Name: Paracyprichromis nigripinnis
Origin: Lake Tanganyika (Africa)
Since P. nigripinnis is a deep water fish from lake Tanganyika, a dark tank with subdued lighting will display these fish at their best. Slate would be the rock of choice when making caves for these fish, due to its dark colour. Minimal lighting is required. A taller tank (at least 40 cm tall) with a length of at least 75 cm is preferable.
Dominant males are a great deal more colourful than the somewhat drab orange females. Males share the orange colouration, but have neon blue accents along the edges of all their fins (excluding the pectoral fins) and horizontal neon blue striping along the face and flanks. However, subdominant males do look very similar to females. There are also some behavioural differences in that males stake out territories in rocky caves whilst, females school in open water.
These maternal mouthbrooders are ideally kept in groups of at least 6 fish, preferably with at least 2 to 3 females per male. Their gentle temperament means that they are suited to a Tanganyikan community with less aggressive tankmates, such as the smaller shelldwellers or Altolamprologines. Many aquarists maintain them with groups of non jumbo Cyprichromis leptosoma quite successfully.
In the wild, these fish feed on zooplankton. Care must be given to ensure that food in the aquarium is small enough to fit in their mouths. They will accept most high quality dried foods, BBS, daphnia and mysis shrimp, live or frozen.
I have maintained a pair in a 110 liter tank with 6 L. ocellatus for close to a year. There are occasional minor territorial disputes with the L. ocellatus, these have never resulted in any injuries. For the most part these two species ignore each other, due to the fact that they occupy different niches in the tank. The tank has a modestly sized 25 cm tall rockpile which occupies roughly a third of the floor space. Substrate consists of a mixture of aragonite and river sand. It is planted with Vallisneria sp. (rather densely in places) which does provide some hiding places. Water parameters are: pH 8.4, KH 10, GH 8. My tap water is on the soft side, so I buffer it with Sodium Bicarbonate and Epsom Salts.
I have not witnessed an actual spawning, although I think I may have seen the beginning of one on a few occasions. The male would "display" to the female, and suddenly get quite aggressive with the L. ocellatus. A few days later I would then notice that the female was being very reclusive and not eating, the reason being that she had a mouthful of eggs. After some time her mouth would darken slightly, and eventually she would spit. After speaking to some other fishkeepers, I found out that the females usually hold for about 3 weeks, and sometimes they starve themselves quite badly so it may be a good idea to strip the female at about 2 weeks. Unfortunately I was unable to save any fry from any of my pair's spawns. They were rapidly eaten by either the L. ocellatus or their parents.
One difficulty with P. nigripinnis is that they frequently do not ship well. Like most Tanganyikan cichlids, they are quite sensitive to water parameters, especially ammonia and nitrites, so they are probably more suited to the more advanced aquarist (or extremely dilligent beginner). However, once a healthy group has been established, their calm movements and gentle behaviour make them a very rewarding fish to keep.
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