Nanochromis transvestitus by Skip Waskowiak

The fish Nanochromis transvestitus, D.J. Stewart & T.R. Roberts, 1984, is a Dwarf Cichlid from Lake Mai-Ndombe, near Ipeke; formerly this was Lake Leopold II in the Zaire.

  The males of this specie average about 4 inches and females at about 3 inches. This is a beautiful fish, when the female is in the right mood the color that she has is very contrasting. Deep black, white vertical band in the tail fin and the body area and a beautiful cherry red belly. The male is not so colorful, I would say that he is dull in color, but still a nice looking fish. The habitat of the lake that these fish are found in is a dark tea-colored water with a visibility not more than 2 feet. Lake Mai-Ndombe has a sandy bottom. The lake is shallow and branched out and where it is not covered with rocks, there is a tight-baked sediment which is usually overlaid with remains of plants. The shoreline usually consists of permeable rock covered with branch work of partly dead trees. The pH of the lake is  4.0 and very soft. It was first imported into Germany in 1985.

  I was able to obtain this fish for the first time back in summer of 1992. I would stand by the tank and watch the fish for hours, they are so beautiful. The fish were condition on live daphnia, white worms, black worms, and various flake food. After two to three weeks of conditioning the female start to court the male. I had put in the tank some clay flower pots with a hole in the side. The female would swim in front of the male and in the typical "S" shape; she would start vibrating for the male. Nanochromis transvestitus is a cave spawner, forming a mother/father relationship in which the female cares for the eggs while the male guards and protects the spawning area. The fry are guided and defended alternatively by both parents. It is important for successful breeding and the development of the fry to provide them with very soft water with a pH of between 4 and 5. Changes of pH or dH can be very dangerous for the fry during their first few days of their lives. The fry are large enough to be feed baby brine shrimp and sifted daphnia. After seven to ten days I remove the fry from the parents and slowly over three days increase the pH till it's 7.2. The fry can be raised in regular tap water as it seem to me that they grow much better in this type of water. The fry can be sexed very easily at about one inch in size. The females have black and white vertical stripes in the tail fin and the males are clear. I have had spawns as large as 60 to 70, but the normal is around 40 fry.

  Nanochromis transvestitus certainly is one of the most spectacular discoveries in the past few years. Because of it's special requirement regarding water quality, these West Africans appear to be a fish for the advanced hobbyist.


 WATER:                      Very soft (less than 10 ppm).

pH:                               4.0 to 5.5 for breeding and 6.5 to 7.5 for keeping.

TEMPERATURE:          72 to 77.

BREEDING TEMP:       76 to 82.

TANK SIZE:                20 Gal. Plus.

FOOD:                       All types of flakes and frozen foods and live daphnia, white worms and black worms.

FEEDING:                   Three times a day.

WATER  CHANGE:      Once every two weeks 30% to 70%.

FILTER:                       Box air stone type with peat moss and floss in it.

                                    Large sponge filter home made type (4" x 4" x 10").

DECOR:                      Two to three caves. The more the happier the fish seem to be.

                                    No gravel. Plastic plants glued to pieces of slate and just bare bottom tank.

LIGHTING:                    Low level of light

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