Found in close association with rocky bottoms to depths of 5m(16ft)around the southern half of Lake Tanganyika.


These are the Tank details and conditions that I use to keep and breed N. sexfasciatus.
The tank size for a pair of these fish can be relatively small, mine are now kept in a 30x12x12 after pairing of in a 48x15x15. This is probably about right as the male does become very protective towards the fry and can attack the female.

Filtration is up to you but I use the same in this tank as I do in 90% of my tanks, Air driven undergravel. The undergravel is covered with ordinary gravel covered (1-2″) topped with a gravel tidy if you dont have this the female will dig down to the undergravel plates when cleaning out her spawning site. On top of the graveltidy I use about an inch of coral sand. Tank decoration can be rocks, flowerpots or pieces of pipe to make caves.

pH 8, normally the coral sand will help keep pH up around this mark. Temp 78-79o. Nitrate less than 25ppm the lower the better. Water changes of 10% per week if stock is small if stock increases monitor water conditions and change as necessary.


Sexual differences-Females are somewhat smaller and fuller-bodied than males but the only reliable means of sexing this species is by direct examination of the genital papillae.These fish seem to take an age to reach sexual maturity (app 18 months)and compared to a lot of species seem to need to be fully grown 9cm(3.5in) for males. 7 5cm(3in) for females. Pair Forming-The only reliable way to get a pair is to start with a group of similar sized young and let them grow on together that can seem to take forever with the slow maturing of this fish. Once a pair has formed most of the other fish are forced to leave the area, and the male and female defend the area usually with just threat displays.

Breeding-Once a pair has formed a spawning site is chosen in my case this was a broken flowerpot the floor of the site is then cleaned till it is spotless (in my tank they stopped when the reached the gravel tidy). The Stripes/bars of the male and female then fade until they have almost disappeared and the spawning then takes place, the eggs are laid on the floor and the female remains above them for a couple of days fanning them, as each egg hatches the female picks up the very tiny fry and moves them to a different spot. when all the eggs are hatched the fry numbering up to 200 are just a wriggling mass. Over the next few days the fry separate out more and can be feed with powered fry food or very newly hatched brine shrimp, the mother can also be seen chewing up and spitting out fish food.Click Here to find out how to hatch Brine Shrimp.

At this stage you might find the male becomes very aggressive and will attack any fish in his area or even you on the outside of the tank. The fry tend to roam more than a lot of species I have kept and can and do get picked of by other tankmates who swim in and snatch up the fry and then swim of (all very Quick). I have found that after 2/3 weeks the female no longer cares for the fry and they move in with the male who dos a very good job of protecting them (even from the female who gets attacked if she come to close to the group of fry.

To protect the fish there is a skin formula that protects the fish from the murky waters. It has some good write ups and is worth trying.

© Copyright 2002, J McCann, All Rights Reserved
This article was originally written for use by tanganyikan-cichlids.co.uk.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 09 March 2010 13:05 )  

Low Budget Fishroom

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This is not really a guide in “how to create a perfect fish room” since all I did was throw a bunch of tanks into a room in a reasonably organized manner, but I thought it might inspire someone to go ahead and do it even if they really cant afford it.

If you feel you need a fish room and you have some money to spend, then that’s fine and you might be able to go ahead and fulfil your dream. But what if you DON’T have money? Well, of course you still need a fish room and there’s no reason to wait until your economic situation is better.

Last Updated ( Monday, 08 February 2010 14:37 )


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The History Of Tropheus

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The Tropheus species from Lake Tanganyika is almost mythical among cichlid keepers. They are fragile, aggressive, expensive, need a special diet and easily get sick and die on you. The female holds her fry for an exceptionally long time and since the eggs are the largest among the mouth brooders each spawn is also among the smallest. Personally I believe that you shouldn’t let your self get scared off by all these rumours. If you just plan everything well you will be able to keep this species just as well as the other African cichlids.It is a beautiful fish and it is found in an amazingly large amount of varitys all over the lake. It is also a fish that gives great entertainment value. Personally I can sit for hours watching my Tropheus trying to figure out all the little social intrigues that goes on in the tank.

Tropheus showed up in the fish-keeping hobby for the first time in Germany in the mid seventies and very soon after that also in the US. But let’s go back in time to when people first got in contact with this extraordinary fish.

