The Zebra Shell Dweller (Neolamprologus similis) is a very small shell-dwelling cichlid that is native to the deep shoreline areas of Lake Tanganyika in Africa.. It has become very popular in the aquarium hobby over the past several years, but it is somewhat rare due to its slow growth rate and small spawn size. In the wild, it spawns in the empty shells of Neothauma tanganyicense snails. Overall coloration of this fish is white or silver with brown to plack vertical striping. Mature males are larger than females.
The Zebra Shell Dweller will thrive in an aquarium with sparse decor. Since it is a shell-dweller, it should also be provided with several empty shells, which do not necessarily have to be the Neothauma tanganyicense species. Mature fish will often claim and defend a small territory around their respective home shells. This cichlid likes to dig, so it should be provided with a deep substrate bed of sand if possible. This species is small in size, but it is very territorial with its own kind and similar fish that enter its territory. Territoriality is typically at its peak during spawning. Dwarf shrimp and other small, delicate invertebrates should not be kept with the Zebra Shell Dweller. If spawning is desired, tankmates of other species should be kept to a minimum or avoided altogether unless the aquarium is of considerable size with ample cover/decor.
Feeding is simple for the unfussy Zebra Shell Dweller. High-quality dry, frozen, and live meaty foods will all be readily accepted. Quality and variety are the keys to a diet that will ensure that this fish maintains optimal health and coloration, so this species should not be fed dry foods exclusively.