Profile Photo

Maximum size : 9 cm

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

Table of contents


One of the first African Cichlid species imported into aquariums was the Fairy Cichlid, Neolamprologus brichardi. These fish are great for both beginner and advanced aquarists. It is relatively easy to keep fairy cichlids if you have an aquarium that is of an appropriate size and they have suitable tank mates. Moreover, these fish are fairly peaceful, making them good residents of a community aquarium for Cichlids. However, they are not ideal residents of a typical community aquarium because they are territorial, especially when they are protecting their fry, and should be kept in a species-specific aquarium. You can keep a group of Fairy Cichlids with other Lamprologine Shell-dwellers in a good-sized aquarium. There are many other Cichlid species that could be good tankmates, including the Sardine Cichlid Cyprichromis leptosoma, the White Pearly Calvus, and the Julidochromis genera, including the Convict Julie and the Mariner's Julie, from the Cyprichromis genus. When housing Fairy Cichlids with other species, the aquarium should ideally be at least 4 feet long. Keeping the aquarium clean and oxygenated will require a lot of movement and filtration. It is best to use sand as the substrate, and you should use alkaline water. In the confines of the home aquarium, these Cichlids can be aggressive toward one another, so it is best to use rocks to create visual barriers. The Fairy Cichlid has an elongated light creamy-brown body with gold highlights ornamented with a lyre-shaped tail and a continuous dorsal fin. Additionally, their fins have long flowing filaments with white tips and are bluish-grey. These Cichlids also possess a small thick black stripe that runs from their eye to their gill cover with a yellowy-orange spot above it. Lastly, these fish are known to have blue eyes; in some instances, their fins and under eyes may be trimmed with blue.

Fairy Cichlid Photos

Sexual Dimorphism

It is very challenging to differentiate between a male and female Fairy Cichlid; however, males tend to be larger and have more pointed dorsal fins than females, and their caudal fin is more extended.
Featured Male
Featured Female
Male Female

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+
ReproductionCave spawning
Lifespan8 - 10 years

Water Parameters

Water TypeFreshwater
PH7.0 - 8.0
GH15 - 25
TDS150 - 300
75 - 79
23.9 - 26.1

Natural habitat

The Fairy Cichlid is endemic to the alkaline waters of Lake Tanganyika in East Africa. These Cichlids are highly variable and can be found in all kinds of habitats. You can find these Cichlids both at the surface and in very deep waters, as well as on rocky coastlines.

How to breed the Fairy Cichlid

Fairy Cichlids are substrate-spawners in the wild that deposit their eggs on the roof of rocky caves. These Cichlids will reach sexual maturity at about 5 cm in length. These fish are super easy to breed in the home aquarium; just make sure you condition them with a well-balanced diet. Fairy Cichlids will swim around together as a group and then they will pair off to spawn, keeping their bond for future spawns. For example, a couple will spawn in secret in a cave where they will often burrow themselves, and the female will lay anything from 100 to 200 eggs on the roof or wall. Once spawning is complete, the female will tend to the eggs while the male defends the area around the cave. The eggs will usually hatch in 2 to 3 days, with the fry becoming free swimming around seven days later. The fry is big enough to take baby brine shrimp straight away; however, they are pretty slow growing. So the entire group will help the parents guard the babies for a very long time. Once the parents stop protecting the kin, they are allowed to stay in the group; these babies will then help guard the next generation of fry. This protection will carry on whilst the fish are breeding, so you will be able to have several generations living in harmony together, with the older fish guarding the younger. However, if a point is reached where the space becomes too little, the breeding fish will start to lay fewer eggs or even consume the smallest fish in the aquarium. Therefore, if you wish to raise good numbers of young regularly and prevent deformities from inbreeding, removing the babies to a separate rearing tank would be better.

Diet & feeding

Fairy Cichlids are omnivorous; however, live, and frozen foods such as Mysis shrimp, vitamin-enriched brine shrimp, mosquito larvae, and chopped krill should incorporate a large proportion of their diet. You can give your fish good quality dried foods; however, this should be less often. You should also provide your Cichlids with some vegetable matter, including blanched spinach or spirulina wafers.

Other Cichlids you maybe interested in