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African Butterfly Peacock Cichlid (Aulonocara jacobfreibergi)

African Butterfly Peacock Cichlid (Aulonocara jacobfreibergi)

African Butterfly Peacock Cichlid (Aulonocara jacobfreibergi)

African Butterfly Peacock Cichlid (Aulonocara jacobfreibergi)

The African Butterfly Peacock Cichlid (Aulonocara jacobfreibergi) known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as Malawi Butterfly Cichlid, Eureka Cichlid, Fairy Cichlid, Freiberg’s Peacock, Jakes or Jake Cichlid, Mamalela Peacock, and Swalllow Tail Peacock is endemic to Lake Malawi, Africa; Otter Point, Nkudzi, Monkey Bay, Nankumba, and the Domwe Islands.

Aulonocara jacobfreibergi is widespread throughout the southern part of Lake Malawi and is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List of endangered species.

Of the 23 Aulonocara species, the African Butterfly Peacock (Aulonocara jacobfreibergi) is one of the most colorful and most variable in color and size.   Natural color strains and sizes vary between individual populations from 4″ to over 9″ in length.

There are many variants of Aulonocara available to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts such as Cape Kaiser, Eureka, Aulonocara jacobfreibergi ”Mamela” maleMamela, Otter Point, Hongi Island, Lemon Jake and others. All of these variants will readily crossbreed with African Butterfly Cichlids of other geographical areas and should NEVER be kept together in the same tank.

All species of African Butterfly Peacock Cichlids are brilliantly colored with blues, reds, and yellows that give them their well deserved name in the aquarium hobby.   Most members can be easily recognized by the tiny sonar sensory pits that appear as wrinkles around the head that aid the fish in locating the crustaceans they feed on in the sandy bottom.

African Butterfly Peacock Cichlid (Aulonocara jacobfreibergi)

African Butterfly Peacock Cichlid (Aulonocara jacobfreibergi)

Adult male Aulonocara jacobfreibergi have broad, iridescent, white dorsal and caudal fin margins that most other Peacocks lack.  Adult males have a moderate to deeply forked (swallow tail like) caudal fin and are generally larger than other Peacocks.  They reach sexual maturity at 4″, about half of their maximum length which can be up to 9″ in length.

Adult female Aulonocara jacobfreibergi are more difficult to distinguish from other Aulonocara females.   They are a drab white to grayish brown color, with gray brown to beige colored vertical bands on the body, and faintly colored rounded dorsal and anal fins. The males are always much more colorful than females, and their dorsal and anal fins are longer and more pointed.

Unlike many other species of Aulonocara that spend their daylight hours close to the sandy, open water bottom of Lake Malawi feeding on crustaceans and insect larvae; Aulonocara jacobfreibergi are a deep water species that is found inside and around large dark caves.

Because Aulonocara jacobfreibergi are generally more peaceful and larger than their “rock-dwelling” Mbuna counterparts, avoid housing them with aggressive cichlids, particularly the highly active and aggressive Mbunas.

African Butterfly Peacock Cichlids can be housed with other medium sized Malawi cichlids that are not overly aggressive and will usually get along with all other Peacock Cichlids of the same genus.   They will tolerate cichlids of a different genus so long as they are peaceful, similarly sized, and shaped differently.

The African Butterfly Peacock Cichlid (Aulonocara jacobfreibergi) should be housed singly in an aquarium of at least 55 gallon capacity with an aragonite gravel or fine crushed coral substrate, lots of rocky caves to hide among, and plenty of free swimming space.    They can be housed in groups of a single male with 4 to 6 females in a harem when a larger aquarium of at least 75 gallons is used.

Two males of the same species should never be housed together unless the tank is large enough to provide rock cave territories for each group of harems.  African Butterfly Peacock Cichlids require clean water conditions to flourish, so an efficient wet/dry, canister, or dual bio-wheel type filtration system and regular weekly 20% to 50% water changes is highly recommended to keep them stress free and healthy. They prefer subdued lighting and moderate water movement in their tanks, so a small power head and appropriate lighting is suggested.

African Butterfly Peacock Cichlids are mouth brooders that are sexually mature at about 4 ” in length and are easily bread in captivity. Keep a harem of 4 to 6 females with one male in a 55 to 75 gallon breeding tank with a sandy substrate and plenty of rocks and at least one large rock cave. Although breeding can take place over rock or sand, it will occur in the cave and is generally done out of sight.

The male will begin to display intense colors to attract the females when ready for breeding. The female will lay her eggs in the cave, pick them up in her mouth, and pick at the male’s anal fin until milt is produced to fertilize the eggs. The female will take enough sperm into her mouth to fertilize the eggs and will carry them in her mouth until the fry hatch and are old enough to fend for themselves which can take anywhere from 20 to 23 days.   During this time the female does not eat.

To prevent cross breeding, keep different strains of Aulonocara jacobfreibergi in the same tank and don’t mix the fry from different strains.   The fry and juveniles are impossible to tell apart as they grow.

The African Butterfly Peacock Cichlid is a carnivore that in the wild primarily feeds on zooplankton, specifically insect larvae and small crustaceans that they sift from the sandy bottom.   In an aquarium environment they require a higher protein diet and should be fed a quality cichlid flake along with supplemental feedings of live, frozen, or freeze dried daphnia, fish, ghost shrimp, brine shrimp, bloodworms, etc.   To prevent “Malawi Bloat” do not feed them tubifex worms.   Juveniles should only be fed once a day, and adults, 5 or 6 times a week.   Avoid the desire to overfeed this species.

Pure strains of the African Butterfly Peacock Cichlid (Aulonocara jacobfreibergi) are occasionally available to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts from specialty fish shops or online from wholesale importers at prices that range from moderately to very expensive. Unfortunately they are often listed simply as “Peacocks” without regard to specific area of origin.

A few African Butterfly Peacock Cichlid color variations described area of origin in Lake Malawi are listed below.

Aulonocara jacobfreibergi “Eureka”

The Eureka Cichlid is a naturally occurring strain that grows up to 6″ in length. It is naturally an orangish yellow and metallic blue

Aulonocara Jacobfreibergi Eureka

Aulonocara Jacobfreibergi Eureka

color combination. The body is mostly blue with orange at the top of the head, behind the head, and along the back. The dorsal and caudal fins are a light blue color and the anal and pelvic fins are orangish yellow with ice blue trimming on the leading edge. The anal fin on this variety has very few in any egg spots. A captive bred color variety of Eureka Red Peacock that is more red is also available.

Female Eureka Cichlids are a very drab white color with dull, gray brown vertical bands and clear fins. Their anal fin is rounded with light gold coloring in the front two thirds, and white or clear closer to the back nearer to the tail fin. Their pelvic fins are also colored light gold with clear to white tips.

Aulonocara jacobfreibergi “Eureka albino”

The Aulonocara jacobfreibergi Eureka Albino is also known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as the Albino Eureka Peacock. It is one of the smaller strains that only grows 4 to 6 inches long. Its back, anal, and pectoral fins are a subtle tangerine color. The face, forehead and bottom part of the Eureka albino is white. The pectoral fins have white trim on the front rays and the anal fin has no egg spots. The bottom part of the dorsal fin close to the body is slightly tangerine colored, but the rest of the dorsal and the tips of the caudal fin are an icy light blue color. Females are basically white and both sexes have yellow eyes with tangerine pupils.

Aulonocara jacobfreibergi “Undu Reef” 

Aulonocara Jacobfreibergi Undu Reef

Aulonocara Jacobfreibergi Undu Reef

The Aulonocara Jacobfreibergi Undu Reef is also known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as the Mamalela Peacock, Lemon

Jake, and Lemon Jacobfreibergi. It is a naturally occurring strain that is found in the Undu Reef in Tanzania. Males grow to about 7″ in length and females max out at about 5″.

Undu Reefs have a lavender blue body with a vertical band of lavender blue and yellow located just behind the gills. The dorsal, anal, and pelvic fins are yellow, and the anal fin lacks egg spots.

Aulonocara jacobfreibergi “Otter Point”

The Aulonocara Jacobfreibergi Otter Point is a naturally occurring strain that grows to 6″ in length. They have a vivid electric blue

Aulonocara stuartgranti Otter Point

Aulonocara stuartgranti Otter Point

and orange red colored body, with faint dark blue vertical bands. The top of the head and part way back on top of the body is orangish red, and the only area that has an almost a blue turquoise color is the chin, below the eye. The caudal fin is a mixture of the main colors at the body,

changing to blue towards the rear. The dorsal fin is blue with a hint of gold along the fin and the anal fin is orange trimmed with ice blue. The pelvic fins are a dull red/brown color trimmed with red/orange on the front edges. The anal fin lacks eggs spots.

Note that there are several captive bred color form hybrids that are sold also under the name “Otter Point” which are obviously not pure strains.

Female Aulonocara Jacobfreibergi Otter Point have alternating thick beige and thinner white vertical bars. Their eyes are yellow and except for the pelvic and anal fins, are clear. The rounded anal fin is an orange yellow color. The pelvic fin is also orangish yellow trimmed with blue at the tip.

Aulonocara jacobfreibergi “Hongi Island” 

Aulonocara jacobfreibergi(Hongi Island)

Aulonocara jacobfreibergi(Hongi Island)

The Aulonocara Jacobfreibergi Hongi Island is a naturally occurring strain that grows to 6″ in length and is found near Hongi

Island. Males have a metallic blue face and except for the pectorals, orange fins. They have several alternating bluish black and light blue vertical bands on the body and dark blue into the caudal fin.

 

Aulonocara jacobfreibergi “Cape Kaiser” 

Aulonocara jacobfreibergi(Cape Kaiser)

Aulonocara jacobfreibergi(Cape Kaiser)

The Aulonocara jacobfreibergi Cape Kaiser, known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as the Cape Kaiser Peacock, is a naturally occurring color strain that grows to 7″ in length. Males are all yellow with long yellow fins edged and/or tipped with ice blue. Their foreheads have are dusted in yellow and they have an electric blue colored chin. The rest of their body has alternating ice blue to dark blue/black vertical bands.

 

Aulonocara jacobfreibergi “Tsano rock”

Aulonocara Jacobfreibergi Tsano Rock

Aulonocara Jacobfreibergi Tsano Rock

The Aulonocara Jacobfreibergi Tsano Rock or Aulonocara jacobfreibergi Tsano Rock “Swallow Tail” is a naturally occurring color form that has alternating colors of light blue and black on the body, faded in areas under the gold coloring that runs along the top two thirds of the body.  They have a yellow dorsal fin edged in ice blue at the very top and yellow down the balance of the back. The area under the chin and eyes are an electric blue color, and their caudal fin is blue with a bit of yellow. The pelvic and anal fins are a lighter blue color with yellow egg spots on the anal fin.

Females are light colored and have gray brown vertical bars along the side. They have light blue fins and eggs spots on the rounded anal fin.

Aulonocara jacobfreibergi “Cape Maclear” 

Aulonocara Jacobfreibergi Cape Maclear

Aulonocara Jacobfreibergi Cape Maclear

The Aulonocara jacobfreibergi Cape Maclear is almost identical to the Tsano rock in coloring. Except for a little orange where the

back and dorsal meet and the orange egg spots on the anal fin, they are almost identical.

 

Aulonocara jacobfreibergi “Nkudzi”

The Aulonocara jacobfreibergi Nkudzi is a naturally occurring strain that have alternating vertical bands of dark blue to black

Aulonocara jacobfreibergi Nkudzi

Aulonocara jacobfreibergi Nkudzi

along the body that begin just behind the head. The beautiful electric blue head has yellowish gold on the forehead, above and below the eye, and extends along the back to the first third of the dorsal fin.

The dorsal fin is a yellowish gold color edged with ice blue on the top part. Their pelvic and anal fins are a yellowish gold color edged with light blue.  The caudal fin is a mottled mixture of yellow/gold and dark blue/black with ice blue tips.

African Butterfly Peacock Cichlid (Aulonocara jacobfreibergi)

Minimum Tank Size: 55 gallons
Care Level: Mildly Difficult
Temperament: Semi Aggressive
Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately Hardy
Water Conditions: 73.0 to 82.0° F, dH 6-10°dGH, pH 7.7-8.6
Max. Size: Males 9″
Color Form: Red, Yellow, Blue, Green
Diet: Omnivore
Compatibility: Single species or peaceful Malawi
Origin: Lake Malawi
Family: Cichlidae
Lifespan: 8-10 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner to Advanced

Posted in African Cichlids, Cichlids, Featured Articles, Freshwater Fish, Lake Malawi Cichlids, Tropical Fish SpeciesComments (0)

Super Red Dragon Flowerhorn

Flowerhorn Cichlid Hybrid (Cichlasoma X)

The Flowerhorn Cichlid (Cichlasoma X) known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts simply as Flowerhorns, was first developed in Malaysia, Taiwan, and Thailand and except for culled specimens that were intentionally dumped into the ponds and riverine ecosystems of Malaysia and Singapore, does not occur naturally in the wild.

The Flowerhorn Cichlid Hybrid originated in Asia and is believed to have been initially bred in 1993 and 1994 in western Taiwan and Malaysia by crossing Amphilophus labiatus (Red Devil Cichlid) and Amphilophus trimaculatus (Trimac cichlid) that were imported from Central America to Malaysia, with the hybrid Blood Parrot Cichlid that had been imported from Taiwan to Malaysia.

Kamfa Flowerhorn Cichlid

Kamfa Flowerhorn Cichlid

The Flowerhorns slightly protruding head with long tail fins were prized by the Taiwanese for bringing good luck, and in 1995, Blood Parrot Cichlids were further crossbred with Flowerhorns to produce new color strains.

