The Cylinder Cichlid is a highly aggressive, solitary predator that is endemic to Lake Tanganyika; this species doesn't tolerate others of their kind unless it is their mate. There are several different color variations based on location; mainly it's a difference of their vertical bands (of which they all have ten) varying in shades of brown or being solid black; one color morph has electric-blue tips on all of its fins as well as an upturned, electric-blue arch-like marking under each eye; there is also another variant that has a gold hued head, but the color is lost once they mature. The Cylinder Cichlid is a popular species and is usually available within the hobby. They can be special ordered from local stores and often found within clubs as well as being available through online vendors.
The Cylinder Cichlid requires an aquarium of 55 gallons or more and should be provided with a sand/crushed coral substrate with plenty of rocks around the tank creating multiple caves and crevices for hiding, spawning, and hunting. Open swimming space is appreciated, but not required as they tend to stay close to their rock caves. Decent water movement is recommended as it will benefit both the fish any live plants that are utilized. Live plants don't pose any problems as Cylinder Cichlids are not known to be diggers and will generally ignore the plants; African Water Ferns, Anubias, and Vallisneria are good choices and will do well in alkaline conditions; they will also provide extra cover for predator and prey alike. They are very aggressive species and should be kept solitary or in pairs as the dominant male will usually terrorize and end up killing the sub-dominant "competition". It's possible to keep one individual with other aggressive tank mates (that will not eat them for lunch), but they should not resemble the Cylinder Cichlid in any way.
Fish Keeping Difficulty
This is a fish best kept by intermediate and experienced cichlid keepers. It is an aggressive cichlid towards others of its own kind, but can be kept with other larger and robust Tanganyika. The aquarists must be willing to provide a properly set up aquarium with appropriate tank mates, and be willing to do frequent water changes.
Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately hardy
Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate
Foods and Feeding
The Cylinder Cichlid is basically carnivorous in the wild, feeding primarily on small fish and crustaceans. In the aquarium they can be fed mysis shrimp, earthworm flake, frozen adult brine shrimp and once in a while spirulina. Other special food for carnivorous Lake Tanganyika cichlids are acceptable. It is suggested that you do not feed live foods and tubifex worms due to possible diseases and pathogens that may be transferred to your fish.
Feed 2 to 5 small pinches of food a day in smaller amounts instead of a large quantity once a day. A one-day-a-week 'fast' can also be beneficial. All fish benefit from vitamins and supplements added to their foods.
Do normal water changes of 10% to 15% a week, or more frequent depending on the nitrite/ammonia levels and stocking numbers. The Lake Tanganyika cichlids cannot handle large water changes very well unless the new water water chemistry closely matches the water they are in. This inability to tolerate large water changes is due to Lake Tanganyika being very deep and the water tends to stay stable.
Water Changes: Weekly - Water changes of 10-15% weekly are suggested, only do more if the water parameters are off. Be cautious of doing more frequent changes as these fish are very sensitive to new water.
The Cylinder Cichlid is active but will swim mostly in the middle and bottom areas of the aquarium. A minimum 40 gallon tank for a single fish is suggested, and 55 gallons or more for a pair or if mixing with other species. They need good water movement along with very strong and efficient filtration. Lake Tanganyika is a very oxygen rich lake so bubblers need to be going day and night, even if there are plants. Regularly check nitrates and ph, nitrates should be no more than 25 ppm and a pH less than 7 is not tolerated. In addition keep an eye on total hardness and carbonate hardness. Avoid overfeeding and overstocking.
Lake Tanganyika is the second to largest lake in the world, thus contributing to a low fluctuation in temperature and pH. All Tanganyika cichlids need stable temperatures kept within acceptable limits and lots of oxygen to survive. Temperatures under 72° F and over 86° F for too long is not tolerated by many of these fish. When treating for ich, a few days at 86° F is acceptable. The lake is also consistently alkaline with a pH of around 9, and very hard at about 12 - 14° dGH. In the aquarium most Tanganyika cichlids are fairly adaptable as long as conditions are close to these ideal ranges. Most important is that their water chemistry doesn't change much over time. The water needs to be well buffered and maintained with small, regular water changes.
Salt is sometimes used as a buffering agent to increase the water's carbonate hardness. An alternative buffering approach is to use a chemical filtration method, where the water passes through layers of crushed coral or coral sand. Interestingly, Tanganyikan cichlids also need iodine for the thyroid to function properly to regulate growth and development, and which can be achieved by adding iodized table salt to the water. Although rift lake cichlids need hard alkaline water they are not found in brackish waters. This cichlid has some salt tolerance so can be kept in slightly brackish water conditions. However it not suited to a full brackish water tank. It can tolerate a salinity that is about 10% of a normal saltwater tank, a specific gravity of less than 1.0002.
Many caves and a lot of rock work will make the Cylinder Cichlid comfortable. They are aggressive and need a lot of room. Provide a sandy to very small sized gravel substrate. Plants may help the fry to survive and can be arranged in a very pleasing manner. Hardy plants that do well in hard, alkaline water and don't need a lot of light, like Anubias and Vallisneria, can make a nice addition. For a different or varied look you can plant on the porous rock with such species as Water Fern and Java Fern.
Minimum Tank Size: 40 gal (151 L) - A minimum of 40 gallons is the suggested for a single fish, with 55 gallons or more for a pair or if mixing with other species.
Suitable for Nano Tank: No
Substrate Type: Sand/Gravel Mix
Lighting Needs: Moderate - normal lighting
Temperature: 77.0 to 82.0° F (25.0 to 27.8° C)
Breeding Temperature: 77.0° F - Breeding temperature ranges between 77 - 82.4° F (25 - 28 C).
Range ph: 8.6-9.5
Hardness Range: 10 - 13 dGH
Brackish: Sometimes - alt is not found in their natural environment, but they do have a slight tolerance, keep levels below 10% - a specific gravity of less than 1.0002.
Water Movement: Moderate
Water Region: Middle - These fish will swim in the middle and bottom areas of the aquarium.
The Cylinder Cichlid can be kept in pairs or singly. They are generally aggressive toward those of the same species, and with their sharp teeth, they can make quick elimination of conspecifics. They will tolerate those of a different genus as long as they are larger and colored differently.
This is an aggressive community fish, but may be kept with robust and larger Lake Tanganyika Cichlids that shoal, such as those of the genera Neolamprologus, Altolamprologus, and Cyprichromis. Do not keep with other fish that have similar body shapes and size, such as Julidochromis, or other fish that occupy territories similar to that of the Cylinder Cichlid. Males will kill any fish that is subdominant.
Same species - conspecifics: Sometimes - They are aggressive towards conspecifics, accept as a breeding pair.
Peaceful fish (): Threat
Semi-Aggressive (): Monitor
Aggressive (): Safe
Large Semi-Aggressive (): Monitor
Large Aggressive, Predatory (): Threat
Slow Swimmers & Eaters (): Threat
Shrimps, Crabs, Snails: Threat - is aggressive
Sex: Sexual differences
No way to tell the difference between males and females until they are adults, then the male may be a little larger.
Cylinder Cichlids are considered to be "substrate-spawners", but they continually prove otherwise by utilizing caves; the female will lay her eggs in a cave (generally 50-200) and the male with fertilize them soon afterwards; the female will defend and care for the eggs while the male defends the territory. The eggs will hatch in about 10 days and free-swimming fry will start to venture out on their own a week later. The fry can be fed and raised on Artemia nauplii, baby brine shrimp, and crushed flake food.
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