Tropheus live along rocky beaches all over Lake Tanganyika in east Africa where it is endemic. Most of the variants prefer a depth of 0,5-1 meter so we are talking very shallow waters except for the duboisi which is always found at a deeper level. The fish has probably been known by the locals for several 1000 years and has been and still is consumed as food on occasion. The reason it hasn’t been a major success at the dinner table is probably because it is small and hard to catch since it mostly lives very close to some kind of cavity among the rocks where it tends to hide as soon as it feels threatened.

Tropheus moorii, the begining

The first time it was encountered by scientists was towards the end of the 17th century when J.S. Moore made one of his many expeditions to the lake. During his expedition in the years 1895-96 he was collecting fish in the southern parts of the lake between Kinyamkolo and Mbity Rocks (Zambia) when he came across a fish that he had never seen before. It had an extremely blunt forehead and a very large amount of rays in its dorsal fin. The anal fin also had the largest amount of rays found so far in an African cichlid. It was dark brown and had a large yellow spot behind each pectoral fin. These fish where pickled and later on sent to George Albert Boulenger at the British Museum who made the scientific description of them.The fish that was examined by Boulenger was a holding female and it was the first ever caught mouth brooder of Lake Tanganyika. Up to this point the scientists believed that there possibly were only substrate brooders in the lake. Since it was the first mouth brooder found it was given the name Tropheus from the Greek word Trophos which means to “foster” or “bring up”. In honour of the person that had found the fish it was given the latinification of the name Moore resulting in Tropheus moorii.

Annectens, was it different?

In the year 1900 a type of Tropheus that looked a little different was found near the town of Albertville. Again the specimen was sent to Boulenger and he gave it the name Tropheus annectens.However Boulenger didn’t feel good about the description he had made and wasn’t sure about it. 1946 Max Poll investigated the very same fish more carefully and came to the conclusion that the differences between what Boulenger had called a Tropheus moorii and a Tropheus annectens was not enough to separate the two. He felt that the annectens had to stay in the same group as moorii until more information about their differences were collected.

The duboisi

It then took up to the year 1957 until the next type of Tropheus was found. This time it was a scientist by the name of J.Dubois that found a species by the village of Bempa in the northern parts of the lake. Strangely they found it at a considerable depth while looking for completely other types of fishes. This variant was found along a 300 meter line of rocks and at a depth of 3 to 12 meters. There was an orange variant of Tropheus moori at the same spot but the new variant was found much deeper and looked different in a number of ways. This put together made it quite clear that they had found a new type of Tropheus. The differences between this one and the ones found before was that it had a much more rounded mouth and the base of its teeth was covered by its lips which was not the case in the Tropheus moorii. The mouth was also located more towards the front of the head and not pointing downwards as on the T. moorii. The head was covered with something that looked a little like a blue “wax coating” and the fry did not have the normal vertical stripes but was instead covered with fine white spots. Some behavioural differences were noted as well. In the wild this variant seemed to move around by it self or in pairs and not in groups like the T. moori. The new variant was sent to Marlier who described it and gave it the name Tropheus duboisi after J. Dubois who had first located the species.

The brichardi and the polli

In 1975 Nelissen & Thys Van Den Audenaerde found enough evidence to create the new group called Tropheus brichardi. They were named after the famous cichlid importer Pierre Brichard.In 1977 the next discovery was made when a Tropheus with a different kind of caudal fin was found at Bulu Point on the Tanzanian side of the lake. This one had a “lyre tail”, which was black with yellow along the edges. It had been caught before but was thought to be a T. moori. Now it was described by G.S. Axelrod and placed in a category of its own under the name Tropheus polli. Axelrod was able to point out a couple of ecological differences between the polli and the moorii, one being that the T. polli is found at a depth of 6-8 meters and not along the shallow rocky beaches where the moorii was located. He also noted that the T. polli had only 4 rays in its anal fin and not 5-7 as the T. moorii.

Today there are considered to be eight different types of Tropheus, moorii, brichardi, duboisi, annectens, sp.”ikola”, sp.”black”, sp.”red”, sp.”mpimbwe”. The four carrying the letters sp. (species) are yet to be described as their own species or placed back into one of the categories of the others.

Article by Fredrik Hagblom. Photo: Fedrik Hagblom,

Last Updated ( Friday, 05 February 2010 08:24 )

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