Tag Archive | "tropical fish keeping"

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)

Flame Goby (Rhinogobius Zhoui) Pair

Flame Goby (Rhinogobius Zhoui)

Flame Goby (Rhinogobius Zhoui) Pair

Flame Goby (Rhinogobius Zhoui) Pair

The Flame Goby (Rhinogobius Zhoui) is a small freshwater species that is also known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as the Chinese Vermilion Goby, Scarlet Goby, or Zhou’s Scarlet Goby.

The Flame Goby is collected from one fast flowing stream that originates from the Lianhua Mountain, Haifeng County, Guangdong Province, in China.

In it’s natural habitat, the Flame Goby is frequently found with Rhinogobius duospilus (R. wui), Pseudogastromyzon laticeps, Pseudobagrus trilineatus, Zacco platypus, Parazacco spilurus, and other more well known Rhinogobius spp. species in the clean, highly oxygenated, moderately fast flowing headwaters, streams, and brooks of it’s range where it feeds on small insects, insect larvae, and aquatic invertebrates.

Flame Gobies prefer living in the shallower stretches of the riffles and runs of tributaries that are usually broken up by pools and small cascades.   The substrate in these areas is typically composed of sand, gravel, smaller rocks, boulders, and areas of submerged leaf litter. Aquatic plants like Cryptocoryne crispatula var. crispatula, and Blyxa sp. are also found in their habitat.

The Flame Goby is a small, relatively peaceful, non-aggressively territorial species that grows to a max length of only 1.4″ in length.   They have fused pelvic fins that form a “pelvic disc” which is a common characteristic among gobiids that allows them to cling to rocks and other submerged surfaces.   This pelvic disc enables them to hold onto submerged rocks while feeding, move along the bottom against very strong currents, and even climb up waterfalls and fast flowing cascades.

Flame Goby (Rhinogobius Zhoui)

Flame Goby (Rhinogobius Zhoui)

The Flame Goby has a light blue/gray body color overlaid with 6 to 8 vertical scarlet-red/rust brown blotches along the flanks.   The median fins are bordered with a broad, brilliant white to blue white band.   Adult males are much more intensely colored than females and develop longer fins with brighter, broader, bluish to white marginal bands.

Although the color pattern, which is variable in both sexes, is a less reliable means of determining gender; adult males do not posses a black spot on the first dorsal fin and have no pigmentation on the cheek and branchiostegal membrane.

Females can be pale or brightly colored but both dorsal and caudal fins have a reddish colored marginal band.

Flame Goby (Rhinogobius Zhoui) Female

Flame Goby (Rhinogobius Zhoui) Female

Both sexes change their coloration quickly and frequently.

Because of it’s small size, the Flame Goby is a perfect specimen for a river nano tank.

Flame Glbies are best kept in an unheated (60-72°F) aquarium of at least 15 gallon capacity with a combination sand, gravel, small river rock, and small “boulder” substrate arranged to simulate a flowing mountain stream.    Some driftwood branches, small flower pots, and ceramic pipe can be added to provide shade, hiding places, and a broken line of sight for territorial purposes.   Most aquatic plants will not survive these conditions but some tropical fish keeping enthusiasts have used Anubias spp., Bolbitis, and Microsorum with various degrees of success.

Flame Gobies are extremely intolerant of organic pollutants and need spotlessly clean water conditions in order to thrive.   Although torrential water conditions are not necessary to keep them healthy, the addition of an oversize outside power filter, a powerhead, and an airstone along with weekly 30-50% of tank volume water changes should be considered mandatory to provide the high proportion of dissolved oxygen and water movement needed.

In a dedicated species aquarium, at least two males and three or more female Flame Gobies should be housed together or the fish become listless and inactive.    Although the males will make quite a display of flaring to intimidate their fellow gobies away from their home turf, any serious damage is highly unlikely provided enough cover is placed in the tank.    In fact, this species appears to require the presence of conspecifics to thrive.

The Flame Goby can be housed in a community environment with other small, peaceful species like Tanichthys, Microdevario spp., and other species that frequent the upper part of the water column.   Mixing them with Caridinia, Neocaridina spp. or other Rhinogobius spp. is not recommended due to predation and possible hybridization.

