed so they can get into rock crevices to both feed and breed. They also possess special flank scales that serve as a type of body armor. These fish will turn broadside where they are most protected to absorb attacks by predators and even conspecifics. These flank scale edges are quite sharp and can inflict damage on their own.

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A few shots of my Tanganyikans

Because I haven’t posted about any of my fish in a while, I thought I would share a few recent photos. It’s funny how it always seems that the smallest fish are the most gregarious. In my experience, the larger the fish, the more apt it is to be shy and withdrawn when someone approaches the tanks. My most gregarious fish is, in fact, the smallest. I have a single adult male Neolamprologus signatus. He’s very inquisitive and likes to see what I’m doing whenever I’m close.

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Every fish is different

Fresh from the “every cichlid has its own personality” department is the news that I just added five new juvenile cichlids to the 75g – two Neolamprologus leleupis, two Telmatochromis vittatus, and a single Callochromis macrops. I picked them up last week from my LFS (I special ordered the vittatus).

I checked on the new additions once after a couple of hours to make sure they survived the initial introduction and weren’t getting harassed by the other three cichlid occupants, Altolamprologus calvus. Everything seemed in order. Photos of all but one of the leleupis are below. I apologize for the poor quality of the photos. I was in a bit of a hurry to get some shots, so wasn’t as patient as usual.


Photo of two juvenile Telmatochromis vittatus by author.


Photo of juvenile Neolamprologus leleupi and juvenile Telmatochromis vittatus by author.


Photo of juvenile Callochromis macrops by author.
I left the lights off the tank and stayed away to give everyone time to settle. The next day I checked in on them to see how they were doing with the three calvus. As usual, the tank decor (rocks, shells, etc.) was completely rearranged just prior to releasing the new additions into the tank. This was to upset the territorial areas established by the calvus and put everyone on equal footing. Unsurprisingly, cichlids have once again proven my initial expectations wrong.The leleupis were quite gregarious, moving about seemingly unencumbered by an inhibitions, which was a bit of a surprise. They’re quite small and, along with several large dithers and the larger calvus, I thought they might be a bit timid. I also expected the macrops to be a little shy at first. Wrong. The little guy (or gal) is all over the  place, even spending quite a bit of time up in the water column swimming around enthusiastically.

Also surprising me were the vittatus. I sat quietly for about 20 minutes before I saw the first one, and it was another 10 minutes before I saw the second one. Neither came out in the open, preferring to remain near the rocks and hug the substrate. I expected to them to be more outgoing right off the bat, however they behave a lot like my experience with newly introduced Julidichromis transcriptus….cautious and shy.

Fast forward a week and the new additions continue to surprise me. I suspect the leleupis are the same sex because they don’t tolerate the same space very well. They both still stay in the open and are quite active. The macrops seems much more comfortable playing in the sand where he/she does a lot of sifting and jets about from tank end to end, seemingly without a care in the world. The vittatus are still a bit skittish and, like the leleupis, don’t seem to care much for each other. They don’t share the same space very well either. Furthermore, one of the leleupis is a bit aggressive toward the vittatus, chasing them around when they cross paths. The vittatus still stay close to the sand and still hug the rocks pretty closely.

Fortunately, the calvus don’t seem to pay much attention to the new additions. Of course, the new cichlids are juveniles, so the situation may change as the newbies grow and mature.

I got the new 55g tank set up today, but it is currently empty. It too will house some dwarf Tanganyikans, which I’ll have shipped to me direct in the next few weeks. That’s a post for another day, so stay tuned. UPDATE 1/13/16: I elected to go with mbuna cichlids from Malawi instead of Tanganyikans in the 55g. Read more about that here.