Six-bar Lamprologus, Gold Sexfasciatus Cichlid, Six Bar Cichlid, Yellow Six BarsFamily: CichlidaeNeolamprologus sexfasciatusPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy Frank Schneidewind
The Sexfasciatus is handsome and durable, it will definitely hold its own in a mixed African cichlid tank!
The Sexfasciatus Neolamprologus sexfasciatus is without a doubt one of the most attractive Lamprologini cichlids imported from Lake Tanganyika, Africa. There are several geographic color variations depending on where it originates in the lake. But overall It is an elongated, somewhat stocky cichlid with six bold black bars on a silver to white, or gold background. it is further highlighted with touches of blue.
Its species name is very descriptive, with "sex" meaning six and "fascia" meaning band. The common names describe its bold appearance too. It is known as the Six-bar Lamprologus, Gold Sexfasciatus Cichlid, Six Bar Cichlid, Yellow Six Bars, Neolamprologus sexfasciatus Gold, Neolamprologus sexfasciatus Blue, and Sexfas. Other names are implemented by putting 'tagged" add-ons at the end the scientific name. This is used to refer to varieties based on the region where found or a color variation. An examples of this is Neolamprologus sexfasciatus "Fulwe". Others tagged in this manner are followed by Gold, Kambwimba 'daffodil', Ikola, Kasanga, Mwerazi, Namansi, Nkondwe, Samazi, and Kipili, to name a few.
This attractive cichlid is moderate in size with males reaching up to about 6 inches (15 cm) in length and females being a bit smaller. It is closely related to the Five bar cichlid Lamprologus tretocephalus. Both species have very similar coloration. But true to their names they are distinguished by the Sexfasciatus having 6 broad bands while the Five Bar has only 5. Another similarly appointed cichild is the of a Frontosa Cichlid Cyphotilapia frontosa, but is much larger than either of these two, reaching a length of up to 14 inches (35 cm) or more.
This fish is best for the intermediate and advanced cichlid keeper. The size and bold patterning of this cichlid make it fun and easy to observe and it's fairly easy to care for as long as regular maintenance is done. A minimum 50 gallon tank is suggested, but a larger aquarium with about a four foot length will be needed for a breeding pair. This cichlid is highly territorial and does not tolerate others of its own kind. Keeping a pair can work, but not groups of this species unless the tank is very large. After spawning the male can be quite protective of the fry, even to the point of attacking the female.
These cichlids are best kept in a species tank or with other durable species in a good sized aquarium. It can be kept with other cichlids of similar size and attitude, but because it is very aggressive the tankmates must be chosen with care. Tanganyikan cichlids that occupy different areas within the tank, like those from the Cyprichromis genus, can work well. Other rock dwelling cichlids can work too, like the larger Julidochromis or Altolamprologus species, and even Mbuna cichlids. Just make sure the tank is large enough with sufficient territories for each occupant. A mixed tank actually helps the female get less of the brunt of the male's aggression when he is protecting the fry.
They like a sandy to very small sized substrate along with caves made from rocks, highly porous rock works well. They also do fine with plants. Because of their size it's best to put the decor towards that back and sides of the tank, leaving open space in the middle for them to swim.
For Information on keeping freshwater fish, see:
Freshwater Aquarium Guide: Aquarium Setup and Care
- Temperament: Aggressive
- Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately hardy
- Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate
- Diet Type: Carnivore
- Minimum Tank Size: 50 gal (189 L)
- Temperature: 77.0 to 82.0° F (25.0 to 27.8° C)
- Range ph: 7.8-9.5
- Hardness Range: 10 - 13 dGH
- My Aquarium - Enter your aquarium to see if this fish is compatible!
The Sexfasciatus Neolamprologus sexfasciatus was described by Trewavas and Poll in 1952. These fish are endemic to Lake Tanganyika, Africa and are found in the southern half of lake. This species is listed on the IUCN Red List as Lease Concern (LC). Although it is endemic to Lake Malawi, it has a widespread distribution throughout the southern parts of the lake and has no recognized threats at present.
