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Pearly Calvus

(Altolamprologus calvus)

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 Quick Care Facts

• Care Level: Easy   • Temperament: Semi-Aggressive   • Maximum Size: 6"
• Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallons   • Water Conditions: 75-80° F, pH 7.8-9.0, GH 12-20, KH 14-20
• Diet: Carnivore   • Origin: Lake Tanganyika   • Family: Cichlidae
• Species: African Cichlid   • Aquarium Type: African Cichlid, Rift Lake

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Species Information

Pearly Calvus native habitat, distribution, behavior & aquarium compatibility.

Altolamprologus calvus (Pearly Calvus) have become very popular with African Cichlid owners as they have a slender aggressive body shape, steep sloping forehead with a large mouth and attractive coloration with stripes on the head and collar region and brilliant white spots on the posterior two-thirds of the their sides, all this combined with their easy going temperament make them a good choice for a variety of aquarium setups.

Pearly Calvus are known for being slow growers and can take over two years to reach their maximum size of 6 inches for males and 4 inches for females. They are found in eastern parts of Lake Tanganyikan around rocky outcrops and other areas with plenty of rock caves and crevices. There are several morphological varieties of Pearly Calvus including: black, white, yellow, and even zebra, which looks a lot like a white version of Alto. compressiceps.

Pearly Calvus make a great addition to most any Tanganyikan community setup, except for setups with much smaller fishes or shellfish, as these would most likely become a meal. They can also be kept with many of the fishes from Lakes Malawi and Victoria, provided the latter also require a high protein diet.

Aquarium Care

How to successfully keep Pearly Calvus in the home aquarium.

Pearly Calvus require an aquarium with plenty of rocks forming caves and rock ledges and crevices. When initially added to the aquarium, it is not unusual for this species to hide in the rocks most of the time. However, over time they will adapt to their new environment and spend most of their time in the lower areas of the aquarium along the substrate and lower rocky areas. It is important to not overfeed the aquarium during this period trying to get food to the Calvus, they will emerge from their rock cave when they are ready and will begin eating hardily at that time. This mimics there behavior in the wild where they spend their time along the substrate looking for shellfish and other foodstuffs to scoop up from the ground or from within rock caves.

They are quite peaceful in the aquarium and will not fight with other fish species including similar sized species as well. While they have a good temperament for a community cichlid aquarium, they are very capable of defending themselves and will use their thick scales as both a strong defense and for inflicting damage on their attacker. Unlike many other African Cichlid species, Pearly Calvus are not territorial and will coexist with other species or others of their own kind.

Feeding & Nutrition

How to properly feed Pearly Calvus and provide a healthy diet.

Pearly Calvus are hardy eaters (once established) and will readily take most any type of high-protein meaty foods including: brine shrimp, meaty pellets, cichlid flakes and live foods. They will also consume fish species that are much smaller than themselves and will eat shellfish and crustaceans.

Breeding Information

How to successfully breed Pearly Calvus in the aquarium environment.

Pearly Calvus are substrate spawners and it is not uncommon to miss that they have spawned as they are very secretive spawners. Calvus like to spawn in tight confines such as a rocky cave, deep rocky crevice, rock overhang, inside a shell or pot or any suitable area that the male of the species cannot enter. The male will release his milt at the entrance of the females spawning location and both the male and female will use their fins to fan the milt onto the eggs, which will be dropped on the substrate.

A typical spawn for a younger pair will number 75 eggs while a mature breeding pair will number around 200 eggs, with females being able to spawn every 30 to 40 days. The fry are very slow growers and will need upwards of 9 months to reach approximately 1 inch in size, the male young will be about 1/3rd larger than the females. While it is possible to raise the fry in the parent aquarium, the survival rate will be increased drastically if the fry are moved to a grow-out tank with a seasoned sponge filter.

The fry calvus are bottom huggers, thus for this reason, you will need to pay extra attention to water quality as extra food can quickly foul the substrate. A mixture of Cyclops-eeze, Hikari First Start, and finely ground earthworm and brine shrimp flakes should provide the necessary nutrition with as little excess as possible. Partial weekly water changes will help insure that proper water conditions are maintained.

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