The Sardine Cichlid Cyprichromis leptosoma is a small elongated cichlid from Lake Tanganyika, Africa. Typically cichlids have a robust look with many being very deep bodied, but not the cichlids from the Cyprichromis genus. There are 5 species in this genus with a long slender streamlined form. They look more like sardines so are commonly known as Herring Cichlids or Sardine Cichlids. Common names for this fish are the Slender Cichlid or it may simply be referred to as "Cyp", "Slender Cyp", or "Lepto".
This species is very colorful as well. Classic males range from browns to lavender blues accented with a tail fin that is golden to orangish yellow. However there are several slightly different color pattern variations and all are very attractive. They will differ in color patterns with contrasting lines and various shadings depending upon the location in Lake Tanganyika where the specimen is collected. Patterns span from dark vertical bars on top of a blue or lavender body to blotches of yellow.
Several common names are used to describe this pretty fish by its appearance. The most common is the Blue Flash Cichlid or Cyprichromis leptosoma "Blue Flash". Others include "Neonback" or Cyprichromis leptosoma "Utinta", Fluorescent Utinta,Cyprichromis leptosoma "Livua Blue Cichlid", Blue Glitter, Black Bee, Neon Head, Neon Back, Livua Blue Cichlid, and more along with varieties being named for their place of origin in the lake. The Sardine Cichlid is the smallest of theCyprichromis genus, reaching only up to about 4 1/3 inches (11 cm) in length. It is similarly shaped to the Blue NeonParacyprichromis nigripinnis, The differences found on the Slender Cichlid are the uniformity of its body color and its also much larger.
This is a schooling cichlid that's fairly peaceful, but it will need a tank large enough to provide plenty of room for swimming. In the wild they shoal in groups numbering in the thousands, in the aquarium a minimum of 12 is suggested for them to be comfortable. They tolerate their own species well. A good balance of three to four males with the being rest females will encourage the males to color up quite nicely.
These cichlids are not overly aggressive and enjoy schooling with a group of conspecifics. In contrast to that activity, at times they have an amusing “stand on the head” behavior or a behavior of being very still. These are some of the few fish that prefer the top areas of the tank, and so complement the middle and bottom dwellers. Keep them with other Tanganyika cichlids that are similar in temperament but inhabit the middle and lower regions of the tank. The presence of Sardine Cichlids in the tank actually calms other cichlids. When they see them out in the open, other cichlids figure it must be safe. Even your shell dwellers will spend more time out of their hiding places with these fish present.
This cichlid is a great choice for both the beginner and advance aquarist. It is easy to moderate to care for as long as regular water changes are done to keep water at optimal levels. This fish is always wanting to spawn, so provide some plants to provide cover for the newly hatched fry. It is important to keep conspecific varieties and similar species separate to help prevent hybrid strains from entering the trade, thus losing the true color forms.
The body shape of the Sardine Cichlid is not that of a typical cichlid. Rather than being stocky and more deep bodied, it is a long slender fish with more of a "sardine" shape and has a protrusible mouth. It is also commonly known as the Slender Cichlid. It will grow to a length of 4 1/3 inches (11 cm) and can live up to 8 years with proper care.
Males pretty much all have a body color that ranges from lavender to blue with a golden yellow to orangish yellow tail fin. Females are generally more beige with some yellow in their fins. There are variations in their coloring depending on the region where they are found, below are a few of them:
- Cyprichromis leptosoma "Utinta" or Neonback
The Neonback has a blue base color with four darker colored vertical bars. It also has an egg spot on the back part of the dorsal fin, that can be black, yellow or a combination of the two.
- Cyprichromis leptosoma "Kerenge"
This variety has a lavender blue base color with four darker colored vertical bars.
- Cyprichromis leptosoma "Bulu Point"
This variety has an overall solid blue on the top half of the body with the bottom half having scales that are gold and edged in the main body color so it appears the two colors are mixed. The tail fin and tips of the pelvic fin are orange with the anal fin remaining blue.