The Flame Goby has been bred in an aquarium environment, but it is not an easy task.

Flame Gobies typically deposit their rather large eggs on the ceiling of a cave or crevice dug underneath a river rock in the substrate where the eggs are guarded by the male until hatched.

Use only one or two males with one or more females per male, when attempting to breed the fish, and provide multiple spawning sites for the fish to lay their eggs and defend their territories.   The female will usually initiate courting when ready to spawn.   Once she selects a partner, the pair will disappear from sight into a cave or flower pot where the female will deposit from 30 to 60 rather large (4mm long) eggs.   When spawning is completed, the male usually forces the female from the cave until hatching occurs, usually within 24 to 48 hours.

At this point most breeders will either remove all the fish from the tank except the male guarding the eggs or remove the male along with the eggs into a separate rearing tank.

Most of the time the male will not eat the fertilized eggs but should this occur, remove the male from the eggs and place the eggs into a floating breeding net for incubation with a small powerhead or airstone aimed at them to simulate the fanning action that the male normally provides. The tank should be kept in the dark and the eggs should not be removed from the water during the incubation process.

Fungus and bacterial issues are why successfully breeding Flame Gobies is such a challenge.

Some deteriorated Indian Almond leaves, a single alder cone with a small amount of salt, or malachite green and formaldehyde added to the tank at a rate of 3 drops per 10 liters of water will help mitigate any bacterial or fungal issues during the 13 to 21 day incubation period.   These additives are not needed if the male is left to attend the eggs.   When the eggs are incubated artificially, hatching tends to occur over an extended period of about 5 days or so and a few fry may have problems leaving the egg.

Because of their large yolk sac, the fry are essentially immobile until the yolk sac is completely absorbed, usually within a week.   During the first few days at least, they should be kept suspended in the net with the powerhead kept in operation.

As soon as the fry are free swimming, they can be removed from the net and fed baby brine shrimp, commercial fry food, etc. until they are able to eat larger fare.   Although the fry develop slowly, changing the water every 24 to 48 hours will improve their growth rate dramatically.

In their natural habitat, Rhinogobius Zhoui feed on insect larvae, aquatic worms, small insects, and other aquatic invertebrates. In an aquarium environment they should be provided a steady diet of live or frozen bloodworms, brine shrimp, mosquito larvae, etc.   Although they can be acclimated to accept dried foods, they should not be offered on a regular basis.

The Flame Goby (Rhinogobius Zhoui) is usually only available to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts through importers once a year, however, they can be purchased online from specialty dealers, wholesalers, and hobbyists on forums and auction sites when available.   They are relatively “rare”, difficult to identify, and justifiably demand high prices when available for purchase.

Flame Goby (Rhinogobius Zhoui) Pair

Flame Goby (Rhinogobius Zhoui) Pair

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 15 gallons
Care Level: Moderate
Temperament: Peaceful
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 66 – 76 °F, 90 – 215 ppm, pH: 7.0 – 7.8
Max. Size: 1.4”
Color Form: Scarlet, White
Diet: Omnivore
Compatibility: Nano and Commuinity tanks
Origin: China
Family: Gobiidae/Oxudercidae
Lifespan: 2 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Experienced

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

Hognose Brochus (Brochus Multiradiatus)

Hognose Brochus (Brochus Multiradiatus)

Hognose Brochus (Brochus Multiradiatus)

Hognose Brochus (Brochus Multiradiatus)

The Hognose Brochus (Brochus Multiradiatus) also known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as the Armor Moth or Long Finned Brochis is native to the northwestern Amazon Basin in Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia.    They are locally collected from tributaries of the Río Lagartococha near the town of Garza-Cocha, in the upper Río Napo system, of the Napo Province, Ecuador.

The Corydoradinae sub-family contains the Aspidoras, Brochis, and Corydoras genra which are all closely related and nearly identical in their behaviour and housing requirements. Brochis Multiradiatus is less common than Brochis splendens in the aquarium trade.

Hognose Brochus are a large, peaceful, schooling species that prefer living in densely vegetated, still, sluggish backwaters, oxbows, marginal lakes, and slow moving streams where they forage along the bottom for small aquatic invertebrates, worms, insect larvae, etc.

