Neolamprologus brichardi, also known as Brichardi cichlid, is an elegant, graceful fish with a white-spotted lyre-shaped tail and fins. This enchanting species is hardy and easy to breed.

The unique Fairy cichlid from Lake Tanganyika instantly endeared themselves to novice and experienced aquarists with their fascinating spawning behavior and are still popular.

This article guides you on setting up a tank for this beautiful fish that lives and spawns among rocks. Read this care guide for details on care, feeding, and tankmates for the Princess cichlid.

Neolamprologus Brichardi Stats

Scientific name Neolamprologus brichardi
Common name(s) Fairy cichlid; Princess cichlid; Lyretail cichlid
Species-only Tank Size: minimum 15 gallons
 Nano Tank: A large nano tank of 15 gallons for species-only
Community Tank: minimum 50 gallons
Tank setup: Sand and fine gravel; rocks
Lighting: Low; subdued lighting
Temperature: 72 to 77 F
Breeding Temperature: Between 77 and 86 F
pH range: 8.0 to 8.5; not less than 7
Hardness Range: 10 to 20 dGH
Brackish: low tolerance, keep levels below 10 percent
Water flow: Moderate
Water Region: Middle and upper areas of the aquarium

Origins And Habitat of Neolamprologus Brichardi

Neolamprologus brichardi is a tiny cichlid that lives among the rocks along the coasts of Lake Tanganyika. They are found in shallow waters at 10 feet and in deep waters down to 82 to 98 feet. These dainty fish swim in large shoals, sometimes of up to hundreds of fish.

Although the Princess cichlid swims in large schools, they form monogamous pairs when breeding. These fish eat the biofilm from the rocky substrate, small crustaceans, and invertebrates in their natural habitat. They also feed on the swarms of plankton in the water.

Neolamprologus Brichardi Appearance

The Fairy Cichlid is an exquisite fish. This breed has a long, slender body with a continuous dorsal fin and a long lyre-shaped caudal fin. The long, flowing filaments streaming out from the unpaired fins add to its graceful appearance.

These tiny species grow approximately 4 – 5 inches long in the wild, but they generally grow slightly bigger in home aquariums, reaching up to 6 inches. If the Fairy cichlid receives good care and proper nutrition, they can live as long as eight to ten years.

Neolamprologus brichardi are very attractive. Their bodies are pale brown with yellow near the tail. The pale, yellow fins of this species have a blue border. Their eyes are also a vivid blue, with a striking pattern of blues lines starting below their eyes and extending from the lip to the gill covering. There is a thick, black band that runs horizontally from the eye to the gill covering. The gill cover has a bright yellow or gold patch above the bar.

Neolamprologus Brichardi Care

Neolamprologus brichardi is reasonably easy to look after, making it an excellent fit for the hobbyist who is just starting out or experienced hobbyists. However, you must ensure that your aquarium is the correct size. You will also need to keep the water conditions stable.

The Fairly cichlid is usually peaceful and fits in well with the other cichlids in your community tank. This species is not picky and will happily eat a variety of commercially prepared aquarium foods. The Princess cichlid also breeds readily in the aquarium.

The Fairy Cichlid is a lively fish that likes to swim all around the aquarium. If you are planning a species-only tank, we suggest a minimum size of 15 gallons, though 20 or 35 gallons is preferable. If you wish to have a community aquarium, then you will need at least a 50 gallons tank, if not more.

Neolamprologus brichardi is the happiest swimming in a strong current. Lake Tanganyika is an oxygen-rich lake with pristine water, so installing a robust and efficient filtration system would be best. We suggest making a regular schedule to check pH and nitrates. Nitrates should not be more than 25 ppm, while the pH level must not fall below 7. It is also essential to monitor the total hardness and carbonate hardness.

It would be best not to have a large number of fish in the aquarium or to overfeed the fish as more waste will upset the water parameters.

– Water Parameters

Neolamprologus brichardi, like all other Lake Tanganyika cichlids, cannot tolerate significant water changes well. Lake Tanganyika is the second largest lake in the world and is very deep. As a result, the water conditions in the lake remain stable with slight fluctuation in temperature and pH.

The Pretty cichlid will adapt well to your aquarium if you try to keep water conditions close to their ideal ranges. The water chemistry in the tank must remain stable. We suggest maintaining the temperature between 72 F to 78 F. This breed cannot tolerate temperatures below 68 F or above 86 F for long periods. If you treat them for ich, the temperature should not exceed 86 F for more than a few days.

