Five-Bar Cichlid (Neolamprologus tretocephalus)

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The Five-Bar Cichlid Neolamprologus tretocephalus is very handsome beauty. It has a dramatic color pattern with bold black bars contrasted against a light silvery blue background. The fins are highlighted with a gorgeous blue tinge along the edges, and adult males will sometimes have a purple tinge on the edge. It is known by a number of common names, with several that depict its bold appearance including Tret Cichlid, Tretocephalus Cichlid, Five Barred Lamprologus, Poor Mans Frontosa, Dwarf Frontosa, Five-Bar Lamprologus, and African Five Barred Cichlid.

This species has all the great colors of a Frontosa Cichlid Cyphotilapia frontosa, but is just a fraction of the size. In the wild it can grow up to almost 6 inches (15 cm) in length, but in the aquarium it more commonly reaches only about 4 inches (10 cm). Along with the Frontosa, another cichlid it is very similar to in appearance is its close relative the Sexfasciatus or Six-Bar Lamprologus Neolamprologus sexfasciatus.

Both of these other two cichlids have the strong barring and varying amounts of blue highlights, and as a juvenile the Five-Bar Cichlid looks almost like the same fish as the Frontosa. However there is a very simple difference that distinguishes this cichlid from the others. The Five-Bar Cichlid has just that, five bold dark bars on its body. The other two species will have six (or in some varieties seven) bold dark bars.

This fish is a great choice for both the intermediate and advanced cichlid keeper. It is moderately easy to care for as long as mandatory water changes are done (and difficult if they are neglected). Watching the antics of this bold little fish is a reward in itself. When a pair breeds they will take on the same protection duties of their fry as some of the American Cichlids, and viciously guard them. This is one of those cichlids with a tendency to leap our ot the water, so be sure to have a tight fitting lid.

They can be kept alone or in pairs, but are intolerant of any other Five-Bar Cichlid in the tank. As they will become extremely aggressive and will occupy a large territory when spawning and brooding, pairs are best kept in a species tank or with fish that can take the abuse they will dish out. They are not as aggressive when not spawning, so juveniles or as a single specimen may not cause a ruckus. In this situation they may be successfully kept with other smart and fast moving fish of similar size. Just make sure the tank is very large.

They like a sandy to very small sized substrate along with caves made from rocks and ceramic decor. It’s best to put the decor towards that back and sides of the tank and leave open space in the middle for them to swim. They also enjoy plants in the background or middle ground. Highly porous rock works well for growing several fern species.


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Video of Five-Bar Cichlid (Neolamprologus tretocephalus)

Infographic of Five-Bar Cichlid (Neolamprologus tretocephalus)

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