Back in 2017 I wrote about some mbuna cichlids I had. Specifically, I talked about their propensity to be night time killers. You can read that post here.
This post is about a Tanganyikan version – Telmatochromis sp. “temporalis shell”. If you’ve kept cichlids long enough, you might notice many display their own unique personalities…just like people. By the same token, I believe that certain species have a greater propensity for violence. In my experience, these Telmatochromis are true night stalkers also. They’re even more deserving of the moniker because adults are typically jet black in color (unless stressed, which is a post for another day).
I currently keep too many “temporalis shell” specimens to count. Most of them are juveniles. All of my adults are housed in separate tanks, three of them to be exact. That isn’t because I want to. It’s to keep them from killing each other. In my experience, this is a pugnacious species that will become absolutely intolerant of anything around it when it spawns. Males are highly intolerant of each other too. I have lost numerous fish to their violence. They don’t just injure them. They pretty much destroy them quickly.
You might say such aggression is just normal behavior for cichlids. Not this type. I’ve kept many species and rarely witness this level of destructive aggression. I know some of the new world (SA/CA) cichlids are quite bellicose, but for a small species, these Telmats are brutal…on par with N. ocellatus.
Adult females of this species don’t generally exceed 3″ but are extremely prolific breeders, in my experience. Males get to 4.5″ + and are much thicker. With their nuchal hump, they look like little bulls. I have kept them in tanks as large as 75g with a ton of caves and rocks, but it makes no difference. If a fish gets within eyeshot of where they’ve spawned, they become swimming torpedoes. Males hit especially hard.
I have had one significant success story where I managed to save a full adult Telmat male that I found horizontal at the bottom of the tank. His was beaten pretty badly, but he survived. You can read about that scenario in this post.
These are great little fish and I’ve written numerous posts about them. Just enter Telmatochromis in the search box above if you want to read some of them. I love the species and have significant experience with them, but they…are…just…mean. I don’t encourage you to keep more than a single specimen of this fish unless you have significant experience with cichlids, including breeding experience.