The water in Lake Tanganyika is alkaline. To replicate these parameters, the water in your tank should have a pH of 9 and dGH between 12 – 14 since the water has to be very hard.

The Fairy cichlids must have excellent filtration and aeration as the water in Lake Tanganyika is very pure. We suggest keeping the water well buffered. It would be a good idea to have a maintenance schedule at regular intervals. You could use aquarium salt as a buffering agent to increase the water’s carbonate hardness. Another alternative buffering method is to use chemical filtration that uses crushed coral or coral sand.

It would be best to carry out regular water changes of 10 percent to 20 percent once a week. You could also make smaller changes more frequently, depending on how many fish you have in the tank and the level of nitrite and ammonia. It is crucial to ensure the new water chemistry matches the water parameter of the tank as closely as possible.

The Fairy cichlid is very sensitive to new water, so it is not advisable to change it too often. We would suggest you only do so if the water parameter is not balanced.

– Aquarium Setup

Setting up the tank for Neolamprologus brichardi is a bit different from setting it up for other breeds. This species is indigenous to the coast of Lake Tanganyika in Africa, where they live in small caves near the shoreline or on the bottom and breed among the rocks. As a result, the aquarium for these fish must replicate the living conditions in their natural habitat.

To house the Fairy Cichlid, we suggest an aquarium of 55 gallons. A larger tank would be even better. You could plan a Tanganyika biotope system. Use sand, crushed coral, or fine gravel for the substrate.

We suggest buying the sand used for saltwater tanks since crushed coral and aragonite sands dissolve far more quickly than salts. This will help you maintain the pH level in the tank, which is vital for the wellbeing of these little fishes.

You will need to get plenty of rocks to create numerous caves and crevices for the Neolamprologus brichardi to explore or use as a hiding place. It would be best to pile up the stones very carefully when you form the caves. Press the rocks for the base firmly into the substrate to ensure they rest securely on the bottom of the aquarium. This will prevent the piles from toppling over onto the fish if they dig around them to create a spawning site.

Neolamprologus brichardi likes to move around the aquarium quite a lot, so you must leave plenty of open swimming space when setting up the caves and adding plants. While this species is not as energetic as other cichlids, they will sometimes dig in substrates and may uproot plants. Therefore, African Water Ferns and Anubias would be good choices as you can attach them to the rock surface where they will thrive.

The Fairy Cichlid is active and will swim in all areas of the aquarium. A minimum of 15 gallons is suggested for a species-only tank, though 20 or 35 gallons is better. A larger tank of 50 gallons or more would be better if you would like a community tank with other species.

Since the water in Lake Tanganyika is very rich in oxygen, it is advisable to install a powerful and efficient filtration system. It is also vital to check nitrates and ph levels regularly. Nitrates should not rise above 25 ppm, and the pH must not fall below 7. In addition, we suggest monitoring the total hardness and carbonate hardness.

It would be wise not to have too many fish in the tank. This will help eliminate the waste produced and make it easier to maintain cleanliness.

– Neolamprologus Brichardi Diet

Neolamprologus brichardi are omnivorous. In their natural habitat, they feed on small crustaceans and invertebrates they find in the biofilm of the rocky substrate. They also relish the swarms of plankton drifting in the water.

The Fairy Cichlid is not fussy, so feeding them is reasonably straightforward. They will usually accept all kinds of fresh, live, and flake foods. It would help to maintain a well-balanced diet by offering them quality flake food or pellet every day.

If you wish to ensure the health and wellbeing of your Neolamprologus brichardi, it would be best not to feed them only dry foods. We suggest a diet consisting of high-quality live meaty foods, along with frozen and dry foods. Feed these little fish either live or frozen brine shrimp or daphnia to enrich their diet.

Although the Fairy cichlid is a carnivore and the best diet for this breed is live and frozen foods, it is essential to include some vegetable matter such as blanched spinach or spirulina. It is not wise to give them dried foods too often.

It would be best to feed these fish smaller quantities at frequent intervals. Give them two to five small pinches of food throughout the day rather than one large meal once a day. This practice will control the waste, prevent the water from getting fouled, and maintain the water quality for a longer time. Neolamprologus brichardi may also benefit from fasting once a week.

