Gold Ocellatus

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Lamprologus ocellatus - (Steindachner, 1909)
Gold Ocellatus

An attractive, interesting African cichlid that dwells in empty snail shells. Destination Tanganyika


Lamprologus ocellatus is a fascinating and beautiful dwarf cichlid from Africa that possesses outstanding behavioral and reproductive characteristics. There is a beautiful gold variant available, as well as blue and purple variants and a yellow-finned variety.

Family: Cichlidae

Other common name(s):

  • Shell-dwelling Lamp
  • Red Ocellatus

Native range:

Habitat: This is a shell dweller that will need large snail shells, at least one per fish, to hide in and among. Shells sold for hermit crabs in pet stores will do quite well—“escargot” shells sold in supermarkets will need to be boiled and cleaned before use. They need hard, alkaline water to thrive, so provide a dolomite or coral-based gravel substrate that is fine-grade (not coarse, as they may bury their shells, leaving only the openings visible).

Maximum length: 5 cm (2 in)

Minimum aquarium size: 76 L (20 gal)

Water: Freshwater 22 °C (72 °F) - 26 °C (79 °F)

General swimming level: Near bottom.


Carnivore. These fishes are relatively unfinicky and will accept most commercial cichlid foods, as well as small live foods, such as brine shrimp and bloodworms.

Aquarium Compatibility

Keep only one male to several females. This is a highly territorial fish that will defend its snail shell against all other fish, regardless of their size. This is a great fish for a Lake Tanganyika community setting.


Demersal (snail shell) spawner that will lay eggs in the snail shell normally occupied by the female.


Plant sparsely on the sides and back of the aquarium and keep other decor like rocks restricted to these areas as well.

Reference: 101 Best Tropical Fishes
Image credit: GNU
Text credit: KW