Other common names this fish is known by include the Six-bar Lamprologus, Gold Sexfasciatus Cichlid, Six Bar Cichlid, Yellow Six Bars, Neolamprologus sexfasciatus Gold, Neolamprologus sexfasciatus Blue, and Sexfas. Some other names names refer to varieties based on the region where found or a color variation. They are implemented by putting 'tagged" add-on at the end the scientific name like Neolamprologus sexfasciatus "Fulwe" or other followed by Gold, Kambwimba 'daffodil', Ikola, Kasanga, Mwerazi, Namansi, Nkondwe, Samazi, and Kipili, to name a few.
The Neolamprologus genus is the largest genus of cichlids in Lake Tanganyika, containing 50 or so species. The fish in this genus are all closely related but they are split between "shell dwellers" and "rock dwellers", yet all are substrate spawners. This genus is also the largest group in the tribe Lamprologini. The Lamprologini tribe contains seven genera and nearly 100 species of African Cichlids, most of which are found in Lake Tanganyika, though a few species are found in the the Congo River Basin and one species in the the Malagarasi River in Tanzania.
The Lamprologini cichlids are highly variable and are found in all kinds of habitats. They are found both at the surface and in very deep waters, but all species are substrate spawners. They have a body that cam be somewhat elongated to very elongated. Their colors tend to be brown, yellow, blue, black or a combination or all four. Black is usually a striping, either vertical or horizontal. Like other genus in the tribe, the Neolamprologus will readily mate with females of other Lamprologini.
These cichlids are rock dwellers found in relatively shallow waters, no deeper than 50 feet (15 m), and are often out in the open. They inhabit both rocky areas and intermediate zones where there is a sandy bottom and scattered rocks. They also breed and raise their young in caves. They feed on small fish and molluscs in the wild, with the bulk of their diet being snails. They have a specifically adapted pharyngeal bone and teeth that enable them to break open shells of all types molluscs, including those with thick heavy protection.
- Scientific Name: Neolamprologus sexfasciatus
- Social Grouping: Solitary - Solitary, though Adults form territorial pairs for spawning.
- IUCN Red List: LC - Least Concern
The Sexfasciatus is a rather stocky elongated fish with a continuous dorsal fin. Their have mouths designed for specialized feeding. They have a pharyngeal bone and teeth that are specifically adapted to break open the strong shells of molluscs, which are their primary diet. They are moderate in size with males reaching about 6 inches (15 cm) in length with the females being a bit smaller at about 4 to 5 inches (12 - 13 cm). The Neolamprologus genus will generally live 8 - 10 years with proper care.
They have a very pleasing coloration. There are several geographic color variations depending on where it originates in the lake. But overall there are six bold black/brown bars on a silver to white, or gold background, accented with touches of blue. They are not to be confused with their very similar relative, the Five-Bar Cichlid Neolamprologus tretocephalus which, as its name implies, has only have five bars.
Some varieties of this fish, based on the region where found or a color variation are:
- Neolamprologus sexfasciatus "Fulwe"
This variety has basically 6 bars over a silver to white background with bluish clear fins. The top 1/2 of the fish (its back) can have a slightly different color in the yellow/gold family.
- Neolamprologus sexfasciatus "Gold"
This variety is one variation that is a very deep gold coloration, including the fins, it also has the 6 bars.
- Neolamprologus sexfasciatus "Kambwimba"
This variety has the 6 bars over a silver body with silver fins that can have a very subtle blue cast to them.
- Neolamprologus sexfasciatus "Kasanga"
This variety is similar to Kambwimba, except the fins have a definite blue coloring to them.
- Neolamprologus sexfasciatus "Namansi"
This variety has a lighter yellow on the back and silver/white on the bottom part of the body with blue tinted fins and the 6 bars.
- Neolamprologus sexfasciatus "Nkondwe"
This variety is white with the 6 bars on the body, but with yellow fins that are outlined in blue.
- Neolamprologus sexfasciatus "Samazi"
This variety is white with the 6 bars and light blue fins.
