After observing the Altolamprologus
calvus parents for a few days I knew that they spawned
again. I looked carefully into the shell every day and at a
sudden moment I saw several tiny dots moving. This was
clearly the sign for me to start the "NO RISK" procedure. I
was very determined to raise as much calvus fry as possible,
and I knew from previous experiences that leaving them in
the large tank would mean the same as losing all of them.
After all, a juvenile that leaves the shell and that doesn't
find the way back home is a welcome snack for all other
cichlids in the tank. In a later stage when the parents will
have their very own tank I'll leave the shell in there to
observe the care that the parents will take in raising their
own fry when they are not disturbed by other cichlids.
Anyway, this is where I could only dream of at that very
moment, so I unpacked a new 40L tank that I bought during
the previous spawn and put it in the living room where I am
most of the time. I started with adding 20L water, 0.5L sand
and a rock from the mother tank. Then I cut a bit of
filtration sponge out of the existing tank to be put in the
small motor filter and did a short "test drive". All seemed
OK so I decided to fill it up with another 15L water of the
mother tank. Then I took a transparent 1L measuring beaker
and went downstairs to get the shell with the fry. The
parents moved back when my hand entered the water (With
lamprologus occelatus these hands would probably have been
attacked fiercely for a few times already!) and I gently put
the shell into the beaker and lifted it from the bottom. I
carefully poured out the excess of water and went upstairs
to the 40L tank. Once there the beaker was submersed and the
shell was put on the bottom with the greatest care. Then I
filled up the tank with the remaining water in the bucket
and left the shell in peace. Less than an hour later the
first juvenile came out of the shell and moved a bit over
the sand. By night almost all of them were out of the shell
and they rested on the rock or the sand. I fed them for the
first time with a tiny bit of JBL novo Tom artemia. There
was not much response though.
The first little calvus out of the shell.
Now all of them were out of the shell
resting on the bottom. When I switched on the light some of
the fry reacted a bit skittish, but they didn't freak out
though. Again I fed them with the JBL powder food and I saw
some of them jumping from the bottom to grab a particle.
They seemed to get the taste of it. The water became a bit
hazy, most probably of the mechanical filtration that was
not quite perfect yet. This worried me a bit though ,and I
thought that a water change would not be a bad idea. This is
known to be the most difficult part in raising these
Tanganyika cichlids though, as they don't tolerate changing
water parameters very good. I talked about this issue with
my friend Staf, and he admitted that he lost some of his
Synodontis petricola juveniles with every water change. Yes,
getting these calvus to adulthood with no losses at all was
my main target and would be very satisfying. After work I
fed them again and I decided to do the water change the next
The sloooooow water change. I decided
that 30% would be enough to start with. A 20L bucket was
filled with fresh tap water with the right temperature.
After aerating it very well for 30 minutes I've put this
bucket on a higher shelf near the tank and I used an air
hose to siphon the fresh water into the tank. It took me
more than 30 minutes to add 15L water, but it was worth it
in my opinion. "Better safe than sorry" is the main MCH
motto, and it was certainly of use here! I also attached an
air hose to the power filter for better aeration. This also
cleared the surface from floating dirt. I fed the fry 4
times that day, and I saw them going after the food more
eagerly every time!
The haze was completely gone now. Food
was eagerly taken and given in the morning, at 10am, at noon
and at 11pm when I arrived back home from work. Do they
grow? I think YES! Do they die? Not a chance!
Day 5 and beyond
5 feedings and again the sloooooow
water change. After feeding them they even came to the upper
half of the tank to eat food particles there! I continued
this schedule during the next days.
5 days after the move: A juvenile resting
on the heater.
16 days after the move. If you compare
it's size with that of the heater you see that it has grown
quite a bit. They don't look like their parents yet, but I
hope that this will change soon!
After a month
the calvus fry were moved to a larger grow-out tank and they
also tolerated water changes like any other African cichlid
would allow. They didn't grow much though. I talked with a
Tanganyika connoisseur about my experiences with these
calvus, and he told to me that a slow growth rate in the
first months is quite normal for them. Now I knew what to
expect, so raising them would not become too frustrating in
End of August 2005: not much changes in the body yet.
September 2005: the shape of the mouth seems to change a
October 2005: The 3 month fry already resemble their parents
much more. Click for a larger image.
Photo of the Month - November 2005
After 3 months
I can finally notice some progress in the growth of the
Altolamprologus calvus. Their body shape resembles that of
the parents much more than in the very first beginning and
you can clearly distinguish the males from the females as
they are definitely much larger. Also their behaviour get
more pronounced by the day. I keep on feeding them very
regularly and they get frequent and massive water changes
that don't seem to have nasty effects on them. After all
most people say that Tanganyika cichlids only tolerate water
changes at a volume of 25% maximum each time...