Lamprologus callipterus

Lamprologus Callipterus

Last updated on August 7th, 2022 at 02:59 pm

The lamprologus callipterus (or African dwarf mbuna) has been one of the most commonly kept and bred cichlids in the aquarium hobby since it was first brought to North America in 1986. This fish’s exotic coloration, intriguing behavior, and small size make it an ideal choice for home aquarists and public aquariums alike.

Lamprologus callipterus is endemic to Lake Tanganyika in Africa. It’s considered to be one of the most beautiful freshwater fish in the world and its vibrant coloring can be attributed to its diet of spirulina algae found in the lake. They tend to grow between 2 and 5 inches long and can live up to 12 years in captivity when properly cared for.

Lamprologus callipterus is one of the many fish species available to hobbyists around the world today. It’s one of the Rift Lakes in East Africa and is generally considered one of the hardiest aquarium fish species available in the market today.

Here are information about lamprologus callipterus care and species profile to help you decide if this is the right fish for your aquarium!

Origin and description

Lamprologus Callipterus

Lamprologus Callipterus is a species of cichlid native to Lake Tanganyika in Africa. Although they are found only in Lake Tanganyika, they can be bred in other bodies of water because they are open-water cichlid. In nature, Lamprologus Callipterus lives at great depths; however, when kept as pets they prefer to live between 30 and 100 feet from shore.

Species profile

Lamprologus Callipterus

Lamprologus callipterus, is a member of the genus Lamprologus in the family Cichlidae. It originates from Lake Tanganyika in Africa. Adult fish grow up to 5 inches (13 cm) with a lifespan of 6-8 years. This cichlid should be kept in a community tank with other Lake Tanganyika cichlids due to its aggression toward other species.

The Lamprologus callipterus is a freshwater cichlid, they are mouthbrooders, meaning they will lay their eggs in between rocks or on a flat surface at which point both parents will guard them until they hatch and carry them in their mouth for some time to escape them from would-be predators, they are also omnivores, eating everything from plants to insects to fish.

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They are social and like most cichlids, highly aggressive so they should only be kept with other African cichlids of similar temperament.

Natural habitat

Lamprologus callipterus is a mbuna, which means it is generally found near rocky outcroppings in shallow waters. Rocks and cave-like formations are important for these fish as they use them for shelter. They use caves or rock crevices to hide when predators come around. In addition to providing shelter, rocks also provide territory boundaries that help reduce aggression between males during the breeding season.

Lamprologus callipterus size

Males can reach 4.9 inches (12.4 centimeters) while females remain closer to 1.8 inches (4.5 centimeters) in total length.

Lamprologus callipterus tank size

This species will do perfectly fine in a 20 gallon (76 liters) fish tank.

Tank Requirements

Lamprologus callipterus are typically housed in aquariums of at least 20 gallons. They require very clean water, so it is important to maintain appropriate filtration. Specialized fish foods can be difficult to find, so feeding a varied diet consisting of live, frozen, freeze-dried, flake, or tablet food is ideal. The tank must have tight-fitting lids or they will jump out.

Aquarium hoods must be vented because these fish like to jump. Dense vegetation with plenty of crevices for hiding makes them feel secure.

Creating a safe home for your fish is extremely important. When choosing a tank, make sure it’s at least 20 gallons in size, or more if you’re going to add more than one of these hardy fish. If you already have a large tank that you won’t be replacing anytime soon, consider adding an extra filter system to help keep your water clean for longer periods of time.

It may seem like overkill, but you never know when you might need that extra peace of mind. Likewise, only purchase tanks made out of glass; not only will they let you see your fish better as they swim around their home, but they are far less likely to break when compared with acrylic tanks. Additionally, avoid tanks with wide open tops; many beginners mistake their tropical fish for goldfish!

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Lamprologus callipterus tank mates

Lamprologus callipterus are not a good option for a community tank. They will be bullied by faster, more aggressive species. A school of at least five is required to thrive in an aquarium environment. This can prove difficult as they require specific water conditions (hint: it’s hard to find two of these fish that like exactly the same water parameters).

