Boulenger has described this species in 1899 and gave it the name Aulonocranus dewindti. Aulocranus is derived from 2 Greek words; aulos meaning flute and kranion which means skull. It is also the only fish in the genus Aulonocranus.
Just as with a lot of other species, the females of Aulonocranus dewindti are a dull silver, greyish colour. The males have blue florescent horizontal striping across the body with is yellowish in colouring. The pelvic and dorsal fins are yellow, the anal, pectoral and caudal fins are darker in colour.
The males reach a maximum length of about 12 centimetres in the wild but will usually stay smaller when kept in a tank. The females are somewhat smaller than the males and will reach 10 centimetres.
The Aulonocranus dewindti is widespread in Lake Tanganyika except the northern part of the lake in Burundi. The fish are benthopelagic and can be found on the sandy to rocky areas between 1 and 10 metres of depth. The species has also been found in the river Rusisi and Lukuga.
In the wild they will eat small crustaceans. In captivity you can provide them with meaty foods such as artemia, krill, chopped prawns, cyclops and daphnia. The wil take most types of food. Important note is to feed divers types of food to keep the fish healthy.
If you want to keep this species it’s better to keep it as the main occupant of your tank. This will make them shine! Decorate the tank towards the needs of the Aulonocranus dewindti by providing big rocky sections on top of a thick sandy layer. Patches with boulders and fine sand are also greatly appreciated as they will use these areas to build a nest. In a 150 centimetres tank you can keep one male with a small group of females. Starting from 200 centimetres you can add an additional male on the condition sufficient females are present.
To keep the Aulonocranus dewindti healthy it is cruscial to monitor the quality of the water and to do regular changes. Maintain good oxygen levels by providing enough flow in the tank and by providing an air stone.
In the wild the male will build a nesting crater beneath a small rock or boulder. These burrows are distinct with the presence of course sand or little pebbles. In the tank, the male will do the same As soon as the nest is finished he will try and lure a female into the nest. If successful the female will be mouth brooded until up to 3 weeks after which the fry are spit out. They will then need to take care of themselves. An experienced female can have up to 30 fry. These fry can be fed with hatched artemia or grinded flakes. The fry will grow rather quickly and can become 2 centimetres in about 4 weeks.
John de Lange
Sue – Suephoto.com (no longer available)