Ocellated Shell-dweller | Lamprologus ocellatus
Cichlids / Africa / Lake Tanganyika / Ocellated Shell-dweller
Profile: Ocellated Shell-dweller
Lamprologus ocellatus Synonyms: Julidochromis ocellatus
Physical description: An elongated fish with a large mouth. The coloration is light brown to brown. A faint white stripe extends from the gill cover back to the caudal peduncle. Under this stripes is another faint stripe that is brown in color. Below this, down to the belly, a violet iridescent area is present. The eyes are large and located far up on the head. The lower half of the head is white. On the gill cover is a large, black spot. The fins are usually gray in color with the anal and caudal fins having small, pearl-colored spots. These fins also have dark edges. The dorsal fin has yellow edges (male) or white edges (female).
Size/Length: Males to 2.4" (6 cm), females to 1.4" (3.5 cm)
Similar species: N. brevis
Habitat: Eastern Africa; widespread throughout Lake Tanganyika. L. ocellatus lives in snail ( Neothauma) shells that are scattered about the muddy and sandy substrate. This fish lives at a depth from 13-100 feet (4-30 m).
Aquarium: A tank measuring 20" (50 cm) with a volume of 10 gallons (38 L) is sufficient. Use a sand substrate with a scattering of large, land snail shells. It is very important to provide at least one shell for each fish. The back of the tank should be arranged with rock structures for the other types of fish in the tank. Plant the tank with a few, robust plants.
Water chemistry: pH 7.5-9.0 (8.0), 8-22 dH (14), 73-81°F (23-27°C)
Social behavior: A highly territorial fish that defends its snail shell against all other fish regardless of their size. A fine fish for a Lake Tanganyika community tank.
Suggested companions: Julidochromis, Neolamprologus, Tropheus, Cyprichromis, Synodontis, Aulonocara, Lamprichthys, Afromastacembelus, Rainbowfish.
FOOD: Live; snails, crustaceans, Tubifex, aquatic insects, insect larvae; small tablets.
Sexual differences: Males are larger with a yellow edge on the dorsal fin.
Breeding techniques: See "Cavity Brooder" in the introduction of Lake Tanganyika Cichlids. The spawning occurs in the female's snail shell. The female is approached by the male and given a nudge on the side of her belly. She goes in the shell to lay 20-35 eggs. The male follows and fertilizes the eggs. He departs immediately after the spawning. The eggs hatch in 24-26 hours and the fry are free-swimming 5-7 days later. The female may not tolerate the young, so they are best removed and given their own tank or snail shells. The females intolerance of the fry does not always occur, sometimes she cares for the fry for up to two weeks. Start feeding with Artemia nauplii and crushed dry foods.
Breeding potential: 6. Breeding is moderately difficult. In a large tank with several fish and many snail shells, the chances of having a male and female are greater.
Remarks: Escargot shells are a happily accepted replacement for the Neothauma shell that are found in Lake Malawi. There is a gold morph.
Difficulty of care: 4. A hardy, little snail shell-dweller.