The Neolamprologus brevis is an excellent choice if you want to raise cichlids but don’t have room for a large aquarium. These little fishes will only grow to 2.5 inches for males and 1.5 inches for females. Both sexes are light brown in color with several lighter vertical stripes distributed throughout the body.
Interestingly, Neolamprologus brevis live in empty snail shells in their native Lake Tanganyika. So their aquarium habitat should also be decorated with several shells for each member to choose from. Territorial fights for these shells do occur so the more shells the better. A fine gravel or sandy bottom should also be provided for these fish because they definitely have a need to dig and will rearrange the décor to their liking.
Although it is possible to keep a pair in a tank as small as 5 gallons, it is best to stick to a minimum size of at least 10 gallons. With a good filtration system and regular water changes you should have no problem maintaining healthy fishes. The temperature in the aquarium should be kept between 78-82 F with a pH of 8.0-8.6. These little guys are omnivorous and readily accept all types of fresh and prepared foods. Besides feeding a variety of protein sources (brine shrimp, bloodworms, etc.) it is important to also include vegetable based foods in their diet (spirulina flakes, specially formulated cichlid pellets, etc.). Although these fishes will vigorously defend their small territories, they are relatively peaceful and should not be kept with larger or aggressive fish.
Breeding the Neolamprologus brevis is relatively easy. It is best to begin by obtaining a group of juveniles and raising them together. Once they have reached sexual maturity they will pair off and a male and female will live together in the same shell. In fact, they will form a monogamous bond and probably use that same shell for the rest of their lives. When the female is ready to spawn she will lay her eggs in the shell and then the male will fertilize them.
Both parents will then guard the eggs and chase away anything that gets too close to their shell. The eggs should hatch in about three day’s time and the fry will continue to enjoy protection from their parents until they are 2 weeks old. The fry can be fed newly hatched brine shrimp as well as finely ground flake foods.
Compatible: Lake Tanganykan similar size, and African Catfish.