Neolamprologus brichardi (Lyretail Cichlid)

Lyretail cichlid - Neolamprologus brichardi 5

Last updated on July 22nd, 2022 at 03:03 am

The Lyretail cichlid, Neolamprologus brichardi, originally native to Lake Tanganyika in Africa, is a great species of fish to keep in an aquarium with other African Cichlids as they are herbivores (despite their carnivorous appearance). They are ideal for beginners looking to get into the African Cichlid hobby, but will still be able to hold their own in larger tanks with more aggressive fish.

Most commonly referred to as the Lyretail cichlid, the Neolamprologus brichardi is also referred to as Lamprologus brichardi in scientific journals and publications. This species of freshwater African cichlid fish is currently classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species due to overfishing and the introduction of non-native predators into its habitat, but can still be found in Lake Tanganyika and certain areas of Lake Kivu in Africa.

The neolamprologus brichardi (Lyretail cichlid) is one of the lesser-known species in the genus Neolamprologus but it remains one of the most interesting and beautiful species available to aquarium hobbyists today.

The Lyretail cichlid, Neolamprologus brichardi, originally native to Lake Tanganyika in Africa, is a great species of fish to keep in an aquarium with other African Cichlids as they are herbivores (despite their carnivorous appearance). They are ideal for beginners looking to get into the African Cichlid hobby, but will still be able to hold their own in larger tanks with more aggressive fish. Here’s everything you need to know about this species and how to care for them properly!

Origins and descriptions

Lyretail cichlid - Neolamprologus brichardi

The neolamprologus brichardi is a small mouth freshwater fish native to Lake Tanganyika. It is an omnivore and reaches about 4 inches at maturity. In their natural habitat, they feed on zooplankton, algae, diatoms, and phytoplankton but are just as easily satisfied with a variety of tankmates in captivity.

They thrive best under high amounts of oxygen and moderate water movement. Because they are members of the Cichlidae family, they share many characteristics common to other dwarf species including nocturnal activity and relatively peaceful natures, though that doesn’t make them good community fish.

Brichardi Fish Care - Fairy Cichlid

They will do well alone or in groups of three or more provided sufficient space is available. This species requires acidic conditions for optimal health, which can be achieved through regular water changes or chemical additions if necessary.

The Lyretail Cichlid is a Central African fish, which spends most of its time in Lake Tanganyika and nearby rivers. It gets its name from its extended finnage that resembles a lyre. The Lyretail is nocturnal in nature and when they are not actively hunting, they usually bury themselves under rocks to camouflage themselves.

They are somewhat aggressive and will eat smaller fish, but should not be housed with very small species such as fry or Neon Tetras. In captivity, adults can grow up to 4.7 inches and live for around 10 years. As juveniles, they are orange-yellow in coloration but tend to become bluish/green as they mature.

Species profile

Lyretail cichlid - Neolamprologus brichardi

The neolamprologus brichardi is a species of Cichlid, which are freshwater fish from East Africa. They were found in Lake Tanganyika and other parts of Africa, including but not limited to Zambia and Tanzania. They are characterized by their slender body that is yellow or brown with black spots all over their body, especially at their sides.

This species has an average length of 7–12 cm (2.8 – 4.7 inches) and grows up to 5.1 inches (13 cm) long. It is popularly known as lyretail because of its unique tail fin. The tail fin resembles those of parrotfish, thus having been named ‘lyre-tail’.

Other common names for it include Brichard’s mouthbrooder, Lyre-tail Cichlid, and Green Senegal Lyre Tail. Most adult fishes can reach up to an average size of 12 centimeters in length; however, rare sightings have also reported lengths up to 20 centimeters.


Found in Lake Tanganyika from the southern end of the lake to the northern end at depths of 5–35 meters and is a member of a group known as shell dwellers. These fish inhabit rubble near cave mouths or burrows, or under rocks, usually favoring vertical surfaces. They are found alone, in pairs, or in small groups consisting of two to three males with one or two females who remain close by even when males aren’t present.

Heckel Discus (Symphysodon Discus)

Neolamprologus brichardi size

They can grow to an average length of 2.8 – 4.7 inches (7-12 cm)

Neolamprologus brichardi tank size

The minimum recommended tank size is 50 gallons, larger is better.

Tank set up

The Lyretail should be kept in a biotope setup. A 50-gallon tank is ideal for one adult, but if you’re planning on adding more fish then add an extra 10 gallons per additional fish. They require at least moderate filtration and a lot of oxygenation which can be easily achieved by using an air stone or another means of surface agitation.

A fine sand substrate works best because it helps keep their shell clean by gently scrubbing off any algae that might grow there. They do prefer to dig around, so make sure your substrate doesn’t have sharp edges as that could lead to injury. Add some large rocks and wood, preferably with some holes in them.

