enjoy the hunt. They also nibble on the
zucchini slices and other veggies I add to
the tank for the Distichodus. When there
are fry present I add microworms, and the
adults seem to enjoy these as much as their
fry. For tanks with fry, I rotate Java moss
into that tank from others. This plant is
usually covered with microscopic life that
both the adults and the fry enjoy hunting.
The last consideration is floor space.
In the wild, it is reported that P. taeniatus
pairs claim a territory just over one square
yard in size. There aren’t many tanks of
this size and shape in the hobby. I’ve
found that a 3-foot or larger tank works
well for a pair. My most productive pair
was kept in a 55 with a group of four
Distichodus decemmaculatus, a group of
six Phenacogrammus altus, and a pair of
Congochromis dimidiatus that claimed a
small corner of the tank as their own.
them. They seem to spend much of the day
grazing on every single surface in the tank,
likely picking at the microscopic life that
covers these surfaces. I believe that, for
this reason, I have had much better success
with both adults and fry by keeping them
in established tanks instead of new setups.
I should note that my fish especially seem
to enjoy picking at the microscopic critters
on the sponge filters in their tanks.
I feed my fish a diet of finely ground
high-quality flake foods, finely crushed and
rehydrated freeze-dried krill, and live foods
like newly hatched brine shrimp, Daphnia,
Moina, and the occasional grindal worm.
Don’t worry if the worms burrow into the
substrate, because P. taeniatus are quite
capable of finding them, and they seem to
strong currents. In my tanks, the water
remains pretty constant at around pH 7.0
and a total hardness of around 125 ppm. I
try to do at least a 50-percent water change
every week, though in tanks with rare fish
like these, I often do two 50-percent water
changes a week. I don’t vacuum the gravel,
but I do run a power filter on the tank
every once in a while to pick up detritus.
In this water, the P. taeniatus have been
very happy, showing their bright colors
and spawning regularly. In addition, I’ve
had a pretty consistent 50-50 ratio of males
to females from fry that are spawned and
raised in these water parameters.
In the wild, P. taeniatus is reported to
feed on detritus and aufwuchs, so it is wise
to consider this when setting up a tank for
Pelvicachromis taeniatus “Bandéwouri,” male guarding fry.
When given the proper care outlined
above, Pelvicachromis taeniatus will do what
comes naturally, and eventually they will
spawn. They are cave spawners, so provide
the female with two or three small caves
to choose from. I like to use the miniature
and commercially made terra cotta caves
that are often sold on the Internet and at
conventions of aquarium societies like the
American Cichlid Association (ACA).
The female initiates courtship and does
so in a spectacular manner. Her colors
intensify and she uses the bright spot on
her flanks along with the red and lavender
belly to dance in front of the male, with
all of her fins spread wide and her body
curved slightly. With this dance, she tries
to entice the male to follow her back to
the cave. He often ignores her for quite
some time before finally following her. This
courtship dance can continue on and off for
several days until she is finally successful in
piquing the male’s interest.
The female lays her eggs on the roof and
side of the cave, and once this is complete,
she closes herself up in the cave by piling
substrate in front of the opening until only
a small hole remains. The male takes up his
position as sentry on the perimeter of the
territory while the female guards the eggs
and larvae inside the cave. I’ve seen photos
and watched the interactions between the
pair, but I’ve never actually been fortunate
enough to witness the spawning act itself.
Oftentimes, the first sign of a successful
spawn is when the female doesn’t come out