Fast facts on Dimidiochromis compressiceps
Biotope: Lake Malawi. As far as I know no local morphs are known apart from a “Golden variety” which was recently described by Ad Konings in Cichlid News 11:1, 14-15, 2002.
Tank: At the moment they are hosted in my biggest tank 750 lt (US gals 200) and I feel is not that safe to house them to a smaller one. Having to give a “lower limit” I’d say 500 lt (US gals. 125): better safe than sorry!
Water chemistry: It’a true (and magnificent I have to add!) Malawi Utaka (hap) hence no mistake: give them the best Malawi like (alkaline) water you can achieve.
Spawning: In the typical Malawian fashion (on a flat stone, in my tank quite close to surface). First attempt hasn’t been lucky, with eggs spitted after holding for a few days. On the second one, not uncommon with malawians, the female performed her duty pretty well! BEWARE: these fishes are “easy-spitters” (when netted). Take note of the date of actual mating and wait, at least, 21 days to net the female. So I did and her despite I was using a handnet (square foortprint) of over one foot in size she immediately released the fry (almost 50 at first sight). This being known, next time I decide to net her I’ll wait up to 24 days. FINAL NOTE: I have to report in this batch one (my second ever) deformed fry: no tail.
Food: flakes, pellets (better) fresh (animal) matter. Then DO check what is attached at the bottom of this fast fact sheet.
Tank Mates: Other Utakas (among them I tried: Fossorochromis rostratus; Copadichromis borley; Lethrinops sp.; Aulonocara sp.; a – single – Tilapia sp. (plus my “usual” big loriicarids) with no detectable problems (with adults!!!)
A prowler is always a prowler.
When I got back from Belgium (from the first MCH meeting) I took at AB Zaire – close to Frank’s house - this pair of Dimidiochromis compressiceps (middle sized) and, after having quarantined them I put the female to swim in their final quarters (my 750 lt tank) and the male elsewhere to allow the madam (!) to grow a bit before getting married (it didn’t last that much since the male's tank was only 125 lt!). Things started to go on happily except the female not eating and this fact was worrying me a bit ... I started to be puzzled when I saw her leaving feces (How did they come? Where does she feeding It could be possible for the VERY first days – residual parts of food taken in Belgium, but then ... and so on). The fish was acting normally no odd behaviour detectable: DARK MYISTERY!!! Then, one evening I had some more time to sit in front of the tank, and watch them. The D. compressiceps female was ALWAYS patrolling that same SMALL part of the tank where I was used to see all the fry in the days immediately after their release (whenever the mothers weren’t taken to a separate tank). She was, every now and then, quickly diving among rocks ... A couple of days later, to my surprise, the female started to feed (with the other fishes) but after a few days she stopped again and started the same “patrol duty” (in the meantime, one of the C. borleyi had released some fry ...)
All of a sudden the story turned, to me, almost clear: when she "smells" fry swimming in the tank then she refuses my "canned" foods and gets back to them after she runs out of fry … and immediately switch back to live food as soon as another female releases ...
This will, as a consequence, drop the fry survival rate in the tank, likely, to zero (and you can imagine how the matter will be with the arrival of the male!) but, on the other hand, that's what I regard as witnessing a "natural behaviour" in a tank! ... A prowler is, and will always remain, a prowler!
See next page for photos of Dimidiochromis compressiceps fry.