Because of their beautiful colors, protruding nuchal humps, long fins, and friendly personalities towards humans, Flowerhorn Chchlid Hybrids quickly became popular with tropical fish keeping enthusiasts worldwide.

Selective crossbreeding of the species continued through 1998 with the Seven Color Blue Fiery Mouth (Greenish Gold Tiger) imported from Central America and the Jin Gang Blood Parrot from Taiwan to produce the first generation of hua luo han flowerhorn hybrids generically referred to in English as luohans.   These were then followed by subsequent flowerhorn introductions.

A large number of Flowerhorn Cichlid Hybrid cast offs were released into the wild, primarily in Singapore and Malaysia.   These flourished to the extent that they are now considered an invasive pest species in that area of the world.

LohanYang Menjadi Flowerhorn

When louhans were first imported into the United States, only two varieties of Flowerhorns (those with white spots, called pearls, and those without) and two varieties of Golden Base (faded and non faded) were available to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts.

The flowerhorn hybrids with white spots immediately became very popular and were called Pearl Scale Flowerhorns, which were later developed into the Zhen Zhu variety.

The faded gray skin Golden Bases also gained in popularity when they developed into an attractive golden skin variety.

Commercial breeders continued crossbreeding fertile Flowerhorns until in 1999, four varieties became available to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts:

  • Regular Flowerhorns
  • Pearl Scale Flowerhorns
  • Golden Flowerhorns
  • Faders

The Kamfa variety of Flowerhorns had some new traits like short mouths, wrapped tails, sunken eyes, and larger head bumps.   This cross between any species of the genus Vieja or Parrot Cichlid, with any kind of Flowerhorn appeared around 2001.

Competitive breeding of Flowerhorns continues to this day with more colorful strains being developed every few years.  Currently, there are five distinct variations of Flowerhorn Chiclids:

  • Golden Base
  • Golden Monkey
  • Kamfa
  • Thai Silk
  • Zhen Zhou

Kamfa Flowerhorn Cichlid

The Flowerhorn Cichlid Hybrid is hard not to notice.   They are vividly colored and have thick oval shaped bodies, distinctively shaped heads with a large nauchal hump, long pointed trailing dorsal and anal fins, a spade shaped caudal fin, and like other cichlids, along with their regular teeth, a set of well developed pharyngeal teeth in their throat.

Almost all varieties of Flowerhorn Chchlid Hybrids have black

Louhan Beserta Flowerhorn

horizontal markings on their flanks.   Their scales are multicolored with hues that vary from metallic green with pinks and reds on the front half of the body, to metallic blue.

An interesting characteristic of Flowerhorns is that the colors and patterns of these fish will constantly change until they become fully mature adults.

Male Flowerhorn Cichlid Hybrids are generally larger than females, are more vividly colored, have a larger nuchal hump, longer dorsal and anal fins, and develop a thicker more pronounced mouth than females.

Females are generally smaller than males, have black dots on their dorsal fins, and tend to have more orange bellies, especially during breeding.   Adult females will also lay eggs every month even without the presence of a male in the tank.

King Kamfa Flowerhorn

All Flowerhorn Cichlid Hybrids are highly aggressive and are best kept in a single species tank. Although pairs can be kept very large aquariums, some type of glass or acrylic divider is highly recommended to separate them until they show signs of compatibility.

Because many long bodied varieties of Flowerhorn Cichlid Hybrids grow to almost 16 inches in length, single specimens are best housed in an aquarium of at least 100 gallon capacity with a sand, tile, or large gravel substrate, some rocks fashioned into hiding places, a few pieces of driftwood or bogwood, and some hardy plants like Anubias, etc. for aesthetics.

Flowerhorns are large, strong fish that produce a lot of waste and require a good filtration system with moderate to high water flow in their tanks.   They prefer soft to moderately hard water and are extremely sensitive to ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites in the aquarium.

A wet/dry trickle filter, large Bio-wheel, or canister filtration system along with a powerhead mounted close to the bottom of the tank and regular bi-weekly water changes is recommended to keep them healthy and happy.

Although Flowerhorn Cichlid Hybrids are able to tolerate a variety of water conditions, stability is more important than maintaining perfect water quality.

Because the majority of male Flowerhorn Cichlid Hybrids are sterile and cannot reproduce, most tropical fish keeping enthusiasts find that Flowerhorns are extremely difficult to breed.

Breeders must wait for males to reach sexual maturity before attempting to pair them up with females and test their fertility. This can take as long as 8-12 months.

In addition, their fiercely territorial aggressiveness towards other members of their species often results in severe injuries or death to their mates.

Breeders start by placing an upside down ceramic flowerpot into the breeding tank to give the potential pair a place to spawn.   If the tank has a fine gravel or sandy substrate, the male will scoop out a depression or hole in the substrate for the female Flowerhorn to deposit her eggs.

If the reproductive period has not yet begun, the male and female Flowerhorns kept in the same tank may attack and/or kill each other. However, if the stars align, the male will clean an area of the flowerpot or fan out a depression in the substrate for the female to deposit her eggs and the pair will spawn.

When ready to mate, the male will try to attract the female to the cleaned area for spawning by displaying, touching, and finally embracing her.   When ready to mate, the female will nestle into the male and the eggs will be deposited and immediately fertilized by the male.

If the fish attack each other after spawning, remove the male and leave the female in the tank to oversee incubation of the eggs or, remove both parents and incubate the eggs artificially. When doing this, add a few drops of methylene blue to the water to prevent fungal infections from killing the eggs.

When free swimming, the fry will accept finely ground flake foods, newly hatched brine shrimp, etc.

Flowerhorn Cichlid Hybrids are not picky eaters and will accept almost anything placed into the tank. They require a protein rich diet and should be provided a staple carnivore pellet along with live, frozen, or freeze dried crickets, grasshoppers, shrimp, mealworms, white worms, black worms, earthworms, nightcrawlers, etc.   Feed a varied diet with several small meals a day in lieu of a single large meal.

Flowerhorn Cichlid Hybrids of all types are available from specialty fish shops and online from a variety of websites and demand a hefty price depending on size and the hybrid type purchased.

Thai Silk Flowerhorn Cichlid

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 100 gallons
Care Level: Difficult
Temperament: Extremely Aggressive
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 80-85°F, dH 6-20°d, pH 6.0-8.0
Max. Size: 12-16″
Color Form: Red, Yellow, Green
Diet: Carnivore
Compatibility: Single species
Origin: Variable Southeast Asia
Family: Cichlidae
Lifespan: Short Body 4-5 years
Long Body 8-12 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate

 

Posted in Asian Cichlids, Cichlids, Featured Articles, Freshwater FishComments (0)

Ruby Green Cichlid (Haplochromis sp. Ruby Green)

Ruby Green Cichlid (Haplochromis sp. Ruby Green)

Ruby Green Cichlid (Haplochromis sp. Ruby Green)

Ruby Green Cichlid (Haplochromis sp. Ruby Green)

The Ruby Green Cichlid (Haplochromis sp. Ruby Green) is a herbivore known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as the Ruby Green Hap or Ruby Green, and is found around the heavily vegetated shorelines of Lakes Kyoga and Nawampasa in Uganda.

The Ruby Green Cichlid is often mistaken for the Flameback Cichlid (Haplichromis sp. “Flameback”)

Ruby Green Cichlid (Haplochromis sp. Ruby Green)

Ruby Green Cichlid (Haplochromis sp. Ruby Green)

Male Ruby Green Cichlids, like the Flameback Cichlid, are colored a vivid red and vibrant green combination.

The Ruby Green Cichlid has more green on the body and the red does not extend as far back on the fish as it does with the Flameback.

During breeding, males are colored a vivid red on the upper portion of the fish, that extends from the tip of the mouth to the middle of the back.   The sides of the fish are colored yellow down to the lateral line and a vibrant green below.   They have black pectoral fins and an orange to red anal fin with up to five black outlined egg spots.

An albino strain is also known to hobbyists that is quite beautiful.

Female Ruby Green Cichlids are colored a drab battleship gray, with a few dark lines and a yellow anal fin.

The Ruby Green Cichlid is undoubtedly one of the most peaceful Victorian cichlids you can keep.   Fully grown males are not nearly as aggressive as other Victorian cichlids, even to their own kind.

When keeping Ruby Green Cichlids in a single species rocky rift valley lake setup, a single male with a harem of 5 or 6 females is a good proportion.   Adding an additional male will cause the dominant male to stay in full breeding color all the time.   When a single male is kept in a tank without any females or males present, they will usually NOT color up.

Haplochromis sp. Ruby Green are mouthbrooding herbivores that do well with other peaceful, mild mannered species, and despite their similar dietary requirements; should never be housed with Tropheus or mbunas.    If bullied, you will not experience the vivid colors that the males can exhibit.

The Ruby Green Cichlid is best housed in an aquarium of at least 40 gallon capacity, with a sand or fine gravel substrate, plenty of rockwork piles formed into caves for them to hide, and some bogwood planted with Anubias barteri or other hardy plants for aesthetics. With two males in the same tank, make sure there are plenty of hiding places available.    Rocks, PVC pipe, or ceramic “caves” are all good options.

Keep in mind that in their natural habitat, Haplochromis sp. Ruby Green spend a lot of time scraping algae off of aquatic plants and will exhibit the same behavior in an aquarium environment.

Ruby Green Cichlids need good water quality and a little water movement in their tank.   A canister, bio wheel, or wet/dry trickle filtration system with regular water changes is highly recommended to keep them healthy and happy.

The Ruby Green Cichlid is a polygamous mouthbrooder that is very easy to breed.   Although strict water conditions is not critical, the water should not be to acidic.   A pH of 7.6 or more and a general hardness of 9 degrees or more is usually enough to motivate them.

Average broods consist of up to three dozen fry that are held by the female for two to three weeks. During this period, the female does not eat and the males will warn off any interlopers.   When the fry are spit out, the parents do not protect the young and in many cases will eat them.

To raise as many fry as possible, many tropical fish keeping enthusiasts will remove the brooding female into a “brooding” tank until she spits out her young, and then place her back with the “harem” in the breeding tank.   The young grow quickly and will eagerly eat brine shrimp or crushed cichlid flakes.

When the fry are a little over an inch in length, males will begin to color up and may even begin to spawn.   For the first couple of times, it’s not unusual for females to have difficulty holding her brood full term.

In their natural environment, Ruby Green Cichlids are algae grazers that feed by scraping algae off of aquatic plants, rocks, driftwood, etc. In an aquarium environment, they do well on a vegetarian diet of omnivore or Spirulina flakes, blanched spinach, boiled zucchini, etc. Although they will eat just about anything you put in their tank, make sure they get their vegetables.

With their natural habitat dwindling, the beautiful Lake Victorian Ruby Green Cichlid (Haplochromis sp. “Ruby Green”) is not kept by many tropical fish keeping enthusiasts.   They are not common but are occasionally available from importers, specialty fish keeping shops, breeders, cichlid forums, and auction sites at premium prices.

 

Ruby Green Cichlid (Haplochromis sp. Ruby Green)

Ruby Green Cichlid (Haplochromis sp. Ruby Green)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 40 gallons
Care Level: Mildly Difficult
Temperament: Relatively Peaceful
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 74-79°F, dH 6-10°d, pH 7.2-7.5
Max. Size: Males 4″ Females 3″
Color Form: Red, Yellow, Green
Diet: Herbivore
Compatibility: Single species or peaceful Victoria tank
Origin: Lake Kyoga and Nawampasa, Uganda
Family: Cichlidae
Lifespan: 4-10 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Advanced

Posted in African Cichlids, Cichlids, Featured Articles, Freshwater Fish, Lake Victoria, West Africa and Madagascar, Tropical Fish Keeping, Tropical Fish SpeciesComments (0)

Fire Red Uganda Cichlid (Haplochromis s. “fire”)

Fire Red Uganda Cichlid (Haplochromis s. “fire”)

Fire Red Uganda Cichlid (Haplochromis s. “fire”)

Fire Red Uganda Cichlid (Haplochromis s. “fire”)

The Fire Red Uganda (Haplochromis s. “fire”) or (Paralabidochromis sp. “fire”) is known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as the Fire Red Ugandan, and is found in the Northern section of Lake Victoria and Lake Kyoga.

Fire Red Uganda Cichlid (Haplochromis s. “fire”)

Fire Red Uganda Cichlid (Haplochromis s. “fire”)

The Fire Red Uganda is a rock dwelling cichlid (mbipi) from the Ugandan shores of Lake Victoria that is easily identified by the grey color below the dorsal fin that runs into the “face” of the fish, and the brilliant crimson red/orange on the lower half of the body.

The caudal fin and the rear of the dorsal fin in adult males is a crimson red to reddish orange color, and the first five rays of the pectoral fins are jet black with the rest of the fin tinged red.   The anal fin has three to four yellow to orange “egg spots”.

A black bar, which becomes more pronounced when excited, runs through the eye from the top of the head to the lower jaw and two horizontal black bars cross the head on the forehead.

Females are a much more drab, steel silver to greenish color with the same black barring and are smaller than males.

Fire Red Uganda Cichlid (Haplochromis s. “fire”)

Fire Red Uganda Cichlid (Haplochromis s. “fire”)

The Fire Red Uganda cichlid is slightly less aggressive than most other rift valley cichlids and can be housed with other Victoria Lake cichlids and/or Lake Malawi M’buna.  Synodontis petricola and others can also be safely housed with them.

