Neolamprologus fasciatus (Boulenger, 1898)
Neolamprologus fasciatus is an endemic species living in Lake Tanganyika and belonging to the tribe Lamprologini. Its adherence to genus has been a topic of generic scholar disputes for many years. This species was for the first time chracterised in 1898, by George Albert Boulenger as Lamprologus fasciatus. In 1985, Robert and Jean Colombe Allgayer numbered fasciatus among the newly created genus Neolamprologus taking the basis of the structure of the skull bone into consideration. In 1998, Ad Konings, basing on the similarity of external morphology, placed him to genus Altolamprologus. The name Altolamprologus fasciatus had been used until 2007, when Stephan Koblmüller supporting his view by the phylogenetic researches denied Koning’s conclusions, suggesting the name Neolamprologus fasciatus again. However, some people do not share the view of Koblmüller (inter alia Ad Konings) and still use the “old” name. That is why this fish can be found under three names in the literature.
The generic name “fasciatus” – comes from Latin word fascia, which means stripped.
Neolamprologus fasciatus can be seen along the entire coastline of Lake Tanganyika. Numerous populations live in the central-southern part of the lake, while in the north it occurs occasionally. Despite the large area of occurrence there is no significant difference in colouration. These fish can be found at a depth of 2 to 15 meters. They mainly live on rocky coasts, although at the time of their wandering they can also plunge to open areas. They are loners but live in couples during the spawning periods. They are also fast and efficient swimmers.
Fasciatus are a typical predators. In nature, the main component of their diet are young fish, but they do not despise crustaceans. The structure of their body helps them search the slots of shells and rocks in order to find food such as: hard roe and fry of other cichlids. Another way for Fasciatus to acquire food is by hunting and the attack may occur even from a several meters distance.
Structure of the body
Neolamprologus fasciatus is one of the largest fish in the Lamprologini tribe. Male grows up to 14 cm, female up to 9 cm. The body is elongated, grayish-white with several lateral black-brown stripes. One of the stripes starts on the head, other are located on each side of the body. Near the tail stripes became getting lighter. The first stripe can be noticed between the eyes, last one changes into a spot at the base of the tail fin. Pectoral fins are transparent. On pectoral, dorsal, anal and tail fins blue and orange spots can be noticed. These fins have a blue and orange edges, the color may vary according to a place where they occurre. The front part of the dorsal fin is often blackish.
Characteristics for fasciatus are enormous, highly placed, bluish eyes and a huge mouth filled with a number of teeth directed towards the oral cavity.
Sexual dimorphism is not marked strongly. Females are smaller, usually pale colored, and their dorsal fins are rounded, while males have these fins sharply ended. During the mating season head and mouth of male overlap with orange dots and mouth become orange, fins and body become slightly orange glow.
Reproduction of this species is not difficult. The female searches for a suitable slot or shell hidden in the jungle of rocks, thoroughly cleans it and then starts unique dance. Hangs up over the male head down. Male, if not interested, nibbles her, often causing damage to the fins. If however, the male is convinced begins to swim around, presenting its attractions. The female spawns inside, and then male fertilizes to flap the fins. The female is responsible for guarding the hard roe and fries. For most of the time the female moves its fins, directing oxygenated water into the hiding place. Nursing by a female ends when young fish leave the shell or rock cracks. It usually happens after about three weeks from fertilization. The male guards the hideout from a short distance chasing away the intruders. For a male nursing before the fry leave the shelter. There can be up to 150-200 young fish in a litter (literature usually lowers the quantity). They look similar to fry of Neolamprologus callipterus which is the closest related to fasciatus. Offspring have elongated body which is pearly-grey. There are disproportions in growing – the males grow much faster. Fasciatus reach sexual maturity at about 12-15 months.
