Neolamprologus gracilis

Neolamprologus gracilis, also known as the slender cichlid, is a fascinating fish species that belongs to the cichlid family. Originating from Lake Tanganyika in Africa, this small and colorful fish has gained popularity among aquarium enthusiasts. In this article, we will explore the size and appearance, region, behavior, diet, and how to keep Neolamprologus gracilis in a home aquarium.


Neolamprologus gracilis has a relatively small to medium size, reaching an average length of 8-12 centimeters (3-5 inches). It possesses a sleek and elongated body with vibrant colors. The body coloration varies between individuals, ranging from light whitish/grey hue to vibrant blue around the eyes and the edges of the fins. Their fins are typically long and delicate, enhancing their graceful appearance. Both the male and female develop beautiful long streaming filaments on their fins. Some specimens have been seen with flowing filaments as long as their body in the wild.


As the name suggests, the Red Sea sailfin tang is primarily found in the Red Sea, but they can also be found in other parts of the Indian Ocean, including the coast of East Africa and the Gulf of Aden.


The slender cichlid is known for its territorial and somewhat aggressive nature. It prefers to inhabit rocky areas, creating small territories for itself. Neolamprologus gracilis is also a burrowing species, digging through the sandy substrate to create spawning pits or seek refuge. Despite their territorial tendencies, they can be kept with other peaceful cichlid species and compatible tankmates. Multiple males together in one tank is possible if the tank size allows for this.


In the wild, Neolamprologus gracilis is primarily a carnivorous species, feeding on small invertebrates and insect larvae. In a home aquarium, they should be provided with a varied diet that includes high-quality pellets, flakes, and frozen or live foods. Offering a mix of protein-rich foods such as brine shrimp, bloodworms, and small crustaceans will help replicate their natural feeding habits.

Keeping Neolamprologus gracilis at home

To keep Neolamprologus gracilis thriving in a home aquarium, certain considerations must be taken into account. A tank with a minimum capacity of 75 liters (20 gallons) is recommended to provide sufficient swimming space and territories for these cichlids. Incorporating rocky structures, caves, and crevices will mimic their natural habitat, providing hiding spots and territories for each fish. Maintaining appropriate water conditions is crucial. The ideal water temperature for Neolamprologus gracilis is 24-26°C (75-79°F), and the pH level should be around 7.8-8.6. It is essential to provide a well-filtered aquarium to maintain water quality, as these cichlids are sensitive to water parameters. It is also worth noting that Neolamprologus gracilis is a mouthbrooder, with the female carrying and protecting the fertilized eggs in her mouth. Providing suitable breeding conditions, such as spawning caves or flat surfaces, can encourage their reproductive behavior.

Neolamprologus gracilis is a captivating and lively fish species that can bring a touch of Lake Tanganyika to your home aquarium. With their vibrant colors, territorial behavior, and unique reproductive habits, they make a fascinating addition to any cichlid community. By replicating their natural habitat, providing a balanced diet, and maintaining optimal water conditions, you can ensure the health and longevity of these beautiful fish in your aquarium.

Scientific nameNeolamprologus gracilis
Type of aquariumFreshwater aquarium
Size8-12 centimeters / 3-5 inches
RegionLake Tanganyika, Africa
Ideal tank sizeMinimum of 75 liters / 20 gallons
Ideal water temperature24-26 °C / 75-79 °F
pH7.8 – 8.6
DietCarnivorous, primarily feeds on small invertebrates and insect larvae
ReproductionMouthbrooder, with the female carrying and protecting the fertilized eggs in her mouth
Life spanUp to 8 years in captivity
SchoolingNot a schooling fish, prefers territories and individual spaces


Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Linkedin