Physical description: A high-backed fish with strong lateral compression.
The mouth is very large and appears
to be hinged.
The coloration varies greatly as multiple geographical color morphs are known.
The most common variation beige body
to light brown body color with about ten vertical stripes.
These stripes may be obvious or barely visible.
first one runs from the forehead, though the back part of the eye, and down to the lower part of the gill cover.
last is usually located on the base of the caudal fin.
Depending on the morph small copper-colored spots may or may not cover
the rear part of the body.
The fins are usually gold and the eye is dark.
Often a short stripe from the eye the
upper lip is present.
Size/Length: To 6" (15 cm)
Similar species: Pearly Compressiceps (
These two species can be distinguished
by A. compressiceps's
greater arched back and shorter body.
The spot markings and eye stripes are more distinct
on A. calvus
Habitat: Eastern Africa; found in crevices of rocky areas in Lake Tanganyika
S: bottom, middle
Aquarium: 48" (122 cm) or 55 gallons (209 L).
The tank should have large open swimming
Use rock structures to create hiding caves and crevices.
Water chemistry: pH 7.2-9.0 (8.0), 7-18 dH (12), 75-82°F (24-28°C).
Social behavior: A timid and peaceful fish that will lose some of its shyness when combined with lively
Lake Tanganyika Cichlids.
Somewhat territorial towards fish that enter its territory.
Do not combine with small fish, under
3" (8 cm), as they will likely be mistaken for food and consumed.
This species will not harm plants.
Suggested companions: Lake Tanganyika cichlids,
Synodontis, Aulonocara, Lamprichthys, Afromastacembelus
FOOD: Live; small fish, earthworms, large aquatic insects,
Mysis shrimp, and other large crustaceans;
possibly chopped meat.
Sexual differences: Males may be slightly larger.
Breeding techniques: Use water with a pH from 7.2-7.5, a water hardness from 8-12 dH, and a temperature from
The breeding tank should include a number of cave structures.
As many as 300 eggs are laid in a cave.
female guards the eggs while the male defends the territory.
The young are difficult to rear and need a regimes
of small water changes biweekly to prosper.
Start feeding with
The young are slow-growing.
Breeding potential: 9.
Breeding is very difficult and only accomplished rarely.
Remarks: Nearly all the fish available to the hobby are wild-caught.
This helps explain the high price that
often accompanies this fish.
The body shape is a result of a feeding specialization for feeding on small fish, aquatic
insects, and crustaceans that inhabit small crevices in rocky areas.
Make frequent water changes.
Difficulty of care: 6.
A difficult fish to care for as its diet must include live foods and it is highly sensitive
to water pollutants.
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