All cichlids share a common feature that some saltwater fish such as wrasses and parrotfish have and that is a well-developed pharyngeal set of teeth that are in the throat, along with their regular teeth. Cichlids have spiny rays in the back parts of the anal, dorsal, pectoral, and pelvic fins to help discourage predators. The front part of these fins are soft and perfect for precise positions and effortless movements in the water as opposed to fast swimming.
Cichlids have one nostril on each side while other fish have 2 sets. To sense "smells" in the water, they suck water in and expel the water right back out after being "sampled" for a short or longer time, depending on how much the cichlid needs to "smell" the water. This feature is shared by saltwater damselfish and cichlids are thought to be closely related.
- Size of fish - inches: 5.9 inches (14.99 cm) - Males grow to a length of almost 6" (15 cm), with females being slightly smaller reaching about 4 to 5 inches (12 - 13 cm).
- Lifespan: 8 years - They have a lifespan of 8 to 10 years with proper care.
This is a fish best kept by intermediate and experienced cichlid keepers. It is an aggressive cichlid, especially the males, and not a community tank specimen. It cannot kept with fish other than cichlids of a similar size and temperament, The aquarists must be willing to provide a properly set up aquarium with appropriate tank mates, and be willing to do frequent water changes.
- Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately hardy
- Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate
The Sexfasciatus is basically carnivorous in the wild, eating small fish and molluscs. In the aquarium they will accept a variety of meaty high protein foods such as frozen/fresh chopped up shrimp, clams, mussels, live feeder guppies, and ocean plankton. They can also be offered Cyclops, water fleas, brine and mysis shrimps as well as pellets and specially formulated foods for Lake Tanganyika cichlids. They will particularly relish snails. After they become accustom to their home, they will also begin to accept flake foods but should still be offered meaty foods as well.
Feed 2 to 5 times a day in smaller amounts instead of a large quantity once a day. This will keep the water quality higher over a longer time. A one-day-a-week 'fast' can also be beneficial. Of course, all fish benefit from added vitamins and supplements to their foods.
- Diet Type: Carnivore
- Flake Food: Yes
- Tablet Pellet: Yes
- Live foods (fishes, shrimps, worms): Some of Diet
- Meaty Food: All of Diet
- Feeding Frequency: Several feedings per day - Offer several small feedings a day, what they can eat in about 3 minutes or less, rather than a single large feeding.
Do normal water changes of only 10% to 20% a week, or more frequent depending on the nitrite/ammonia levels and stocking numbers. The Lake Tanganyika cichlids cannot handle large water changes very well unless the new water chemistry closely matches the water they are in. This inability to tolerate large water changes is due to Lake Tanganyika being very deep and the water tends to stay stable.
- Water Changes: Weekly - Water changes of 10-20% weekly are suggested. Be cautious of doing more frequent changes as these fish are very sensitive to new water, only do more if the water parameters are off.
The Sexfasciatus is an active cichlid that will swim mostly in the middle and bottom areas of the aquarium. A minimum 50 gallon tank is suggested for a single fish. A larger tank about 4 feet in length will be needed when mixing cichlids, or for keeping a breeding pair as the male can be quite protective of the fry to the point of attacking the female. In a mixed cichlid tank will also need to be They do fine in either freshwater or brackish freshwater but need good water movement along with very strong and efficient filtration.
Lake Tanganyika is a very oxygen rich lake so bubblers need to be going day and night, even if there are plants. Regularly check nitrates and pH. Nitrates should be no more than 25 ppm and a pH less than 7 is not tolerated. In addition keep an eye on total hardness and carbonate hardness. Avoid overfeeding and overstocking.
Lake Tanganyika is the second to largest lake in the world, thus contributing to a low fluctuation in temperature and pH. All Tanganyika cichlids need stable temperatures kept within acceptable limits and lots of oxygen to survive. Temperatures under 72° F and over 86° F for too long is not tolerated by many of these fish. When treating for ich, a few days at 86° F is acceptable. The lake is also consistently alkaline with a pH of around 9, and very hard at about 12 - 14° dGH. In the aquarium most Tanganyika cichlids are fairly adaptable as long as conditions are close to these ideal ranges. Most important is that their water chemistry doesn't change much over time. The water needs to be well buffered and maintained with small, regular water changes.