The best way to keep these fish is in an aquarium all their own, but if you do attempt to house them with other fish you should seek out a school of smaller, compatible tank mates.

Some good tank mates are neon tetras, monos, harlequin rasboras, angelfish, dwarf gouramis, malawian mbuna. It is important to note that these fish should be kept in a species-only aquarium. They cannot live in a community fish tank or with other similar-sized cichlids due to territory disputes.

Lamprologus callipterus breeding

Lamprologus Callipterus

Lamprologus callipterus breeds readily in captivity. They pair off and then bite each other on various parts of their bodies, moving around until they find a place they both like, at which point they stay there. The male then sprays milt over her ventral surface, where it is drawn into her cloaca. Spawning occurs as often as once a day. Eggs are about 2mm in diameter.

Eggs develop for 3–4 days before hatching; during that time, parents will remove unhatched eggs from their spawning site (frequently using their mouths) to reduce predation risk to developing embryos. All young do not hatch simultaneously—individuals may hatch up to 2 days apart.

Females sometimes catch additional prey items after laying eggs and during incubation to feed their fry. Fry first eat free-swimming rotifers before being fed Artemia nauplii after several days. Fry are guarded by their parents through all stages of development, including swimming alongside them with mouth open wide and biting if threatened.

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Are Lamprologus callipterus aggressive or peaceful?

Lamprologus callipterus are very active African cichlids that tend to be quite aggressive to other fish of similar size. They can be kept with small species of catfish (including their own), but larger fish should be avoided. Even some similarly-sized characins such as Nannocharax have been seen being attacked by L. callipterus, so it is best to avoid keeping them with medium-sized fish as well.

Lamprologus callipterus care

Lamprologus Callipterus

The Lamprologus Callipterus is relatively easy to care for given its size. They will eat a variety of foods including; flake food, brine shrimp, bloodworms, or any high-quality tropical fish flakes and pellets. In order to achieve optimum health, it is important that some marine foods are included in their diet. A varied diet ensures that there is no competition for food among members of the tank.

Lamprologus callipterus food

Lamprologus callipterus are omnivores, meaning they’ll eat anything they can get their little fish mouths on. In nature, they feed on small crustaceans, worms, aquatic insects, and algae. In captivity, most wild-caught specimens will be very hesitant to eat dried foods until several days have passed in their new environment.

They will also feed on plants, including algae. Keep your L. calllipterus tank planted to provide them with nutrients from photosynthesis.

Water parameters

Lamprologus Callipterus

Well-oxygenated, pH-neutral water is recommended. When using tap water, treat with a de-chlorinator to remove chlorine and chloramines. The tank should be placed away from heaters or other equipment that may create vibrations. The substrate should be fine sand or smooth gravel to prevent skin abrasions from coarser materials. Use caution when placing rocks or driftwood in an aquarium containing L. callipterus as these items may contain parasites harmful to these fish.

Lamprologus callipterus lifespan

As it’s a relatively long-lived species, you can expect your fish to survive well over 10 years with appropriate care.

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Parasites and diseases

As with many other cichlids, parasites are quite common in Lamprologus callipterus. The most common of these are Ichthyophthirius multifiliis (white spot disease) which manifests as small white dots on fish, fungus, and protozoan parasites like Cryptocaryon (the parasite that causes yellow tail disease). This is easily treated with aquarium salt and drugs like Tetracycline.


The most common predator of Lamprologus Callipterus is humans. Other fish also eat them, so keep yours in a school! Some common predators are Angelfish, Killifish, Corydoras Catfish, Knife Fish, Tetras.

Do Lamprologus callipterus make good pets?

Lamprologus callipterus is a great choice for beginner cichlid keepers who are looking for a less aggressive species than many of those that naturally occur in Lake Tanganyika. They aren’t as active or aggressive as other African rift lake cichlids, which makes them easier to care for in smaller tanks. These fish will often be found swimming near other peaceful species of similar size and temperament.