Name: Neolamprologus caudopunctatus
Origin: Lake Tanganyika (Africa)
Neolamprologus caudopunctatus, often called the "caudopunk" or just "punk," is a showy fish indeed. Their greatest joy in life seems to be parading around the front of their tank, fins out, gills puffed, looking gorgeous. Considering the looks of the species, they deserve a little runway time. There are a number of locational varieties with fairly different appearances, but the main look of the fish and the yellow in the dorsal are consistent. Some punks are brown and only attractive because of their glowing personalities, but the nicest (including the common "Redfin" variety) are pearly white with yellow-orange dorsals that seem to glow, and blue-tinged ventrals. Although they're named for the spots on their tails (caudo=caudal, punctatus=spotted), these are barely noticeable, not by any means a defining characteristic of the species except to ichthyologists.
Caudopunks are primarily rockdwellers, and plenty of rockwork should be provided to them. However, they spawn in shells and are considered a semi-shelldweller, so leave floor space and include shells - this will also give them a nice area to parade around. But until they begin spawning, don't expect they'll pay much attention to the shells. They may investigate them, but the rocks are their home. In fact, caudos in shell-free tanks will spawn in caves, though this isn't recommended, not least because it means asking them to forget their natural behaviors.
Punks are definite pair fish. Occasionally a trio will get along for a while but eventually the spare is kicked out, in almost every case. The pair will claim a rock-based territory and a shell area, and will spawn like a typical shelldweller: the female will lay eggs in the shell and the male, hovering above, will milt them. However, punks have far more fry than most shelldwellers, usually between 40 and 50. The eggs take a day or two to hatch and fry are freeswimming a week after the spawning. Like their parents, they're not particularly good at camouflage, and will stay light-colored even on a dark substrate. The parents will protect them very effectively, driving off any fish that dare approach. Feed the fry multiple times a day, carnivorous treats and a top-quality staple pellet, and keep water quality high. Although somewhat less common than other small shelldwellers, caudopunctatus are industrious, personable, and terrifically photogenic shelldwellers, quite worth the small tank and bit of attention they require.
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