Lamprologus lemairii – Congo Cichlid

Lamprologus lemairii

Last updated on September 14th, 2022 at 10:50 am

Lamprologus lemairii, or lemurs, are small African cichlid that belongs to the same family as fishes like the oscar and goldfish. Like those two fish, they are very popular in home aquariums but they can be difficult to keep alive in captivity due to their diet and other factors.

The following article will teach you everything you need to know about lemurs if you’re thinking of keeping them as pets or if you already have some in your aquarium and want to know how to care for them properly so that they live healthy lives.

Lamprologus lemairii, sometimes referred to as the leopard shell, leopard cichlid, or more simply leopard, is a small freshwater cichlid that originates from the rivers of the African continent in Lake Tanganyika. As its common name suggests, the species’ striking pattern and coloration has earned it the nicknames of leopard and leopard cichlid among hobbyists who keep it as a pet in home aquariums and ponds.

Origin and descriptions

Lamprologus lemairii

The Lemaire’s Cichlid is a freshwater fish that originates from Africa. They live in Lake Tanganyika, which lies between Burundi, Congo (DRC), Tanzania, and Zambia. While they have previously been found in other locations within Lake Tanganyika, they have not been seen since 1994 and are assumed extinct there due to overfishing.

It is one of nine known species of Lamprologus cichlids that live in Lake Tanganyika as well as one of five species in its genus. Like most cichlids, it is omnivorous, feeding primarily on small invertebrates such as plankton, crustaceans, and insect larvae along with plant matter like algae and detritus. Most Lamprologus lemairii live on rocky surfaces at depths of around 50-80 feet but will venture closer to shore during periods when plankton are plentiful.

Species profile

Lamprologus lemairii

The Lamprologus lemairii, also known as lesser Congo cichlid or L-number 33 is a freshwater fish of the Cichlidae family. The wild type comes from northern Tanganyika and southern Burundi. It has a slender build with an elongated, pointed snout and a rather smallmouth. Adults are usually around 5 cm (2 in) long; however, they can grow to 8–10 cm (3–4 in).

Hyphessobrycon Sweglesi (Red Phantom Tetra)

Lamprologus lemairii habitat

The lamprologus Lemairii is found in Lake Tanganyika, although it has a widespread range, it is more commonly found near Katanga. The name Tanganyika originates from lake tanganika which lies between Tanzania and Congo. Lamprologus Lemairii like most fish originating from lake tanganyika inhabit rocky shores with plenty of caves and holes to hide away in.

Lamprologus lemairii size

This species of cichlid can grow up to 10 inches (25 cm)

Lamprologus lemairii tank size

The minimum recommended tank size is 40 gallons (150 liters)

Tank set up

The lemaire’s cichlid prefers a large tank of at least 40 gallons or more. Although they are not too fussy about water conditions, aim for hard, alkaline water. The temperature should be around 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

This fish will tolerate pH levels between 7 and 8 and it is recommended to add Malawi Lake salts to your aquarium if you decide to change anything in your water parameters (temperature and pH). Lemaire’s Cichlid cannot tolerate copper-based medications.

Treatments must use salt baths, kanamycin sulfate, or metronidazole instead. Do not combine these treatments with carbonate hardness boosters such as baking soda because it can lead to painful gas bubbles on your fish that can quickly kill them!

Lamprologus lemairii tank mates

Because Lamprologus Lemairii are very social fish, they should be kept in schools of at least 6 individuals. They can be kept with other small African Cichlids, but care should be taken when mixing them with other similar-looking cichlids from Lake Tanganyika. Lamprologus lemairii is generally aggressive towards its own species, especially in confined spaces.

Some good tank mates are Kribensis, Peacock Cichlids, and Neolamprologus multifasciatus. Avoid keeping them with Angelfish or other Tanganyikan cichlids.


Lamprologus lemairii

The Lamprologus species are popular fish to breed in aquariums. Unlike other cichlids, these can be kept in smaller tanks, and will not overpopulate them like some do. The female and male will pair up, and she will start laying eggs after a few weeks. They are mouthbrooders, so you need to provide a breeding tank with rock caves for them to hide and protect their fry.

Redear Sunfish (Lepomis microlophus)

A breeder net or breeding trap can also be used by removing one of its ends. This allows both parents to enter, but only allows one out at a time. Make sure there is nothing in there that might damage either fish’s fins, as they can be very delicate at times.

One of your rocks may have snails attached, which may eat your eggs when given the chance! Check for any snails attached to your rocks before you place them into the breeding tank.

Are they aggressive or peaceful?

They are known to be a peaceful community cichlid. They can be kept with other medium-sized fish, as long as you observe closely during feeding times.

Lamprologus lemairii care

Lamprologus lemairii

The Lemair’s Cichlid is a peaceful community fish and it can be kept with other non-aggressive species. They are ideal tank mates for African cichlids from Lake Malawi, Lake Tanganyika, and their respective rift lakes. However, if you decide to keep them with any other types of fish, make sure you don’t overcrowd your tank.

Due to their smaller size (8 – 10 inches), they should not be kept with large or aggressive tank mates. You will also want to avoid keeping them with very small fish as they will likely become a quick snack.

This particular type of cichlid has been known to spawn in captivity.

A species of small cichlid fish called Lemair’s dwarf cichlid, Lamprologus lemairii, is native to Lake Tanganyika in East Africa. The most noteworthy feature of these little fish is their large mouth and red lips. They feed on brine shrimp, which are low in fat and protein, making it a good diet for these fish. These fish are not aggressive eaters and will only accept food from you if they choose to do so.

Water parameters

Lamprologus lemairii

The water should have a pH around neutral. Temperatures between 77-82°F (25-28°C) are perfect for these fish. Conductivity and hardness levels shouldn’t differ much from your regular community tank parameters, if at all.

Corydoras similis (Smudge Spot Cory)


They can live up to 10 years or more with good care.

Parasites and diseases

This species has a reputation as a hardy fish, but that doesn’t mean it can fight off infections. Like all cichlids, Lamprologus lemairii is susceptible to skin flukes and other external parasites. Also like most African cichlids, it’s also prone to Cylindrachetes moorii and Yersinia ruckeri, two species of parasitic worms that affect their health.


Leopard, jackal, crocodile, and small-size predatory fish species. In some regions, Lamprologus lemairii is also reported to be consumed by man (Zweifel 1955). Catfish of large sizes prey on juvenile individuals of Lamprologus lemairii.

Do they make good pets?

There are many species of fish that make excellent companions, and Lamprologus lemairii is no exception. An extremely colorful dwarf cichlid, Lamprologus lemairii makes a great pet for anyone who has even a tiny bit of experience in caring for fish. For those looking to bring some color into their home or office, this is an excellent choice!