Shell Dwellers – Multies

A male Neolamprologus multifasciatus. © Clint Norwood

Female left, male right, baby in the shell. © Clint Norwood

Female guarding fry. © Clint Norwood

Species/genus: Neolamprologus multifasciatus

Origin: Lake Tanganyika – Africa

Temperature: 76-84°F

pH: 8.0 – 8.4

Adult Size: 1.5-2 inches – 3-5 cm

Temperament: Semi-Aggressive

Minimum Tank Size: 10 Gallons

Feeding: Very easy to feed, they love flakes.

Ease Of Keeping: Very easy

Breeding: Egglayers, they use the shells for spawning and fry protection.


Neolamprologus multifasciatus is a tiny Cichlid from Lake Tanganyika, in the Rift Valley of Africa. These lakes are quite alkaline so all Rift Lake Cichlids have evolved to live in high pH waters.

“Multies” as the Neolamprologus multifasciatus is commonly called, are the smallest Cichlid in the world. Although small they still have all the intelligence and interesting behavior of their larger cousins. They exhibit parental care for their fry, stage aggressive displays to ward off other fish and they will handle all tank decorating themselves. Multies love to excavate and will move the aquarium sand or gravel constantly.

Multies inhabit the shells of dead Neothauma snail shells in the wild. In captivity they will make just about any available shell into a home. As you can see in the pictures they will accept normal seashells readily. Multies will use these shells as their homes, their spawning site and for defense. Any loud noise or bump will make the Multies suddenly disappear into the shells.

I have found Multies to be extremely hardy and active. Their lifestyle and social interactions make them a very interesting species. Requiring only a 10 gallon tank for a small colony, anyone should be able to make room for these tiny dynamos.