In a single species rocky rift valley lake setup, a single male with a harem of 5 or 6 females is a good mix.   Adding additional males may cause the dominant male to kill the interloper.

Fire Red Uganda cichlids are best housed in an aquarium of at least 40 gallon capacity, with a sand or fine gravel substrate, some limestone rocks piled up to form a few caves, and some bogwood planted with Anubias barteri if desired for aesthetics.

Some tropical fish keeping enthusiasts even keep floating plants like Riccia fluitans on the surface for shade, which the fish seem to enjoy.

Fire Red Uganda cichlids need good water quality and some water movement in their tank.    A bio-wheel filter or a wet/dry trickle filtration system with 25% to 30% weekly water changes is recommended.

The Fire Red Uganda like many other rock dwelling cichlids is a maternal mouth brooder.   A single male with 5 or 6 females will breed without any extra help.   The male will constantly display to the females and breed with several.    The female will hold the eggs in her mouth up to 3 weeks until hatched and brood them for 3 or 4 more days until the egg sacs of the fry are absorbed.

When released, the fry are able to eat crushed flake food or baby brine shrimp immediately.   The fry grow quickly and are for the most part ignored by the parents, but many tropical fish keeping enthusiasts remove the fry or strip them from the female after about 14 to 18 days into a separate rearing tank to reduce the mortality rate.

Fire Red Uganda eat insects, larvae, and small crustaceans in their natural environment.   In an aquarium environment they will eat just about anything you give them.   A good quality flake food or cichlid pellet along with live, frozen, or freeze dried bloodworms, krill, mosquito larvae, etc. will keep them healthy.   Feed them only once a day and take care not overfeed these cichlids.

The Fire Red Uganda Cichlid (Haplochromis s. “fire”) is occasionally misidentified as Harpagochromis sp. “Orange Rock Hunter”.    Although neither species is common in the aquarium trade, they are available online and from specialty tropical fish shops at premium prices.

Fire Red Uganda Cichlid (Haplochromis s. “fire”)

Fire Red Uganda Cichlid (Haplochromis s. “fire”)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 40 gallons
Care Level: Difficult
Temperament: Mildly Aggressive
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 74-79°F, dH 6-10 °d, pH 7.2-7.5
Max. Size: Males 3.25″ in the wild to 7″ in aquariums
Color Form: Silver, Black, Red, Yellow
Diet: Insectivore
Compatibility: Single species or Victoria/Malawi mbuna
Origin: Lake Victoria, Africa
Family: Cichlidae
Lifespan: 4-10 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Advanced

Posted in African Cichlids, Cichlids, Featured Articles, Freshwater Fish, Lake Victoria, West Africa and Madagascar, Tropical Fish Keeping, Tropical Fish SpeciesComments (0)

Crimson Tide Cichlid (Pundamilia nyererei)

Crimson Tide Cichlid (Pundamilia nyererei)

Crimson Tide Cichlid (Pundamilia nyererei)

Crimson Tide Cichlid (Pundamilia nyererei)

The Crimson Tide Cichlid (Pundamilia nyererei) known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as Nyerere’s Victoria Cichlid, Crimson Tide Flameback, or Flameback is only found along the shallow coast lines of several islands located at the southern end of Lake Victoria, East Africa.

All Pundamilia nyererei from Lake Victoria are beautiful and highly aggressive, even more so than many Malawi Mbuna cichlids.  Adult males are regarded as one of the most beautiful freshwater fish in the world.

Juvenile Crimson Tide Cichlids are a gray color with faint bars and yellowish tinged fins.   At this stage it is almost impossible to tell males from females.  As juveniles mature, the males change from their silver gray body color to a brilliant rainbow of colors that vary on geographic location.

Crimson Tide Cichlid (Pundamilia nyererei)

Crimson Tide Cichlid (Pundamilia nyererei)

Crimson Tide Cichlids are colored a vibrant red, black, green, and yellow with a black belly and dark vertical stripes that go from the belly to the back.

Females are a drab green gray color with black stripes.

Although males and females both have egg spots on their ventral fins, adult males have many more than the females.

Female Crimson Tide Cichlid (Pundamilia nyererei)

Crimson Tide Cichlid (Pundamilia nyererei)

A typical male will have anywhere from 5 to 10 spots.

Females grow slower than males and are always much smaller.   They also retain their gray green body color.

Some other common geographical color varieties are listed below:

  • Pundamilia nyererei (Anchor Island)
  • nyererei (Igombe Island)
  • nyererei (Luanza)
  • nyererei (Makobe Island)
  • nyererei (Mwanza Gulf)
  • nyererei (Python Island)
  • nyererei (Ruti Island)
  • sp. “blue bar” Hippo Point Blue Bar
  • sp. “crimson tide” Red Snout
  • igneopinnis Black & Orange Nyererei

Pundamilia nyererei are extremely aggressive and will defend their territories against any fish than interlopes.   Even in a highly stocked Lake Victorian cichlid tank, they will attack and kill any species of similar color, especially during breeding.   Housing a single male in a single species tank with at least 3 to 5 females is recommended to prevent males from harassing a single female to death.

In an African community tank environment, recommended tank mates include, Malawi Peacocks, Cichlids from Lake Victoria, mild tempered Mbunas like the Lemon Yellow Mbuna, and Synodontis Catfish.   Avoid placing them with cichlids from Lake Tanganyika.,

Crimson Tide Cichlids should be kept in at least an 80 gallon aquarium with a sparse layer of coral gravel or a sand as a substrate and plenty of lava rock work for hiding places.   Live plants are beautiful and improve water quality but this species will quickly uproot them.    Some tropical fish keeping enthusiasts use artificial plastic plants in the tank for aesthetics, but most natural plants will be uprooted by their digging activities.

Pundamilia nyererei require almost pristine water conditions so a couple of Bio-Wheels or a large capacity wet/dry filtration system is highly recommended, along with regular 20 to 30% water changes.

Crimson Tide Cichlids are maternal mouth brooders.    The female lays her eggs, the male immediately fertilizes them, and the female gently picks up the eggs in her mouth and broods them for about 3 weeks or so until she releases the the fry back into the aquarium.   The fry are able to eat baby brine shrimp, Daphnia, and crushed cichlid flakes immediately after being released.

In the wild, Crimson Tide Cichlids are rock dwelling insect pickers that feeds on insect larvae, small fish, and mosses.    In an aquarium environment they need a varied diet of live, frozen, or freeze dried foods such as bloodworms, mysis shrimp
, brine shrimp, a quality Cichlid flake or pellet, and and algae based food like spirulina flakes.   A varied diet is essential to prevent nutritional deficiencies.

The Crimson Tide Cichlid (Pundamilia nyererei) is not readily available to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts but are occasionally found in cichlid forums, from breeders, specialty tropical fish shops, importers, and online auction sites when they are 1 1/2″ size to adult breeding pairs, at premium prices.

Crimson Tide Cichlid (Pundamilia nyererei)

Crimson Tide Cichlid (Pundamilia nyererei)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 80 gallons
Care Level: Difficult
Temperament: Extremely Aggressive
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 74-78°F, dH 6-10 °d, pH 7.2-8.6
Max. Size: Males 3.25″ in the wild to 7″ in aquariums
Color Form: Silver, Black, Red, Yellow
Diet: Omnivore
Compatibility: Single species
Origin: Lake Victoria, Africa
Family: Cichlidae
Lifespan: 4-10 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Advanced

Posted in Cichlids, Featured Articles, Freshwater Fish, Lake Victoria, West Africa and Madagascar, Tropical Fish Keeping, Tropical Fish SpeciesComments (0)

Aulonocranus-dewindti

Aulonocranus dewindti

Aulonocranus-dewindti

Aulonocranus-dewindti

Aulonocranus dewindti is a species of “featherfin” cichlid that inhabit sandy bottom areas that are littered with rocks and empty shells in Lake Tanganyika, the Rusisi, and the Lukuga rivers.

Aulonocranus dewindti is endemic to and widely distributed throughout the Lake Tanganyika basin in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, and Zambia.

Aulonocranus dewindti are semi pelagic species that roam over sandy bottom areas of the Lake that are dotted with rocks and empty shells commonly referred to as “intermediate habitat”, where they feed on insect larvae, drifting plankton, and a variety of small crustaceans that hide in the sand.   They frequently occur in schools of several hindered fish.

Aulonocranus dewindti

Aulonocranus dewindti

Aulonocranus dewindti have a silvery body color that in males is marked with yellow longitudinal stripes.  They have a moderately elongated and compressed body shape, with a length that is approximately three times the height of the body.

They are called “featherfins” because of their long filamentous ventral fins that in adult males, reach to the anal fin.   Their caudal fins are crescent shaped.

Aulonocranus-dewindti

Aulonocranus-dewindti

Several color varieties occur and are dependent on locale.,

In addition to their two lateral lines, Aulonocranus dewindti have developed enlarged sensory pores on their heads that help them detect the plankton, insect larvae, and small crustaceans that they feed on under the sand.   Their lower triangularly shaped, slightly protruding lower jaw bone has two to three rows of small, conical teeth that assist them in their foraging.

Aulonocranus dewindti are best kept in an aquarium of at least 65 gallon capacity with a sand or very fine gravel substrate and plenty of shells, crushed corals and small rocks.   Featherfin cichlids are best kept in a single species tank, and although several males can be housed in the same aquarium if it is large enough, it’s best to keep a small harem of females for a single male.

In large tanks, several males can be kept together as long as at least three females are provided for each male, there are plenty of hiding places, and plenty of rocks, coral, shells, or even flowerpot pieces are provided for the males to create nests.

A good filtration system and weekly 25% to 35% water changes is required to maintain water quality for this species and a large capacity wet/dry and/or canister filtration system with a powerhead or two is highly recommended to keep these cichlids healthy.

Aulonocranus dewindti are maternal mouth brooders that are relatively easy to breed in an aquarium environment provided good water quality is maintained and a few tips are adhered to.

If the breeding aquarium is large and well decorated with an abundance of hiding places and nest building materials, a couple males can be kept with 6 or 7 females.   Although this is not a scientific ratio, it does minimize excessive aggression from a single dominant male.   A dominant male can harass females and submissive males to the point of death, and keeping more than one male in the tank will usually focus part of the dominant male’s attention on the other male and give the females a break.

Because Aulonocranus dewindti are nest builders, it is important to have a lot of building materials in the breeding tank.    Rocks, pieces of coral, shells, pieces of flowerpots, and flowerpots should be placed in the tank.   In the wild, adult males will set up breeding colonies to try to attract females and the males that build the most impressive nests usually get the female.

If you provide Aulonocranus dewindti with a suitable environment, nature will take over and the fish will take care of the rest on their own.   Generally, several females can be brooding their young simultaneously in the same tank without any problems.

Most tropical fish keeping enthusiasts allow the offspring to remain with the adults in the aquarium until their mother grows tired of them and wants to spawn again, but you can force brooding females to spit out the fry into a rearing tank filled with the same aquarium water as the breeding tank.   Regardless of which method is used, the female should be allowed to brood her fry for at least 10 days.    This allows the highest survival rate for the fry.

The fry can be immediately fed newly hatched brine shrimp and/or crushed flake food.   When raised on a balanced high protein diet, they will grow quickly should be about 1″ long in about a month or so.

In the wild Aulonocranus dewindti feed on small crustaceans, dipterans, and sand fly larvae.   In an aquarium environment, they do well on a balanced diet of live, frozen or freeze dried bloodworms, brine shrimp, Daphnia, mosquito larvae, mysis shrimp, cyclops, cichlid flakes, cichlid pellets, and an algae based food like spirulina flakes.   A varied diet will prevent nutritional deficiencies.

Aulonocranus dewindti are available to tropical fish keeping enthusiast through cichlid forums, breeders, specialty tropical fish shops, importers, and online auction sites when they are 1 1/2″ size to breeding size paired adults.

Aulonocranus-dewindti-Muzi-Polombwe-Bay

Aulonocranus-dewindti-Muzi-Polombwe-Bay

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 65 gallons
Care Level: Moderately difficult
Temperament: Mildly Aggressive
Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately hardy
Water Conditions: 76-80° F, H >120 ppm, pH 8.6
Max. Size: Males 4.5″
Color Form: Silver, Yellow
Diet: Omnivore
Compatibility: Single species
Origin: Lake Tanganyika, Africa
Family: Cichlidae
Lifespan: 8-10 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Advanced

Posted in African Cichlids, Cichlids, Featured Articles, Freshwater Fish, Lake Tanganyika Cichlids, Tropical Fish Keeping, Tropical Fish SpeciesComments (0)

Sardine Cichlid (Cyprichromis leptosoma)

Sardine Cichlid (Cyprichromis leptosoma)

Sardine Cichlid (Cyprichromis leptosoma)

The Sardine Cichlid (Cyprichromis leptosoma) known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as Slender Cichlid, Cyprichromis, or Slender Cyprichromis, is a small, colorful, sardine shaped open water species that is found only along the rocky eastern shoreline of Lake Tanganyika, between Kigoma in Tanzania, and Mpulugu in Zambia.   They are prized by tropical fish keeping enthusiasts for their mild temperament and dazzling colors

The Sardine Cichlid is an open water species that inhabits the intermediate zones and is found throughout Lake Tanganyika in deep water areas with rocky shores, sandy bottoms, and clean water.

Sardine Cichlid (Cyprichromis leptosoma)

Cyprichromis leptosoma is a peaceful, mid water, schooling species that in the wild live in schools that number into the thousands.

In an aquarium environment, they do best in groups of at least twelve or more specimens.

