Julidochromis is a genus of cichlid fish endemic to Lake Tanganyika in eastern Africa. It includes at least 5 species, each with a number of subspecies or races, further taxonomic work is required to determine how many species exist. The genus is one of several that comprise the tribe Lamprologini and is closely related to the genus Chalinochromis.
Julidochromis species are secretive biparental substrate spawners, retreating to caves or rock crevices. Pairs are largely monogamous, though instances of polyandry, with the female taking more than one mate, have been recorded in both the wild and the aquarium. If a pair-bond is broken, the female will drive the male out of her territory, sometimes killing him in the process. Females in this genus grow substantially larger than the males, and a female Julidochromis will often dominate a male larger than herself.
Julies are popular ornamental fish and are ideally suited to the aquarium as most are small growing (dwarf cichlids), easy to spawn and care for. Like all Lake Tanganyika cichlids, Julidochromis are best maintained in hard alkaline water, with a pH of 9.0 and a hardness of 12-14 kH, and in aquaria no smaller than 60 – 80 liters. Only one species should be kept in any single aquarium, as the species within this genus tend to hybridize easily. The aquarium should be decorated with rocks to form caves and passageways in way of shelter.
Julidochromis can be shy in the aquarium and the use of dither fish may reduce their tendency to remain hidden. Despite this, they tend to be territorial and, like many Rift Lake cichlids, aggressive. For this reason it is best not to keep this species with general tropical fish, but with other cichlids.
Fry can be maintained with the parents and should be fed protein-rich foods such as baby brine shrimp. Parents can sometimes be found leading their fry around the aquarium.
As noted above, Julidochromis species are monogamous, but pair bonds can break and hostilities may result in the death of one of the pair, generally the male. If a pair does split in an aquarium it is often best to remove the male to another tank.