As the Fish of the Month for September, there will a bag of 5 x Altolamprologus Calvus “Black” around 4cm available at the PCS Meeting for auction. These are special lots to raise money for Stuart Grant Fund for Cichlid Preservation and have kindly been donated by one of our PCS Members - Mac (Mike).
Altolamprologus Calvus “Black”
This species is found at several different locations in Lake Tanganyika.
Common names: Black Calvus
Maximum length is around 6″ (15cm).
Order: Perciformes Family: Cichlidae
Altolamprologus are found all over Lake Tanganyika. They inhabit rocky habitats around the shores and islands of the lake.
They are carnivores and can be given any type of live or frozen food (except beef heart or any other food containing mammalian products). Live food is always greedily consumed. Flake food is accepted, but is usually insufficient alone to bring a female into breeding condition.
Feeding Frequency: Several feedings per day - Generally feed 2-3 small feedings a day rather than a single large feeding for better water quality.
This fish should be housed in a Lake Tanganyika biotope setup, with piles of rocks arranged to form caves filling much of the aquarium. Dim lighting will encourage it to be seen more often. The black form will exhibit its stunning colouration much better over a dark substrate.
Water Changes: Weekly - Water changes of 15% twice a week or 30% weekly are recommended.
Temperature: 24-27°C pH: 8.0-9.0 Hardness: 14-36°H
It is characterized by a laterally compressed body, a steep sloping forehead, stripes that are more apparent on the head and collar region, and brilliant white spots that decorate the posterior two-thirds of their flanks. Adult males can attain maximum lengths of six inches, while females max out at around four inches. Once mature, males are also higher-bodied and possess more elongated fins.
It is a predator, and specialises in snatching young cichlids and invertebrates from between rock crevices and rock piles. Their laterally compressed body not only helps them in avoiding detection, but permits them to go into narrow crevices, turning their bodies at odd angles if needed. Small fishes, such as juveniles and shell-dwellers, should not be kept in the same tank with this fish as the calvus may dine on them.
When hunting, they will cruise along the substrate looking for prey. Once a target has been identified, this fish will keep its eye locked on the prey, but raises its body upwards and then strikes. This hunting technique is similar to Dimidiochromis compressiceps, which is another laterally compressed predator.
Calvus make a great addition to most any Tanganyikan community setup, barring a setup with shell dwellers. They can also be kept with many of the fishes from Lakes Malawi and Victoria, provided the latter also require a high protein diet. Mbuna are not ideal tankmates for this reason.
They make a great addition to many setups because they tend to mind their own business, but can certainly hold their own. The thick scales of "Altolamps" give them an efficient protection against attacks by fry-guarding cichlids.
Calvus looks particularly menacing, but is rather mild. They are not territorial and not aggressive towards other cichlids of similar size. When introducing an "Altolamp" to your aquarium, don't be alarmed if it hides for several weeks before it becomes comfortable with its surroundings. Just be patient and ensure good water quality. Don't overfeed in your anxiety that it eat; this will only degrade water conditions and cause other cichlids in the tank to become more susceptible to Bloat.
Altolamprologus species are substrate spawners. It is not uncommon to miss this fish spawning, as it is a very secretive spawner. Spawning takes place in a cave, shell, or flowerpot too small for the male to enter. The male will release his milt at the entrance. Both the male and female will then fan their fins to direct it to the eggs, which have been dropped on the substrate. Typical spawns may number as many as 200. Females can spawn every 25-35 days when kept in condition. The eggs take more than a week before they hatch and are mature enough to move out on their own. The fry are quite large, but require a very long time to grow to maturity. For example, it may take six months or more for an "Altolamp" to reach 1.5 inches.
Several colour forms from different areas in the lake are regularly available, with the black, white and yellow forms being particularly popular. These morphs should not be allowed to hybridise, therefore they should not be kept together.
This species is distinguishable from its only congener, Altolamprologus Compressiceps by the profile of the mouth, which is sloped more laterally in this calvus than in compressiceps. It also has a scaleless area on the head that gives rise to the species name, ‘calvus‘ being the latin word for bald!
This isn’t really a good beginner’s fish, as it’s sensitive to changes in water chemistry. Tank-bred fish tend to be hardier but sudden changes in water parameters or temperature should still be avoided.