There are five (blue and yellow tailed) color variants of Cyprichromis leptosoma that occur over their 300 mile range listed below, and all are gorgeous.

  • Cyprichromis leptosoma “Kigoma” found around KigomaBlue-tailed males: Yellowish head with blue dorsal and anal fins.
    Yellow-tailed males: Yellowish head with white dorsal and anal fins.
  • Cyprichromis leptosoma “KARILANI” found around Bulu Point to Kasoje (including Karilani Island)Blue tailed males: Blue dorsal fin with a yellowish tinge and a single dark ocellus at the posterior tip. Yellow orange body.
    Yellow tailed males: Blue dorsal fin with no ocellus.
  • Cyprichromis leptosoma “IKOLA” found from Kasoje to IkolaBlue tailed males: Yellow dorsal fin.
    Yellow tailed males: Blue dorsal fin and bright yellow anal fin.
  • Cyprichromis leptosoma “MALASA LEPTOSOMA” found froum Utinta Bay to SamaziBlue tailed males: Blue dorsal fin. Some males may have a dark ocellus visible at the posterior tip.
    Yellow tailed males: Blue dorsal fin with a yellow ocellus at the posterior tip.
  • Cyprichromis leptosoma “MPULUNGU” found from Kasanga to MpulunguBlue tailed males: Light blue dorsal fin speckled with small, dark spots.
    Yellow tailed males: Blue dorsal fin with a black band along the base

Sardine Cichlid (Cyprichromis leptosoma)

Cyps are divided into four species and two groups:

  • leptosoma
          Jumbo
          Goldfin
  • microlepidotus
  • pavo
  • zonatus

Sardine Cichlids are virtually impossible to sex until they begin to reach breeding age, at which time they are impossible to miss.   Over a period of a few months, males develop striking colors.   The normal size varieties are brightly colored blue and yellow.  The larger “jumbo” varieties are yellow, lavender, pastel colored and often black.

Juvenile males will begin to occasionally shimmy or shake a little before they color up, which is usually when they are around an inch in length.

Because Sardine Cichlids (Cyprichromis leptosoma) are a gregarious open water species that frequent the upper layer of the water column, they should be housed in groups of at least 8 or more individuals in a long, deep tank of at least 55 gallon capacity to provide the amount of free swimming space they require.    Recommended decor inside the tank is a sandy or fine gravel substrate, with several piles of rock situated over the bottom.

Because good filtration is necessary to provide the pristine clean water they require; a wet/dry, canister, or bio wheel type filter is highly recommended, along with regular 20% to 30% water changes.

As a rule, Cyprichromis leptosoma are very peaceful and are often kept in a community tank environment with other Tanganyikan species that dwell in other areas of the tank.   Rock or shell dwelling species like Julidochromis or Altolamprologus are good choices, but don’t house them with boisterous species like Mbuna.

Males tend to jump a lot during their spawning displays so a tight fitting aquarium cover is highly recommended.

Sardine Cichlids are easy to breed and will frequently spawn in a community aquarium, but if you plan to raise the majority of fry to adulthood, breed them in a single species aquarium environment.

Unlike many mouth brooders, Cyprichromis are best kept in groups with about the same number of males as females.   Although groups of one or two males with two or three females per male also works well, and because males are much more colorful than females; you might just as well get equal numbers of males to females for your breeding tank.

Sardine Cichlids live and reproduce totally independent of the substrate, which makes them unlike any other mouth brooding cichlid species.

Place a breeding group in a wide tank as deep as possible, keep the pH at about 8.0 to 8.5, the temperature in the 75 to 85 degrees F range, and leave the fish to themselves.

The males will stake out and defend a territory in mid water and when a ripe females passes through it will display to her.   If she is ready to breed, she will follow him into his territory where spawning commences.

The female lays her eggs in mid water and catches them as they are dropping in the water column.   Males have egg shaped growths on the tip of their ventral fins that attract the females and when the female tries to add the “egg” growth to her brood, the male fertilizes all the eggs in her mouth.

The female will carry anywhere from 5 to 20 eggs in her mouth for up to 4 weeks before the fry are released to fend for themselves.    During this period, she does not eat.

Brooding females can be easily recognized by their “chewing” action as they move the eggs around in their mouths. If left in the breeding tank, the female will deposit the fry among the rocks where a good number will survive.

At about two weeks, many breeders will strip the fry from the female’s mouth into a separate rearing tank to raise them.   This approach results in a greater number of fry being raised to adulthood.   However, unless you are breeding them commercially or the female is being harassed by other males, it’s best to leave her in the breeding tank with the breeding group.

The fry will eat baby brine shrimp as soon as they are released from the female’s mouth and are usually not harmed by adult Sardine Cichlids.

In their natural habitat, Cyprichromis leptosoma feed primarily on zooplankton, flying insects, insect larvae, and small crustaceans.   In an aquarium environment, they do well on a diet of live, frozen, or freeze dried brine shrimp, Daphnia, freeze dried cyclops, etc., and a quality cichlid flake food.

Although Sardine Cichlids (Cyprichromis leptosoma) are not common, they are occasionally available in specialty fish shops but are more easily acquired from online auction sites, cichlid forums, etc. when they are approximately 1″ or more in size.

Despite the demand for this species, they are usually reasonably priced.

Sardine Cichlid (Cyprichromis leptosoma)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 55 gallons
Care Level: Moderate
Temperament: Peaceful
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 75-82° F, pH 7.8-9.0, H 10-25°
Max. Size: 4″
Color Form: Blue, Yellow
Diet: Carnivore
Compatibility: Tanganyikan Community or single species tanks
Origin: Lake Tanganyika, Africa
Family: Cichlidae
Lifespan: 8-10 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Advanced

Posted in African Cichlids, Cichlids, Featured Articles, Freshwater Fish, Lake Tanganyika Cichlids, Tropical Fish Keeping, Tropical Fish SpeciesComments (0)

Wild Caught Red Devil Cichlid (Amphilophus labiatus).

Red Devil Cichlid (Amphilophus labiatus)

Wild Caught Red Devil Cichlid (Amphilophus labiatus).

The Red Devil Cichlid (Amphilophus labiatus) is a large Central American species that is usually found in submerged rocky areas hiding among the crevices in Lake Managua and Lake Nicaragua.

Tropical fish keeping enthusiasts will readily attest that the Red Devil Cichlid is one of the most aggressive cichlids around, bar none. Keeping a single male can only be done safely in a large single species tank, regardless of size.

Red Devil Cichlids are often confused with the Midas Cichlid (Amphilophus citrinellus). Wild Red Devil cichlids have large lips, smaller nuchal humps, and are less “stocky” than Amphilophus citrinellus.

Because of hybridization by tropical fish keeping enthusiasts to achieve different colors and patterns, pure bred specimens of either species are becoming increasingly difficult to obtain.

Red Devil Cichlid (Amphilophus labiatus)

Although the majority of wild caught Red Devil Cichlids are a nondescript gray color, a few wild specimens have an orange or red color pattern.

These fish have been selectively bred to produce different color patterns for the aquarium trade including, grey, yellow, orange, red, white, barred, and piebald forms.

Mature male Red Devil Cichlids are larger, stockier, and develop longer dorsal and anal fins than females.  The nuchal humps that develop during the breeding season in their natural environment is larger and more spectacular in males than in females.   Aquarium bred specimens often posses large permanent humps that demand higher prices.

Because of their viscous temperament, Amphilophus labiatus are best kept in a single species aquarium of at least 80 gallon capacity with a sand and large gravel substrate, some large river rocks constructed into caves, a large flowerpot, and some large driftwood branches.  Plants are not recommended as they will be quickly dug up and shredded.

Because of their greedy, messy feeding habits, Red Devil cichlids produce large amounts of biological waste.  Weekly water changes are a must and a trickle filter or a large canister filter system, along with a power head, is highly recommended to provide the clean, highly oxygenated water they require.

Be sure to protect your heaters, filters, air lines, water intakes and outlets, etc. from being attacked by the fish when they become excited or aggressive.   A heavy aquarium cover is recommended to keep the fish from jumping out of the tank when they become excited or startled.

If you have the space and can afford to keep Red Devil Cichlids in a community aquarium environment, a tank of at least 300 gallons is required to minimize aggression and keep them from killing the other inhabitants.

In this setting they can be housed with large Loricariids, large catfish, other Central American cichlids, and other large fast swimming species like tinfoil barbs or silver sharks however, even in this setting, a single male may murder everything else in the tank.   NEVER try keeping more than a single male in one tank regardless of size.

Red Devil Cichlid (Amphilophus labiatus).

If you can get a compatible pair of the same species, Red Devil Cichlids are easy to breed.

A large breeding tank at least 6 feet long decorated with large rocks and several heavy flowerpots to act as potential spawning sites is needed.

The trick is to successful breeding is to keep the pair from killing each other before they breed. If the pair is placed in the tank together, the male will often kill the female. Some breeders place a clear divider in the tank until the fish get used to each other, but even then mortalities occur.   Most breeders purchase 6 to 8 young specimens, wait for a pair to form, and then remove the other fish from the tank before they are murdered.

A “mated” pair will breed without any outside help. The nuchal hump in both sexes will grow larger when the fish are in spawning condition. Courtship is long, often violent, and consists of gaping, a lot of tail slapping and a lot of digging by both fish. The female will often rub her lateral line along the hump of the male.

If the male does not turn and kill the female, the female will lay her eggs in a cave, flowerpot, or any vertical rock surface in the tank. The male fertilizes the eggs which hatch in about 2 to 3 days.

Red Devil Cichlids are excellent parents and will fiercely defend the eggs and fry against all intruders, including the tropical fish keeping enthusiast should they try doing any tank maintenance. The parents move the newly hatched fry into a pit that they excavate in the substrate where they become free swimming in about 5 to 7 days.

Many breeders install a divider at this stage to keep the female from the male.

Don’t remove the fry from the tank or the male will try to spawn with the female a second time.   If the female is not ready to participate, the male will often kill the female.

The free swimming fry have a barred body pattern and can be fed newly hatched brine shrimp and dried flakes.   They grow very quickly under the right conditions, and will start to change color at around 2″ to 2.5″ in size.

Red Devil Cichlids are not fussy feeders and will try to eat anything that looks edible.   They do well on a quality floating cichlid stick with supplemental feedings of live, frozen, or freeze dried prawn, mussels, shrimp, earthworms, peas, spinich,etc.   Do not feed them red meats, beef hearts, or feeder fish.

Despite the Red Devil Cichlids (Amphilophus labiatus) nature and reputation as a killer, they are one of the most popular aquarium species.   They quickly learn to recognize their owners and will intelligently interact with them.   They will actually “beg” for food when their owners are recognized entering a room.

Amphilophus labiatus are readily available to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts online, from specialty fish shops, online auction sites, and cichlid forums in a wide range of sizes at reasonable prices.

 

Red Devil Cichlid (Amphilophus labiatus) Piebald

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 100 gallons
Care Level: Difficult
Temperament: Super Aggressive
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 69.8-78.8° F, KH 5-25, pH 6.0-8.0
Max. Size: 13”
Color Form: Gray, Orange, Red, Yellow
Diet: Omnivore
Compatibility: Single species tank
Origin: Nicaragua, Costa Rica
Family: Cichlidae
Lifespan: 10-15 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Advanced

Posted in Central American Cichlids, Cichlids, Featured Articles, Freshwater Fish, New World CichlidsComments (2)

Honeycomb Catfish (Centromochlus perugiae)

Honeycomb Catfish (Centromochlus perugiae)

Honeycomb-Catfish-Centromochlus-perugiae

Honeycomb-Catfish-Centromochlus-perugiae

The Honeycomb Catfish (Centromochlus perugiae) known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as the Oil Catfish or Driftwood Catfish is found around the shorelines of swiftly flowing rivers and streams in Ecuador and Peru.

Centromochlus perugiae are usually collected over sandy substrates in areas with little to no aquatic vegetation.

Honeycomb Catfish are a small, peaceful, nocturnal species that are ideally suited for South American biotope aquariums or other peaceful community tanks. During the day, they hide among rocks, logs, or bogwood in spaces barely large enough for them to get into, and at dusk come out to greedily forage on small insects, crustaceans, larvae, worms, etc.

Honeycomb Catfish (Centromochlus perugiae)

The Honeycomb Catfish is covered with irregular black splotches over a white body and has translucent fins.

Adults develop a hint of yellow from the snout to just behind the dorsal fin and have blue irises.   Males have an extended anal fin similar in use to the gonopodium possessed by live bearers.

Females are much rounder when viewed from above, especially when gravid.

Honeycomb Catfish are best housed in a dimly lit riverine aquarium of at least 10 gallon capacity with a sandy substrate, plenty of bogwood, and a enough smooth river rocks for them to hide among.   They need a current in their tank so a bio-wheel filter or small power head is necessary to replicate their natural habitat.

Honeycomb Catfish  are often housed with tetras, dwarf cichlids, Corydoras sp. and any of the smaller Loricariids.

Because Honeycomb Catfish cannot see red wavelengths, many tropical fish keeping enthusiasts use a red spectrum LED to view them feeding at night or during the evening hours.

Centromochlus perugiae are easy to breed under the right conditions.   They will not spawn if the breeding tank does not have enough water flow and enough small crevices for them to deposit their eggs. Many tropical fish keeping enthusiasts use small pieces of 1/2″ or smaller diameter PVC pipe with great success, but moderate to strong water flow is essential for successful spawning.

Like other Aurhcnipterids, Honeycomb catfish fertilize their eggs internally through the use of the male’s modified anal fin.

