by Don Kinyon
Neolamprologus brichardi has been in the hobby for quite some time, since the late 1950s, in fact. It was described by Poll in 1974. It comes from Lake Tanganyika, one of the rift lakes of eastern Africa, where it inhabits the rocky shorelines.
These attractive fish are not as colorful as some of their other Rift Lake cousins, but make up for it with graceful lines and subtle hues. The male and female both have light brown body colors, with blue-white outlines to all the fins. The dorsal, anal, and caudal fins all have extensions, more so on the male than the female. They have bright blue markings on the face, dark brown gill spots, and bright blue eyes.
Years ago, a personal experience with these fish and a defective heater almost convinced me to give up the hobby. These fish won’t live at 95°F!
When a friend was moving out-of-state, I inherited five adult and semi-adult fish so that they wouldn’t have to make the move. I put them in a "temporary" tank (anyone that’s been in the hobby a while knows that there’s no such thing - I have temporary tanks that were established YEARS ago) with tap water and some piles of slate to make them comfortable. My well water is fairly hard; 140 total ppm, and about 7.4° pH. They seemed to thrive in their new home, but didn’t spawn.
Brichardi will eat pretty much any given food and, unlike some of the other Rift Lake species, aren’t poorly affected by meaty foods; in fact, they thrive on them. They like live, frozen, or even dry foods. My adult and near-adult fish were active and healthy, even with periods of being fed strictly flake foods.
While going through a half-price bin at a local pet shop, I found some Rift Lake water conditioner, made by Kent. I bought it, used it as directed, and within two weeks, the fish were spawning like crazy. I can’t say for sure that the conditioner was the trigger that got them into the mood, but the timing was coincidental at least. They had four broods in succession, four to five weeks apart.
One of the interesting and pleasing things about this particular cichlid is its willingness to live as an extended family. There were four broods of fry in the tank, all separated by a few months, living together and tolerating each other, even in such close quarters. The only reason to finally move some of the fish was a terrible lack of space. My "temporary" tank was a tall, show-type setup, and the fish had little room to swim, let alone grow well.
Through auctions, selling over the internet, and just giving the fish away, the mob was reduced to manageable size. The youngest of the fish ate newly-hatched brine shrimp and microworms, while the larger ate anything that the adults did, only more finely chopped. I plan a more suitable tank in the future for the fish that remain, something with more surface area and many rock formations.
This article first appeared in PVAS’s Delta Tale, Vol 31, # 3-4