- HiI'm looking for some advice in starting a tank for shelldwellers. I've always wanted African cichlids but don't have much space so I think these cuties will fill the bill.I'm thinking in particular of Lamprologus meleagris or Neolamprologus ocellatus. Are either of these easy enough for a newbie to this group?And should they have the tank to themselves or is there a catfish that would work under those water conditions?I've cycled my community tanks with platies or zebras, what would I use to cycle this tank?Any help would be appreciated.And Mark, I haven't been reading the fish lists in a while because I've been on the road so much, but do you ever get either of these in?Thanks everyone!Ann
- I have raised ocellatus golds in the past. I loved the little guys,
they were feisty and active. I had no trouble getting them to spawn.
You can do them in a 5 or 10 gallon, but I used a 20 since it was what I
had. You want to do a sand substrate because one of the charming
features of these guys is the way they bury their shells. They use
ocellating motions, hence the name. You want to give them a more than
few shells. I had access to the lake shells which is the perfect size,
if you go to big you will miss out on them moving them around and
burying them. I kept ph at about 8, temp was around 78f and I did
regular water changes but I always did my africans with cool water since
I thought it helped them spawn more. Kinda like a rainstorm heheh. I
know many peeps are not fond of adding products to their tanks but I
have to admit for my tangs I swear by Seachems Tang buffer and lake
salt. Yes I know its pricy and you can use other things but I was able
to afford them and the first person that taught me about africans used
these too. No one thing about this species is that the male likes a
harem, so once you have a dominant male he will get rid of the other
males unless the tank is large enough for them to hide. Sometimes you
may even only end up with a pair. The male will also like to bury most
of the shells until he decides which one his female can have. If all
goes well then you will see the lil fry poping in and out of mom's shell
in the near future. They look like little peices of pencil lead. Once
they get bigger you will need to get them out before dad decides he
doesn't need them in the tank. Once they start they keep going on
regular intervals. They are a very hardy little fish. Mine survived a
four hour move to PA with only a battery pump running and started
breeding again once they tank was back up and running. They also seem
to be very happy eating just about any cichlid food.
If you want more of a community and a little rarer fish, you might want
to consider Neolamprologous Similis. I had a great tank full of these
guys. It was 20 gal with same water parameters as above but I tried to
have the sand base covered with shells. If you ever see lake photos of
these guys its how they live. They develop a multi tiered society with
everyone taking care of everyone else. The males still do their
rearranging to entice their mates so always some activity going on.
Because they do create a large comminity I always tried to get two
batches from 2 different sources. Just get healthier fry. I also
always seem to buy my african in 6's. Same guy taught me that.
I always had an ancistrus (albino in my case) in the tank. They never
seem to bother the fry and like to clean the tank. You can try dwarf
synos if you like but I find they are more aggressive to fry. If you
want to do the 20 gal you could then get some cyprichromis, any of the
smaller varieties for the top of the tank. They never leave the upper
levels and with the same conditions may spawn but are a little more
difficult to get them going than the shellies.
Good luck and enjoy, these were some of my favorite fish that I have
kept so far.
- Hi Ann,
I have kept different shell dwellers including ocellatus but not
meleagris. To me all I have kept are really easy; which is great
because they have so much personaility. Yes like Kathy said the
ocellatus have a lot of fun burying their shells in sand. I personally
use silica sand - you can get it at any pool store. A little goes a
LONG way. I was surprised how many tanks a single back does. If you go
that way - rinse, rinse, rinse some more.
I have a natural pH between 7.6 and 7.9 coming out of the tap and it
is moderately hard. I have to do nothing to it and they flourish. One
other nice thing I have found with the shellies in general is that
they are easy to keep community fish with. If they are not being
bothered, they don't bother back. BUT they are also totally capable of
defending themselves against much larger fish - especially the
ocellatus in my experience. I have kept them with platies, small and
large tetras, angels, various bushy nose plecos and a group of
Peacocks I briefly had. They did fine and bred with all of them. The
plattie fry didn't last long though...
I know a person keeping 4 different species. I think they are all in
40 gallon breeders... But the bottom of his tanks are simply covered
in snail shells. The fish breed so well they overcrowd the tanks.
Seems to me he had 3 tanks literally full of brevis last we discussed
it. Neolamprologus Brevis are another I would suggest as well. I like
the Mtoto variety personally - just the appearance seems to be the
only difference among them. But they have a lot of personality as well.
Just as a note if you are new to them, from my perspective there is
some confusion about what are lamprologus and neolamprologus in the
hobby. You may see the same fish listed as either - especially on
- In my experience, those two species can be a little nasty to the
females - a male burying a female alive is not unheard of, although
I've never seen it myself. Both those species are best in a group in a
larger (20 long or longer) tank.
For a 10 or (and I'm sure I'll take some lumps for it, but I've done it
MANY times with NO trouble) 5, the best would be one of the brevis
varieties. BE SURE TO GET AN ESTABLISHED PAIR before putting them in
such a small tank, but several youngsters could be allowed in a 10 to
pair up naturally. I've kept unlabeled, Mtoto "zebra" and "sunspot"
varieties, and all did well in 10 and 5 gallon tanks once paired up. A
large escargot shell will be enough for a pair, as in this species the
pair "shacks up" in the same shell. Once established, they are fry
>I've always wanted African cichlids but don't have much space so I
> I'm looking for some advice in starting a tank for shelldwellers.
think these cuties will fill the bill.
> I'm thinking in particular of Lamprologus meleagris orNeolamprologus ocellatus.