Once the eggs are deposited, the female will guard them until they hatch out. Most breeders will immediately separate the fry from the parents at this stage to avoid predation and relocate them into a rearing tank with an aged sponge filter and some Riccia or other floating fine leaved plant.

In about a week, after the yolk sacs are absorbed and the fry become free swimming, they can be fed newly hatched brine shrimp, microworms, etc.   The fry hide off the substrate near the surface among the floating plants and like the adults will feed only at night or in dark conditions.

In their natural environment, Honeycomb Catfish feed on insects, worms, small crustaceans, and occasionally filamentous algae.   In an aquarium environment, they are voracious eaters that will accept live, frozen, or freeze dried bloodworms, tubifex, earthworms, brine shrimp, red wrigglers, and sinking pellets.

Feed them after the lights are turned off over the aquarium.

Honeycomb Catfish (Centromochlus perugiae) are not a common item in tropical fish keeping shops but are occasionally available online at a variety of auction, forum, wholesale, and retail sites when they are 1.25″ to 2″ in size.

Honeycomb Catfish (Centromochlus perugiae)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
Care Level: Moderate
Temperament: Peaceful
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 75-86°C, 1-25°H, pH 4.9-8.0
Max. Size: 2.5″
Color Form: Black, White
Diet: Omnivore
Compatibility: Shoaling, Community
Origin: Ecuador, Peru
Family: Auchenipteridae
Lifespan: 5-8 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner

Posted in Catfish, Featured Articles, Freshwater Fish, Tropical Fish SpeciesComments (0)

Gold Head Compressiceps (Altolamprologus compressiceps) Female

Gold Head Compressiceps (Altolamprologus compressiceps)

Gold Head Compressiceps (Altolamprologus compressiceps)

The Gold Head Compressiceps (Altolamprologus compressiceps) is known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as the Golden Head Compressiceps, Goldhead, or Goldface Compressiceps, and is found from Malasa, Tanzania to Chituta, Zambia at the Southern end of LakeTanganyika.   Most Goldenhead are collected near Mutondwe Island in Zambia.

The Gold Head Compressiceps is indigenous to Lake Tanganyika and lives in rocky areas with a mature cover of biofilm, in close proximity to sandy shell littered bottoms, at depths of 3 to 45 feet or more where they feed on invertebrates, crustaceans, small shrimp, and juvenile fish.

All Compressiceps (or Comps) are predators that specialize in ferreting out young cichlids and invertebrates from between the rocky crevices.   Their laterally compressed body shape and armored scales enables them to easily get into tight, narrow, cracks in the rocks where their prey are normally hiding.

In an aquarium environment, do not keep them with fish smaller than one inch in length or with fry of other species.

Gold Head Compressiceps (Altolamprologus compressiceps) Female

Adult Gold Head Compressiceps have a laterally compressed body, a sloping forehead, a turned up snout, and yellow bodies with faint to bold black tiger like stripes and white to blue spots on the back two thirds of their flanks and a gold to yellow head.

Males are higher bodied, possess more elongated fins, are boldly colored with slightly more intense spots, and are larger than females. Females have duller colors and smaller bodies.

This species varies greatly in color pattern depending on the locality where they are collected.

Compressiceps are close relatives to Altolamprologus calvus and can be distinguished by their shorter

Gold Head Compressiceps (Altolamprologus compressiceps)

jaws and turned up snout. Calvus have a long sloping face, less distinct bars, and more distinct spots.

The Gold Head Compressiceps is best housed as a single pair in an aquarium of at least 55 gallon capacity decorated with numerous lava rocks piled into complex structures, and a thin layer of African Rift Lake sand or gravel  substrate to cover the bottom of the tank.

In larger tanks, they can be kept in larger groups or in a community environment with other carnivorous Tanganyikan species.    Avoid Tropheus and other species that require a low protein diet.

Good filtration is a necessary and a bio-wheel or wet/dry filtration system is highly recommended to maintain water quality.    Weekly 50% of total volume water changes is considered mandatory for this species.

Gold Head Compressiceps are substrate spawners.   In their natural habitat the female will breed in a cave or a large shell that is too small for the male to enter.   Pairs form loose bonds and although the male may prefer one female over others in the tank, they are polygamous and will raise multiple families at one time.

Create several “spawning caves” or provide a pair or pairs with large sea shells large enough for the female to enter, but too small for the male.

The pair will perform their mating ritual and the female will lay anywhere from 100-200 eggs in the cave.   The male does not need to enter the cave to fertilize the eggs.   He will release his milt at the entrance of the cave and the pair will fan the milt inside of the cave to fertilize the eggs.

The female will stay inside the cave until the eggs hatch out, which takes about a week.   When the fry are free swimming, they will eventually leave the cave on their own.   The pair normally ignore the fry after they leave the protection of the cave.

Females in good condition can spawn every 25 to 35 days.

Gold Head Compressiceps fry develop very slowly and can be fed baby brine shrimp, crushed flake food, Daphnia, bloodworms, tubifex, etc. as they grow.

Although Gold Head Compressiceps will accept dry carnivore flakes or pellets in an aquarium environment, they should also be fed live, frozen, or freeze dried brine shrimp, bloodworms, mysis shrimp, chopped earthworms, ghost shrimp, etc.   Because of the potential of parasites, it is not a good idea to give them feeder fish.

Gold Head Compressiceps (Altolamprologus compressiceps) are a popular, somewhat rare Cichlid that is occasionally available online on Cichlid forums, from auction sites, direct importers, and from specialty fish shops, when they are 1″ to 1.5″ in length.

Like many species from Lake Tanganyika, a plethora of color morphs are occasionally available from retailers but the Gold Head morph which has a naturally gold head and a black body, is only found near Mutondwe Island in Zambia at the southern end of Lake Tanganyika.

Gold Head Compressiceps (Altolamprologus compressiceps)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 55 gallons
Care Level: easy
Temperament: Aggressive
Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately hardy
Water Conditions: 72-82° F, KH 10-20, pH 7.8-9.0
Max. Size: Males 5″, Females 4″
Color Form: Black, Tan, Yellow
Diet: Carnivore
Compatibility: Tanganyikan community setups
Origin: Lake Tanganyika, Africa
Family: Cichlidae
Lifespan: 8-10 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Advanced

Posted in African Cichlids, Featured Articles, Freshwater Fish, Lake Tanganyika Cichlids, Tropical Fish Keeping, Tropical Fish SpeciesComments (0)

Dwarf Sumbu Shell Compressiceps (Altolamprologus compressiceps sp.) "Sumbu Shell"

Dwarf Sumbu Shell Compressiceps Cichlid (Altolamprologus compressiceps sp.) “Sumbu Shell”

Dwarf Sumbu Shell Compressiceps (Altolamprologus compressiceps sp.) “Sumbu Shell”

 

Dwarf Sumbu Shell Compressiceps Cichlid (Altolamprologus compressiceps sp.) “Sumbu Shell” is also known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as the Sumbu Shell, Sumbu Dwarf Compressiceps, or Sumbu Shell Compressiceps and is found in the southernmost tip of Lake Tanganyika around Ndole Bay near Zambia, Africa.

Dwarf Sumbu Shell Compressiceps (Altolamprologus compressiceps sp.) “Sumbu Shell”

Dwarf Sumbu Shell Compressiceps have a high back, laterally compressed body shape with eight dark horizontal stripes over a dark brown to red, yellow, or rusty orange body.

They have a deep mouth and as they mature the ends of their dorsal, pectoral, and caudal fins turn yellow to yellow/orange. Both sexes are identical in color but males are twice to two thirds larger than females, and can grow to almost 3.5″ in their natural habitat.   Just prior to spawning, females will develop a more rounded belly.

The Dwarf Sumbu Shell Compressiceps is a natural shell dweller which inhabit and breed in Neothauma tanganyicense shells.

Dwarf Sumbu Shell Compressiceps do best in a long aquarium of at least 20 gallon capacity, with a sand or fine gravel substrate decorated with rock piles and plenty of Neothauma tanganyicense (or similar) shells.    Anubias spp. can be added for decoration but is not necessary.    Water quality is important and 20% of total volume water changes should be considered mandatory for this species.

This species is best housed in pairs or one male with two females.   These fish are very aggressive towards each other, and although they tend to leave other tank mates alone, they can become extremely aggressive to other species during spawning.

All Altolamprologus species are secretive substrate spawners that lay their eggs in a shell, cave, or even a flowerpot too small for the male to enter.

Dwarf Sumbu Shell Compressiceps are considered difficult to spawn in an aquarium environment, primarily because they take such a long time to reach breeding age.

Dwarf Sumbu Shell Compressiceps usually form pairs and will spawn in Neothauma tanganyicense shells. They often practice polygamy if an excess of females are present in the breeding tank.

The Neothauma tanganyicense shells are for the female to retreat into and lay her eggs in, and should be just large enough for the female to almost fit.

The female will pick out one particular shell to use as her “home” and when ready to spawn, the pair will turn a dark (almost black) color as the male displays himself to the female in front of the female’s shell.

When the female deposits her eggs, the male will fertilize them, and she will then guard the opening to prevent the male from eating the eggs.

After spawning occurs, the female will remain in her shell for a week or more guarding the eggs.   During this period she will not eat.   The male does not usually harass the female during this period.

Until hatching occurs the female is the sole caregiver of anywhere from 15 to 25 fry.   Once the fry are released from the shell, both parents basically ignore the fry and will normally not eat them.

The fry are light colored, cylindrical shaped, and can be fed a combination of crushed flake food, newly hatched brine shrimp, microworms, etc. when they are noticed in the tank and do not require any other special care.

Dwarf Sumbu Shell Compressiceps feed on invertebrates, crustaceans, and smaller fish in their natural habitat and are relatively easy to feed in an aquarium environment. They will accept live, frozen, or freeze dried brine shrimp, bloodworms, tubifex, chopped earthworms, etc.

Although they will devour fish smaller than themselves, live feeder fish are not recommended due to the possibility of parasite transmission.

Dwarf Sumbu Shell Compressiceps (Altolamprologus compressiceps sp.) “Sumbu Shell” are not common in the aquarium trade and when available demand a premium.   They can be purchased from tropical fish keeping enthusiasts on Cichlid forums online, from specialty tropical fish shops, auction sites, and importers when they are 1.25″ to 1.5″ or more in size.

Dwarf Sumbu Shell Compressiceps (Altolamprologus compressiceps sp.) “Sumbu Shell”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallons
Care Level: Moderately easy
Temperament: Semi aggressive
Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately hardy
Water Conditions: 76-82° F, pH 7.6-8.6, GH 7-11°
Max. Size: 3″
Color Form: Blue
Diet: Carnivore
Compatibility: Best kept in single species tanks
Origin: Lake Tanganyika, Africa
Family: Cichlidae
Lifespan: 10 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Advanced

Posted in Cichlids, Featured Articles, Freshwater Fish, Lake Tanganyika Cichlids, Tropical Fish KeepingComments (0)

Electric Blue Ahli (Sciaenochromis Fryeri) “Maleri Island”

 

Electric Blue Ahli (Sciaenochromis Fryeri) “Maleri Island”

The Electric Blue Ahli (Sciaenochromis Fryeri) “Maleri Island” known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts simply as the Electric Blue Ahli Cichlid is a popular, stunningly brilliant blue Haplochromis widespread throughout Lake Malawi, and native to the waters around Maleri Island.

Although the Electric Blue Ahli is widely distributed throughout Lake Malawi, it is more concentrated along the rocky parts of the shoreline and intermediate sandy zones beyond them off of Maleri Island within the lake.

Electric Blue Ahli are a carnivorous, highly piscivorous, “hap” species that feed primarily on the young of other species in the lake, such as Copadichromis.

Male Sciaenochromis fryeri develop a brilliant “electric” blue color that covers the face and body down to the tail fin. Their anal and pelvic fins are colored red, and a red blaze runs along the top of their head, dorsal, and caudal fins.

Adult males grow to 7″ in length and acquire a stunning “electric blue” color that can vary in intensity on the mood of the fish. The color becomes more outstanding during breeding.

Females are much more plain in color and are normally slightly smaller than the males.

Electric Blue Ahli (Sciaenochromis Fryeri) “Maleri Island”

Electric Blue Ahli (Sciaenochromis Fryeri) “Maleri Island” female

Juvenile Sciaenochromis Fryeri are all the same color which makes them somewhat difficult to sex.

The Electric Blue Ahli is not considered to be an especially aggressive African Cichlid but is quite robust and should not be kept with mbuna.   They do well with Nimbochromis venustus, Cyrtocara moorii, the Intermedius, Protomelas, Copadichromis, and the Blue Dolphin cichlid.   They can also be housed with Aulonocara provided enough space is available.   They should not be housed with any similarly colored species.

Unless you keep Electric Blue Ahli in a very large tank, keep only one male in the tank with several females to reduce harassment.

Take extra care with introducing tank mates because male Sciaenochromis fryeri are known to spawn with females of other genera, particularly Aulonocara.

Electric Blue Ahli are best housed in an aquarium of at least 90 gallon capacity with a sandy or fine gravel substrate and plenty of rockwork piled into a network of caves for them to set up territories and seek protection. Provide them with plenty of swimming space.

Because Sciaenochromis fryeri are native to the hard alkaline waters of Lake Malawi, additives like Cichlid Lake Salt and Malawi/Victoria Buffer is recommended to condition the tank water.   Regular water changes are also recommended.

Electric Blue Ahli are not particularly difficult to breed.  They are maternal mouth brooders and can be spawned in a species tank of at least 55 gallon capacity using one male and a harem of at least three females. Keep the pH in the tank at 8.2 – 8.5 and keep the temperature at 77-80°F.