Salt is sometimes used as a buffering agent to increase the water's carbonate hardness. An alternative buffering approach is to use a chemical filtration method, where they water passes through layers of crushed coral or coral sand. Interestingly, Tanganyikan cichlids also need iodine for the thyroid to function properly to regulate growth and development, and which can be achieved by adding iodized table salt to the water. Although rift lake cichlids need hard alkaline water they are not found in brackish waters. This cichlid has some salt tolerance so can be kept in slightly brackish water conditions. However it not suited to a full brackish water tank. It can tolerate a salinity that is about 10% of a normal saltwater tank, a specific gravity of less than 1.0002.
Provide a sandy to very small sized gravel substrate. Sand used for salt water tanks can help keep the pH up as well as the addition of crushed coral. Crushed coral and aragonite sands do tend to dissolve easier than salts. They need a lot of rocks and cave formations for retreat and spawning. It's best to have the decor placed more to the back and sides of the tank to provide an open area in the middle for swimming. Although plants other than algae are pretty much absent in their natural environment, they are preferred by this species and can be arranged in a very pleasing manner. Plants that will grow on the porous rock include such species as Anubias, Java Fern. and Water Fern.
- Minimum Tank Size: 50 gal (189 L) - A minimum of 50 gallons is suggested for a single fish. For a breeding pair or when keeping mixed cichlids, a tank that's at least 4' in length will be needed.
- Suitable for Nano Tank: No
- Substrate Type: Sand/Gravel Mix
- Lighting Needs: Moderate - normal lighting
- Temperature: 77.0 to 82.0° F (25.0 to 27.8° C)
- Breeding Temperature: 77.0° F - Best breeding temperature is 77° F (25 C) or slightly higher.
- Range ph: 7.8-9.5 - The average pH for this fish is 8.6.
- Hardness Range: 10 - 13 dGH
- Brackish: Sometimes - Salt is not found in their natural environment, but they do have a slight tolerance, keep levels below 10% - a specific gravity of less than 1.0002.
- Water Movement: Moderate
- Water Region: Middle - These fish will swim in the middle and bottom areas of the aquarium.
The Sexfasciatus can be kept singly or in pairs, but not in groups. They do not tolerate others of their own kind, unless the tank is very large with an immense about of rockwork. This fish is very aggressive and needs to be kept in a species tank or with other durable species in a good sized aquarium.
Some cichlids that can work well include Tanganyikan cichlids that occupy different areas within the tank, like those from the Cyprichromis genus. Other rock dwelling cichlids like the larger Julidochromis or Altolamprologus species, and even Mbuna cichlids can also make good tankmates. Just make sure the tank is large enough with sufficient territories for each occupant. A mixed tank actually helps the female get less of the brunt of the male's aggression when he is protecting the fry.
- Temperament: Aggressive
- Compatible with:
- Same species - conspecifics: Yes - They can be kept singly or in pairs, but not in groups as the male will be intolerant of any others of its same species.
- Peaceful fish (): Threat
- Semi-Aggressive (): Monitor
- Aggressive (): Safe
- Large Semi-Aggressive (): Monitor
- Large Aggressive, Predatory (): Monitor
- Slow Swimmers & Eaters (): Threat
- Shrimps, Crabs, Snails: Threat - is aggressive
- Plants: Safe
Males are larger with darker fins. Females are fuller and smaller.
The Sexfasciatus has been bred in captivity, but it is infrequent. These are substrate spawners that spawn in caves. When breeding they will form monogamous pairs and a nuclear family, but only while tending the fry. Getting a breeding pair is accomplished by having a group of young that are the same size and then grow. This can take a while as they don't become sexually mature until at least 18 months. Eventually a pair will form and all of the others will leave they area they defend.
