Fish, Tanks and Ponds

Fish, Tanks and Ponds
A comprehensive guide to fish

Altolamprologus compressiceps

Altolamprologus compressicepsAltolamprologus compressiceps
Photos by Andy Rapson


Altolamprologus: Latin, altus, a, -um = well feeded + Greek lamprologeo = to speak splendidly about. Perhaps related to the proper characteristics of the fish.

General Notes:

A. compressiceps does best when kept in a Tanganyikan biotope aquarium with other Tanganyikan fishes. The pH must be at least 7.8+ and the water very hard and mineral rich (adding a little bicarbonate of soda to boost the pH isn't enough, and adding Epsom salts (magnesium chloride) to boost the waters hardness is not recommended at all because Epsom salt has a powerful laxative effect on fishes...) Using a marine calcium additive and marine 8.4 pH additive along with a good brand of trace elements will ultimately create a far better environment for these fish.
The aquarium should include LOTS of rockwork, A. compressiceps is not happy if kept away from its rocky environment.


A. compressiceps is a carnivore, a large part of its diet must include meaty food such as blood worms, brine shrimps, chopped prawns, daphnia, cyclops along with a good quality flake or suitably sized pelleted food.


Specialised community fish with other fish endemic to Lake Tanganyika. A. compressiceps is a micro predator which will eat mostly the fry of other species but is relatively peaceful with fish to large to eat.


Not easy when the fish are juvenile. When adult the males are significantly larger than the females and their fins more pointed.


A. compressiceps normally chooses to spawn in very inaccessible places like very tight crevices in the rockwork, large artificial caves which can easily accommodate both parents will be ignored. The female will tend and protect the eggs until they hatch and the fry become free swimming at which point parental care seems to come to an end.
The fry are large enough to take newly hatched brine shrimps, micro worms and finely powdered flake food straight away.
The fry of A compressiceps are extremely slow growing and it will take several months, possibly up to a year before the fry mature.

Wild status

Altolamprologus compressiceps is classed as being "Least Concern" by the ICUN Red List. It is never found in large numbers but it is quite widespread in Lake Tanganyika. Potential threats include water pollution, disturbance to habitat, landslide and sedimentation.

Additional information

Information at a glance

pH: 7.8 - 9
dGH: 12 - 30
Temperature: 23 - 28°C (74 - 82°F)
Diet: Omnivore
Size: 12.3cm (5in)
Min tank size: 250 litres
Difficulty level: Intermediate
Aquarium type: Tanganyikan
Swimming level: All levels

Distribution and habitat

distribution map for Altolamprologus compressiceps

Origin: Lake Tanganyika

Habitat: Rocky areas of Lake Tanganyika (endemic).


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Cichlidae
Genus: Altolamprologus
Species: A. compressiceps.  (Boulenger, 1898)

Other common names:

Neolamprologus compressiceps,
Haplochromis compressiceps,
Lamprologus compressiceps.