Furnish the tank with a fine gravel or sandy substrate and provide some flat sloping rocks to act as a potential spawning site.

Some breeders believe that conditioning the fish on a quality diet consisting of mainly vegetable matter aids in spawning, but regardless, spawning in an aquarium environment differs somewhat from their natural spawning activity.

In their natural habitat, Electric Blue Ali construct large conical structures around rocks and spawning occurs in the crater that is formed at the top of the cones.

In an aquarium, the males cordon off territories in the area of sloping rocks, particularly those facing a flow of current in the tank.   The males may or may not build layers of gravel or substrate around them.

Once the site is chosen and prepared, the male will flick around the area and color up in an effort to entice a female to spawn. Males can be very forceful when perusing the females which is why several females should be included in the spawning tank.

Once a female is attracted by the male, she will approach the rock and start laying individual eggs, one at a time, at the top.   The eggs will roll down the rock to the waiting male who uses his anal fin to catch each egg and release his milt to fertilize it.

After the fertilization of each egg occurs, the female takes it into her mouth while the male dances around and displays his colors. The spawning process is repeated until the female is holding anywhere from 50 to 75 eggs.

The female will carry the eggs for about 3 weeks before releasing the free swimming fry. During this period  she will not eat and is easily recognizable by her distended mouth.

If a female becomes overly stressed, she may prematurely spit out the brood or even eat them.   Many breeders remove the female at this stage to avoid predation of the fry but she should be placed back into the tank as soon as the fry are free swimming in order to preserve her status in the “pecking order” of the harem and regain her status in the group.

If the Electric Blue Ahli are breeding in a community tank and you want to raise the fry, you may have no choice but to remove the female.

Some professional breeders achieve good results by artificially stripping the fry from the mother’s mouth at the 2 week stage and raising them from that point in a separate brooding tank.

From birth, the fry are large enough to accept baby brine shrimp, daphnia, microworms, or powdered fry foods.

Electric Blue Ahli cichlids are predatory carnivores in their natural habitat and should be fed a high protein diet that includes a variety of foods.   Larger Ahli will accept cichlid pellets nixed with plankton based flakes.  Juvenile Sciaenochromis Fryeri do well on beef heart flakes.   All should be provided regular feedings of live, frozen, or freeze dried brine shrimp, blood worms, prawn, etc. to ensure that the fish display their brightest electric blue colors.

Remember that Electric Blue Ahli are true piscivores and will eat any fish that they can get into their mouths. Do not feed animal meat of any kind to these cichlids.

Electric Blue Ahli (Sciaenochromis Fryeri) “Maleri Island” is a popular species that was previously imported and classified as Sciaenochromis ahli.   They are available to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts from a variety of sources online and from specialty fish shops as juveniles and paired adults at reasonable prices.

Many morphs exist and although males of all these exhibit the characteristic electric blue coloration, they differ only in fin patterning and coloration.    Do not mix morphs with pure strains or they will hybridize.

 

Electric Blue Ahli (Sciaenochromis Fryeri) “Maleri Island”

Electric Blue Ahli (Sciaenochromis Fryeri) “Maleri Island”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 90 gallons
Care Level: Easy
Temperament: Semi aggressive
Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately hardy
Water Conditions: 76-82° F, pH 7.6-8.8, 10-25°H
Max. Size: Male 7″, Females 6″
Color Form: Blue
Diet: Carnivore
Compatibility: Best kept in larger species tanks
Origin: Lake Malawi, Africa
Family: Cichlidae
Lifespan: 5-10 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner to Advanced

Posted in Featured Articles, Lake Malawi Cichlids, Tropical Fish KeepingComments (0)

LED over 55 gallon tank

LED Lighting

LED Lighting has many advantages over other types of lighting for freshwater, brackish,  and marine aquarium applications.

First of all, LED stands for Light Emitting Diode.

Strip Light Diodes

A diode is an electrical component that has two terminals that conduct energy in only one direction.

When an electrical current is applied to a diode, it excites the electrons in the diode making them release photons which we recognize as a bright light.

The colors that LEDs produce is a direct result of the energy gap in the semiconductor of the diode.   This means that LEDs produce a bright spectrum of colors easily, and use very little electricity in doing so.

As of this writing, LED lighting is now the most energy efficient lighting available to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts.

They use 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs and last 25 times longer.   Compared to CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lighting) bulbs, they last at least twice as long.

LED bulbs and are more efficient than both CFL and incandescent bulbs because they emit light in a targeted direction, instead of scattering the light around like CFL and incandescent bulbs.

LED bulbs are cooler than other bulbs.   CFL and incandescent bulbs release 80 to 90% of their energy as heat.

Most tropical fish keeping enthusiasts, especially those keeping several tanks, have found that the dramatic energy savings, amazing color and shimmer effects, and long lamp life provided by LED lighting is well worth the higher initial cost of the lamps.

LEDs are available in a multitude of color spectrums and combinations for use in freshwater and saltwater.   They are dimmable and can be adjusted for brightness and color blending.

When using multiple color spectrums for growing plants or keeping corals, individual colors can be dimmed or brightened as desired.

If you are looking for magic lighting that will really bring out the colors in your marine corals; purchase an LED unit with a light output in the actinic royal blue range.

The actinic will magically make the colors in your corals really stand out.   If you keep soft polyp corals and zoanthids, blend in a little magenta to pump up the purples, greens, and orange colors.

Because LEDs are dimmable, programming units with timers are furnished by most manufacturers to simulate daylight and night time reef conditions. Programmable units are also used for freshwater applications to simulate a variety of unique lighting conditions found in South American rain forests.

Although LEDs do not transfer heat directly into the aquarium, they do generate a fair amount of heat upward, and should be provided adequate air circulation so the LED chip is not prematurely degraded.   Proper ventilation around the heat sink is always necessary and recommended.

LED lights provide an intense point source light which creates amazing shimmer and glimmer effects in freshwater and marine aquariums.   Plain white LEDs produce the most shimmer, and strong surface rippling is not really necessary to create a shimmer in your tank.

With all the good things to say about LED lighting, there are some DON’Ts you also need to be aware of:

  • Don’t get LEDs wet.

Even though your LED may be water resistant, or water proof; that does not mean it can be submerged and used underwater. Exposing LED lights to water for any length of time will damage the LED circuit board and no doubt cause your heat sink and/or hardware to corrode.

  • Don’t allow salt creep or mineral deposits on the LED strips.

It is important to always keep your LED lights clean and free of salt creep or mineral deposits to prevent premature failure. Mineral deposits in freshwater tanks and salt creep in marine tanks cause corrosion that will quickly damage the heat sink and the LED.

  • Don’t keep LEDs close to metal halides, compact fluorescents, or T5HO lamps.

Heat is the enemy of LED lights and any electrical component. Never mount them too close to other types of lighting (especially metal halide lights). The heat generated can dramatically decrease the lifespan of an LED.

  • Don’t burn your corals.

LED lighting can be very intense, and sudden changes in light brightness can sometimes cause some corals to expel their zooxanthellae and “burn” or “bleach white.”

It is extremely important to slowly acclimate marine corals to new LED lights. Some manufacturers of LED lighting for marine applications provide a “Coral Acclimation Guide” to walk the aquarist through the acclimation steps.

LED light bulbs keep improving in efficiency and quality.

When they were first introduced, LED lighting was far more expensive than other bulbs on the market, however, their costs have since come down dramatically.

For tropical fish keeping applications, LED lighting systems are sometimes the most expensive on the shelf, but economically, their much longer lifetimes, lower power consumption, color combination possibilities, and dimmable/ programmable qualities can usually justify their higher initial cost.

Posted in Featured Articles, Lighting, Tropical Fish Keeping EquipmentComments (0)

Green Phantom Pleco (Hemiancistrus subviridis) L200

Green Phantom Pleco (Hemiancistrus subviridis) L200

Green Phantom Pleco (Hemiancistrus subviridis) L200

Green Phantom Pleco (Hemiancistrus subviridis) L200

The Green Phantom Pleco (Hemiancistrus subviridis) L200 is only collected from the areas around the junction of the río Ventauri and the río Orinoco in Amazonas state, Venezuela, and in the lower reaches of the Ventauri as far as the inward flowing río Guapuchi.

The Green Phantom Pleco is found in fast moving, highly oxygenated, rocky areas of the Orinoco and Ventuari Rivers in Colombia and Venezuela, in the spaces between the granite bedrock and boulders.

Hemiancistrus subviridis is easily confused with Baryancistrus demantoides in appearance and color, and the two occur in the same geographic area in their natural habitat.

Baryancistrus demantoides is less common than Hemiancistrus subviridis and is usually more expensive, but both are marketed under the DATZ code L200, with Baryancistrus demantoides referred to as “L200a” or “L200 high fin”.    The L200a has a relatively higher dorsal fin and an enlarged membrane that connects the dorsal and adipose fins.

Green Phantom Pleco (Hemiancistrus subviridis) L200

Green Phantom Pleco (Hemiancistrus subviridis) L200

The Green Phantom Pleco has a light olive green body color with yellow spots covering most of the body from the midsection towards the head and yellow highlights in their fins.   Adult males have a broader, somewhat flatter head and longer pectoral fin spines than the females.

Although juveniles are peaceful, as they age they become more territorial and aggressive towards conspecifics, especially the males.

The Green Phantom Pleco is often kept in tanks with medium to large characids,  with few if any other bottom dwellers.

In very large tanks, small groups can be kept together provided their rocky territories are clearly designated when laying out the decor.

The Green Phantom Pleco is best housed in a 55 gallon or larger aquarium designed to simulate a flowing stream with a substrate of sand, various sized rocks, fine gravel and some larger water worn boulders constructed into caves.    Some  driftwood roots or branches and hardy aquatic plants attached to the decor can be added for aesthetics, but bright lighting is necessary to grow algae and aufrwuchs that the pleco feeds on.

Like most species that frequent fast flowing rivers and streams, the Green Phantom Pleco is intolerant to organic wastes and requires spotlessly clean water in order to survive.   A canister filter with at least two power heads is needed, along with mandatory 40 to 70% weekly water changes to maintain water quality.

The Green Phantom Pleco is a cave spawner that has been bred in an aquarium environment.    After the eggs are deposited and fertilized in the cave, the female is ejected and the male takes up residence at  the entrance  to guard the eggs and later attend to the brood until they reach the free swimming stage.

Success depends entirely on providing well oxygenated, spotlessly clean water conditions and an excellent high protein diet.

In the wild, Green Phantom Plecos are omnivores that feed on aufwuchs, organic and mineral sediment from submerged rocks and bolders. In an aquarium environment they can be fed a high quality sinking dried food, live or frozen bloodworms, slices of fresh zucninni or other vegetables, and an occasional defrosted piece of shrimp or prawn. In a well lit tank, a growth of aufwuchs should be allowed to grow on the surfaces so the fish can graze naturally.

Many tropical fish keeping enthusiasts prepare home made recipes of pureed fish food, fruit, vegetables, and shrimp or prawn for their Green Phanton Plecos with a great deal of success.

Imported Green Phantom Plecos have a high metabolic rate and are often undernourished or plagued by health issues when they reach the retailer. They should be given plenty of time to acclimate and an extended period of quarantine before being introduced into a system.

Both the Green Phantom Pleco (Hemiancistrus subviridis) L200 and (Baryancistrus demantoides) L200a are not common in the aquarium trade and tropical fish keeping enthusiasts can expect to pay a higher price for both when they are available. Importers, specialty fish shops, and several online auction sites occasionally have them available at a moderate cost.

Green Phantom Pleco (Hemiancistrus subviridis) L200

Green Phantom Pleco (Hemiancistrus subviridis) L200

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 55 gallons
Care Level: Extensive
Temperament: Peaceful
Aquarium Hardiness: Relatively Hardy
Water Conditions: 78-86°F, H 18 – 179 ppm, pH 5.5 – 7.5
Max. Size: 6″
Color Form: Green, Yellow
Diet: Omnivore
Compatibility: Riverine tank
Origin: Colombia, Venezuela
Family: Loricariidae
Life Span: 8 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Experienced

Posted in Featured Articles, Freshwater Fish, Plecostomus, Tropical Fish KeepingComments (0)

Flash Pleco (Panaqolus albivermis) L204

Flash Pleco (Panaqolus albivermis) L204

Flash Pleco (Panaqolus albivermis) L204

Flash Pleco (Panaqolus albivermis) L204

The Flash Pleco (Panaqolus albivermis) L204 also known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as the Emperor Pleco, is native to the Rio Alejandro in Peru where they occur in the upper Amazon, Marañón, Ucayali, upper and Middle Ucayali river systems.

The Emperor Pleco is an armored suckermouth catfish belong to the Genus Panaque. They have a body shape that resembles a large tadpole.

Flash Pleco (Panaqolus albivermis) L204

Flash Pleco (Panaqolus albivermis) L204

The Flash Pleco has a black or very dark brown base body color with thin white or yellow vertical

Flash Pleco (Panaqolus albivermis) L204

Flash Pleco (Panaqolus albivermis) L204

stripes that begin forming on the upper body and reach forward to the lower body.

As juveniles grow into adulthood, the body stripes break up into a more spotted pattern.

The fins have narrow white to yellow bands and ornate tail fin extensions.   Juveniles usually have white lines that turn yellow as the fish ages.

Adult males have strong odontoid growth on their caudal peduncle and broader heads than females.   Females are more rounded than males, especially when they are gravid.

