|Distribution||Lake Tanganyika, Africa.|
|Sexual Dimorphism||Difficult to sex. In mature fish, the females are usually larger.|
|Maximum Size||8.5cm (3.4")|
|Temperature||23-25 deg C (73-77 deg F)|
|Water Parameters||Hard, alkaline conditions essential. pH: 8.0-9.0, dH: 15-25 degrees.|
|Compatibility||Tanganyikan cichlid tank only.|
|Lighting||No special requirements|
The Ornate Julie is endemic to Lake Tanganyika, where it is found in the shallow, sediment-rich rocky habitat. Here, their territories tend to be centred around cracks or fissures in the rocks and rubble. The natural diet consists primarily of small crustaceans, insect larvae, and molluscs picked from the algae-encrusted substrate, and occasionally, drifting plankton. This species is mostly confined to the northern half of the lake, but there is one geographical variant found in the vicinity of Mpulungu in the south. The aquarium that houses this species should be at least 3ft long, with a good amount of filtration, water movement and oxygenation. The best choice of substrate would be coral sand or aragonite, which will help to keep the water hard and alkaline. Rocks should be used to create small outcrops and plenty of caves/crevices, ensuring that there are ample broken lines-of-sight. J. ornatus can be somewhat aggressive towards one another in the confines of the home aquarium, so in most situations, they are best kept singly or in compatible pairs. These cichlids can be maintained as part of a Tanganyikan community with fish of similar size and temperament, and which occupy different areas of the tank; however, do not mix them with other Julidochromis species. If the tank is particularly voluminous, multiple pairs can be kept as long as there are plenty of territories to go round (several per fish) and a multitude of visual barriers. Ornate Julies are intolerant of poor water conditions, so ensure small partial water changes are carried out on a frequent basis. May also be seen on sale as the Golden Julie.
Omnivorous. Offer a good quality flake/green flake, slow-sinking pellets/granules, and small meaty frozen foods such as vitamin/Spirulina-enriched brineshrimp, daphnia, Mysis shrimp, mosquito larvae etc, along with some fresh vegetable matter.
Cave spawner. The bond these fish form when breeding is strong and is retained during brood care and subsequent spawns. In order to obtain a compatible pair, it is often best to purchase a group of juveniles and to allow a pair to form naturally, rehoming the remaining fish. The pair will choose a suitable cave as a spawning site, and when ready, the female will deposit her eggs (averaging 30-50) on the sides/roof of the cave, the male immediately swimming over them and fertilising with his sperm. It is not always obvious when these fish have spawned, as oftentimes they are very secretive and the cave may be hidden from view. Once spawning has finished, the female will tend to the eggs, with the male fish guarding the perimeter of the cave. The eggs should hatch within 2-3 days (temperature dependent), with the fry becoming free swimming a few days later. The young can be started off on a diet of freshly hatched brineshrimp (Artemia nauplii) and finely powdered ‘first foods’. Brood care is fairly prolonged, and the immature offspring may then help in guarding the subsequent generation of fry, coexisting within the same aquarium and forming a nuclear family. The cycle continues as the adults spawn again, and it is possible to have several generations living together if the tank is large enough. However, if the aquarium is on the smaller side, and there becomes a shortage of territories, it may be best to rehome the eldest fry once they reach around 2.5cm/1" in size, for their own safety.