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Neolamprologus multifasciatus
Multi-Bar Lamprologus

 Age of Aquariums > Freshwater Fish > Multi-Bar Lamprologus - Neolamprologus multifasciatus

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Neolamprologus_multifasciatus_1.jpg (17kb)
Photo Credit: Elizabeth Ciupak

Name: Neolamprologus multifasciatus
Size TankpHTemp
Origin: Lake Tanganyika (Africa)
4 cm 40 L 8.0 28°C


This small shell-dwelling fish of Lake Tanganyika is supposedly the smallest cichlid in the world. They are easy to maintain in an aquarium, if given a suitable tank with no other fish that can easily make a snack of them. Because they are shell-dwellers, they will need at least 3+ shells per fish. The shells should be various sizes to give the fish as many options as possible. Finally, the substrate should be either sand or very tiny gravel, since multies like to practically bury their shells in little ditches. They will dig all around their shells and move the substrate until they reach the glass. In the wild, they live in sometimes 7 meter deep shellpiles. Mud-caked algae often grows in between the shells, and there is often no substrate in the wild. You should also keep in mind to do your best to prevent disturbing their home, since it stresses them out.

There is no difficulty in breeding multies, as long as the pair is mature, but you will most likely never see them doing it, since they are very secretive. Your only clue is their fry hanging around the mother’s shell. The fry do not need anything special to eat. They seem to be able to find small bits of food on their own.

These fish are not at all picky about any food you give them and will readily take plain fish food. On occasion they will not eat. Usually this is if you drastically rearrange your aquarium, or they are moved. This can be taken care of simply by not feeding them for a few days. These fish are somewhat sensitive to changes in water. Temperature and water chemistry should be the same when you do your water changes. Cleanliness is also important, since these fish require a water change of 20-30% weekly.

Contributed by Elizabeth C.

I find that these fish, although slightly territorial at times, are not very aggressive towards each other. They will chase off intruders without actually trying to harm them. In fact, they do best in a colony of different sizes and age groups. The younger/smaller fish seem to pack together, while the larger/adults declare their territories. They like a sandy, or extremely fine gravel as a substrate. It seems that one of their favorite pastimes is grabbing a mouthful of the gravel and spitting it into someone else's territory. At times, they will swim clear across the tank to do it, only to return to find someone else doing it to them. They can be quite amusing, at times.

I find that they readily accept flake food. Adult frozen brine shimp are rather large for them, but anything smaller, is usually taken with gusto. Good water quality is a must! I do about a 10-20% water change about twice a week. In addition to the shells, I use finely crushed marine gravel for substrate and small pieces of stacked limestone holey rock to help provide additional cover. I also have a small Anubia nana and Java fern on some of the limestone rocks. They are doing extremely well in the hard alkaline water. The multies are bottom dwellers, and I keep a few male guppies in the tank with them. They occupy the upper half of the tank and everyone gets along fine. The guppies add a little extra color. Their being there wasn't originally planned as a permanant arrangement, but since they got along so well, I let them stay.

The multies are really cool little fish, with a subtle beauty, and are very amusing to watch. They have a very easy-going disposition which, to me, sets them apart from a lot of the other cichlids.

Contributed by Welaka T. Phishhed

I kept 6 multies (Neolamprologus multifasciatus) in a 75 L aquarium. They are very funny fish to watch! They are avid diggers and need a fine, sandy substrate as they spend most of their time picking up large mouthfuls of sand and spitting them wherever they please! Mine would regularly build sand hills to mark off the perimeter of their territory. It often took them only a day or two to move a substantial amount of sand to make these hills.

Multies, as mentioned, are shell-dwelling fish and they need LOTS of shells (at least 3 per fish) of varying sizes and variety to keep them happy. The shells are important to their territorial nature. Mine would sleep in their shells, eat whatever food fell around their shells and would defend their shells mercilessly. If another fish came near one's shell, it would be immediately rushed at!

Multis prefer sinking food, as they rarely come up to the surface. Mine would dart around the bottom mainly. I fed mine tiny sinking cichlid pellets and frozen/live baby brine shrimp, which they loved!

I had a pile of rocks which made caves and hiding places for the fish. They really enjoyed that, one of them even made a space behind some of the rocks into its territory. Multis are great fish, I would recommend them to anyone looking for a fish chalked full of personality, but doesn't require a large tank. I would watch mine for long periods of time (they watched me right back!), they're very entertaining. The aforementioned sand-spitting was the best! These fish are bossy too, don't think that YOU get to decide how the tank looks! They'll move the shells, the sand, plants and, anything else (aside from large rocks) to where THEY want them!

Another thing to note, they come from clean waters (Lake Tanganyika) and, as a result need clean tank water. Even though these guys are tough little buggers, water changes should be frequent and regular to keep the water quality up.

Contributed by Lisa

I have 11 of these peaceful fish in at 120 L tank with 3 compressiceps and 3 blue neons in pH 8.2. They get on fine. You should provide lots of sand, enough for the bottom to be at least 3 cm thick, many flat and snail shells in equal amount, also 2 or 3 small rocks. Remember, you should try to create a shell bed. I would recommend these fish for first time Tanganyikan tryers.

Contributed by Kyel

I purchased multies one and a half weeks ago and was very nervous at first because they would not feed. It took about 5 days for them to relax and realize that I was the food provider and now they readily take frozen brine shrimp and flakes. The alpha male is the only one who doesn't come out of his shell to feed. He seems to find the left over food on the bottom and is spending his days (when I am not too close to the tank) rearranging the furniture. Cichlids with interesting behavior. They are not flashy, but they are very cool!

Contributed by Janice Jackson

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