Although L204 is easily identifiable, it is sometimes confused with Panaqolus “Cruzeiro” which has a more spotted pattern.

Flash Plecos are found in faster moving waters among submerged driftwood or bogwood where they forage on biological matter growing on the encrusted wood.   Like other Panaque pleco species, the Flash Pleco requires wood in their diet as part of their digestive process.

Flash or Emperor Plecos are a very peaceful species that make good candidates for a peaceful community tank.   They can be housed with other peaceful midwater species such as a shoal of characins, as long as plenty of hiding places are provided for them. Avoid species that could nip at their ornate fin extensions.

The Emperor Pleco is best kept in an aquarium of at least 30 gallon capacity with a sand or fine gravel substrate, a few rocks or pieces of slate formed into caves or hiding places, plenty of driftwood or bogwood, and some hardy plants like Anubias if desired.

They require clean water and a good amount of water movement so a good filtration system with a powerhead is recommended along with regular water changes.

Panaqolus albivermis are cave spawners that have been successfully bred in an aquarium environment on several occasions.

A complete water change with an overnight temperature drop will often trigger spawning activity.

Spawning usually occurs when a male and female pair off from a group and select a cave which the male then guards against all rivals.

When the pair selects a cave, the male will actively swim in and out until spawning is completed.   He will then stand guard at the entrance to the cave until the eggs hatch and fry are eventually released by him to fend for themselves.   During this entire process, the male does not appear to eat.

Young Flash Plecos are miniature copies of the adults and eat the same food, however, if bred in a tank with other specimens, they could be raised in a separate tank or in a hanging box inside the tank to ensure that they get enough food to grow.

Flash Plecos are classified as omnivores, but they are mainly wood eating herbivores that eagerly consume a variety of vegetable matter.   Although some crustaceans and insect larvae are eaten by them in their natural environment and can be added to their diet, too much protein and too few vegetarian foods can cause serious problems.

They do best on a diet of bottom feeder wafers, spiurilina wafers, zuchinni, cucumber, etc. with several pieces of bogwood available to them in the tank.

Animal protein in the form of brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, grindal worms, etc. is often fed to female Panaqolus albivermis when conditioning them for breeding, but a steady carnivore diet should be avoided.

The Flash Pleco (Panaqolus albivermis) L204 is a commonly available species from Peruvian exporters but still relatively uncommon to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts.

They can be purchased from specialty fish shops and online from a variety of sources at moderate prices.   With the tightening of Brazilian imports, this species has become even more sought after than ever.

Flash Pleco (Panaqolus albivermis) L204

Flash Pleco (Panaqolus albivermis) L204

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons
Care Level: Moderate
Temperament: Peaceful
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 76.5-86°F, KH 0-5° dH, GH 0-20° dH, pH 6.6 – 8.6
Max. Size: 5.1 ″
Color Form: Black, White, Yellow
Diet: Omnivore
Compatibility: Good community tank fish
Origin: Rio Alejandro, Peru
Family: Loricariidae
Live Span: 8-12 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate

 

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Rhombo Barb (Desmopuntius rhomboocellatus)

Rhombo Barb (Desmopuntius rhomboocellatus)

Rhombo Barb (Desmopuntius rhomboocellatus)

Rhombo Barb (Desmopuntius rhomboocellatus)

The Rhombo Barb (Desmopuntius rhomboocellatus) known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as the Snakeskin Barb, Red Ocellated Barb, or Rhomb Barb is native to West and Central Kalimantan in Borneo, Indonesia.

Rhombo Barbs are a peaceful schooling species that thrive in the tannin stained backwaters of their range.   They are typically collected in still water peat swamps with lots of dense riparian vegetation and submerged grass or aquatic plants where they feed on small insects, crustaceans, worms, and other zooplankton.

The waters that Desmopuntius rhomboocellatus are found in are normally littered with fallen leaves, submerged roots, tree branches, and decaying organic matter which causes the pH to be as low as 3.0 with a negligible dissolved mineral content.

Rhombo Barb (Desmopuntius rhomboocellatus)

Rhombo Barb (Desmopuntius rhomboocellatus)

The Rhombo Barb has an orange/red body color with five deep black to dark green body splotches that give the fish it’s “snakeskin” moniker.

The relatively small eyes are located within the first body splotch and except for the dorsal fin, which has a dark black and yellow leading edge, the pectoral, anal, and caudal fins are clear.

Adult males are slightly smaller, noticeably slimmer, and more intensely colored than females.   Females are somewhat broader and fuller bodied than males, especially when gravid.

The Rhombo Barb is best kept in schools of at least 6 or more specimens in an aquarium environment. Because they are more peaceful than most barbs, they can be housed in a community aquarium with other peaceful, short finned species of the same size.   Cyprinids, cobitids, and several anabantoids from the same area would be good choices for tank mates.

Some of the more commonly available species available to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts from Borneo include Desmopuntius johorensis, Desmopuntius hexazona, Brevibora dorsiocellata, Trigonopoma pauciperforatum, Rasbora einthovenii, and various Pangio spp.

Rhombo Barbs are best housed in a densely planted, dimly lit aquarium of at least 29 gallon capacity, with a fine gravel or sand substrate, some driftwood or bogwood roots, some Indian Almond Leaves or other leaf litter, and some floating plants to diffuse any overhead lighting. They require plenty of free swimming space and spotlessly clean, soft, acidic water to prevent disease.   A bio-wheel or outside hanging type peat filtration system is recommended for minimum water movement.

Successful breeding of the Rhombo Barb requires strict adherence to water softness and acidity, which is why there have been no reports of them being bred in an aquarium environment.   However, like most small cyprinids, they are egg scattering free spawners that exhibit no parental care for the eggs or fry.

In a mature, densely planted, dimly lit aquarium, well conditioned Desmopuntius spp. will spawn frequently and in many cases small numbers of fry will magically appear from the plants.

For maximum yield, it’s best to condition a small group of adults with live or frozen daphnia, bloodworms, or brine shrimp and place them in a dimly lit tank filled with aged water and a plastic grass type matting or a layer of large marbles covering the bottom.   The idea is to have the eggs fall through the substrate so the parents can’t get to the eggs.

The water quality should be slightly acidic with a temperature close to 80° F.   An air powered corner sponge filter should be provided for oxygenation and some water movement along with an aged bag of peat to maintain optimum water chemistry.

When the females look gravid, place one or two of the well conditioned pairs into the breeding tank and spawning should take place the next morning.

If all goes well and the adults do not eat the eggs as they fall, the remaining eggs should hatch out in 24 to 36 hours.   Remove the adults from the tank as soon as eggs are laid to maximize the yield.   The fry are normally free swimming after 3 or 4 days and can be fed infusoria or equivalent foods until they are large enough to consume baby brine shrimp, microworms, etc.

Although Rhombo Barbs are considered omnivorous, they do best on a varied diet of live, frozen, or freeze dried brine shrimp, bloodworms, tubifex, mosquito larvae, daphnia, and a quality flake or micro pellet food.

Although they are not considered “rare”, the Rhombo Barb (Desmopuntius rhomboocellatus) is not a common item in most tropical fish keeping shops.   They are available online from a variety of sources and are sold at a purchase size of 1″ to 1-3/4″.

Rhombo Barb (Desmopuntius rhomboocellatus)

Rhombo Barb (Desmopuntius rhomboocellatus)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 29 gallons
Care Level: Moderate
Temperament: Peaceful
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 73-82° F, KH 4-10, pH 5.5-7.0
Max. Size: 2″
Color Form: Orange
Diet: Omnivore
Compatibility: Community tank
Origin: Borneo, Indonesia
Family: Cyprinidae
Lifespan: 4-6 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner/Intermediate

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Redtail Botia Loach (Botia modesta)

Redtail Botia Loach (Botia modesta)

Redtail Botia Loach (Botia modesta)

Redtail Botia Loach (Botia modesta)

The Redtail Botia Loach (Botia modesta) a.k.a. Yasuhikotakia modesta, is also known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as the Blue Botia,  is collected throughout the lower Mekong River basin in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam and the Chao Phray and Mae Klong drainages in central and western Thailand.

Redtail Botia Loaches are common throughout their range, and most of the specimens that are found in the aquarium trade originate from the Songkhram River in northeastern Thailand, a tributary of the Mekong River.

The Redtail Botia Loach is a carnivorous nocturnal species that prefers moderately flowing rivers and tributaries where it forages among the submerged rocks, tree roots, bottom litter, driftwood branches, etc. for small snails, invertebrates, insects, worms, crustaceans, and soft leaved plants. They are active scavengers that during daylight hours hide among the submerged roots, rocky caves, etc. and venture out in the evening to forage.

Redtail Botia Loaches migrate seasonally as part of their reproductive life cycle and depending on the time of year can be found in main river channels, smaller tributary drainages, and during the rainy season, flooded forest zones where are believed to spawn.

Redtail Botia Loach (Botia modesta)

Redtail Botia Loach (Botia modesta)

The Redtail Botia Loach has a bluish/silver (almost gray) body color and bright red to orange colored fins. Like all loaches, they posses four pairs of barbels that protrude from the mouth.

Although they are often referred to as being scaleless, they do have very small scales on their body. Sexually mature females grow a bit larger than males and are fuller bodied, especially when gravid.

Redtail Botia Loaches are mildly aggressive but enjoy the company of their own species.   In their natural habitat they frequently school up with other mildly aggressive species of the same size such as Yasuhikotakia lecontei, Y. morleti, and Syncrossus helodes which occurs across much of its range.

In an aquarium environment, they do best in groups of at least 6 to 8 or more specimens.   When housed alone in a community aquarium, they tend to become aggressive towards similarly bodied fish. In pairs or small groups of 3 or 4, the dominant fish will usually stress the other fish to the point that they stop eating.

The Redtail Botia Loach does best in a mature aquarium of at least 55 gallon capacity with a sand or fine gravel substrate, plenty of smooth, worn, river rocks and pebbles, a few pieces of driftwood or driftwood
roots, and some Java Fern, Anubias spp., or Java Moss to provide shade.   They like to hide among the rocks so a flower pot or caves made with the river rock would be appreciated.   Although they do not require heavy water movement, they do require well oxygenated water with some degree of flow.

Redtail Botia Loaches are intolerant of organic waste accumulation and because they need spotlessly clean water to thrive, weekly 30 to 50% water changes should be considered mandatory.

Because Redtail Botia Loaches are seasonal migratory spawners, there have been no reported cases of them being bred in an aquarium environment.   They are commercially bred using hormones for the aquarium trade.

In the wild, Redtail Botia Loaches migrate upstream with the onset of receding water levels. This usually occurs between November and March. When the water levels begin to rise again from May to July, they loaches migrate back in the opposite direction.

When the rainy season begins and the forests areas flood, the loaches begin their spawn and deposit their eggs in the flooded plains of the Mekong delta and southern Cambodia.    The fry are swept into the flooded areas by the torrential rains where they start developing into adults.   Juvenile Redtail Botia Loaches have vertical bars along their flanks that gradually dissipate as they reach adulthood.

Redtail Botia Loaches do best on a varied diet of live, frozen, or freeze dried brine shrimp, bloodworms, chopped earthworms, and a quality sinking pellet food like shrimp pellets.   They require several small feedings daily.

The Redtail Botia Loach is regularly available to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts from most fish shops as the red finned form.   There is a much less common yellow finned form with a blue dorsal fin (which may be a different species) that is occasionally available at much higher prices.

Botia modesta can usually be purchased from aquarium shops and online when they reach 1-3/4″ to 2-1/2″ in length.

Redtail Botia Loach (Botia modesta)

Redtail Botia Loach (Botia modesta)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 55 gallons
Care Level: Moderate
Temperament: Semi-aggressive
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 72-86° F, KH 8-12, pH 6.0-7.5
Max Size: 4″
Color Form: Blue, Red, White
Diet: Omnivore
Compatibility: Not suitable for peaceful community tanks
Origin: Asia
Family: Botiidae
Life Span: 5-7 Years
Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate

Posted in Featured Articles, Freshwater Fish, Loaches, Tropical Fish Keeping, Tropical Fish SpeciesComments (1)

Adolfo’s Cory Group (Corydoras Adolfoi)

Adolfo’s Cory (Corydoras Adolfoi)

Adolfo’s Cory Group (Corydoras Adolfoi)

Adolfo’s Cory Group (Corydoras Adolfoi)

Adolfo’s Cory (Corydoras Adolfoi) are a small peaceful Corydora species found in a small tributrary of the upper Rio Negro basin near São Gabriel da Cachoeira, Brazil’.   Unsubstantiated sources report that it also occurs in the Rio Uaupés, a tributary 0f the Rio Negro in Colombia.

Adolfo’s Cory live in slow moving, tea colored blackwater tributaries and flooded forests of their range that are stained dark brown by organic chemicals that are the result of plant decomposition.

Like many other corydoras, Adolfo’s Cory is an air breather that has a highly vascularised intestine modified to
breathe atmospheric oxygen. This allows them to survive in oxygen depleted waters and is why they can be observed occasionally rising to the surface in the aquarium to take in a gulp of air.

Corydoras Adolfoi has stiff pectoral fin spines that can pierce human skin and a cause a painful sting from the mildly toxic secretions from the

Adolfo’s Cory (Corydoras Adolfoi)

Adolfo’s Cory (Corydoras Adolfoi)

axillary glands at the base of each spine.

They thrive in soft pristine waters with low conductivity and a pH of 4.0 to 6.0 along with dwarf Apistogramma cichilids, cmall characids, Pencil fish (lebiasinids), and coexist in large mixed schools of similarly colored Corydoras.

