Tanganyikan Killie: Lamprichtys Tanganicanus

Jewel of the Rift: By Tony Straton

lamprichtys tanganicanus

There is hardly a more entertaining or more beautiful fish than Lamprichtys tanganicanus. Shimmering in the top water of Lake Tanganyika, this huge killie fish definitely will catch your attention.

The fish, Lamprichthys tanganicanus, is endemic to the lake only. Although there are pictures accompanying this article, let me try to describe the fish to you. Males can grow to six inches. Their body base color is a pale jade green with electric neon blue scales arranged horizontally down the length of the fish. A relatively deep bodied fish, the anal, dorsal and tail are bright yellow with blue striations and edging. There is also a strain with red instead of yellow found in some locations in the lake. Females are smaller, growing to perhaps four inches. Females are a little brighter green than the males in sunlight.

Lamprichtys tanganicanus is a voracious eater completely becoming a blur over food when the tank is fed. Since the fish normally stays in the upper regions of the tank expect that slow moving, shy species learn not only is it safe with these fish overhead but hesitation at feeding time will result in hunger. Lamprichthys won't leave leftovers. They, like all tanganyikans, love baby brine shrimp as well as mysis, and black/brown worms.

Water conditions necessary for the fish have been greatly overstated by popular myth. The fish lives in the same lake as your other tanganyikan fish. I have not found any special requirements. But I would imagine that good housekeeping is necessary as with any other fish from the lake. If you aren't going to pay attention to the ph, hardness, or nitrate levels in your tank, then perhaps the fish is too delicate for you. I normally change 50% of my water at least every week. The fish will actually compete to be in the stream of fresh water during a water change. They will also enjoy swimming in the current of the output of your canister filter.

The other myth about having to cup any fish you remove from the tank is also just that, a myth that someone enjoyed as a bit of mirth.

Reproduction is straightforward. A male will display to a female, flashing his colors while rapidly circling a female to steer her toward the spot to spawn. Picture a sheep dog at hyper speed; when a male finds a somewhat receptive female he is capable of blinding speed. In the lake the male will steer a female over to a crack in the rocks. He will literally demonstrate what he wants by drawing his body across the crack and he will spin around behind the female and coax her into doing the same thing. At times males will get aggressive and mouth the female in front of her dorsal pushing her into the crack where she will expel an egg and he fertilizes it.

In captivity, the behavior is similar but the fish will adapt to some circumstances. Many breeders will use a dark spawning mop. Others will use a plastic tray containing pieces of slate, marble or ceramic tiles on end giving the fish a semi-natural site, leaving a crack between the pieces to spawn in. The eggs are about 2.5 mm in diameter. Females lay at least once a day but usually twice. Fry hatch after about 21-22 days with no parental care. Be aware that if you leave the eggs in the tank to hatch, the parents will see the fry as food. Fry, newly hatched, are about 1 cm or 3/8" and will eat live baby brine. Flake food will be unsuccessful as the fry seem to need the impetus of food moving to stimulate them to eat.

Fry are also known to be predatory in sizes larger than ¾”. Keep that in mind when raising a batch; they will eat newly hatched fry. The fry hatch at night. I keep the eggs in a separate yogurt container with a woman’s foot stocking over the cut out bottom of the cup for circulation of oxygenated water. When they hatch I dip the cup with the fry into a grow-out tank allowing them to swim free to feed.

Other behavior in the tank is the ritual display that two males contesting for dominance will perform. Males will circle each other, noses to tails all the while shaking and displaying their finnage usually in a clockwise direction. Although I have never seen any nipping during these displays, the display can last several minutes. It is my understanding that this ritual is seen everywhere in the lake.

Females, when left as the only two in a tank will fight as well. While male battles are mostly display, females are vicious and I would not be surprised to see them kill each other. It is much better to keep four females and forego the aggression

Try Lamprichtys tanganicanus as an alternative to the Cyprichromis syndrome.

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More on Lamprichtys Tanganicanus

Lamprichtys tanganicanus is the only Killie endemic to Lake Tanganyika in Africa. This fish is found offshore in large schools shoaling along rocky rifts. It is an egg depositor and favors deep crevices where the female can lodge her eggs.

Lamprichtys tanganicanus grows to approximately 6" (15cm) in length. Flakes, mysis shrimp and other live foods are consumed readily.

In the aquarium it is important to leave plenty of room for the fish to school. The males are colorful, showing iridescent blues and yellows, while the females are mostly gray. A good population in the aquarium would be 2 males and 4 females. Too many males tend to bicker and the fish may not breed as readily.

Breeding takes place in rock crevices. Flat pieces of slate glued together on top of each other make great places to breed. Create a holder for this, and hang it over the back of the aquarium for easy removal. Breeding takes places higher in the tank and not on the rocks resting on the bottom. The parents deposit a couple eggs daily, so you should check on a regular basis. Remove the eggs and let them hatch in a bowl. The eggs take about 3 weeks to hatch and the babies will grow quickly when feed baby brine shrimp. You will see young fry emerging every day or so, corresponding to the spawning in the tank. From here you can move them to their own small fry tank with a bubble filter.

Lamprichtys tanganicanus do very well with most other fish from Lake Tanganyika. It is not recommended to put this fish into a mixed tropical fish tank. This killie can get a little aggressive and will defend it breeding area. Other Tanganyikan fish that share the same areas of water are also not recommended. Cyprochromis and parachyprochromis do not mix well. Julidochromis, synodonits, altolamprologus and lamprologus are some examples of fish that will do very well.

We hope you give Lamprichtys tanganicanus a chance! You will not be disappointed.

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