The Sexfasciatus Neolamprologus sexfasciatus is without a doubt one of the most attractive Lamprologini cichlids imported from Lake Tanganyika, Africa. There are several geographic color variations depending on where it originates in the lake. But overall It is an elongated, somewhat stocky cichlid with six bold black bars on a silver to white, or gold background. it is further highlighted with touches of blue.
Its species name is very descriptive, with "sex" meaning six and "fascia" meaning band. The common names describe its bold appearance too. It is known as the Six-bar Lamprologus, Gold Sexfasciatus Cichlid, Six Bar Cichlid, Yellow Six Bars, Neolamprologus sexfasciatus Gold, Neolamprologus sexfasciatus Blue, and Sexfas. Other names are implemented by putting 'tagged" add-ons at the end the scientific name. This is used to refer to varieties based on the region where found or a color variation. An examples of this is Neolamprologus sexfasciatus "Fulwe". Others tagged in this manner are followed by Gold, Kambwimba 'daffodil', Ikola, Kasanga, Mwerazi, Namansi, Nkondwe, Samazi, and Kipili, to name a few.
This attractive cichlid is moderate in size with males reaching up to about 6 inches (15 cm) in length and females being a bit smaller. It is closely related to the Five bar cichlid Lamprologus tretocephalus. Both species have very similar coloration. But true to their names they are distinguished by the Sexfasciatus having 6 broad bands while the Five Bar has only 5. Another similarly appointed cichild is the of a Frontosa Cichlid Cyphotilapia frontosa, but is much larger than either of these two, reaching a length of up to 14 inches (35 cm) or more.
This fish is best for the intermediate and advanced cichlid keeper. The size and bold patterning of this cichlid make it fun and easy to observe and it's fairly easy to care for as long as regular maintenance is done. A minimum 50 gallon tank is suggested, but a larger aquarium with about a four foot length will be needed for a breeding pair. This cichlid is highly territorial and does not tolerate others of its own kind. Keeping a pair can work, but not groups of this species unless the tank is very large. After spawning the male can be quite protective of the fry, even to the point of attacking the female.
These cichlids are best kept in a species tank or with other durable species in a good sized aquarium. It can be kept with other cichlids of similar size and attitude, but because it is very aggressive the tankmates must be chosen with care. Tanganyikan cichlids that occupy different areas within the tank, like those from the Cyprichromis genus, can work well. Other rock dwelling cichlids can work too, like the larger Julidochromis or Altolamprologus species, and even Mbuna cichlids. Just make sure the tank is large enough with sufficient territories for each occupant. A mixed tank actually helps the female get less of the brunt of the male's aggression when he is protecting the fry.
They like a sandy to very small sized substrate along with caves made from rocks, highly porous rock works well. They also do fine with plants. Because of their size it's best to put the decor towards that back and sides of the tank, leaving open space in the middle for them to swim.
The Sexfasciatus is a rather stocky elongated fish with a continuous dorsal fin. Their have mouths designed for specialized feeding. They have a pharyngeal bone and teeth that are specifically adapted to break open the strong shells of molluscs, which are their primary diet. They are moderate in size with males reaching about 6 inches (15 cm) in length with the females being a bit smaller at about 4 to 5 inches (12 - 13 cm). The Neolamprologus genus will generally live 8 - 10 years with proper care.
They have a very pleasing coloration. There are several geographic color variations depending on where it originates in the lake. But overall there are six bold black/brown bars on a silver to white, or gold background, accented with touches of blue. They are not to be confused with their very similar relative, the Five-Bar Cichlid Neolamprologus tretocephalus which, as its name implies, has only have five bars.
Some varieties of this fish, based on the region where found or a color variation are:
- Neolamprologus sexfasciatus "Fulwe"
This variety has basically 6 bars over a silver to white background with bluish clear fins. The top 1/2 of the fish (its back) can have a slightly different color in the yellow/gold family.
- Neolamprologus sexfasciatus "Gold"
This variety is one variation that is a very deep gold coloration, including the fins, it also has the 6 bars.
- Neolamprologus sexfasciatus "Kambwimba"
This variety has the 6 bars over a silver body with silver fins that can have a very subtle blue cast to them.