The rised intestine in Hognose Brochus has evolved to facilitate the intake of atmospheric oxygen which allows them to survive in oxygen depleted environments.    Like many Corydoras, you will occasionally see them rising to the surface to take in gulps of air for no apparent reason.

In their natural habitat, Brochus Multiradiatus grow to almost 4 inches in length, and slightly less in an aquarium environment.   They are regarded as great bottom cleaners by most tropical fish keeping enthusiasts.

Hognose Brochus (Brochus Multiradiatus)

Hognose Brochus (Brochus Multiradiatus)

Hognose Brochus have a long, elongated, hog like snout and between 15 to 18 soft dorsal fin rays (usually 17).   The dorsal, pectoral and adipose fins are each preceded by a spine which is actually a hardened, modified ray.

When threatened or attacked, the dorsal and pectoral fin spines can be locked into position and are capable of causing a nasty “sting”.   The axillary glands at the base of each spine secrete a mildly venomous or toxic substance that can cause some serious pain if handled improperly.

Both sexes are a beautiful striking iridescent gold to emerald green/brown color above, with a light creme to yellow/pinkish white underbelly in appearance.   Females are slightly larger, higher bodied, and noticeably rounder than males.

Hognose Brochus should be housed in a 55 gallon tank with a sandy or very fine gravel substrate, aquascaped with a few river rocks, some driftwood arranged as hiding places, and some Indian Almond leaves on the bottom to replicate their natural environment.   The aquarium can be planted but because of their tendency to uproot aquatic plants, potted plants are recommended.   Some floating plants can also be added to diffuse overhead lighting.

Hognose Brochus  make perfect candidates for larger South American community tanks with medium size South or Central American Cichlids that are not so large as to make a meal of them.   When housed in a shoreline riverine bio tope setting, at least 10 or more specimens should be kept together in a small shoal.

Although no successful spawning of Brochus Multiradiatus has been documented, they are known to collect their eggs in a basket made by the female’s pelvic fins and individually deposit them on rocks, plants, driftwood, or on the aquarium glass.   The females are prolific egg layers that can produce well over 1,000 eggs per spawn.

In their natural environment, Hognose Brochus root around the bottom among the leaves with their snouts to find insect larvae, small crustaceans, worms, etc.   In an aquarium environment they will eat anything off the bottom of your tank but should also be fed a quality omnivore sinking pellet, shrimp pellets, and live, frozen, or freeze dried bloodworms, tubifex, chopped earthworms, brine shrimp, etc.

When you can find them available for purchase, they are usually between 1.5″ to 2.5″ in length.

Hognose Brochus (Brochus Multiradiatus)

Hognose Brochus (Brochus Multiradiatus)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 55 gallons
Care Level: Easy
Temperament: Peaceful
Water Conditions: 70-78° F, KH 2-12, pH 6.0-7.5
Max. Size: 4”
Color Form: Green, Gold, White
Diet: Omnivore
Compatibility: Larger, peaceful community tanks
Origin: Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru
Family: Callichthyidae, Sub-Family Corydoradinae
Lifespan: 8 – 10 Years or more
Aquarist Experience Lever: Intermediate

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Fire Ring Danio (Brachydanio kyathit) School

Fire Ring Danio (Brachydanio kyathit)

Fire Ring Danio (Brachydanio kyathit) School

Fire Ring Danio (Brachydanio kyathit) School

The Fire Ring Danio (Brachydanio kyathit) known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as the Red Fin Danio, Orange Fin Danio, or Ocelot Danio, was discovered in 2006 in Myanmar (Burma) in Southeast Asia.

Native to the upper regions of three right bank tributaries of the upper Ayeyarwaddy near Myitkyina, the Hpa-Lap Chaung, Mogaung, and Chindwin rivers in Myanmar, wild Fire Ring Danios are found in a variety of habitats, ranging from fast moving streams to slow flowing, almost stagnant ponds.   They are frequently collected from small, clear, shaded streams with fast flowing water with a mud and small stone substrate.

Fire Ring Danios (Brachydanio or Danio kyathit) are a small, peaceful, schooling species that are close relatives to the common zebra danio.

