Brichardi Fish Care – Fairy Cichlid

Brichardi fish - Fairy cichlid
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Last updated on August 25th, 2022 at 12:00 pm

Brichardi fish, also known as the Lyretail cichlid or the Fairy cichlid, is endemic to Lake Tanganyika, Africa’s oldest and deepest lake. This fish gets its name from its rather odd appearance: it has one long-tail divided into two at the tip that trails behind it in the water. The rest of its body is shaped like most other cichlids, with an elongated oval shape and a pointed snout.

Brichardi fish are one of the most popular cichlids in the aquarium hobby, and they are commonly referred to as fairy cichlids due to their tiny size and bright colors. They can reach a maximum length of about 4-5 inches, depending on their overall health and diet, but most individuals will never get any larger than 4 inches long from snout to the end of the tail fin.

The Lyretail cichlid, Brichardi fish, is one of the most popular dwarf cichlids in the aquarium hobby today due to its interesting natural habitat, bright coloration, and active nature.

Origin and descriptions

Brichardi fish - Fairy cichlid

The Lyretail cichlid is native to Lake Tanganyika in East Africa. It is also known as Fairy Cichlids and Waterbabies, because of their extremely vibrant colors and their large, circular eyes. They are often misidentified as Neolamprologus leleupi. While they are similar in size and appearance, they do have a few distinguishing features that set them apart from each other.

These include coloration, body shape, and markings on their bodies. Brichardi fish tend to be slightly more rounded in shape than Neolamprologus leleupi, but both species have pointed dorsal fins and bright yellow or orange spots along with their bodies and fins. They can grow up to three inches long if raised properly in an aquarium setting.

Species profile

The Lyretail cichlid brichardi fish, also known as fairy cichlids, is native to Lake Tanganyika in Africa. They are hardy fish that is easy to breed and has made it into the aquarium trade. These aquarium fish will become about 4-5 inches (10-13 cm) in length, live around 10 years or more, and should be kept in groups of six or more.

They require an aquarium of at least 20 gallons with plenty of places for these active swimmers to hide. This species is best kept in a species only tank unless you have multiple tanks because they do not get along well with other cichlids from different areas such as South America and Africa due to their territorial nature, although there have been reports of successful introductions if both species can be removed after an initial introduction period.

Neolamprologus brichardi (Lyretail Cichlid)

The Brichardi fish is an African freshwater fish, commonly known as Lyretail Cichlid. It can be found in Lake Tanganyika, a stratified lake in Eastern Africa. Lake Tanganyika is one of two rift lakes, along with Lake Malawi, that lie on top of older geological faults that formed around 7-15 million years ago.

Brichardi fish are endemic to only three small areas of Lake Tanganyika; 2 near Kigoma and 1 near Rwekunda. They are also classified as endangered due to overfishing and predation by invasive species such as Nile Perch and giant tilapia.


The habitat of Brichardi fish is benthopelagic. It lives in freshwater environments within a benthic depth range. Their native environment temperatures range between 64-80 degrees Fahrenheit, and pH levels fall around 7.0 – 7.2.

Brichardi fish size

This fish species grow to around 5 inches (13 cm) in length.

Brichardi fish tank size

The minimum recommended tank size for lyretail cichlid is 15 – 20 gallons (57- 76 liters)

Tank set up

The Lyretail Cichlid is a hardy species that is able to adapt to many different water parameters, but they are best kept in an environment of soft and slightly acidic water. The pH level should be maintained between 6.5 and 7.0, with a temperature between 75 degrees Fahrenheit and 78 degrees Fahrenheit.

They can tolerate waters that are relatively low in oxygen content but will thrive in conditions where their tank has been given some additional aeration. Due to their large size and long lifespan, it is imperative that tanks housing these fish have lots of swimming room, so larger aquariums such as 30-gallon tanks should be used if possible.

In addition, tanks for Brichardi fish should not only have ample swimming space but adequate places for retreat as well. While these fish are tolerant of mildly alkaline environments, they also benefit from hiding spaces made from rocks or driftwood.

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Fairy cichlid tank mates

Brichardi fish should not be kept with larger, more aggressive fish species. Choose tank mates that are peaceful, small, and low-key. More active and boisterous fish can intimidate these peaceful African cichlids. If a few of these fairy cichlids are kept in an aquarium, it’s better to keep them with other brichardi fish than with other fish species that may pester or bully them.

Some common tank mates are small tetras, dwarf cichlids, and catfish species. A school of one male with several females is ideal. Otherwise, they should not be kept in a community aquarium unless sufficient space is provided for them to establish their own territory within that aquarium.

