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Cichlids / Africa / Lake Tanganyika / Zebra Cichlid

Zebra Cichlid
Lobochilotes labiatus

Synonyms: Tilapia labiata
Physical description: An elongated, laterally compressed cichlid. The lips of adult fish are large and well-developed. The body color is usually greenish-white to greenish-silver-brown. About 12 transverse stripes run the length of the body. These stripes vary in intensity depending on the fish, and are usually dark gray in color. The fins are transparent with a smoky gray tint.
Size/Length: To 16" (40 cm) in nature, although not usually larger then 11" (28 cm) in aquaria.
Similar species: None
Habitat: Eastern Africa; found at depth from 125 to 200 feet (38-61 m) in rocky zones, Lake Tanganyika
S: bottom, middle
Aquarium: Smaller individuals can be kept in a tank measuring 48" (122 cm) with a volume of 55 gallons (209 L). Adults need a 60" (152 cm) tank with a volume of 90-110 gallons (342-416 L). The tank must have large open areas for free-swimming. Use a back-drop of large rock structures, including caves and tunnels. The substrate should be coral sand.
Water chemistry: pH 7.5-8.8 (8.0), 8-22 dH (18), 70-75°F (21-24°C) is more natural, although the Zebra Cichlid will tolerate a temperature from 70-82°F (21-28°C) in aquaria.
Social behavior: A highly aggressive, predatory fish that will eat fish under the size of 3.5" (9 cm) when full-grown. The Zebra Cichlid is territorial to others of its own and other species.
Suggested companions: Altolamprologus, Afromastacembelus, Lamprichthys, Synodontis, Cyphotilapia, and large Neolamprologus
FOOD: Live; fish, earthworms, aquatic insects, snails, Tubifex, insect larvae; chopped meat; mollusks; pellets; tablets; large flakes; vegetables; spinach, peas, lettuce.
Sexual differences: The male's anal fin has egg-spots and may have lighter stripes.
Breeding techniques: Use a large breeding tank with the following water propertieS: a pH from 8.0-8.5, a water hardness from 8-14 dH, and a temperature from 75-79°F (24-26°C). Keep one male with several females. As many as 400 eggs are laid and taken into the mouth of the female. They are fertilized via the dummy-egg method. The eggs are incubated for a period of 25-30 days. The fry can be fed on Artemia, small Daphnia, and crushed dry foods.
Breeding potential: 9. Breeding, until recently, had not been accomplished in aquaria.
Remarks: The large lips of L. labiatus serve an important role in finding food in the depths of Lake Tanganyika. The fish are able to sense food with them. A close relative to the Haplochromines of Lake Malawi.
Difficulty of care: 6. A hardy, but highly aggressive cichlid that can only be combined with other large, robust Lake Tanganyika cichlids.


By Rhett Butler   Mongabay.com