Adolfo’s Cory is only one of many Corydora species native to the rio Negro region that possess a color pattern with an oblique dark bar running along the dorsal surface of the body.

Adolfo’s Cory (Corydoras Adolfoi)

Adolfo’s Cory (Corydoras Adolfoi)

Adolfo’s Cory has a light colored lower body that gradually changes to a jet black on the upper half. They posses a black stripe over the eyes with a bright orange/gold blotch that starts just behind and above the eye and ends just before the front of the dorsal fin.

They have translucent fins that start with black at the base in the dorsal, anal, and caudal. Females grow larger than males and when sexually mature are noticeably rounder and broader bodied, especially when gravid.

Adolfo’s Cory are best kept in groups of at least 6 to 8 individuals in a planted aquarium of at least 29 gallons with a sand or fine rounded gravel substrate, some driftwood or bogwood as hiding places, and some dried or crushed Indian Almond Leaves.

They require a good filtration system with regular water changes and although they need little water movement, are sensitive to adverse water quality.   Driftwood branches and dried leaf litter provide beneficial microorganisms that become a secondary food source that is particularly useful for the fry when breeding Corydoras Adolfoi.

The tannins that are released by the decaying leaves in the tank simulate the natural habitat that Adolfo’s Corys are found in and produce beneficial chemicals that are believed to be a natural fungicide.

Like other Corydoras species, Corydoras Adolfoi are easy to breed in an aquarium environment. Place two males per female if possible into a well oxygenated breeding tank (a corner sponge filter is preferred), densely planted with fine leaved vegetation or furnished with spawning mops.   Some partially decomposed Indian Almond leaves or other leaf litter on the bottom of the tank is recommended if the eggs are to remain in the breeding tank for hatching.   If the eggs are removed to a rearing tank, use the same tank water and add a few drops of methylene blue, or some crushed Indian Almond leaves or an alder cone or two to prevent fungus development on the eggs.

The water in the breeding tank should be around 79° F and at the lower end of th pH range.

When the female is visibly gravid, perform a 70% water change with slightly cooler water and ramp up the oxygenation in the tank. Do this daily until the fish begin to spawn.

Corydoras Adolfoi are open water spawners and will attach one or two relatively large (2mm) sticky eggs to the plants, stones, or glass in the aquarium. Females can deposit several tens of eggs per spawn.   Adults do not care for the eggs and may eat them, so remove either the adults or the eggs from the tank for rearing.

Depending on the water temperature, the eggs will hatch in about 3 to 4 days and fry will absorb their yolk sacs and become free swimming after another 4 days. At this point the fry can be fed infusoria, microworms, newly hatched baby brine shrimp, etc. until able to eat adult foods.

In their natural habitat, the Adolfo’s Cory is a foraging shoaling species that feed on small insects, benthic crustaceans, small worms, and decaying plant matter.

In an aquarium environment, they make a colorful cleanup addition to a Discus or community aquarium but should be fed a varied diet of sinking dried foods as well as live, frozen, or freeze dried bloodworms, Tubifex, Daphnia, brine shrimp, etc. This species requires a varied diet to ensure they remain in optimum condition.   They should never be expected to survive on only left overs from community tank residents.

Although the Adolfo’s Cory (Corydoras Adolfoi) is not common found in your local fish shop, tropical fish keeping enthusiasts can purchase them online, from auction or forum sites, eBay, or from special order at moderate prices.

Adolfo’s Cory (Corydoras Adolfoi)

Adolfo’s Cory (Corydoras Adolfoi)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons
Care Level: Easy
Temperament: Peaceful, gregarious
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 68 – 79 °F, H 18-90 ppm, pH 4.0 – 7.0
Max. Size: 2.2″
Color Form: Black, Orange
Diet: Omnivore
Compatibility: Community tanks
Origin: Colombia
Family: Callichthyidae
Life Span: 5 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner

Posted in Catfish, Corydoras, Featured Articles, Freshwater Fish, Tropical Fish Keeping, Tropical Fish SpeciesComments (0)

Gertrudae Rainbow (Pseudomugil gertrudae)

Gertrudae Rainbow (Pseudomugil gertrudae)

Gertrudae Rainbow (Pseudomugil gertrudae) Males

Gertrudae Rainbow (Pseudomugil gertrudae) Males

The Gertrudae Rainbow (Pseudomugil gertrudae) known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as the Spotted Blue Eye is found in the northern part of Australia and southern Indonesia.

The Gertrudea Rainbow prefers living in the shallow, marginal zones of densely vegetated, standing or slow moving waters of creeks, small streams, lakes, billabongs, and swamps in the proximity felled tree branches, tree roots, and other types of submerged wooden structure.

They prefer living among cattails, hydrilla, water hyacinth, duckweed or any other type of surface vegetation and are often found in leaf littered substrates.

Gertrudae Rainbow (Pseudomugil gertrudae)

Gertrudae Rainbow (Pseudomugil gertrudae)

Gertrudae Rainbows (Pseudomugil gertrudae) have a yellow body color with black dotted scales that merge toward the caudal fin into three dotted black stripes.

They have bright blue/white fins with black spots and brilliant baby blue eyes.   Males are much more colorful than females and have a more distinct body pattern.

Adult males also have much longer fins than females.

Gertrudae Rainbowfish are a small, peaceful, schooling species that grow to only 1.5″ in length.

Pseudomugil gertrudae are similar to the Irian Red Neon Rainbow (Pseudomugil iriani) which has a reddish orange body color with a bright blue stripe running along it’s dorsal edge.

When it comes to water chemistry, Pseudomugil gertrudae are incredibly undemanding.   They enjoy living in dark brown tannin stained water with very low pH and dissolved nutrients as well as in crystal clear water with a higher pH.

They have been collected from waters at temperatures between 53 to 93°F, pH between 3.7 to 9.4, water hardness of 0 to 320 ppm, alkalinity from 2 to 180 ppm, and a conductivity of 12 to 646.

However, the Gertrudae Rainbow does best at temperatures between 70°F and 82°F, a pH between 6.0 and 7.5, and water hardness between 0 and 10 degrees.

Because of their timid nature and small size, the Gertrudae Rainbow (Pseudomugil gertrudae) is not a good candidate for a community tank setup.   They are a shoaling species that should be housed in a single species tank in groups of at least 10 individuals with Caridina and Neocaridina if desired.

They are best kept in a densely planted, biologically mature aquarium of at least 10 gallon capacity with a sand or fine gravel substrate, some driftwood roots or branches and some floating plants to diffuse overhead lighting.   They require well oxygenated water with some current in the tank.

Gertrudae Rainbows are egg scatterers that are relatively easy to breed in an aquarium environment.

Given the opportunity they will eat their eggs and exhibit no parental care to the eggs or the fry.

Spawning normally occurs at higher temperatures during the daylight hours and coincides with the beginning of the rainy season in their range, October thru December.

Peak spawning activity is late morning to early afternoon in water temperatures between 75 to 82°F.

A single male will mate with several females daily during warmer periods throughout the daylight hours, and spawning can continue throughout the year as long as high water temperatures are maintained in the tank.

Females will deposit a few eggs with thin adhesive filaments daily on aquatic vegetation over a period of several days until spawning is completed.

The eggs hatch out in approximately 10 days and the fry require microscopic foods like Paramecium for at least 5 or 6 days until they are large enough to accept micro worms, Moria, baby brine shrimp or a commercially prepared powdered fry food.    Feed the fry small portions twice a day and provide small water changes by siphoning off any uneaten food in the rearing tank.

Unhatched eggs containing developed embryos can be hatched by placing them in a small container with mature aquarium water and shaken vigorously.   The rapid change in pressure will usually cause the developed embryos to hatch.

Most commercial breeders will place a single male with two or three females in a breeding tank with a sponge filter and a spawning mop or aquatic moss and remove the spawning medium to a brooding tank for hatching when eggs are observed.   The spawning medium should be checked several times a day to maximize the yield.

An alternative method is to place a group in a mature, densely planted aquarium with Taxiphylum or Water Hyacinth and letting nature take its course.   Breeding in a densely planted tank is less productive, but will normally allow some fry to survive on the existing microfauna in the aquarium.

In their natural habitat, adult Gertrudae Rainbow feed on zooplankton, phytoplankton and small invertebrates.   In an aquarium environment, the majority of their diet should be live Daphnia, Moina, microworms, baby brine shrimp, etc. augmented with a quality crushed flake food.

Wild Gertrudae Rainbows are seldom available to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts regardless of origin.   Almost all Pseudomugil gertrudae populations available to the hobby are commercially raised in large numbers and can be purchased online and occasionally from specialty fish keeping shops.

Gertrudae Rainbow (Pseudomugil gertrudae)

Gertrudae Rainbow (Pseudomugil gertrudae)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
Care Level: Moderate
Temperament: Peaceful
Water Conditions: 70-82°F, H 90 – 215 ppm, pH: 4.5 – 7.5
Max. Size: 1.5″
Color Form: Yellow, Black, Blue
Diet: Omnivore
Compatibility: Single species tanks
Origin: Australia, Indonesia, New Guinea
Family: Pseudomugilidae
Life Span: 2 years max
Aquarist Level: Intermediate

Posted in Featured Articles, Freshwater Fish, Rainbowfish, Tropical Fish KeepingComments (0)

African Red Eye Tetra (arnoldichthys spilopterus) pair

African Red Eye Tetra (arnoldichthys spilopterus)

African Red Eye Tetra (arnoldichthys spilopterus)

African Red Eye Tetra (arnoldichthys spilopterus)

African Red Eye Tetra (arnoldichthys spilopterus) known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as the Niger Tetra or Large-Scaled African Characin is found in the Niger and Ogun river systems in Nigeria, Africa.

Because of pollution and deforestation, African Red Eye Tetras are scarce in the aquarium hobby and are only found in 10 areas of their range.

Arnoldichthys spilopterus is an active, peaceful, schooling species that are mostly found in slower moving, tannin stained, rivers and streams with an abundance of decaying organic matter.   They are a mid to top water species that feed on surface insects, insect larvae, worms, and crustaceans

African Red Eye Tetra (arnoldichthys spilopterus).Male

African Red Eye Tetra (arnoldichthys spilopterus).Male

African Red Eye Tetras have an olive green body color above a gold,green, and black lateral line that runs through the eye to the end of the clear caudal fin.

Below the lateral line, the body is a metallic green edged with yellow/gold beneath.  The African Red Eye Tetra has large scales, a large eye with red/gold above, and a black splotch on the clear dorsal fin.

The clear, square, anal fin in males is lined on top and below with a dark black stripe.  In females the stripes are absent.

African Red Eye Tetra (arnoldichthys spilopterus) Female

African Red Eye Tetra (arnoldichthys spilopterus) Female

Males are slightly more colorful than females and are somewhat slimmer than adult (especially gravid) females.

African Red Eye Tetras are best kept in schools of at least 10 individuals in an aquarium of at least 55 gallon capacity, with a sand or fine gravel substrate decorated with some smooth river stones, some driftwood branches, and a densely planted background of aquatic plants.     A few pieces of Indian Almond leaves on the bottom and some floating plants to minimize jumping and diffuse overhead lighting will benefit them enormously.

Because of their active, schooling activity, African Red Eye Tetras need plenty of swimming room and need a good filtration system to maintain water quality.    Filtering over peat can be used in lieu of Indian Almond Leaves to simulate their natural tannin stained water conditions.

Although best kept in large groups, Arnoldichtys spilopterus can be housed with other shy, peaceful species such as Alestiid tetras, dwarf chchlids like Pelvicachromis pulcher, and smaller Synodontis spp., and Corydoras.

African Red Eye Tetras are egg scatterers that are relatively easy to spawn in an aquarium environment.   Condition the fish with live or frozen bloodworms, daphnia, brine shrimp, etc. and select the fattest female and best colored male from the group.   Place them in a smaller, dimly lit aquarium with a few clumps of plants and either a mesh base, or a layer of marbles covering a bare bottom.   The water in the breeding tank should be soft with a pH below 7.0.

In their natural habitat, African Red Eye Tetras scatter their eggs among the submerged vegetation.   Males will spawn side by side with the female in a quivering motion until the female deposits up to 1000 eggs around the plant leaves.   The eggs hatch out in about 28 to 30 hours and the yolk sacs are absorbed in about 24 hours.   The fry can initially be fed infusoria or commercially prepared powered fry food as soon as the yolk sacs have been absorbed and later in about 2 or 3 days, microworms, moina, or baby brine shrimp.

African Red Eye Tetras are not fussy eaters and will accept most foods.   Although they do well on quality flake foods, they should be provided with fresh, frozen or freeze dried brine shrimp, bloodworms, black worms, white worms, daphnia, etc.

The African Red Eye Tetra (arnoldichthys spilopterus) is not a common item to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts but have become more available lately from breeders, specialty fish shops, and importers online.   They are usually available as juveniles when they are 1 1/2″ to 1 3/4″ in length and command a high price.

African Red Eye Tetra (arnoldichthys spilopterus)

African Red Eye Tetra (arnoldichthys spilopterus)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 55 gallons
Care Level: Easy
Temperament: Peaceful, Shy
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 75-81° F, H 18 – 268 ppm, pH 6.0-7.5
Max Size: 4″
Color Form: Green, Black, Gold
Diet: Carnivore
Compatibility: Peaceful community
Origin: Nigeria
Family: Alestidae
Lifespan: 5 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner

Posted in Featured Articles, Freshwater Fish, Tetras, Tropical Fish Keeping, Tropical Fish SpeciesComments (0)

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