Fire Ring Danio (Brachydanio kyathit)

Fire Ring Danio (Brachydanio kyathit)

They are similar to the Gold Ring Danio (Brachydanio tinwini) but are a bit larger.   There are two currently recognized color morphs known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as the Orange Fin Danio and a spotted variety commonly called as the Ocelot Danio, however, several unnamed variations of the spotted and striped forms exist in Myanmar with over ten species in the genus endemic to the country.

Adult Orange Finned Fire Ring Danios have an elongated body with a brightly colored yellow/orange body with 5 to 7 dark brown to black stripes or spots covering the mid to lower portion of the flank from the gills to the tail.

The overall silver/gold body color of the Kyathit Orange Finned Fire Ring Danio is accented by a warm

Fire Ring Danio (Brachydanio kyathit)

Fire Ring Danio (Brachydanio kyathit)

copper orange, almost metallic sheen.   The perimeter of the body displays the deepest orange coloration around the dorsal, anal, and caudal fins.

Male Fire Ring Danios are more colorful than females, especially during the breeding season, and females are more heavily bodied.

The Fire Ring Danio is a good candidate for a peaceful community aquarium.   Good tank mates include small tetras, other danios, small corydoras, and other peaceful species of the same size.

Brachydanio kyathit are best kept in groups of at least 6 specimens in a densely planted, dimly lit aquarium of at least 20 gallon capacity with a dark sand or fine gravel substrate, some water worn pebbles, and a piece or two of driftwood or bogwood for cover.

Fire Ring Danios are active swimmers that require a lot of free swimming area in the tank.   They also do best in clean, slightly turbid water, so a bio wheel type filter with a small power head is highly recommended.

All danios are jumpers, so a tightly fitting aquarium cover or a layer of floating plants is suggested to prevent jumping and diffuse overhead lighting.

Fire Ring Danios are egg scatterers that can easily be raised in an aquarium environment.   Place a breeding pair in a half filled tank with some Java Moss, other fine leaved plants, or a breeding mop, and feed them live daphnia or live brine shrimp until they show signs of breeding activity.   Keep the pH in the breeding tank around 7.0 and the water temperature raised to 75 – 78 °F.   When the fish show signs of breeding, top the tank off with some slightly cooler water to induce spawning.

The fish will spawn in batches on the vegetation in the tank.   When spawning is completed, remove the pair into the community tank.
The eggs will hatch in 24 to 36 hours.   When the fry are free swimming they can be fed newly hatched brine shrimp or commercially prepared fry food.

In their natural habitat, Fire Ring Danios feed on insects and insect larvae.   In an aquarium environment they will accept a variety of live, frozen, or freeze dried foods.    Quality flakes, micro pellets, brine shrimp, daphnia, moria, microworms, etc. are all eagerly accepted.

Although the Fire Ring Danio (Brachydanio kyathit) is commercially farmed in Southeast Asia for the tropical fish keeping hobby, they are still a relatively rare commodity in tropical fish shops.    They are available online from dealers, importers, and fish keeping forums at reasonable prices when they are 1″ to 1.5″ in length.

Fire Ring Danio (Brachydanio kyathit)

Fire Ring Danio (Brachydanio kyathit)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallons
Care Level: Easy
Temperament: Peaceful
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 74-79° F, KH 2-10, pH 6.5-7.8
Max. Size: 1.75″
Color Form: Brown, Orange
Diet: Omnivore
Compatibility: peaceful community tanks
Origin: Myanmar, Farm raised in Southeast Asia
Family: Cyprinidae
Lifespan: up to 5 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner

 

Posted in Danios and Minnows, Featured Articles, Freshwater Fish, Tropical Fish Keeping, Tropical Fish SpeciesComments (0)

Leopard Catfish (Perrunichthys perruno)

Leopard Catfish (Perrunichthys perruno)

Leopard Catfish (Perrunichthys perruno)

Leopard Catfish (Perrunichthys perruno)

Leopard Catfish (Perrunichthys perruno) also known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as Perruno Catfish or Reticulated Pimelodid are native to Colombia and Venezuela, where they occurs in the Lake Maracaibo basin and Rio Negro system.   It is the only catfish species in the order Siluriformes of the monotypic genus Perrunichthys.

