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fatalities. beware of dodgy labels on shop tanks...
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Joined: 19 Jun 2003
Location: uk

PostPosted: 2003.08.14(Thu)9:36    Post subject: fatalities. beware of dodgy labels on shop tanks... Reply with quote

pheeeww finally cooling down now in england! unfortunately I had two fatalities Sad so... I'm trying to figure out what happened.

I'm not sure if it was the heat, their being territorial, or both, but I found both of my so-called brevis dead inside of 1 shell. all fish seemed fine the night before.

brevis are lovely, peaceful fish, and for the most part do very well in community tanks.

however after they killed my baby puffer several weeks beforehand I did extensive research and found that they are not brevis at all, but neolamprologus multifasciatus, an extremely aggressive species which is closely related to the brevis. the shop had labelled them incorrectly. I was in the process of cycling another tank in order to remove them from the community. multifasciatius are very hostile and do not do well in community tanks, and as they are quite difficult to tell the sex early on, I inevitably wound up with 2 males (I believe). they viciously defended each of their respective homes (1 had a snail shell, the other, a carved out coconut shell) which were located on the complete opposite side of the other fish. which is why it was so puzzling that I found them in the same shell.

at first I saw the tail of the snail-shell-owning fish (which you usually can't see when he's in the shell properly). it didn't move for ages I didn't see the other fish peeking his head out of the coconut, either. I started to wonder what was going on. where they sick from the heat? then I decided the one in the snail shell was dead. I reached in to pluck the shell out and pulled the fish free. dead. I put the shell back in place in the tank. then I started to wonder where the other one was. then I felt like I was having deja vu. I saw another tail sticking out of the shell. what the???? so I plucked the shell out again. sure enough, it was the coconut owner (I could tell them apart as one had darker stripes than the other). this time I threw away the snail shell.

why was the fish whose home was the coconut found crammed inside the snail shell? and how? I have never witnessed him even come close to the entrance without a battle from the other owner. as I said before they all seemed fine the night before, and when I pulled the two fish free there were no signs of injury or disease.

were they both ill from the heat and entered the shell in order to die? did I mistake a male for a female, and were they trying to mate (unsuccessfully apparently)?

although I hate to see dead fish, my other fish are without a doubt much happier since their departure. they can feel free to swim around the entire tank without being bullied. I would not reccommend multifasciatus for any community tank. even my red-tailed shark, who has since taken up residence in the coconut shell, was bullied by them.
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Joined: 07 Feb 2003
Location: Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: 2003.08.18(Mon)8:33    Post subject: Reply with quote

No shell dweller will live in a coconut shell.
With shellies you must always have one more shell than fish, so for two shellies you must have three shells.
Occasionally these fish will take another shell, even if they end up moving back to shell number one. The other fish needs that third shell to move to.

I am sorry for your loss, but I do believe you were misled on the brevis. This can happen with brevis and only one shell. (Even two shells).
The extra shell is a shellie golden rule.

Hope that helps.
Discus Man is gone... I remain... #6... I am not a number I am a free man!
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Joined: 19 Jun 2003
Location: uk

PostPosted: 2003.08.18(Mon)10:06    Post subject: cheers Reply with quote

for the tips on the shells... such a shame too because when I finally did find some snail shells to actually buy (from a restaurant shop for escargo), they only came in packs of 24 so I did have plenty shells to go around. I did put about 4 in there to start but they seemed to have chosen their places so I took the extras out. I didn't know they would switch homes after claiming territory on one though.

anyway, if the fish I had were actually brevis, I would try again to keep them. but they certainly were not. when I looked all the photos of brevis on the net and read loads of articles about them, I was convinced those were not the fish I had. (compare the photos here with the photos here. also most of the articles I read about brevis said they were only territorial up to about 10 inches, but what I had were very territorial over the entire tank. they would deliberately go and cause mayhem around the rock cave which was about 2 feet away from their variety selection of homes. they would attack - and I mean attack - my clown loach, who would always be minding his own business on the exact opposite side of the tank, hiding for fear of his life wedged in between a rock and the glass where they couldn't get to him.

I actually just found the following passage after googling for multifasciatus:

Just one last note - if you decide to keep other shell-dwelling cichlids, do NOT get Neolamprologus multifasciatus. The other ones are about the same as brevis, but multifasciatus is extremely aggressive, keeps huge territories, will dig more than you care to know, and fights in packs. If you keep only a pair, they'll get themselves killed, if you keep a bunch, they'll kill everyone else. They're tiny, they're pretty, they're social, and they're rabid monsters. Avoid.
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