Name: Altolamprologus calvus
Origin: Lake Tanganyika (Africa)
I have one of these fish in my 120 cm African Cichlid tank. He is a Black Pearl colour morph. There are several colour morphs, including Black, White, Yellow, Orange, etc. Mine seems to be a very peacable fish and is living with an assortment of other Africans including Electric Yellows, an Electric Blue, some Dickfeldi Julies...the list goes on. Although peaceful (usually) he is a very outgoing fish and has a rather strange habit of filling up his shell, that he claimed as his territory, with gravel and then emptying it out again. If any other fish comes near him or his shell, he will turn sideways and expose his sharp, pointy scales at them. All Calvus do this, to defend themselves in their natural habitat. If a fish comes at it, it will turn sideways and do what I have just described. Its pointy scales will easily cut up the lips of its attacker, and fend it off. Also, when it turns sideways like this, its other side becomes almost impenetrable, because all of its scales have turned inwards, making it flat, and incredibly hard.
Unlike A. compressiceps, A. calvus have no scales on their head, and this is the main difference between the two. Calvus are predators, and will prey on small fish and crustaceans, their natural diet. Baby fish (fry) are particularly vulnerable. Most fish over 3 cm should be safe from the Calvus' predatory nature. Calvus are a good community fish for an African Cichlid tank, bearing in mind that they have a high protein diet, so these are good with most Africans excluding Mbuna, which are vegetarians and also very boisterous, and may bully and frighten the Calvus. Although expensive, these are an excellent Cichlid to have. Buy one and I guarantee that you will not be disappointed.
These are amazing fish, but hard to keep. This is what worked for me: I did a lot of research on these fish before purchasing and they are the pride of my collection. The pH of my tank is around 9.0. I spent hundreds of dollars on food to try to find something they like. My first success was with freeze dried microworms, then to live microworms. They need plenty of rock to hide in when young (I started with juveniles). Holey rock is the best but pH Up is needed because because calvus need a high pH and if they don't have it they won't eat. Also 10 hours of light and no more. They don't like a lot of light. These fish are straight carnivores and are possibly the most adapted fish for their environment. Their long snout is used for picking food out of crevaces between rocks, also for eating snails. I have a separate 100 L planted tank which I use as a snail farm.
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