Julidochromis marlieri

by Gene Moy

Members of the genus Julidochromis are torpedo-shaped small cichlids from Lake Tanganyika. Julidochromis marlieri has been available in the hobby for some time. These fish have a base color of yellow with horizontal splotchy black stripes running from head to tail.

I picked up a pair of these beautiful cichlids at one of the auctions, despite not having much room for them in my tanks. The larger fish is 2.0" in length, while the smaller fish is 1.7". In they go into a 5.5 gallon tank. Three tablespoons of kosher salt and one tablespoon of epsom salt is added to the water. Water changes are performed using a "Water Changer" every six weeks.

The cichlids grow slowly, but seem to take well to their surroundings. These Julies are are shy and stay behind rocks in the back of the tank and only dash out for food if they feel no one is looking. I feed the pair primarily flakes with an occasional treat of live brine shrimp.

After recently thinning out my tanks, I am considering moving the pair to larger quarters. Peering into the tank, I notice greenish eggs stuck to silicone sealant along the bottom of the aquarium. The eggs are scattered and not grouped together as I would expect. Closer examination reveals another small group of eggs inside the base of a plastic plant. The dozen or so eggs are a bluish-green about 1.3mm (1/16") ovoids. I believe that the smaller fish is the female, but am not certain of this since I did not witness the spawning. I decide to keep the pair in their existing tight quarters.

I do not see the young for several weeks after the spawning. About a month later, I do see several young, 5mm long fry taking up position on or near a large rock away from the parents. I would have to believe that these are from a different spawn, as I judge them to be only about one week old. After removing the parents to larger quarters, I discover a total of 18 fry.

Since I am moving fish around anyway, I remove the parents to larger quarters, keeping the young in the 5.5-gallon tank. To better take care of the young, I remove most of the rockwork. The young are not as shy as the parents and readily accept small morsels of food ranging from newly hatched brine shrimp to commercial fry foods. After two months, the 13 remaining young are approximately 20mm long.

Julidochromis marlieri are shy fish like another member of the genus, Julidochromis transcriptus which I also keep. Provide them with plenty of rockwork. Check with your source of the fish on whether they were kept with salt and set up your tank accordingly. To breed these fish, it is best to keep these fish by themselves in their own tank. The minimum tank size should be a 15-gallon aquarium and not the 5.5-gallon that I subjected my breeders to.

This article first appeared in PVAS’s Delta Tale, Vol 30, # 2-3