Maximum size : 9 cm

Fairy Cichlid - Neolamprologus brichardi : Complete Fish Profile & Care Guide

Table of contents


The Fairy Cichlid (Neolamprologus brichardi) stands as one of the earliest African Cichlid species introduced to the realm of aquariums. These captivating fish are well-suited for both novice and experienced aquarists alike. With proper care, Fairy Cichlids can thrive in an adequately sized aquarium when provided with suitable tank mates. While they possess a generally peaceful disposition, making them compatible residents in a community aquarium dedicated to Cichlids, their territorial tendencies, especially during the protection of their fry, deem them less suitable for inclusion in a typically mixed community aquarium. Thus, it is advisable to house Fairy Cichlids in a species-specific aquarium or alongside other Lamprologine Shell-dwellers within a spacious enclosure.

When selecting compatible tank mates, several Cichlid species prove to be suitable companions. Notable examples include the Sardine Cichlid (Cyprichromis leptosoma), the White Pearly Calvus, and various members of the Julidochromis genera, such as the Convict Julie and the Mariner's Julie. To ensure harmonious cohabitation, it is recommended that the aquarium be sufficiently sized, preferably spanning at least four feet in length. Maintaining cleanliness and optimal oxygenation within the aquarium necessitates robust filtration and vigorous water movement. Employing sand as the substrate and utilizing alkaline water are regarded as optimal practices when creating a conducive environment for Fairy Cichlids.

Given the inherent aggression that can arise between Fairy Cichlids within the confines of a home aquarium, strategically placing rocks to establish visual barriers is crucial. These unique Cichlids boast an elongated light creamy-brown body adorned with golden accents, complemented by a distinctive lyre-shaped tail and a continuous dorsal fin. Their fins exhibit elongated, flowing filaments with white tips and possess a bluish-grey hue. Furthermore, a notable characteristic of Fairy Cichlids is the presence of a small, thick black stripe extending from their eye to the gill cover, accompanied by a yellowish-orange spot above it. Notably, these fish boast striking blue eyes, while certain individuals may display blue trim on their fins and beneath their eyes.

Fairy Cichlid Photos

Sexual Dimorphism

Distinguishing between male and female Fairy Cichlids can present a significant challenge, as their physical characteristics do not exhibit pronounced sexual dimorphism. However, subtle distinctions can be observed. Males generally display a larger body size and possess dorsal fins with a more pronounced pointed shape compared to females. Furthermore, their caudal fins tend to exhibit greater extension in comparison to their female counterparts.

Featured Male
Featured Female
Female Male

Quick Facts

Scientific NameNeolamprologus brichardi
Year Described1974
Other NamesPrincess Cichlid, Lyretail Cichlid, Princess of Burundi, Fairy Cichlid, Brichard's lamprologus, Fire Tip Kiku, Brichardi Cichlid
Max Size9 cm
Aquarium LevelAll Levels
DifficultyBeginner - Intermediate
Best kept asGroups 6+
Diet & FeedingOmnivore
ReproductionCave Spawner
LifespanUp to 8 Years

Water Parameters

Water TypeFreshwater
pH 7.0 - 8.0
GH 15 - 25
TDS 150 - 300
Ideal Temperature
75 - 79
23 - 26

Natural Habitat

The Fairy Cichlid is an indigenous species exclusively inhabiting the alkaline waters of Lake Tanganyika in East Africa. Notably, these Cichlids display remarkable adaptability and can be encountered in a diverse range of habitats within the lake's ecosystem. Whether near the water's surface or in the depths of the lake, as well as along rocky coastlines, Fairy Cichlids effectively occupy various niches and demonstrate a wide distribution throughout their natural environment.


Fairy Cichlids, known as substrate-spawners in their natural habitat, exhibit the behaviour of depositing their eggs on the upper surfaces of rocky caves. These Cichlids typically attain sexual maturity when they reach a length of approximately 5 cm. Breeding Fairy Cichlids in a home aquarium is relatively straightforward, provided they are adequately conditioned through a well-balanced diet.

In the breeding process, Fairy Cichlids exhibit communal swimming behaviour as a group before eventually forming pairs for spawning. These pairs maintain their bond for future reproductive cycles. A mating couple will choose a secluded cave where they will often excavate a burrow. The female will then deposit a clutch of eggs, numbering anywhere from 100 to 200, on the roof or wall of the cave. Following spawning, the female assumes the role of tending to the eggs, while the male assumes the responsibility of defending the surrounding area.

Typically, the eggs will hatch within 2 to 3 days, with the fry becoming free-swimming approximately seven days later. The newly hatched fry possesses the capacity to consume baby brine shrimp immediately, although their growth rate tends to be relatively slow. Throughout this period, the entire group, including parents and other members, collectively assist in guarding and protecting the offspring. This cooperative behaviour extends over an extended duration, with older fish continuing to safeguard successive generations of fry. Consequently, multiple generations can coexist harmoniously, with the older fish assuming protective roles for the younger ones.

However, it is essential to note that as the available space diminishes, the breeding fish may reduce their egg-laying capacity or even resort to consuming smaller fish within the aquarium. To ensure regular and successful production of offspring while mitigating the risks associated with inbreeding, it is advisable to transfer the fry to a separate rearing tank. This practice allows for the raising of substantial numbers of young while minimizing the occurrence of deformities resulting from breeding within the close kinship.

Diet & feeding

Fairy Cichlids possess an omnivorous feeding nature, though their diet primarily consists of live and frozen food sources. To meet their nutritional requirements, it is recommended to include a substantial portion of their diet comprising of foods such as Mysis shrimp, vitamin-enriched brine shrimp, mosquito larvae, and chopped krill. While high-quality dried foods can be provided, it is advisable to offer them in moderation. Additionally, incorporating vegetable matter into their diet is essential. This can be achieved by including blanched spinach or spirulina wafers as a source of essential plant-based nutrients for the Cichlids.

Other Cichlids of interest