Brevis (Neolamprologus brevis ‘Ikola Sunspot’)
Neolamprologus brevis in my 240G Lake Tanganyika community setup.
I picked up a bag of six Brevis ‘Ikola Sunspot’, which had been turned in as BAP fish at a meeting of the OCA. I got two pairs out of these six fish, and the other two disappeared without a trace in the first few days after introduction to the tank.
I bought them two dozen escargot shells from The Gourmet Food Store. When new, these shells look very attractive with a striping in different shapes of brown almost going into the orange. However, in my tank this coloration quickly faded, and they look stark white. This makes them stand out on the black substrate a little more than I would probably like, but I haven’t found a better replacement yet. Also, I have read that the water in Lake Tanganyika is so hard that the Neothauma snail shell that litter the sides of the lake by the millions, do not dissolve, but remain there virtually indefinitely. Unfortunately in my setup this is not true for the escargot snail shells I am using. Not only do they turn white, over time they become thin and brittle, and I believe I exchanges some of them about a year after introducing them to the tank. Some last longer, and even now after about two years I still have some of the original shells in there, but I would recommend once you order sail shells to pick up about twice as many as you plan on using at a time, so that you can replace them as need be.
Male and female brevis inhabit the same shell, but the male very rarely enters it. It’s almost too large to fit in there anyhow. I am pretty certain both of my pairs are breeding, but I’ve never seen any fry, presumably because other fish that are hungry see them before me. Each of the pairs of brevis seem happy with the little nook of the tank they have chosen, and I virtually never see them outside an area about as large as a 10G tank. Only occasionally one male swims over to the other brevis pair and pays them a visit. It happens rarely and I observe no aggression on these occasions, so I have no idea why they do this. As it happens, one of the breeding pairs of leleupi inhabits the area between the two shell beds where the two pairs of brevis live. I have read many reports about leleupi harassing shell dwellers to the tune where they pull the female out of the shell and eat the young. In my setup I have never seen the leleupi being aggressive towards the shellies. Even when the leleupi are guarding fry, they simply chase the brevis out of the protected area, like they do with any other fish in the tank, including my largest frontosa.
The Brevis certainly are spunky little fish, and they are the only inhabitants I have to be on the guard for when doing tank maintenance. They always bite me in the arm at the least opportune moment, and while their bites don’t really hurt, it always comes at a surprise, and it would be very easy to smash for example a glass top when retracting in shock.
Neolamprologus brevis male in my 240G Lake Tanganyika community setup.
Addendum January 2009
The brevis have been breeding prolifically for years, but only recently have I bothered to remove a shell with the mom and some fry, and put them in a grow out tank. After a few days the mom was put back in the main tank, and the reunification with the male was a sight to behold. I gave them a new, bigger snail shell to celebrate the occasion, and they moved in within minutes! Meanwhile the fry seem to be doing fine in the 5G grow out tank. They are feeding on whatever they can find in a huge ball of Java moss, plus I have started giving them some finely ground pellets. Of course baby brine shrimp would be ideal, but I am lazy and want to see if they can make do without that.
Some pictures of the parents in 2008
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