Juvenile Leopard Catfish are occasionally acquired by tropical fish keeping enthusiasts but because of their large size, over 23.6 inches, they require a large tank to thrive in captivity.

Leopard Catfish are a predatory, long whiskered species that are sometimes confused with the Sailfin Pimelodid (Leiarius pictus) and the Marble Antenna Catfish (Leiarius marmoratus)

Perrunichthys perruno have an elongated body with large deeply forked caudal fin, a depressed head, a broad snout, and a wide mouth.   The upper jaw is slightly longer than the lower jaw.   They have two pairs of shorter mandibular barbels and long maxillary barbels that in adult specimens can extend almost to the caudal fin.

Leopard Catfish (Perrunichthys perruno)

Leopard Catfish (Perrunichthys perruno)

Leopard Catfish have a dark chocolate brown body with lighter colored reticulated markings over the body and fins.   Their long barbels, dorsal, and paired fins are colored the same as the body but in some fish, the fins have spotted instead of reticulated markings.   Adult males are more slender than females, especially during the breeding season.

In their natural habitat, Leopard Catfish feed on fish, worms, crustaceans, and almost anything they can fit into their large mouth.   They are highly predatory and can fast for extended periods of time after consuming a large meal.

In an aquarium environment, they are best kept in a single species tank.   If housed in a community environment, they should never be kept with smaller fish species.   Good possible tankmates are Oscars, large characins, Pseudodoras niger, Osydoras niger, Pterdodoras granulosus, or Megalodoras uranoscopus.

Leopard Catfish are best kept in a planted aquarium of at least 150 gallon capacity with a fine gravel, sand, or mixed gravel/sand substrate, a few large river rocks, several large pieces of driftwood
or bogwood, and some large background plants.   A few floating plants can also be added for shade.

Perrunichtys perruno are intolerant of poor water conditions and should be provided with an oversize filtration system and weekly 25% water changes to maintain the water quality necessary for their well being. A power head is also recommended to provide some current in the tank.

To date there have been no successful breeding of Perrunichthys perruno in an aquarium environment.

Leopard Catfish are carnivores that in their natural habitat predominately prey on smaller fish, river crab, crayfish, worms, etc.    In an aquarium environment, they can be fed pieces of fresh dead fish, crayfish, mussels, prawn, earthworms, and even over time commercial sinking catfish pellets.

Leopard Catfish (Perrunichthys perruno) are usually not available to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts from fish stores except by special order or when brought in with mixed shipments, if at all.  They are occasionally sold online directly from importers and through wholesale facilities in various sizes.

Leopard Catfish (Perrunichthys perruno)

Leopard Catfish (Perrunichthys perruno)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 150 gallons
Care Level: Moderate
Temperament: Predatory
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 72-79°F , >18ºdGH, pH 6.0-7.2
Max. Size: 24″
Color Form: Brown, Tan
Diet: Carnivore
Compatibility: Keep with larger fish
Origin: Colombia, Venezuela
Family: Pimelodidae
Lifespan: 20 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Advanced

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Cobalt Blue Goby (Stiphodon semoni)

Cobalt Blue Goby (Stiphodon semoni)

Cobalt Blue Goby (Stiphodon semoni)

Cobalt Blue Goby (Stiphodon semoni)

The Cobalt Blue Goby (Stiphodon semoni) considered by many tropical fish keeping enthusiasts to be one of the most colorful freshwater gobies in the genus Stiphodon, is found in West Papua, Indonesia.

It range extends from Ambon Island chain, South Molucca Islands, east from western Sumatra across most of Indonesia, Northern Papua New Guinea, and as far as the Solomon Islands in the Bismarck Archipelago.

Although Cobalt Blue Gobies are similar in appearance to Stiphodon atropurpureus that is found outside their range in the Phillipines, they may coexist with less similar Stiphodon carisa in Sumatra, and Stiphodon atratus found from Halmahera to Papua New Guinea.

