by Jeffrey Burke, PVAS
The first time that I saw Neolamprologus cylindricus was in a pet shop in Baltimore. I was fascinated by its unique torpedo shape and the deep blue vertical bands. I would later find in addition to the unique shape it also had some unique traits.
At the 1993 spring auction some juveniles were available for sale. I bought two bags of five and they were less expensive than the price of the one I saw previously. When I got the fish home I put them in the right side of a 20 gallon divided tank. Their roommates on the other side were a breeding pair of Neolamprologus brevis and their fry which were not even half the size of the cylindricus. I came to find out that they do not grow as fast as many other Tanganyikan cichlids, the brevis fry doubled their size in a few months.
After two years I had 5 adults and could only identify two out of the five. The dominant male and the only female. When moving adults with a net I found that while in the net the fish will take an offensive posture with its mouth wide open. The dominant male would even snap his mouth open and shut. I once put a chopstick in an open mouth to see if this was just show. The fish bit the stick and that question was answered. Unlike most other cichlids the dominant male did not tear up the subordinant males or any other resident of the tank. Even at spawning time there was no, or at least minimum, fin damage. I do not know if all of cylindricus are this way or if I just lucked out.
There was one spawn where I saw wigglers but no free swimming fry, but at least I knew I had a fertile pair. There was no spawning activity going on so after six months of inactivity I removed the dominant male and the next dominant male stepped up. I had eggs within one month and my pair of Synodontis had caviar that night. The next spawn was inside a barnacle shell where the catfish could not enter because. of their size. When I saw wigglers I used a siphon hose and removed approximately 60 wigglers.
The fry were easily raised in a five gallon tank. The big problem was when the heater failed and temperature in the tank went down to 65° F. I lost a significant percentage.
All in all cylindricus are an attractive unique Tanganyikan cichlid, with minimum work they can be maintained and even spawned.