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Lamprologus Species Overview, Types & Care Guide

Looking for setting up an aqua space with small, carnivorous fish in your home or your private office? There is no better choice than Lamprologus fish.

They’re only 7-15 cm with great variants which each has unique performance but with no hassling maintenance. The aquarium tank would fit limited personal or professional space and become the central attraction.

It is one of the greatest freshwater fish species native to Congo rivers.

With only 6” in length(depending on the type). The fish can generally live and grow in a 48-inches treated aquarium tank with good oxygenation and maintained temperature.

Species Overview

Level of CareMedium
TemperamentAggressive, the spectrum depends on the species
AppearanceSmallest cichlids, frog-faced
Life Expectancy20 years
Size6 inches
Tank Size160 liters/40 gallon
Tank EnvironmentIt can survive and breed in the controlled water parameters and environment
Tank MatesMales should be separated. Several females for one male.

It refers to the genus of fish from the cichlid family. These fish are native to Congo rivers hosted in the Republic of Congo territory, especially the Lake Tanganyika.

The fish inhabits the fast-moving area of the Congo rivers with high levels of oxygen. Several species from the Lampro genus are those shell dwellers.

There are tens of species from the Lampro genus that have different appearances and even slightly different behaviors. They have different colors and motifs but share a small body size and omnivorous appetite.

These fish are generally territorial species and tend to be aggressive. The male is polygamous and very protective of their territory. There would be several females for a male that would breed up to 80 eggs in a cave.

Keeping and breeding these fish in a medium size aquarium tank is possible with a well-maintained environment. These include the proper water pH, water flow, temperature, and the tank or aquatic setup.

Lamprologus Types

There are at least twenty different Lampro species but not all of them are widely available for the aquarium trade. As it’s growing the popularity among aquatic lovers, these are some common species bred in the tank:

Lamprologus Ocellatus

2 lamprologus ocellatus fighting over shells

It could have been the most popular regular Lampro in the aquarium trades. The species does well in larger colonies in the aquarium environment and requires no special care to raise the young fish. You can have great excitement with a greater population of Lampro in your tank.

Neolamprologus Brevis

Shell dwelling cichlid

The shell dwellers are the more peaceful species and smaller version of the regular Lamprologus. Don’t get it wrong, this small fish is fierce and tough enough to wound your fingers. These fish live in smaller congregations that can suit your 20-gallon aquarium tank.

Neolamprologus Hecqui

It’s also known as Lepidiolamprologus hecqui, a fierce fish that can get your finger in its mouth. Just like other Lampro, the males are dominating and polygamous so the tank would host harems if you keep groups of N. hecqui in the same aquarium.

You can even keep one pair of Neolamprologus hecqui with no problem if you have smaller ones but they’d be very territorial and aggressive when spawning.

It should be noted that even though Lampro has general tank requirements, each species may require specific water parameters for an ideal environment. Ensure you employ the best possible tank setup for your Lampro setup.

Tank Setup

If you want to grow Lampro in a tank, follow these requirements and setup

The ideal tank measurement for Lampro inhabitants is around 160 liters (48”x12”x15”) or larger if you want to have more mates. The tank’s width should be prioritized over height and length. You better have a wider than a higher tank for them.

You should maintain the temperature of the tank between 23-25 °C(73-77 °F) throughout time. If you’re living in a colder place, you better invest in an aquarium heater to keep the best environment for them.

Even though each Lampro species may require different water conditions, you better keep the pH between 6.0 to 7.5. Some species can live in the higher pH water so you need to manage the ideal threshold if you have more mates for your Lamprologus fish.

Once you’ve set up the tank, you better keep the tank level from bottom to middle and avoid higher water levels to manage the best possible environment for your Lamprologus fish. That’s why the wider tank is more ideal for the shell dweller than the higher one.

Lamprologus’ original habitats are the rivers with strong flowing water. At this point, you must manage stronger water flows in the aquarium. You can use the internal pump or a small powerhead to promote stronger water flow.

The aquarium tank must have a hardness of 5-15°H and it’s not necessary to have the harder one except if you need the larger tank.

The water in the aquarium must be well-oxygenated to keep the best living environment for these fish. That’s why you must keep the bottom-middle water level to maintain a well-oxygenated aquarium habitat. Setting up aquatic plants would also be a great help to promote the oxygen level in the aquarium.

The use of fine sand is highly recommended for your tank setup. It’s because most Lamprologus love to dig very much.

You better avoid coarse coral to prevent your fish from damaging themselves. You can apply a 5cm depth of substrate or the finer aquarium silver sand for the community tank.

The aquarium for Lamprologus should have their habitat-like arrangement. You can set a sandy substrate and form cavers from rocks or other aquatic materials for the hiding places. Since the males are generally more aggressive, more hiding places would be better.

Tank Mates

As previously mentioned, Lamprologus fish are generally territorial and aggressive freshwater carnivores, especially males.

You can keep several females with one male in the same aquarium with no problems. However, you must set more hiding places if you want to keep more than one male in the same tank.

Other species can also be good tank mates for Lamprologus fish as long as you can maintain more space(or simply a larger aquarium).

Some great ideas include Rheophilic Synodontis, Chaetostoma sp., Alestiid tetras, larger characins, etc. However, you must not keep these with other Cichlid fish.

Lamprologus can get along well with their suitable tank mates as long as the space is sufficient. It would be better to separate the male fish into different aquariums but you can pair each of them with several female fish.

Orange lamprologus ocellatus in a tank

Food & Diet

First of all, Lamprologus are omnivores, so they’re generally not picky on food and you won’t face hardships when feeding these fish.

They’d accept most foods including live foods, frozen foods, and dry flakes with no problems. However, it’s still highly suggested to use high-quality foods only.

For practical and nutritional reasons, you may consider meat-based or seafood-based fish foods to feed your Lamprologus in the aquarium. However, it would be best to feed them with a great variety of foods including living clamps or insect larvae, or dried and frozen foods.

The variety of foods not only plays a key role in their optimum health but also the coloration and overall shape. You can use processed foods or pellets but it should be a part of a larger diet that includes living foods.

It’s not difficult to feed Lamprologus but you keep the diet diversification, frequency, and volume. Take into account how many fish are in the tank, the tank mates, and other factors as bases to multiply the feeding dose.

Breeding Guidelines

Male should be kept together with several females but separately from other males. You can set up hiding places in the aquarium to maintain their aggressiveness.

Since they’re territorial fish, your tank setup must enable them to make territory by using the hard aquatic plants, stones, or driftwood.

Nutritional aspects are very important for breeding Lamprologus. Food diversification previously mentioned must be promoted as their regular diet to enhance fertility.

The optimum temperature for breeding is 26 °C (79 °F) which would enable the eggs to hatch after a couple of days.

Lamprologus may lay up to 80 eggs in the cave you’ve set up in the aquarium. These can typically swim around after eight days. The male fish would protect their territory firmly while the females are caring for their fry.

Since it is a polygamous cave spawner then setting up a proper cave for the harem is very important while all tank requirements mentioned above must be fulfilled. You must provide a male fish with several female fish for optimum breeding.

You can feed the young ones with microworm or seafood flakes once they can swim freely in the aquarium. Ensure that you keep adequate food supplies for the whole population now occupying the tank.