BREEDING THE LEPIDIOLAMPROLOGUS NKAMBAE

It all started on a dark and stormy night. Nothing on television interested me. so did what I suspect a lot of cichlidiots do on a night such as this, I started digging through our fish library and took out Tanganyika cichlids in their natural habitat by Ad Konings. What usually happens to me when I do this, (much to my husband Rickís chagrin), is I find a fish that I feel I have to have and try to spawn. This night turned out to be not much different. I found THE fish, a I MUST HAVE THIS, kind of fish. I excitedly showed the picture to Rick, he looked at me, looked bored, I remember thinking, and said; "Oh yeah, the Nkambae, Steve has some babies I sold him awhile back." Of course, I should have known, there are not too many fish Rick has not spawned, but it still did not curb my desire for obtaining Steveís fish. Luckily for us, Steve was getting bored with his fish, a quick trade ensued and I was happily looking for a tank to put my new "pets" in.

Before the fish were delivered, I had to do some research on them. The Nkambae is a geographical variant of the L. kendalli. The Nkambe appears to have more white marks on it, with more turquoise color on the jaw. The kendalli is has less white on it and has more of a green on the jaw. Both fish are found between Nkambae Bay in Zambia and Kala in Tanzania. They are both egg layers. The males can reach 12+", with the females being 25% smaller or so.

Rick had told me that when he was raising them, he started out with approx. 20 fish in one tank by themselves and they one by one killed each other off. Although they did eventually spawn. Because of past experiences, we decided to put the fish in a 125 gal tank. This is a community tank that also houses (housed) Cyprichromis Kitumba, Lamprologus Giant Mpimbwe Calliurus, a couple of A. Bristlenose, 6- 6 line Frontosa babies and last but not least Julidochromis regani. It is decorated with breeding bells, the usual clay pots, caves and the occasional rock or two.

Steve brought our fish over 5 of them, ranging in size from the largest being 3.5" or so down to 2.5". After acclimating the fish to the tank, they were released and now I am in the L. Nkambae raising business!

From Rickís past experiences with these fish, we watched them closely for any signs of aggression to either each other or other tank mates. To our continued delight, the fish happily coexist with each other and their tank mates...........with one exception. The Nkambae will absolutely not tolerate a Julidochromis of any kind in their tank. Systematically, our Marlieri were killed, they were wiped out in 3 days as a matter of fact. We attribute this as the Marlieri has somewhat similar coloring to the Nkambae.

Our tank is kept at 78-80degrees. The ph is 8.6. I feed 2X daily, frozen brine srhimp, or flake, spirulina in other words a well rounded Tanganyikan diet, emphasis on meat. Like all of our tanks in our fish room, the water is changed 30% on a weekly basis.

We had our fish two months and noticed the male hanging around 2 of the breeding bells (set side by side) with a female. By this time, the male was 5" the female slightly smaller. They were both aggressively keeping the other fish away from the spawning site. After 7 days, we put aquarium water in an ice cream bucket, shook it around and around 75 eggs, that had hatched came tumbling out. I use an airstone, with the bucket suspended in a 10 gal. tank, until the egg sacks are absorbed. Then you can gently empty the bucket into the empty 10 gal. A word of CAUTION! When you are collecting the spawning media (bells, spawning cave whatever) it is essential that you protect yourself from the parentís attacks on you. We have found that nets are a fine deterrent. The babies readily attack newly hatched baby brine. We feed them on this for around one month gradually introducing fine flake and then eventually frozen brine shrimp. They grow very fast on this diet we have found.

We have our babies in a 125 gal. that also houses 1.5" compressiceps, N.Speciosus, bristlenose, Daffodils and until recently Julidochromis Transcriptus, Kissi. We must have been out to lunch the day our friends brought us over the transcriptus and we put them in with the 2.5" Nkambe babies, and you guessed it, the Nkambe kids ate 3" Julies. How does that saying go? "Fool me twice......."

Our Nkambae have regularly spawned for us using the original method. We find them a fascinating, worthy of attention kind of cichlid, that surprisingly gets along fine in Tanganyikan community tank.

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