Cobalt Blue Gobies have fused pelvic fins that form a “pelvic disc” which is a common characteristic among gobiids that allows them to cling to rocks and other submerged surfaces.    The pelvic disc enables them to hold onto submerged rocks while feeding, move along the bottom against very strong currents, and to actually climb up waterfalls and fast flowing cascades.   This trait has given them the generic name of “rock climbing” or “clinging” gobies.

Because Cobalt Blue Gobies have replaceable, outwardly oriented teeth in their upper jaw, many tropical fish keeping enthusiasts also refer to them as “toothed lipped” gobies.

Cobalt Blue Goby (Stiphodon semoni)

Cobalt Blue Goby (Stiphodon semoni)

Cobalt Blue Gobies have a light gray brown body with an almost electric blue to blue/green lateral stripe that can become almost white in dominant or breeding males.   Depending on the velocity of the water where they are collected, all males have a tall, extended dorsal fin of varying height.   The males with “taller” first dorsal fins with one or more extended rays tend to live in slower moving streams and do not climb waterfalls as part of their life cycle.

Female Cobalt Blue Gobies have a much lighter body color, shorter first dorsal fins, and possess less colorful zig zag like lateral stripes along their body.

Cobalt Blue Goby (Stiphodon semoni)

Cobalt Blue Goby (Stiphodon semoni)

Stiphodon semoni are typically found at higher altitudes in narrow, rapid flowing runs and riffles that are broken up by wide, slower moving stretches that are usually located above the waterfalls or cataracts.

Cobalt Blue Gobies are almost always exclusive inhabitants of the short, coastal streams that are found on these tropical volcanic islands, and reside virtually free of predators above and below the cataracts and waterfalls.

Except for shrimp, neritid snails, other Stiphodon species, and gobies from the genus Sicyopus, their habitat makes them inaccessible to the majority of predatory fish species.

Stiphodon semoni are minimally territorial and generally peaceful in the wild as well as in an aquarium environment.

In their natural habitat, Cobalt Blue Gobies live in small groups where they stake out individual territories to feed on algae and bio films attached to the submerged rocks in the clean, clear, highly oxygenated water.

A pair or small group of Cobalt Blue Gobies are best kept in a biotope stream setting in an “aged” aquarium of at least 15 gallon capacity, with a substrate of varying size gravel and larger river rocks over a sandy base, with a piece or two of well aged driftwood and some leaf litter.   Males in particular like to burrow into the substrate when sleeping and spawning, so make sure there are plenty of different sized rocks scattered on the bottom and that the larger rocks sit on the base of the aquarium and not directly on the sand.

Aquatic plants are not necessary or present in their natural environment, but hardier species such as Anubias, Crinum, and Microsorum can be used in the tank for aesthetics.

Although Cobalt Blue Gobies do not necessarily need torrential water conditions, they do require a lot of water movement and extremely pristine water.   An oversize water filtration system with at least one powerhead is recommended to provide a turnover of at least 5 to 10 times/hr. of tank volume, but 10 to 15 times/hr. of tank volume per hour is much preferred.

Although weekly 30 to 50% water changes are also needed, the rest of the tank doesn’t have to be “spotless”.    Allow green algae to grow on all surfaces except for the front of the tank viewing area. Provide enough bright lighting to promote the growth of algae and other biofilm microorganisms.   Some tropical fish keeping enthusiasts “seed” their aquariums with a few pieces of river rock from a clean local stream to get things going.

The key for long term success in keeping this species is to provide them with a mature aquarium and a steady supply of algae covered rocks.

Lastly, because thse fish are climbers, a tightly fitting aquarium cover is highly recommended.

Although Cobalt Blue Gobies tend to be somewhat territorial, especially during the June to November breeding season, several can be housed together in a large “mountain stream” type community aquarium with other gobies such as Sicyopus, Sicyopterus, Rhinogobius, or Schismatogobius spp. provided the tank is large enough, there are plenty of rocky hiding places, and a steady supply of food is available.
A single male with two or more females is recommended.

Other peaceful, similarly sized species that live in well oxygenated streams such as Tanichthys, Microdevario, smaller Danio species, small characids, small poeciliid livebearers, loaches such as Gastromyzon, Pseudogastromyzon, Barbucca, or Acanthopsoides, and freshwater genera Caridina and Neocaridina shrimp can also make good tank mates.