- Cyprichromis leptosoma "Kekese"
This variety has an overall solid turquoise blue on the top half of the body with the bottom half having scales that are yellow and edged in the main body color so it appears the two colors are mixed. The tail fin, tips of the pelvic fins, and the anal fin are yellow.
All cichlids share a common feature that some saltwater fish such as wrasses and parrotfish have and that is a well-developed pharyngeal set of teeth that are in the throat, along with their regular teeth. Cichlids have spiny rays in the back parts of the anal, dorsal, pectoral, and pelvic fins to help discourage predators. The front part of these fins are soft and perfect for precise positions and effortless movements in the water as opposed to fast swimming.
Cichlids have one nostril on each side while other fish have 2 sets. To sense "smells" in the water, they suck water in and expel the water right back out after being "sampled" for a short or longer time, depending on how much the cichlid needs to "smell" the water. This feature is shared by saltwater damselfish and cichlids are thought to be closely related.
Do normal water changes of 10% to 15% a week, or more frequent changes 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. If a large water change is needed, changing 15% every couple of days should bring water back to normal. This inability to tolerate large water changes is due to Lake Tanganyika being very deep and the water tends to stay stable.
The Slender Cichlid has been bred in captivity. Male Blue Flash are always wanting to spawn, which contributes the the attractiveness of this fish in a community cichlid tank. They are always shaking and flashing to get the attention of the females.
They are mouthbrooders that have formed their own twist on this category. Unlike other cichlids, the males and females do not form a bond. They actually spawn in open waters without using substrate. The female is attracted to a male that is bending his body and vibrating this ventral fins. which look like dummy eggs. When the female snaps or nuzzles this fin, the male will release his semen or "milt" into the water. The female will then release one or two eggs into the milt, thus fertilizing them. She then takes the fertilized eggs into her mouth and continues this ritual until she has run out of eggs.
Spawning will produce from 4 to 20 fry depending on the female's health and age. She will carry the eggs for 3-4 weeks and then spit them out between crevices of rocks. She will not protect them, but will deposit her eggs near aLepidiolamprologus profundicola, which is a large piscivorous substrate-spawning cichlid, that acts as a surrogate mother. The L. profundicola is not dedicated to protecting the Blue Flash fry, but her presence actually deters predators.
Feed the fry newly hatched brine shrimp and decapsulated brine shrimp eggs when first born. (They will not be able to digest the eggs if they are not decapsulated.) The fry grow quickly and will soon be able to take in cyclopeeze and frozen daphnia. There is also a product from Hilkari called "First Bites" that works well. The fry can be sexed at 2" when the male coloration appears.
The Sardine Cichlids are susceptible to typical fish ailments, especially if water is stale and of poor quality and oxygenation. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Water changes, not overfeeding or overcrowding, and observation along with feeding your fish the proper foods (thawing frozen food and adding vitamins) will keep them in optimum health. For freshwater an optional practice is to add 1 heaping teaspoon of salt per 11 gallons of water. This is considered to be a simple and natural remedy for wounds, minor fungal infections and film over the eyes of fish in transit. Using a marine salt (used for salt water fish) will add some trace elements
One common problem is Ich. It can be treated with the elevation of the tank temperature to 86° F (30° C) for 3 days. If that does not cure the Ich, then the fish needs to be treated with copper (remove any water conditioners). Several copper based fish medications are available for Ich. Copper use must be kept within the proper levels, so be sure to follow the manufacturers suggestions. A copper test also can be used to keep the proper levels. You can also combine increasing the temperature with an Ich medication treatment.
As with most fish they are susceptible to skin flukes and other parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.), fungal infections, and bacterial infections. It is recommended to read up on the common tank diseases. Knowing the signs and catching and treating them early makes a huge difference. For information about freshwater fish diseases and illnesses