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Neolamprologus brichardi

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Neolamprologus brichardi is a species of cichlid fish, endemic to the alkaline waters of Lake Tanganyika in east Africa.[1] It is a popular aquarium fish kept in the fishkeeping hobby,[1][2] where it is known under a variety of common names including Princess cichlid, Princess of Burundi, Lyretail cichlid, Fairy cichlid and Brichard’s Lamprologus.[2][3][4] In addition, the species is also the subject of numerous studies on fish behaviour.[5][6][7]

N. brichardi specializes on feeding from the rocky biocover, picking at small crustaceans and invertebrates. It will also feed on swarms of plankton when available.

In the aquarium, specimens of brichardi have been known to grow to 150 mm (6″), including the filaments on the tail. This is one of the easiest Tanganyikans to keep, and indeed to breed, and a true beginner’s fish. The fish will begin to breed in the aquarium as early as 5cm (2″). They aren’t particularly choosy in selecting spawning mediums, and are known to spawn in rockwork, conch and welch shells, and inverted flower pots. As in the wild, the parents will allow many generations of fry to stay within the territory, and indeed these fry will assist the parents in guarding the younger fry.

A very important item to consider in selecting brichardi for an aquarium is be mindful of how protective this fish is in defending its fry. They have been known to have spawns numbering more than 100 fry at a time. It is not at all unheard of for a single pair of brichardi to take over a mixed tank of Tanganyikans, even as large as a 120 cm (4 ft), 75-gallon aquarium. As they tend to pair off earlier than most other Tanganyikans, this becomes quite a common occurrence, with all of the other fish either huddled in the top corner, with some degree of damage, and often dead. They breed prolifically in optimal tank conditions but as the fry increase in number after many months they have been known to eat young fry to make room for more.

The best method for keeping Neolamprologus brichardi is in a species-only tank. A tank as small as 15 gallons can be utilized, though between 20 and 35 gallons would be more appropriate. By keeping this fish on its own, not only do you limit the chance they will eliminate their tankmates, but their graceful finnage will likely grow better.

That is not to say that it is impossible to keep this fish with other Tanganyikans, but one must be careful in selecting tankmates, and the aquarium best be at least 90 cm long (36″), with a 120 cm (48″) tank being preferable. Some commonly available fish that should be compatible would include: Neolamprologus leleupi, cylindricus; Altolamprologus calvus, compressiceps; Julidochromis marlieri or regani.

There is, however, a bit of a secret to making this work. Any other tankmates must be much larger than the brichardi to begin with and they must establish their territory in the aquarium first. Purchasing an adult pair of calvus and juvenile brichardi would be an example of a situation that would normally work out. There is one important caveat: in a tank of less than 120cm (48″) you would be limited to two pairs of fish when including brichardi in the mix, though this may not even be successful.

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