Neolamprologus obscurus is a fairly rare fish in the aquarium trade and is therefore not often kept in the hobby. Perhaps the appearance is one of the reasons, while the character is interesting. They have a red / brown color with dark brown stripes. The fin edges shine slightly blue and also have white dots. Males usually grow much larger than the females.
Neolamprologus obscurus is found on the southern shores of Lake Tanganyika. At a depth of 5 to 35 meters. They mainly occur in the transition area. The transition area is a zone with many small rocks covering the ground. These rocks vary between 5 and 80 centimeters.
The aquarium must contain rocks like almost every aquarium for Tanganyika Cichlids. But besides rocks, sand is also very important. Because Neolamprologus obscurus is a good digger, you should put a thick layer of at least 5 centimeters in your aquarium. They usually hide between the rocks, but if the aquarium is is a bit quieter, the male or female will come out of the rocks. It is best to place a tempex plate under the sand and under the rocks. As they dig a lot in the sand, sometimes the rocks start to roll. Better make sure the rocks are stable and if they tumble over can’t do much harm.
The water must be hard. A pH of 8.5 is best, especially when breeding. The GH must be between 9 and 11 and the KH between 12 and 17. A requirement is a temperature of at least 24 degrees Celsius, and a maximum of 26. I have my aquarium water at a temperature of 24 degrees, they do very well on this temperature.
They are real omnivores. I feed them dry food myself, but they also like to get some frozen or live food. A few examples of live food are:
- Brine shrimp
They say that the Neolamprologus obscurus grows better when given live food, but I have never noticed that.
They can be very aggressive, especially when it comes to defending their nest. They can also be large bullies and they don’t just shy away. Hardy tank mates are therefore required. Consider, for example:
- Lamprologus occelatus (Shelldweller)
- Lepidiolamprologus meeli (Shelldweller)
Breeding Neolamprologus obscurus
I was lucky to have a breeding pair, but breeding is easier than you think. Changing water weekly is of course one of the important things. You also have to feed a lot every day. With me, the female isolates herself when she has eggs. Then I am almost sure she has eggs again. The first few days the female barely eats, and the male is often chased away with a small tap. The male may only be present during fertilization.
- After about 1 week the female ate again, but she remained close to her rock.
- After 2 weeks, the female appeared slightly above her rock.
- After the 3rd week she defended the rock fiercely and moved a little further away from it. Then I could see tiny pinheads swimming back and forth.
- After about 4 weeks I saw the female swimming with the male again and vice versa.
- The male also defended the fry (even) fiercer. He even threatened me if I got too close.
- After 7 weeks, the fry already had stripes, they do not grow fast and there are about 20. They get about 25 eggs. The fry now feed together with the parents.
- After 9 weeks the youngsters are already a bit bigger. They now also swim around in front of the rocks. They are still fiercely defended, but there are now about 15. They are also 1 to 1.5 centimeters in size.
- After 13 weeks, the young take all sorts of food, are still defended, but slightly less fiercely. Growing is really not going fast. They are 2 centimeters in size. There are still about 15 young.
- After 16 weeks, the young are already 2.5 centimeters in length. They are more white in color than red/brown. The stripes are already nice and dark. The young are defended less and less, but still no fish can come close because there is a new nest.
It is useful to have some rocks in a different part of the aquarium. Unfortunately, not many of the fry survive very long and they grow slowly. It is best to feed the fry 2 or 3 times a day, this supports growth. The first batch contained around 25 eggs, only one survived. The second batch, 15 survived. The third and fourth nest showed the same survival rate.
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