Because of their complex, amphidromous breeding activity, the Cobalt Blue Goby (Stiphodon semoni) has not yet been bred in an aquarium environment.

In their natural habitat, adults live and spawn in the freshwater mountain streams, but the hatched larvae are swept downstream to the ocean where the fry spend the first part of their life cycle plankton developing into adults.

At some point in their development, they begin to migrate upstream and like salmon endure sometimes spectacular climbs over waterfalls and other obstacles to get to their hatching grounds.

During courting, the intensely colored males can be seen trying to coax the females into the spawning site, which is usually under the rocks.   During courtship, the males dive head first into the substrate followed by the female where spawning occurs.

Despite their small size, female Cobalt Blue Gobies can deposit as many as 10,000 tiny eggs per spawn. The pear shaped eggs, approximately .5 mm in diameter, are attached to the underside of rocks in the substrate and held fast by filaments.

The male guards the fertilized eggs until hatching occurs, usually within 24 hours.   The tiny undeveloped fry have a yolk sac but no mouth, anus, or eyes.   The yolk sac is absorbed in 3 or 4 days during which time the fry are dispersed downstream from their steep freshwater hatching stream to the sea.   They must reach the sea before their egg sacs are totally absorbed in order to survive on the microscopic plankton.

The larvae remain in pelagic form among the ocean plankton for 78 to 146 days or longer and eventually settle on the substrate in the shallow surf zone where they remain until they lose their temporary emerging caudal fin and begin the long journey back upstream to join the adults.   They often travel several miles inland through stretches of fast flowing water over cascades and waterfalls to reach their spawning grounds which can take several months to finish.

Cobalt Blue Gobies are sexually mature in about one year, and since they only live about two years, they initiate spawning almost immediately upon reaching their spawning grounds.

Amphidromy is not unique to members of Stiphodon and is practiced by all other genera.

Stiphodon semoni feed on algae and biofilms in their natural habitat.   In an aquarium environment they should be provided with sufficient amounts of algae, vegetable based sinking wafers, or spirulina wafers. They can be offered live or frozen bloodworms as an occasional treat, but only rarely.   Their elongated gut is specialized to process vegetable matter.

The Cobalt Blue Goby (Stiphodon semoni) is not a common purchase for most tropical fish keeping enthusiasts.  They are occasionally found in specialty shops and from importers online but many are misidentified due to incorrect labeling, over use of common names, mixing of undescribed species, taxonomic confusion, and lack of descriptive literature.   They are quite costly when available.

Cobalt Blue Goby (Stiphodon semoni)

Cobalt Blue Goby (Stiphodon semoni)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 15 gallons
Care Level: Moderate
Temperament: Peaceful
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 74-76° F, H 36 – 215 ppm, pH 6.5-7.5
Max. Size: 1.9”
Color Form: Blue
Diet: Omnivore
Compatibility: Biotope and Commuinity tanks
Origin: Indonesia
Family: Gobiidae
Lifespan: 2 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Experienced

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Red Shoulder Severum (Heros efasciatus)

Severum (Heros efasciatus)

         

Severum (Heros efasciatus) known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as Green Severum, Red Spotted Severum, Golden Severum, Hero Cichlid, and Banded Cichlid are found throughout the main channel of the Amazon, the rio Solimoes, and rio Xingu in South America.

Often confused with Heros severus, (previously known as Cichlasoma severum) Severum are a favorite South American cichlid kept by many tropical fish keeping enthusiasts.

Severum are found in calm, deeper, slower moving rivers and tributaries, as well as tannin stained floodplain lakes, usually around submerged branches and tree roots.   They prefer dimly lit waters.

Wild Severum, the Green variety, are one of the most peaceful of the larger South American cichlids and except during the breeding season, usually do not bother their tank mates.

Green Severum (Heros efasciatus)

Green Severum (Heros efasciatus)

Green Severum have a laterally compressed, oval shaped, beautiful bright green spotted body with dark light vertical bands and bright red eyes.   During the breeding season, Green Severum develop bright red orange bellies, anal and pelvic fins.   Males are larger, exhibit worm like markings on their gill covers, develop extended dorsal, anal, and pelvic fins, and often develop a nuchal hump.

