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Tanganyikan Cichlids

Cyprichromis leptosoma

Cyprichromis leptosoma

Above Male Cyprichromis leptosoma "kekese". Photo by Rick Borstein.

General

Cyprichromis leptosoma is a maternal mouthbrooding Tanganyika cichlid first typed by Boulenger in 1898. According to Fishbase.org, there are a total of four Cyprichromis species, although not all are fully descibed.

This slender cichlid is a favorite of cichlid hobbyists. Cyprichromis leptosoma is not aggressive to other species. Intra-species aggression is limited to benign fin nipping. Cyprichromis are an oddity among cichlids in that they are not benthic (bottom-dwelling) and schoal in the middle to top of the water column.

Because they don't take up "bottom space", Cyprichromis leptosoma are desirable components of a Tanganyikan community tank. The active Cyprichromis act as a calming presence to other tank inhabitants. Since threats come mostly from above for bottom-dwelling fish, the Cyprichromis act as an early warning system. If the Cyps are OK, then it's safe. Please excuse the anthropomorphisizing!

Cyprichromis leptosoma is available in numerous color varieties which typically map to location variants. Some species are primarily one or two colors, others are combination of up to three colors. Predominant colors include yellow, salmon pink, black, purple and blue.

Habitat

Cyprichromis leptosoma is found in rocky areas along the eastern shoreline of Lake Tanganyika. Water conditions are pH of 8–9 and temperatures 74–77F. This fish is found in large schoals numbering in the thousands.

Care

Cyprichromis leptosoma is not demanding, but should be kept in groups of eight or more. A 40 gallon tank or larger is recommended. In smaller groups and tighter quarters, they appear nervous and don't exhibit good coloration.

Regular partial water changes are recommended. Although some Tanganyikan cichlids are sensitive to large water changes, I have had no problems with 50%+ weekly water changes.

Feeding

In the wild, Cyprichromis leptosoma feeds on zooplankton, picking out of the water column with their protrusible mouth. This fish poses no feeding problems in the aquarium as long as they are presented with small particles of food. I successfully fed a variety of foods including HBH Graze, Haifeng Color Granules and Spectrum pellets (size small). Cyprichromis leptosoma, even adults, love to eat live baby brine shrimp. They will spend hours picking the tiny snacks out of the water column. It's fun to watch this behavior and it strongly mimics their feeding regimen in the wild.

Breeding

I obtained twelve, 1.5" juvenile Cyprichromis leptosoma "kekese blue" from Robert Stevens at the 2004 ACA Convention in Denver, CO, in July 2004.

Truth be told, they were the least expensive variety of Cyps I could find. I wasn't sure at all that I would be able to breed them.

Upon my return to Chicago, I placed them in a 40G breeder with eight juvenile Aulonocara stuartgranti "ngara". The Cyps grew quickly and I in October 2004 began to color up so I could determine the sex of the fish. Fortunately, I had a good group of 5 males and 7 females, By the end of October, one male began to express his dominance and became highly colored.

In early November, the dominant male bred with four different females. Cyps, unlike other mouthbrooders, breed in the water column. I believe the yellow tips of the ventral fins, which extend nearly to the vent of the male, play the same role as egg dummies in other mouthbrooders. Females lay the eggs, swoop down to pick them out fo the water column, then obtain sperm from the male.

I let the females hold for about twelve to fourteen days, and then netted out the females. In most cases, the females spit the nearly developed fry into the net. As they gained in maturity, the females became better holders. I used the turkey baster method to strip the females with great success.

Note Cyprichromis leptosoma have delicate mouths which are easily damaged. I do not recommend prying open the mouth to strip the fish.

Fry of Cyprichromis leptosoma are huge! Free-swimming fry are 1/2–5/8" long. One Odd behavior I noticed was that newly delivered fry went straight to the surface of the water and stayed with the top inch of the tank for the first few days.

Feed the baby Cyprichromis leptosoma freshly hatched, baby brine shrimp and they will grow quickly. I transitioned my fry to flake food at three weeks. At two months, they are 1.25" long and ready for sale.

Retail Price

$6 to $20 for juvenile fish, depending on variety. Cyprichromis leptosoma is occasionally found in pet stores. It is often available from breeders in the Chicago area. Check out the GCCA Classifeds as there are often Cyprichromis leptosoma for sale.

Report Febrary 2005 by Rick Borstein.

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