An adult Paracyprichromis nigripinnis female in the aquarium. Fish and Photo by Frode Numan.
A friend of mine gave me one specimen of this beautiful species, Paracyprichromis nigripinnis, also known as the blue neon. It was a female. This species should be kept in groups of at least 8 individuals. But within 100 kilometers of my home town I never before saw a pet shop selling this species, I was lucky though. In a small town with a big specialized pet shop, I found one male in a tank with the sign "several cichlid species". The shop owner sold me the one fish for a friendly price (who else should want one such a dull brown fish? Wait till you see him in a tank with big holes and hardly any light! Then a blue neon he becomes).
At home I brought the two fish together in my Tanganyika tank. The tank is 120x60x60 cm (400 liters). The tank setup is composed with large and small hand made hollow rocks. The backside and left side of the tank are covered at the inside with black formica. No plants but plenty algae.
The water comes straight from the tap and has a pH of 8 and a total hardness of 7 dH. The temperature is kept at 26 degrees Celsius with a 300 watt heater. I use an Eheim professional filter and weekly I change about 50% of the water volume. For lightning I use 4 TLD 30 watt colors 92, 93, 95 and aquarelle of Phillips, 2 in the morning and evening and 4 during 6 hours at the midst of day. This much lightning is of no use for the blue neons. One TLD is sufficient and brings out the best colors in them. But I need to grow algae for the other inhabitants of the tank..
The other inhabitants are 12 Tropheus moorii moliro (breeding), a pair of Julidochromis dickfeldi (also breeding), a pair of Neolamprologus leleupi (spawning but no young seen) and a pair (?) of Altolamprologus compressiceps. I feed mainly OSI spirulina flake food. This is not optimal for some of the inhabitants but I am very fond of my T. moorii's! For those who do not know, feeding T. moorii something like brine shrimps or bloodworms can kill them. To feed the blue neons something non vegetarian I offered them a little 'dust food' (literally translated from Dutch) like MicroMin. Blue neons can feed on very small particles that the T. moorii wont bother looking at.
After almost three months in the tank the first spawn of the blue neons took place. They spawn in open water near a vertical surface. It starts with the male bending his belly trembling towards the female which then takes a head down position. This is what I saw happening in the evening. The following morning the female had a mouth full of big yellow eggs (happy me). After two weeks the eggs were gone. I knew this period was to short (sad me). But exactly one month and one week later came another beautiful morning with a mouth full of eggs. This time everything went well. After one week I could see at least 6 little young fish in mothers mouth. I estimated the total at 9 young. Six weeks after spawning I saw there were less young in her mouth. I took the female out of the tank with all the hunters (N. leleupi & A. compressiceps) and put her in a small tank (60x30x30) with 9 cardinals (Cheirodon axelrodi). I know, a strange combination. But the water was of the same quality and that is what matters to me in this situation. The setup of this small tank was a piece of wood, some plants: Echinodorus tenellus on the bottom and Microsorium pteropus on the backside. Between this plants two young blue neons found a good hiding place. At "birth" they are almost 2 cm long. They eat small waterflee's (Daphnia) and crushed flake food. Feeding them is really not the problem.
After one week of good feeding I placed the mother neon back in the main tank. Within one month she had again a mouth full of eggs. I noticed see was able to feed on small particles even with her mouth full. Again I managed to raise two young with the same procedure. The young where let free by their mother after 37 days. After 4 months I decided to make a big happy family. Now I had a group of 6 blue neons. I decided to make a trip to an importer of Tanganyika cichlids and bought 4 others. The group contains three beautiful males and three females with a mouth full of eggs. I do not separate the females anymore, so I think that the small young will have a hard time surviving. But maybe I soon will have more success with my pair (?) of A. compressiceps.
An adult Paracyprichromis nigripinnis female carrying fry in the aquarium, the fry can be seen in the translucent mouth. Fish and Photo by Frode Numan.