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Julidochromis transcriptus Adult with juvenile fry at lower left. Photo by Rick Borstein.


Julidochromis transcriptus are a slender, almost cylindrical fish, native to Lake Tanganyika in Africa. There are several location variants in the hobby, but I like the "gombi" variety the best. This fish has clear black and white bands with brilliant blue margins to the tail and anal fins. Another common variety has a white belly which I don't find as attractive.

This particular fish is probably the smallest of the Julies and males rarely attain a length of 3". It was originally disovered by Mathes in 1959.


Julidochromis transcriptus is found from 1 to 10M deep around rocky coasts in the lake. This fish has been collected in water with a pH range 8.5 to 9.2 and dH range of 8.0 - 14.0.


Julidochromis transcriptus like all Tanganyikan fish, likes hard water. My water is on the neutral side, however, at 7.2 pH and I had no problems, so I think this Julie is fairly adaptable. I kept my tank at 79F.

I conducted regular partial water changes of 30-50% of the tank each week and I found this suited my fish just fine. And, no, you don't buy into the myth that Tanganyikans are super sensitive to water changes, just make sure that the temperature and chemistry are very close to the that of the tank.

Since this fish does not grow very large, you can easily keep a pair in a twenty gallon tank. Julies won't upset your plants; another endearing trait.


In the lake, Julidochromis transcriptus feed on insects and a variety of invertebrate organisms. In your tank, though, they present no problems. Mine ate flake food, frozen brine shrimp and various small pellets.


I recommend obtaining 5 to 6 juveniles and placing them in a twenty gallon tank with a fine gravel or sand substrate. Provide 2 to 3 piles of rockwork including slate and flower pots to form caves. The tank should be in a quiet area with little foot traffic. I believe Julidochromis transcriptus are sensitive to vibration and spook easily.

At eleven to twelve months of age, you may notice a pair beginning to bond. The pair will stay close to each other and stake out a territory, busily driving the other fish away from their home. This is a good time to remove the other fish, but you don't absolutely have to if there is enough rockwork to provide hiding places.

Since all julies are cave spawners and highly secretive, you may not know when you have a spawn until the babies appear. Spawns are small, in the range of twenty eggs, and you can immediately feed them baby brine shrimp or Cyclops-eeze. The male and female will switch off caring for the fry and are truly devoted parents.

Like other julies, you can raise several successive spawns in the same tank which is a delight to see. Juveniles up to an inch or so, take part in raising their brothers and sisters. It is quite a sight to see!

Unfortunately, the fry are very slow growers. You should remove fry when they get to be an inch or so. At this length, the parents may start to act aggressively towards them.

Retail Price

You can expect to pay $5-7 for juveniles and $10-16 for adults. Julidochromis transcriptus is often available at GCCA auctions or events.  You can also find these fish at local pet stores, but I have rarely seen the "gombi" variety. If you can't find them, ask the shopkeeper to order some for you.

Report February 2002 by Rick Borstein