Julidochromis regani

Julidochromis regani is found over almost entire Lake Tanganyika and therefore has various colour variations. The females grow bigger than the males!

Julidochromis regani

Julidochromis regani was first described in 1942 by Max Poll. The species name regani pays tribute to Charles Tate Regan (1878 – 1943), the British ichthyologist who became director of the Natural History Museum in London.


Of the Julidochromis species, Julidochromis regani is one of the largest along with Julidochromis marlieri. The males can reach a total length of about 12 centimetres. In this species, the female becomes even larger and can grow to about 14 to 15 centimetres. The colour of the fish makes sexing the fish very difficult. When you turn the fish over, it can only be seen from the genital papilla whether you are dealing with a man or a woman.

Because the Tanganyika Lake is so extensive, a number of local colour variations have arisen. Some of the local variants come from:

– Burundi: 4 thick black stripes on a cream background.
– Kachese: four or five very thick stripes on a cream background. This fish is very dark in colour.
– Kerenge: 3 black stripes on a bright yellow background.
– Kigoma: four or five very thick black stripes on a cream background
– Kipili: 3 thin black stripes on a yellow / cream background
– Zambia / Sumbu: 4 thick black stripes on a yellow background

The Kipili variant is the most common in the aquarium world. The mentioned variants are certainly not the only variants but the best known.


It is a species that forms a monogamous couple. They stay together for the rest of their lives. They are downright aggressive towards conspecifics and you can only keep several pairs in large aquariums with enough space to create their own territory. Even then, they will occasionally continue to fight to define the boundaries. They leave other fish species completely alone and are therefore easy to combine with other Tanganyika cichlids. The fact that they leave other species completely alone does not mean that they cannot be aggressive. They certainly hold their own and in defending their territory they certainly do not shy away from fighting.


Julidochromis regani occurs over a wide area in Lake Tanganyika. The ground colour and stripes differ per fishing location. The scientists are not yet sure whether they should divide this species into different groups. Given the external differences, I wouldn’t be surprised if they are split up.

In the wild, Julidochromis regani occurs above sandy areas interspersed with rock formations. They form a territory around a cavity between some stones. They mainly live in some shallow water around 10 meters deep. Because they do not live so deep and the water is broken by the rocks, the water is oxygen-rich.


This rock inhabitant feeds on what is available on the rocks. These are mainly algae and crustaceans. They are not picky in the aquarium. Both dry food, flakes and cichlid sticks are eaten, but they prefer frozen or live food. Make sure they also get some vegetable food like spirulina flakes to keep them healthy.

The Aquarium

This is a Tanganyika cichlid that grows quite large. Because you often do not keep them alone, a fairly large aquarium is necessary. You need space for the other species but also for rocks. For a pair of Julidochromis regani in combination with other species, we recommend an aquarium of at least  150 centimetres long.

Decorate the aquarium with sand on the bottom. Place enough rocks with holes, cracks and crevices in between. They can establish a territory around a hole or crack. Make sure that there is some sand between the rocks above which the fish can swim around.

Plants hardly occur in the biotope of Julidochromis regani. If you really want to use plant, you can think of tough plants such as Vallisneria, Anubias or Java fern. In my Tanganyika aquarium, even these plants have never done well. The fish kept picking them and the plants never grew larger than a couple of centimetres.

Breeding Julidochromis regani

This species forms a couple. It is best to start with 5 or 6 young fihs. A couple will automatically form from your group. As soon as a couple has formed, the other conspecifics are chased away. It is important to remove them quickly. The couple will continue to chase them away until death follows. The couple searches for a cavity between the rocks to breed. They are very sneaky spawners. You will often not even realize they have a nest.

They lay up to 200 eggs in the cavity between the rocks. Initially, the fry can be fed with freshly hatched brine shrimp and dust food. As they grow you can start feeding with finely crushed flakes and other small frozen or live food.

It is not uncommon for the parents to start a new nest while the previous fry are still present. As soon as the young become too big to the taste of the parents, they are chased away.



John de Lange

Copyright images

John de Lange


Tanganyika Cichliden in hun Natuurlijk omgeving, Ad Konings
Cichlidae nouveaux du lac Tanganika appartenant aux collections du Musée du Congo”. Revue de Zoologie et Botanique Africaines, Max Poll

Last Updated on 23 May 2020 by John


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