I received my first quartet of Chalinochromis
brichardi in September of 1999 entirely on a whim.
I was placing an order for another fish and wanted to make
the shipping costs worth it, so I began browsing the picture gallery
to see what else might appeal to me.
At this point, I had seen Neolamprologus
brichardi, but I had never even heard of the “other” brichardi.
One look at this white fish with its black “mask” and
purple/blue fins, and I knew I had to have them in my tank.
the juveniles arrived they looked like entirely different fish.
Under an inch long, they were incredibly white with black
horizontal pinstripes over their entire bodies.
Watching them grow and lose their juvenile coloring was
amazing. The stripes
simply got lighter and lighter and they retained charcoal colored
outlines for a very long time before they completely disappeared,
leaving only the black mask and a single black dot on the dorsal fin
behind. Their white bodies evolved to a more pink white color much
like the inside of a conch shell.
As they have gotten older they have acquired a golden cast
that is only periodically visible.
The blue/purple color of the pectoral fins and the matching
line running along the edges of the remaining fins becomes
breathtaking when the fish is entirely in color.
I have yet to see a photograph that does it justice.
brichardi is a modestly sized Tanganyikan
cichlid. I have
seen profiles granting the males up to 5.5 inches, but after much
research, discussion, and from personal experience, I have come to
the conclusion that one of that size would be a veritable giant!
My own adult male, at almost 2 years old, is about 3.5 inches
(which seems to be the norm), while my adult female is roughly an
inch smaller. These Tanganyikans are extremely slow growers. My own took
over a year after receiving them to grow to their present size.
brichardi is practically impossible in any way other than
guessing by size or venting. And
size is problematic, as you can have smaller males and/or larger
females making them basically the same in size.
I had no idea what I had until my first pair formed.
Incidentally, at that time, both were almost exactly the same
size, until the male continued to grow while the female remained her
previous size. There is no sexual dimorphism, though my own female tends to
show her full color less often than my male.
The males do tend to have slightly more elongated pectoral
fins, so this can be used as a clue to sexing if you have a member
of the opposite sex to compare.
Breeding these beauties has been one of the many high points
in my fish keeping experience. This is not to say it was not troublesome until they
“taught” me what they needed.
As stated before, there were originally four juveniles, and
they were kept with a pair of Lamprologus
meleagris in a 20 gallon aquarium.
When my current pair formed, this set up became impossible,
as the meleagris chose to
spawn in unison with the C.
the two pairs, there was far too much aggression for such a small
tank to hold. The meleagris
were removed and housed in their own tank, and the C. brichardi were left.
it soon became quite apparent that the tank was insufficient for the
four adults and fry. One
of the unpaired fish was harassed to the point it jumped the tank
through a very small opening in the back, becoming my first, and
thankfully, only, “crispy carpet critter”.
I feared for the life of the remaining C.
brichardi, and it was given to a friend along with a dozen of
the fry from the first spawn. Once
there were only the pair and the fry from their second spawn, peace
was restored. In light
of this, I wouldn’t even attempt to keep more than one pair in
anything smaller than a 50 gallon.
The remaining pair uses the whole of the 20 gallon as their
territory, with the male stationed at one end, and the female at the
Aside from these initial problems, everything has run
smoothly in the breeding process. My pair is kept at a pH of 8.8, a GH and KH of 300+, and at a
temperature of 76 F. The
substrate, originally fine gravel, was changed to sand.
Water changes are 20% once every two weeks. On one side of my tank, I had created caves made entirely of
rock, and on the other I used small clay flowerpots. I broke a chip
from the mouth of the pots and set them upside down.
The female chose the pots to lay her eggs, and has used the
same pot ever since the first spawn.
It was something of a disappointment, as I thought them ugly
after I put them in the tank and was going to remove them.
Apparently she likes them, though, so they will just have to
keep being ugly in the tank.
fish are secretive spawners, and I have yet to catch them in the
act. Several times I
didn’t even know that there were eggs until the first fry roamed
from the clay pot. The
only indications of eggs and newly hatched fry without seeing them,
is that the female stays inside the pot rather then sitting outside
the opening and the male begins to make rounds.
It took me quite some time to figure out this aspect of the
males’ behavior. When
there are eggs and fry he doesn’t stand guard outside the pot, but
stays in his own cave. He
has chosen a position where he faces the laying site and can keep an
eye on things from across the tank.
Periodically he comes out and simply glides past the pot
taking a look inside to ensure everything is going well, then
returns to his watch from across the tank
They are fiercely devoted to their new fry, even keeping fry
and juveniles from previous spawns at bay.
At around 4 weeks old, the fry are allowed to leave the
immediate vicinity of the pot, but never stray very far.
At this time, the fry from previous spawns are again allowed
to roam the tank as they please without being chased off by either
of their parents. When they are about 6-8 weeks old they move out
from the pot, and new eggs are almost immediately laid. It has been a continuous cycle since the first spawn.
There were many times I thought (even hoped) they would cease
spawning because the tank had become crowded with older fry, but
they continued to spawn, though I suspect some were eaten, or simply
Feeding is a simple task as well.
They have yet to refuse any food item, except for vegetables,
that I have offered. The
adults have a diet of flakes, small cichlid pellets, brine shrimp,
mosquito larvae, and they particularly enjoy live bloodworms, though
they receive frozen much more often.
The newly hatched fry are fed baby brine, Aquarian powdered
fry food, and crushed flakes. They
have a ravenous appetite, and would eat as often, and as much, as I
chose to feed them, but I normally feed once a day, periodically
skipping a day.
in all, C. brichardi is a
beautiful, graceful, and interesting fish.
Their tank is probably my favorite to watch, the swimming
patterns and colors are very soothing.
They glide and hover in one spot rather than swim, and every
move they make is deliberate and graceful.
Even the fry move in this way, and sometimes they will all
stop swimming at the same time, and it becomes the tank “that time
forgot”. I would
suggest this lovely fish to any fish keeper, beginners and experts
(Tn, USA) has been a close friend of MCH
for some years now. Being a hobbyist herself she has helped editing
articles (our official Editor-in -Chief).
page for more pictures.
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Page last modified on 09/03/2002