Factsheet 16

Julidochromis transcriptus. Matthes 1959.

It can never be said that I am ‘Cichlidophile’ or ever likely to be, (SHAME! cry several of our club members!). However, fish of the genus Julidochromis have held some interest for me for several years. I acquired my first pair of Julidochromis dickfeldi about three years ago. I was successful in breeding them and several club members and friends now have small communities of them.

In Holland last year, I purchased a pair of J. transcriptus of the so-called sp. ‘Gombi’. This was really an impulse buy, as I had nowhere to house them. It was left to me to improvise space for them and this was achieved by partitioning a 24 x 15 x 12 tank, which held some Neolamprologus brichardi and fry. (Yet more cichlids!!). The space was not ideal but it seemed to make little difference to the J.transcriptus.

The only furnishing in the tank was a number of pieces of rock and coarse gravel. The rock was of the type found around the coast having many holes and ‘dents’ in it, caused by wind and water erosion. The pair quickly set up home in a convenient cave. Little was seen of them when in the fish house. They are by nature, fairly shy and retiring fish and tend to stay in their own area of rockwork.

They have been fed on Tubifex and dried food with the occasional feast of Daphnia or midge larvae and have grown slowly over the last 6 months. When food is offered, they will pop out, grab it, and then get back under cover. Water conditions for this species of cichlid are ideal in North Kent. Total hardness is in excess of three hundred parts per million and the pH is around 7.5 to 8. Temperature is around 75°F. I must admit, I cheated a bit with water changes. Whilst they have a weekly water change, it is always via the side of the tank containing the brichardis. Julies do not like poor water quality. It is evident that they do not like water with high nitrate content. A regular water change, coupled with an efficient sponge filter keeps the water sweet.

A further admission is that I very rarely bother with a test kit for any of the parameters we are told we should regularly monitor. After about two months, they had completely settled in their part of the tank. They took little or no notice of the brichardis living next door. After a while, the female seemed to be spending a lot more time within the confines of the cave. I took a chance and lifted the large piece of rock that formed the roof of the cave. There in the middle, was a small cluster of eggs. The roof was replaced and I could only hope that my incursion into their territory had not upset them. I saw no signs of fry for over a month and had just about given up any hope of seeing a brood when one evening, I saw a couple of very small fry grazing on the top of the cave. Young J. transcriptus are quite amazing.

They can be said to be the nearest in the aquatic sense to the birds the Tree Creeper. (Certhia familiaris) or the Nuthatch (Sitta europa). Both of these birds can be seen scurrying up and down trees looking for food. They appear to be almost gliding along the surface of the tree. Julidochromis transcriptus fry do just the same. They rarely leave what must be to them, the protection of the rock surface. They go over and under it, looking for particles of food and algae to graze on. They never seem to be more than a millimeter or two above the surface of the rock. When food is added to the tank, they scoot back under cover and wait for ‘Dad’ to give them the ‘all clear’. In the early days, they were fed on brine shrimp and then progressed to chopped tubifex worms. The young fish, even at a few weeks old, are a mirror image of their parents. All of the colouring is present and the look like a miniature ‘Mum’ & ‘Dad’. If and when I get sufficient spare tank space, I will undoubtedly invest in another of the Julidochromis species.

© Pete Cottle, 2004. This fact sheet may not be reproduced in any form without the permission of the author.