Aquarium Fish

Shell Dweller Cichlid - Shellies

Online Aquarium Fish Magazine | Shell Dweller Cichlids

Neolamprologus multifasciatus

Shell Dweller Cichlid - Neolamprologus multifasciatus, or for short, Multies are a special type of cichlid for many reasons. The first reason is they are shell-dwellers, or Shellies, which means that they live and breed in shells. In the wild, Shell Dweller Cichlids live on the bottom of Lake Tanganyika in Africa. They colonize the thousands of Neothauma snail shells and form territories of their own shells and live, sleep, and breed inside these shells. They mainly stay near these shells, and on the bottom, so it is best to get a short, long tank.

The second special thing about Multies is that they are the smallest cichlid in the world, the male's maximum size is 1.5 to 2 inches, and the female's maximum size is only around .75 to 1 inch long! This means that they are easier to keep in smaller aquariums.

For a tank setup, you can use almost any tank, preferably a 10 gallon, and if possible, go for a longer tank, since they use mainly bottom space. These fish are big diggers, so definitely have either sand or very fine gravel if you want to see this behavior. Also, they should have about 2-6 shells per fish, so they can choose which ones they want. You can use Apple snail, escargot, or practically any other type of shell you want, or also PVC elbows with caps can work fine too. Most filtration can work, just be careful that the fry can't get sucked up and make sure you do not use an UGF (Under-Gravel Filter) due to the possibility of sand compacting under it.

Neolamprologus multifasciatus

Shell Dweller Video

Shell Dweller Cichlid Care

Scientific Name : Neolamprologus multifasciatus

Common Names : Multie, Shellie (For most shell-dwellers)

Care Level : Easy, as long as you have enough shells and good parameters.

Size : Males grow up to 1.5 - 2 inches (~5 cm); Females grow to .75 - 1 inch (~2.5 cm)

pH : Around 7.6 - 8

Temperature : 78 - 80° F (~25-26° C)

Water Hardness : 15°

Origin / Habitat : Lake Tanganyika in Africa

Temperament / Behavior : Can be aggressive to fish in their territory, and may eat fry if population gets too big.

Breeding : Make sure you have the tank set up like described in the opening paragraphs. Males will spawn with multiple females. They are egg-layers, but typically you will only tell that a spawn has occurred by seeing the tiny fry. Fry typically do not pick on each other, and parents are protective unless the population gets too big. Feed fry foods, baby brine shrimp, or finely crushed flakes. There should be from 4- 30 fry per spawn.

Aquarium Size : Preferably 5-10 gallons, the longer the better.

Shell Dweller Cichlid Tank Mates : Depending on the size of the tank, you may be able to have other fish that live in the upper regions, though do this with caution, as other fish can eat your fry. Don't mix shell-dweller species.

Fish Disease : Freshwater Fish Disease

Diet / Fish Food : Need a diet slightly high in protein.

Tank Region : Bottom

Gender : Males are larger.

Profile by : Fish Addict

Photo Credit : Richard Andre Ingebrigtsen, Department of Aquatic Biosciences, Univerisity of Tromso

Sources :

© - providing tropical fish tank and aquarium information for freshwater fish and saltwater fish keepers.
SiteMap | Aquarium Fish SiteMap | Aquarium Fish Dictionary | Privacy Policy | Contact Us