The Dickfeld's Julie Julidochromis dickfeldi is the most recently discovered of the three dwarf Julies, described by Staeck in 1975. This dwarf Julie only grows to a length of 4 1/3 inches (11 cm). However it is not quite the smallest, its relative the Masked Julie Julidochromis transcriptus is the dwarf cichlid with that distinction at about 3 inches (7.62 cm) in length. The Golden Julie Julidochromis ornatus is also smaller, reaching just over 3 inches (8 cm), and has the distinction of being the first of the Julies to be bred in captivity. Like these others, the small size of this cichlid does make it easy to house in tight quarters and a 20 gallon tank is perfect for keeping a pair.
This dwarf Julie was first introduced in America in 1974 under the enticing designation of "Blue Julie". It differs in its coloring from the other Julies with a body that can be silver, light brownish gold, or have a blue sheen. Thus Brown Julie is another common name for it as well. The markings on its head are another distinction. The three dark horizontal stripes on each side extend onto to the head with the lowest one literally wrapping completely around its face. Besides differing in color, its body shape is also a bit different. It has a larger dorsal fin towards the front end and a more pointed snout. These fish are also commonly named for color or locality such as Julidochromis dickfeldi "Ndole", Julidochromis dickfeldi "Moliro", Julidochromis dickfeldi "Midnight", Julidochromis dickfeldi "Midnight Blue", and Julidochromis dickfeldi "White top", to name a few.
They are moderate to easy to care for as long as small weekly water changes are done to keep the water at optimal levels. With their small size and hardy nature, they make a great fish for the beginning cichlid keeper. Provide them with a sandy or fine gravel substrate along with lots of rock formations. It is somewhat shy. It will stay in the rocks more towards the back of the aquarium, darting out to retrieve food. Plants can also be included as they will not bother them. This fish will breed in captivity and the plants will provide cover for the newly hatch fry.
In a community cichlid tank the Dickfeld's Julie can be kept singly or in pairs, but will not tolerate other Julies. They can be kept with other Tanganyika cichlids that are similar size. They will a define a territory by selecting a crack or rock fissure as its center, and then will stay very close to the rock structures of their defined territory. This fish will breed in captivity, and it is important to keep the different strains separate to help prevent hybrids.
The Dickfeld's Julie is an omnivore. In the wild they will eat drifting matter in the water, but mostly feed on crustaceans they pick from the rocks. In the aquarium to keep a good balance give them a high quality flake food or pellet everyday. Regularly supplement these with Cyclops, water fleas, brine and mysis shrimps, or other special foods for Lake Tanganyika cichlids.
Feed 2 to 5 small pinches of food a day in smaller amounts instead of a large quantity once a day. This will help to keep the best water quality. All fish also benefit from vitamins and supplements added to their foods.
- Diet Type: Omnivore
- Flake Food: Yes
- Tablet Pellet: Occasionally
- Live foods (fishes, shrimps, worms): Some of Diet
- Vegetable Food: Some of Diet
- Meaty Food: Most of Diet
- Feeding Frequency: Daily - Offer several small feedings a day rather than a single large feeding for better water quality over time.
The Dickfeld's Julie is active cichlid and will swim in the bottom areas of the aquarium. A minimum 20 gallon tank for a pair is suggested. Provide 75 gallons or more for a community type tank. They do fine in either freshwater or brackish freshwater but 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.
They need plenty of cover and places of retreat. Provide lots of porous rocks and/or clay pots and clay pot pieces forming caves and crevices. They will a define a territory with a crack or rock fissure as the center of their territory, and will stay very close to the rock structures of their defined territory. Provide them with a sandy or fine gravel substrate. Plants can also be included as they will not bother them.
- Minimum Tank Size: 20 gal (76 L) - A minimum of 20 gallons is suggested for a pair, with 75 gallons or more for a community type tank.
- Suitable for Nano Tank: Yes - A 20 gallon Nano tank can house a single specimen or a pair.
- Substrate Type: Sand/Gravel Mix
- Lighting Needs: Moderate - normal lighting
- Temperature: 73.0 to 80.0° F (22.8 to 26.7° C)
- Breeding Temperature: 77.0° F - Breeding temperatures range between 77 - 80.6° F (25 - 27 C).
- Range ph: 8.5-9.2
- Hardness Range: 8 - 12 dGH
- Brackish: Sometimes - Salt 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: Bottom - These fish will swim in the bottom areas of the aquarium.
The Dickfeld's Julies are egg layers that will form monogamous pairs and a nuclear family. They are sheltered substrate spawner and prefer spawning in caves. This fish has been bred in captivity but they are not ready to breed until they are a year old. Young couples need practice to become successful parents.
Buy 6 to 10 juveniles and put all of them in the tank you plan to use for breeding. Do it this way because if you move a newly established pair to a breeding tank, you may meet with failure. Once you have a pair the male will start to mark off territories. Remove the extras after a pair splits off unless you have a large tank and lots of rockwork. It is best not to rearrange the rocks or move any decorations around in the aquarium once they form territories. This can stress them out and will very likely break the bond a male and female have made. The reason for this is that part of their bond is connected to the "territory" more than to each other.
The breeding tank should have moderately alkaline, medium hard water with to a pH of around 8.5 - 9.2, 8 - 14° dGH, and a temperature between 77 - 80.6° F (25 - 27 C). They are cave spawners so provide them with caves made from rocks and/or clay planting pots and/or pieces of slate, as they adhere their eggs to the "roof" of their cave. The male will entice the female into a cave and their spawn will be from 35 to 50 eggs. Make sure there are a lot of crevices for the young to hide in and do not use plecostomus in the tank, as they will eat the young during the night. For a higher success rate, siphon out most of the fry when they are older and put them in a separate 10 gallon tank, leaving just a few in the tank with the parents. Feed the fry baby brine shrimp.
Once the parents are ready to spawn again, they will allow the older fry to help with raising their siblings if the tank is large enough. At this point, if the tank is not large or does not have many places and crevices in which to hide, you may want to remove the fry. The fry are slow growers. It takes almost 4 months to get them to 1" in size. Raise the fry in a community tank of 60 gallons or more with other Tanganyikan cichlids of similar size. The fry can be damaged by nets
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