After a pair has formed, the other individuals should be removed from the tank as they will not be tolerated by the pair. The breeding tank needs to be at least 4 feet long with piles rock or other decor that creates several caves for spawning sites. There needs to be plenty of retreats as the male may become intolerant of the female in between spawns. The water should have a pH of around 8.2 - 9.0, a 10 - 13° dGH, and a temperature of 77° F (25 C) or slightly higher.
Digging in the substrate around the decor indicates the fish are starting to breed. The pair will clean their spawning site until it is spotless. Their bars will fade almost to the point of disappearing when the spawning begins. Eggs are deposited on the floor of the site by the female and fertilized by the male. The female fans the eggs for several days and as each fry hatches, she moves them to a different spot. About 200 fry are the average number. The free swimming fry can be fed newly hatch brine shrimp and crushed flakes. Also the female will actually take her food, and spit it back out in smaller pieces for the fry.
Meanwhile the male will frantically defend the area. In about 2 to 3 weeks, the female is done and the young will then stay near the male. He will protect them from other fish, including the female, who he will attack if she gets too close. Because of the male's aggressive behavior, providing a mixed group (this pair with other genus of similar in size and temperament), helps to diffuse attacks on the female. See the description of breeding monogamous cichlids in: Breeding Freshwater Fish: Cichlids.
- Ease of Breeding: Moderate
The Sexfasciatus are fairly hardy in a properly maintained aquarium. These cichlids are susceptible to typical fish ailments especially if water is stale, of poor quality, or low in oxygenation. For freshwater an optional practice is to add 1 heaping teaspoon of salt per 11 gallons of water. This is considered to be a simple and natural remedy for wounds, minor fungal infections and film over the eyes of fish in transit. Using a marine salt (used for salt water fish) will add some trace elements
One common problem is Ich. It can be treated with the elevation of the tank temperature to 86° F (30° C) for 3 days. If that does not cure the Ich, then the fish needs to be treated with copper (remove any water conditioners). Several copper based fish medications are available for Ich. Copper use must be kept within the proper levels, so be sure to follow the manufacturers suggestions. A copper test also can be used to keep the proper levels. You can also combine increasing the temperature with an Ich medication treatment.
As with most fish they are susceptible to skin flukes and other parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.), fungal infections, and bacterial infections. It is recommended to read up on the common tank diseases. Knowing the signs and catching and treating them early makes a huge difference. For information about freshwater fish diseases and illnesses, see Aquarium Fish Diseases and Treatments.
The Sexfasciatus, also called the Six-Bar Lamprologus, is available both online and in fish stores, ranging in price from moderate to moderately costly. The pricing depends on the color form and the age of the Sexfasciatus. Purchase from a reputable dealer, due to hybridization it takes a trained eye to choose the correct color strain that has not been crossed.
- Animal-World References: Freshwater Fish and Plants
- Dr. R?diger Riehl and Hans A. Baensch, Aquarium Atlas Vol. 2, Publisher Hans A. Baensch, 1993
- Mark Phillip Smith, Lake Tanganyika Cichlids, A Complete Pet Owners Manual, 2nd Edition, Barron's Educational Series, Inc. 2007
- George Zurlo, David Schleser, Cichlids (Complete Pet Owner's Manual), Barron's Education Series, 2005
- Glen S. Axelrod, Brian M. Scott, Neal Pronek, Encyclopedia Of Exotic Tropical Fishes For Freshwater Aquariums, TFH Publications, 2005
- Peter Bredell, Frank Schneidewind, Lake Tanganyika Cichlids, How to keep successfully and enjoy these exceptional fish, Interpet Publishing , 2002
- Neolamprologus sexfasciatus (Trewavas & Poll, 1952), Fishbase.org
- Neolamprologus sexfasciatus, The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
- Rhett Butler, "Cichlids - Lake Tanganyika", Mongabay.com, Referenced online, 2007
- Glen S. Axelrod, Rift Lake Cichlids, T.F.H. Publications, Inc., 1979
- J. McCann, "Neolamprologus sexfasciatus", The Cichlid Gallery, Referenced online, 2007