  • Diet:                          Omnivore
  • Flake food:                 Flake; green flake
  • Dried food:                 Slow-sinking granules and pellets; not given too often
  • Live meaty food:         Shrimps, worms, fishes, mosquito larvae
  • Vegetable Food:          Spirulina, blanched spinach
  • Frozen foods:              Brine shrimp, Mysis shrimp, chopped krill, mosquito larvae
  • Feeding Frequency:     Several small meals throughout the day

Neolamprologus Brichardi Tank Mates

Neolamprologus brichardi is a semi-aggressive species. Although these fish are pretty small, they are fiercely territorial, especially when spawning and protecting their fry. Hence, it may be wise to keep these fish in a species only aquarium.

This cichlid primarily stays in the middle and upper levels of the water column, so if you have a sizable tank, you can keep the Princess cichlid with other Tanganyikan shell dwelling breeds that are bottom-dwellers. In a spacious aquarium, you could have a community of small to medium-sized cichlids such as Cyprichromis and Synodontis catfish.

If your aquarium is sufficiently large, it is also possible to keep other rock dwellers like Julidochromis or Altolamprologus. If you plan the layout carefully to create hiding places and broken lines of sight, various breeds can live peacefully in separate territories.

However, it is not advisable to have Dwarf shrimp and other small, delicate invertebrates in the same tank with the Lyretail cichlid.

Breeding Neolamprologus Brichardi

Neolamprologus brichardi is one of the easiest cichlids to breed in an aquarium. These fish are cave spawners. If you plan to continue to produce them, it is vital to provide caves to lay their eggs within the tank. You could also keep flowerpots for use during spawning.

You could either buy an adult pair of Fairy cichlids that have already bonded or introduce a group of at least six to eight young fish in the tank. They will swim together as a group and eventually pair off to spawn. This species is monogamous, and they form strong bonds. The pairs remain together for life, continuing to breed and care for their broods. They are good parents and guard their fry for several months.

The Brichardi is unusual in that it is the only known African fish that forms a collective multi-generational nursery in which the entire community rears the young. Adults, sub-adults, and even half-grown fry all participate in caring for the fry. Lyretail cichlids not only tend to their own fry but also all the other fry around them. This species also watches over other pairs that are spawning.

Since Neolamprologus brichardi is a cave spawning species and goes off into crevices or burrows into tunnels to breed, you can’t tell when these fish have spawned. Once the female has laid the eggs, she will look after the eggs while the male guards the territory. Depending on the temperature, the eggs should hatch within three or four days. The fry will become free swimming in approximately seven to ten days.

The Neolamprologus brichardi fry is large enough to eat brine shrimp nauplii right away. Once they are free swimming, you can introduce the fry to a diet of freshly-hatched brine shrimp, finely powdered first foods, and crushed flakes. However, Neolamprologus brichardi grows pretty slowly, so the parents continue to protect the fry for a long time.

Neolamprologus brichardi form a family; so, even once the fry is independent, they remain with the group and help guard the next group of fry. This cycle continues as the fish spawn again. It is customary for several generations to continue to live peacefully together, with the older fish guarding the younger ones.

Neolamprologus brichardi can lay between 100 to 200 eggs at one spawning. However, if your tank becomes over-populated, the breeding fish will lay fewer eggs or possibly even eat the smaller fish in the aquarium. So, if you wish to regularly breed the Lyretail cichlid and raise a certain number of young fish, we suggest you remove the fry to a separate rearing tank.

Separating the fry into another aquarium will enable you to maintain a brood in good condition as it prevents the fish from inbreeding and the subsequent deformities that can arise.

Conclusion

Neolamprologus brichardi beautiful appearance and fascinating spawning behaviors make it a favorite with African cichlid enthusiasts. Here is a quick summary of their care guide.

  • The Fairy cichlid is suitable for beginner and experienced aquarists
  • Neolamprologus brichardi will need a tank with caves formed from rocks
  • The water in the tank has to be pristine
  • This species lives together as a family where all the fish look after the fry
  • These tiny fish are very territorial at spawning time
  • The Fairy Cichlid likes a strong current in the tank

If you are a hobbyist who wishes to get started with Rift Lake cichlids, The Fairy cichlid is an excellent choice as they are robust and easy to breed.

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