Lampeye on his experiences with 'Lamprologus' ocellatus gold
Two of the first fish i ever got were a pair of apistogramma viejeta (very similar to macmasteri). They were more or less adults when i got them and although they lived over a year in my community tank I never witnessed any spawns. That was me hooked on dwarf cichlids. I then bought a male and a female apisto cacatuoides and they spawned the day after i brought them home. The eggs never hatched and week later the female killed the male. I had similar experiences while adding males to females or vice versa, thinking all i needed was one of each sex to get a pair. I gave up on dwarfs for a while until someone gave me a free 50 litre tank, ideal for a species tank if only i could get a pair!
After a bit of internet browsing I decided try to get some 'Lamprologus' ocellatus, little shelldwellers from lake tanganyika. After lots of searching, aquatic village got some in. I bought 6 in total, 3 of the biggest and 3 of the smallest they had. From this group i definately had one large male (the boss of the tank) who wanted to claim all 12 shells i had in the tank! I broke up the tank with rocks to ease the aggerssion, which worked as it wasnt too serious, and was spread out amoung the five others.
About two months later the agression moved up a notch. The large male and a female had paired off, moved up two shells close together and were chasing and keeping the remaining four fish in the top corners of the tank. I had hoped to have a harem of 1m/2-3f but it did not look possible in this size tank so I removed the four others the next day and within a week i had (10) free swimming fry. I fed them bbs, and later on crushed flaked and crushed (to powder) granules. The parents "kicked them out" and pretty much ignored them until it was time to spawn again, at which time i removed the 1st generation for their own safety.
Without any other fish in with them, the parents never left the outside of their shells, except for feeding time, which was really boring, so a while later I decided to set up a 3 foot tanganyika community tank, based on what i could keep with occellatus.
Since the move they have been really active, swimming all over the tank, and defending their shells if any tankmates get too close, altogether much more enoyable to watch. When they spawn again I plan to remove the fry when they get evicted to a tank of their own.
They are very slow growers, but a beautifull little fish. During water changes they bite my hand when ever i get too close to their shell! They have a great little character. Apart from size there are subtle differences to the sexes. My male has an orange tip to his fins, while the female has white tips. Ive read this isnt a foolproof way of sexing but it has been the case in my experience.
If you decide to keep these little crackers you wont be disapointed. But to fully enjoy them I'd recommend keeping them in a 3 foot tank, with some dithers like leptosoma, and some other relatively peacefull cichlids. At the moment i have them in with 10 Cyprichromis leptosoma, a pair of calvis, and 6 caudopunctatus. There are little squabbles as is always the case with cichlids but occellatus can hold their own, and dont hesitate to chase off the calvis twice their size! This is not random aggression, and only happens when a tankmate gets to close to their shell.