Fairy cichlid breeding

Brichardi fish - Fairy cichlid

The fairy cichlid is a mouthbrooder, but it is not yet known how best to induce breeding. In an aquarium environment with dozens of specimens, however, spawning can be accomplished by isolating a pair and gradually raising the water temperature to about 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Water chemistry doesn’t seem to play much of a role in spawning activity or success. About 20 days after spawning occurs, up to 300 eggs will be deposited within the cave created by two opposing rocks. After another 40 days, when fertilization has occurred, the free-swimming fry will emerge from their nests.

At first, they should feed on newly hatched artemia until they have grown large enough to eat baby brine shrimp and crushed flake food as well as finely shredded zucchini; liquid foods are excellent for young fry! Eventually, grow-out tanks containing a larger selection of foods should be set up so that as fry become bigger, they can transition from one diet to another.

Are fairy cichlid aggressive or peaceful?

Brichardi fish is a peaceful and docile freshwater fish. Like many fish from Lake Tanganyika, the fish has a tendency to be territorial and aggressive. As with most other cichlids, they are best kept in pairs or groups of no more than three fish per tank to keep the aggression at a minimum.

They are extremely social creatures and prefer to be in groups of at least three individuals. While they may display some territorial behavior when kept in small numbers, there will not be any true aggression between them. However, it is important to never keep two males together as they are unable to coexist peacefully with each other for long periods of time. Groups should ideally consist of one male and two females with no more than three or four individuals overall.

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Fairy cichlid care

Brichardi fish - Fairy cichlid

Brichardi fish is not a picky eater and can accept a wide variety of foods including flakes, pellets, freeze-dried bloodworms, and tubifex worms. In addition to being easy to feed, it’s tolerant of water conditions that may be detrimental to other fish.  However, like all African cichlids, they are sensitive to copper medications and should never be treated with copper or any medications containing copper.

This is especially true in high pH water because copper becomes more soluble in alkaline environments. They are also extremely aggressive towards one another and will only be able to remain in their natural habitat if kept in large tanks with plenty of caves and rockwork for retreats from overly aggressive tank mates.

Brichardi fish food

Lyretail cichlids will accept a wide variety of foods in captivity. They can be fed a variety of pellet and flake food, frozen or freeze-dried bloodworms, tubifex worms, and even freshly hatched baby brine shrimp if they are readily available. For maximum coloration and longevity, you want to make sure they receive a varied diet that includes vegetable matter as well as meaty foods like live or frozen bloodworms.

Water conditions

Brichardi fish - Fairy cichlid

Brichardi fish should be kept in clean, oxygenated water with a high pH of around 8.5 and a temperature of 77 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit. It is one of very few fish that can live its entire life in pure freshwater, but it’s very susceptible to disease and is not recommended for beginners or those who keep fewer than five aquariums.

Make sure your nitrate levels are as low as possible; no more than 20 ppm total hardness and 10 ppm nitrate, though less is better. Like most saltwater fish, however, brichardi fish will get stressed if exposed to chemical filtration like dechlorinators used in freshwater tanks

Brichardi fish lifespan

In captivity, Brichardi fish has been known to live around 8- 10 years with good care and perfect water conditions.

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Parasites and diseases

Brichardi fish are susceptible to Cryptocaryon irritans and Ichthyophthirius multifiliis. Both of these diseases are commonly found in aquaria with brichardi, especially those that contain saltwater. Fortunately, both of these parasites can be treated with a variety of common medications including maracyn 2, maracyn 1, aquariumsafe Ick Guard, and Jungle Ick Plus.


There are some species of tilapia, large Malawian Haplochromines, and numerous mbuna catfish which will readily feed on Brichardi fish. These fish should either be avoided or you must have a plan in place to remove them. They will consume your fairy cichlid if given half a chance.

Some other known predators are Lates niloticus and occasionally, large Nile perch. As an adult, Nile perch will be too large to eat a Neolamprologus. However, in their juvenile phase, they may attempt to consume these fish while they inhabit similar habitats and prey on similar foods.

This must also be considered when stocking your aquarium with these fish, as a community aquarium should not be maintained with small juveniles of these predators. It is imperative that you do your research prior to bringing any livestock into an existing aquarium.

Do brichardi fish make good pets?

If you’re thinking about getting a brichardi fish, you probably already know that they are very active and energetic fish, so it’s not recommended to keep them with other docile species. When first added to a community tank, be prepared for some chasing and fin-nipping until everyone gets used to each other.

During feeding time, these fish will also get aggressive towards their food, so make sure that you feed them in an area where there are no open wounds on your hands or fingers!