Tanganyika killifish, Lamprichthys tanganicanus

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Jeremy Gay on a large and beautiful killifish from Lake Tanganyika.

Common name: Tanganyika killifish

Scientific name: Lamprichthys tanganicanus

Origin: Lake Tanganyika endemic

Size: Males up to 15cm/6” in length. Females smaller.

Water: pH 8-8.5, temperature 23-25°C/73-77°F.

Aquarium: Minimum 90cm/36” aquarium, though larger tanks are better and can house a group.

Diet: Feed a mix of mainly live and frozen foods, including Mysis, Artemia and mosquito larvae. Some dry foods, like flake, will also be taken.  

Breeding: Males perform a courtship dance before enticing females to spawn and leave the fertilised eggs in crevices in rocks. They can be bred in captivity, though the eggs are normally removed straight after spawning and reared away from the main tank.

Notes: This beautiful killifish is very rare in UK aquatic shops. It’s large and a non-annual, and differs from the tiny killies we normally associate with as it doesn’t inhabit diminutive ponds, ditches and streams. Instead it inhabits Lake Tanganyika, one of the world’s largest bodies of fresh water.

Although the lake is full of cichlids this species is actually best housed away from cichlids in all but the largest aquaria, as it is much more delicate and cannot tolerate continued cichlid aggression.

If you do want to mix cichlids with it in a biotope Cyprichromis and Paracyprichromis are best, or have shell dwellers in a deep tank where the killies can occupy the open water above.

These fish have a reputation for being sensitive to poor water quality and susceptible to disease. Treat them very carefully for the first few days or weeks to avoid accidents.

Males can be over-attentive towards females, so outnumber them by at least two to one. Two males showing off to each other is a wonderful sight.

Availability: We found these at Maidenhead Aquatics @ Morden in December 2009.

Price: £75 for a sexed trio.

This item first appeared in the February 2010 issue of Practical Fishkeeping magazine. It may not be reproduced without written permission.