Paracyprichromis nigripinnis

(Boulenger 1901)

Blue Neon

Young male

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Distribution and variants: Endemic to Lake Tanganyika. Distributed all over the lake, with little or no differences between localities.

Male: 9-12 cm. Female: 7-9 cm.

Sex differences: Males have stronger blue lines than females, and elongations to the tail fin.
Natural diet: Animal plankton, caught in mid-water.
Biotopes and general behavior: P. nigripinnis is, outside the breeding season, seen in large schools, often together with Cyprichromis species, in the open water near steep rocky slopes, where they feed on animal plankton, which is elegantly picked with the highly extendable mouth. Mature males keep territories in nearby caves, where ripe females can also be found. There are no apparent breeding season.
Breeding behavior: Maternal mouth brooder. The males hold territories inside large caves, close to the ceiling or walls, and tries to lure ripe females from their school, which is usually located below, in the middle of the cave. Breeding is initialized by a very characteristic posture of the male; with folded fins, he bends the body, so that head and tail is turned away from the female, with powerful shaking in short bursts. Fertilization of the eggs, which are laid one at a time, is done before it is collected by the female, and sometimes the little cloud of semen is visible in the water. The female collect the egg, and the whole procedure is repeated, until all eggs are spent. Brooding takes 20-25 days, after which the fry is released, and parental care is over A typical brood is 5-10 fry.
Temperatures and water: 24-27 deg. Celsius PH: 7-8 DH: 12-30
Feeding: Dry food with predominantly protein-rich content, frozen cyclops, artemia and mysis. Shrimp mix is a fine additive, adding to the intensity of colours, especially the brown colour which shows an added "glow".
Tank size: 250L/100 cm.
Best kept as: A small school of no less than 6, preferably more. It is best to keep more females than males.
Tank decoration: The tank, which is ideally about 400L or larger, with a good height, should be decorated with overhanging rocks, that forms caves and crevices, where the fish likes to retreat, often with their belly directed towards the nearest surface, which sometimes leads to a stance, upside down. They are relatively peaceful, and it is possible to keep more than one male, even in a fairly small tank. A good way to make the overhangs, is to use the "artificial rocks" (also called modules), available through most well assorted pet stores in several variants. These are glued to the back glass, and arranged to form broad crevices all the way to the back. If the glass is painted black on the outside, it gives an illusion of very deep crevices.
Suggested tankmates: Blue neon can bekept with most carnivorous species (Tanganyika cichlids that is), which is not large enough to eat them, but the best result is achieved by keeping them with peaceful species, that stays on the bottom, like e.g. the Xenotilapia species,  Enantiopus species, Tanganicodus irsacae or snail cichlids. If survival of the fry is unimportant, the Altolamprologus species are good. Adversely, the Cyprichromis species, especially "leptosoma jumbo", are less suited, as their boisterous behavior, have a tendency to subdue the nigripinnis, so that they does not show their full potetial for beauty an interresting behavior.
Breeding: Breeding is more or less unavoidable if the fish are doing well. In a single-species tank, no precautions are necessary, except to supply food small enough for the fry (Cyclops size will do fine). In a multi-species tank, the female may have to be moved to a separate tank. That is best done  18-20 days after the breeding, as the fry is then ready to leave their mother, should they accidently be released in panic in the net.

Female with eggs (visible through the skin)

Juvenile, app. 1 month old, and 2 cm. long
Extra information Contrary to popular belief, there is no close relationship between the Cyprichromis and Paracyprichromis species. The outward likeness is, apparently, the result of parallel development in the same environment.