Chalinochromis brichardi
By Ken Armke (7-97)

(See Image Gallery for Photo)

          Ask the Armkes independently to name our favorites among the fish we keep and we would likely come up with quite different “top 10s”.
          Among fish likely to make both our lists, however, is a mated pair of the “masked Chalinochromis”, Chalinochromis brichardi.
          What makes this an especially nice tribute to this wonderful fish is this:
           It has held that position with us since we were first able to acquire a bag of four young at the 1993 American Cichlid Association (ACA) convention in Minneapolis. Many new and beautiful fishes have come and gone through our aquariums since, but the affection for the surviving pair has never waned.
          With its cream-colored body and dark facial markings that give the fish its common name, the C. brichardi is very attractive in a non-flashy way. Its other qualities may be even more appealing.
          Size. The modest size (the listed maximum 5.5" would be a giant; our four-year-old male is less than 4") makes it suitable for almost any aquarium. It is, however, a slow grower, perhaps accounting for its hard-to-find status.
          Temperament. Ours, except when defending a spawn, have been remarkably unaggressive and have never harmed a tankmate. At the same time, they are not easily bullied by other species.
          Hardiness. Again, give this species an A. Both young and adults have proven especially hardy in our keeping.
          Habits. In this and other ways, C. brichardi resembles the Julidochromis genus. Pairs bond very tightly, and the protection given to eggs and fry is something to behold. The species is a cave spawner like the Julies, but doesn’t at other times seem as dependent on structure. It frequently takes to the open water of the aquarium—moving discus-like slow and stately through the water, always in color, nearly always with fins displayed.
          C. brichardi is a fish difficult to find fault with. We recommend it highly.

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