Aquarium for Neolamprologus fasciatus
Aquarium for “fasciatus” should settle in a manner typical for bigger members of tribe Lamprologini. They are inquisitive and very alive fish. The minimum length of the container for a couple is 120 cm with clearly separated area for swimming. It is good to have gaps between rocks and large shells hidden between the rocks. These can be used by a female for shelter and place to lay hard roe.
The parameters of water and temperature are as for the other inhabitants of Lake Tanganyika.
Neolamprologus fasciatus is a typical predator. It eats every live and frozen food . The variety of the diet consists of fish fry and that should be remembered if you want to reproduce them together with fasciatus. Flaked food is consumed less willingly.
Young fasciatus should be feed with Artemia larvae and fragmented food for adult fish.
The experience of breeding
Three years ago we bought a pair of Neolamprologus fasciatus. These were wild-caught adult fish. Initially, they were sharing 240-liter tank together with a pair of Altolamprologus calvus Black, two pairs of Altolamprologus compressiceps Gold and a pair of Neolamprologus brevis. Fish lived in harmony. The fasciatus male was chased by altolamprologus only during the spawning and care for offspring periods.
The fasciatus spawned many times, in a large shell placed next to rocks. With this company there was no chance for the fry to survive. Only when we moved the shell with hard roe in it to a separate aquarium, we had an opportunity to monitor juveniles and young individuals. I need to emphasize the high male to female aggression, especially after the completion of care for offspring.
Six months ago they have been moved to the fish tank with a capacity of 1,287 liters. Currently there is 12 individuals of Altolamprologus calvus Black, 4 individuals of Altolamprologus compressiceps Gold, 8 of individuals Cyphotilapia frontosa Bulumbora, 18 individuals of Cyprichromis sp. “Leptosoma Jumbo” Mpimbwe Yellow Head, a pair of “Gnathochromis” pfefferi, Neolamprologus prochilus, N. fasciatus, N. brevis and Mastacembelus moori. Fasciatusy live in harmony with all other fish. They often swim around the aquarium, are very social. Also they sometimes visit the shell and rock crevices in search of hard roe of other aquarium inhabitants.
Society for Neolamprologus fasciatus
Keeping more than one pair of these fish is not recommend, because males can be aggressive towards each other (especially during the spawning season). We did not observe outside-species aggression. A good company for fasciatus would be the fish of the genus Altolamprologus, Julidochromis, Cyprichromis and bigger representatives from the tribe Lamprologini.
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Magdalena and Przemysław Mirek
1. Boulenger G. A., 1898, Report on the collection of fishes made by Mr. J.E.S. Moore in Lake Tanganyika during his expedition, 1895-1896. With an appendix by J.E.S. Moore., Transactions of the Zoological Society of London, 15 (1) 1: 7.
2. Colombe J., Allgayer R., 1985, Description de Variabilichromis, Neolamprologus et Paleolamprologus, genres nouveaux du lac Tanganyika, avec rédescription des genres Lamprologus Schilthuis, 1891 et de Lepidiolamprologus Pellegrin, 1904 (Pisces, Teleostei, Cichlidae)., Rev. Fr. Cichlidophiles, 49 (5): 9-16, 21-28.
3. Koblmüller S., Duftner N., Sefc K. M., Aibara M., Stipacek M., Blanc M., Egger B., Sturmbauer C., 2007, Reticulate phylogeny of gastropod-shell-breeding cichlids from Lake Tanganyika ? the result of repeated introgressive hybridization, BMC Evolutinary Biology, 7: 7.
4. Konings A., 1998, Tanganyika Cichlids in their natural habitat, Cichlid Press, St. Leon-Ro. Konings A., 2002, Pielęgnice moja pasja, Cichlid Press, Tigra System Polska, Piaseczno.
5. Konings A., 2005, Back to Nature. Przewodnik po świecie pielęgnic z Tanganiki, Fohrman Aquaristic AB, Tigra System Polska, Piaseczno.
This article has been published in the journal “Magazyn Akwarium (Aquarium Magazine)” 2 / 2008 (96)