- Neolamprologus sexfasciatus "Kasanga"
This variety is similar to Kambwimba, except the fins have a definite blue coloring to them.
- Neolamprologus sexfasciatus "Namansi"
This variety has a lighter yellow on the back and silver/white on the bottom part of the body with blue tinted fins and the 6 bars.
- Neolamprologus sexfasciatus "Nkondwe"
This variety is white with the 6 bars on the body, but with yellow fins that are outlined in blue.
- Neolamprologus sexfasciatus "Samazi"
This variety is white with the 6 bars and light blue fins.
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.
This fish best kept by intermediate and experienced cichlid keepers. It is an aggressive cichlid, especially the males, and not a community tank specimen. It cannot kept with fish other than cichlids of a similar size and temperament, The aquarists must be willing to provide a properly set up aquarium with appropriate tank mates, and be willing to do frequent water changes.
The Sexfasciatus is basically carnivorous in the wild, eating small fish and molluscs. In the aquarium they will accept a variety of meaty high protein foods such as frozen/fresh chopped up shrimp, clams, mussels, live feeder guppies, and ocean plankton. They can also be offered Cyclops, water fleas, brine and mysis shrimps as well as pellets and specially formulated foods for Lake Tanganyika cichlids. They will particularly relish snails. After they become accustom to their home, they will also begin to accept flake foods but should still be offered meaty foods as well.
Feed 2 to 5 times a day in smaller amounts instead of a large quantity once a day. This will keep the water quality higher over a longer time. A one-day-a-week 'fast' can also be beneficial. Of course, all fish benefit from added vitamins and supplements to their foods.
Do normal water changes of only 10% to 20% 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 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.
The Sexfasciatus is an active cichlid that will swim mostly in the middle and bottom areas of the aquarium. A minimum 50 gallon tank is suggested for a single fish. A larger tank about 4 feet in length will be needed when mixing cichlids, or for keeping a breeding pair as the male can be quite protective of the fry to the point of attacking the female. In a mixed cichlid tank will also need to be 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 they 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.
Provide a sandy to very small sized gravel substrate. Sand used for salt water tanks can help keep the pH up as well as the addition of crushed coral. Crushed coral and aragonite sands do tend to dissolve easier than salts. They need a lot of rocks and cave formations for retreat and spawning. It's best to have the decor placed more to the back and sides of the tank to provide an open area in the middle for swimming. Although plants other than algae are pretty much absent in their natural environment, they are preferred by this species and can be arranged in a very pleasing manner. Plants that will grow on the porous rock include such species as Anubias, Java Fern. and Water Fern.
The Sexfasciatus has been bred in captivity, but it is infrequent. These are substrate spawners that spawn in caves. When breeding they will form monogamous pairs and a nuclear family, but only while tending the fry. Getting a breeding pair is accomplished by having a group of young that are the same size and then grow. This can take a while as they don't become sexually mature until at least 18 months. Eventually a pair will form and all of the others will leave they area they defend.
After a pair has formed, the other individuals should be removed from the tank as they will not be tolerated by the pair. The breeding tank needs to be at least 4 feet long with piles rock or other decor that creates several caves for spawning sites. There needs to be plenty of retreats as the male may become intolerant of the female in between spawns. The water should have a pH of around 8.2 - 9.0, a 10 - 13° dGH, and a temperature of 77° F (25 C) or slightly higher.
Digging in the substrate around the decor indicates the fish are starting to breed. The pair will clean their spawning site until it is spotless. Their bars will fade almost to the point of disappearing when the spawning begins. Eggs are deposited on the floor of the site by the female and fertilized by the male. The female fans the eggs for several days and as each fry hatches, she moves them to a different spot. About 200 fry are the average number. The free swimming fry can be fed newly hatch brine shrimp and crushed flakes. Also the female will actually take her food, and spit it back out in smaller pieces for the fry.
Meanwhile the male will frantically defend the area. In about 2 to 3 weeks, the female is done and the young will then stay near the male. He will protect them from other fish, including the female, who he will attack if she gets too close. Because of the male's aggressive behavior, providing a mixed group (this pair with other genus of similar in size and temperament), helps to diffuse attacks on the female.
Credit : http://animal-world.com/encyclo/fresh/cichlid/Sexfasciatus.php