These will help keep the substrate cleaner longer. Make sure all decorations are well secured because they can also become entangled if given a chance to explore your aquarium. Lamprologus brichardi tends to shy away from open spaces so placing plants around rockwork will give them plenty of covers while also making it easier for them to establish territories with each other.

Neolamprologus brichardi tank mates

The lyretail cichlid is generally a peaceful and hardy species, making it easy to get along with most other fish. In a community tank, they can be kept with robust, active fish like other lyretails and Conspecifics, as well as many catfish. Some of the best tank mates are Cyprinids such as Danios or Barbs, Tetras like Cardinal Tetras or Black Phantom Tetras, livebearers like Molly’s or Gouramis.

They can also work very well in reef tanks if you do your research and select their tankmates carefully.

Neolamprologus brichardi breeding

Lyretail cichlid - Neolamprologus brichardi

To keep a harem of females, one male should be added per two females. Add more males if they are not aggressive towards each other. If a pair spawns and there is not enough space in the tank to add additional caves, remove all but one male to reduce aggression. Larger caves work better than smaller ones as they give female Lyretails room to lay eggs. The substrate should have crevices for egg-laying and also provide protection from aggressive fish.

Pomoxis nigromaculatus (Black Crappie)

Raise water temperature during spawning time to 85-86 degrees F. In addition, change 25% of the water every day or increase aeration by use of an air stone or similar device. Providing live food such as brine shrimp will improve success in breeding Neolamprologus brichardi. Fry grow quickly and are large enough to accept newly hatched baby brine shrimp at about 5 weeks old.

An occasional plant may be eaten by adult fish, so make sure it is anchored well. When selecting, fry eat only high-quality flake foods; flakes with too much protein or fat may cause long-term health problems like swim bladder disease.

Are Neolamprologus brichardi aggressive or peaceful?

Neolamprologus brichardi is a peaceful fish and shouldn’t pose any threat to other tank mates. However, it will be territorial with others of its own species and its aggression towards another Neolamprologus brichardi may increase if breeding begins. In such cases, it’s best to remove one or both.

Neolamprologus brichardi care

Lyretail cichlid - Neolamprologus brichardi

Neolamprologus brichardi, or kribs as they are sometimes called, require soft to moderately hard water in order to thrive. The ideal pH for these fish is around 8.0-8.4, and temperatures should be kept between 74-78 degrees Fahrenheit. Because these fish can grow to upwards of 6 inches in length, it’s best to house them individually in order to allow them room for adequate swimming space and optimal health.

What do Neolamprologus brichardi eat?

The Lyretail Cichlid is a piscivore and will accept flake, pellets, and frozen food. Some dried algae and other prepared foods should be offered to supplement their diet. They are not algae eaters. This species has been reported to accept spirulina, zucchini, peas, lettuce, and cucumber in captivity but these items should only be offered once in a while for variety.

Water parameters

Lyretail cichlid - Neolamprologus brichardi

Moderate water flow and current are fine, but avoid sudden or strong changes in water flow. This species likes a pH around 7.8 – 8.2, the hardness between 2 and 15 dH, and a temperature of 77 to 84 °F / 25 to 29 °C. Having stable parameters will help prevent stress while keeping your Lyretail happy and healthy! They prefer slightly alkaline water but do not tolerate acidic conditions well at all.

Lamprologus lemairii - Congo Cichlid

Neolamprologus brichardi lifespan

In captivity, they can live up to 8 -10 years with good care.

Parasites and diseases

Neolamprologus brichardi are more susceptible to a number of parasites than most other African cichlids. Sulfur and salt baths can be used to treat infections. However, it is best to avoid bringing home a fish with visible signs of disease or infestation in order to prevent introducing new pathogens into your aquarium environment. If an outbreak occurs, removing affected specimens from the community may be necessary.

Some of its parasites are also well known for infecting humans. Ichthyophthirius multifiliis is a protozoan parasite that attacks gills, skin, and fins; depending on severity can lead to death or treatment in fish farms. Spironucleus vortens is another protozoan parasite attacking gills and skin but it tends to be milder than Ichthyophthirius multifiliis.


As with most fish in Lake Tanganyika, they are at risk of predation from other fishes. Due to their peaceful temperament, they are not suited for keeping with more aggressive or territorial species. Tanganyikan Cichlids such as Julidochromis and Tropheops will harass these fish and eventually kill them if kept together.

Do Neolamprologus brichardi make good pets?

Yes. Neolamprologus brichardi are excellent freshwater aquarium fish. In fact, they are among some of the best choices for saltwater reef tanks as well. They’re bright, colorful, and quite entertaining to watch!