The Golden Severum is a distinct captive bred color morph of the Green Severum.   They lack the faint black bands of Green Severum and are a bright yellow color throughout the body.   The dorsal and caudal fins are slightly whiter with yellow speckles.

The Red Spotted Severum is a selectively bred color variant of the Gold Severum, with dark red spots covering the entire body, sometimes into the fins.   They are native to lakes and tributaries of the Amazon Basin.

The Redheaded Severum is one of the more beautiful severums that grow to 8 inches and live up to 10 years.  Redheaded Severum are closely related to Green Severum with some of the same markings, but is colored a bright red over the face, back, shoulder, cheeks areas, anal, and dorsal fins.   Adult male Redheaded Severum have extended dorsal and anal fins, with females being more rounded.

Although Severum can be housed in a large community aquarium with other relative peaceful species of same size, they do best in a black water biotope setup in a tank of at least 60 gallon capacity with a sand or fine gravel substrate, a few river rocks arranged into caves, several pieces of driftwood or bogwood branches, and some Indian Almond Leaves on the bottom of the tank.

Except during the spawn, Severum are relatively peaceful for their size, however, when housed in a single species tank, they may develop a mean streak. This can be prevented by keeping them with several conspecifics.

Although aquatic plants are not necessary, they can be included for aesthetics.   Floating plants are recommended to diffuse overhead lighting.

Severum require clean water to thrive, so a good filtration system and regular water changes are essential to their well being.

Severum are substrate or cave spawners that are relatively easy to breed in an aquarium environment.   They require clean water and should be fed live or frozen bloodworms, chopped redworms, or tubifex to induce spawning. The best way to develop a breeding pair is to keep several juveniles in a large tank until a pair forms.

Severum are mouth brooders and spawning occurs on a flat stone, a piece of slate, the outside of a clay flowerpot, or similar smooth surface. The fish are excellent parents and both male and female will guard the eggs until they hatch, and then mouth brood the fry.

Severum fry are relatively large and are able to eat newly hatched brine shrimp or commercial powdered food as soon as they are free swimming.

Severum are omnivorous and in their natural habitat prey on small fish, insects, small crustaceans, worms, and vegetable matter.   In an aquarium environment they are not fussy eaters and will accept live, frozen, or freeze whole foods, such as blood worms, small red worms, tubifex, small shrimp, etc. as well as floating cichlid sticks or flakes.   Some vegetable matter should also be included in their diet such as shelled frozen peas, blanched spinach, dried Spirulina, etc.

The Green and Gold Severum are the most commonly sold species available to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts.   Redheaded and Red Spotted Severum are less common and demand a higher price online and from specialty fish shops.

Because of their large adult size, it is recommended that they be housed in the largest tank available regardless of their purchase size of 2″ to 6″.

Red Spotted Severum (Heros efasciatus)

Red Spotted Severum (Heros efasciatus)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 80 gallons
Care Level: Easy
Temperament: Peaceful
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 72-84°F, 1-8°H, pH 5.5-7.2
Max. Size: 12 ″
Color Form: Green, Red, Yellow
Diet: Omnivore
Compatibility: Single species tank
Origin: South America
Family: Cichlidae
Lifespan: 8-10 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate

Posted in Cichlids, Featured Articles, Freshwater Fish, South American Cichlids, Tropical Fish Keeping, Tropical Fish SpeciesComments (0)

Grindal Worm (enchytraeus Buchholzi)

Grindal Worm (enchytraeus Buchholzi)

Grindal Worm (enchytraeus Buchholzi) are small white non parasitic worms that are closely related to earthworms and about one third the size of white worms.

Smaller than white worms, grindal worms grow to a little over 1/4″ in length and have a nutritional value of about 70% protein and 14% fat, which makes them a valuable addition to an aquarium fish’s diet.

Grindal Worms are hermaphroditic.  When the worms mate with another individual to fertilize each other, they exchange sperm cells and during copulation, eggs are laid in transparent cocoons which contain approximately 20 to 30 eggs.

As the density of the culture increases, the reproductive rate drops off, at which time the worms need to be harvested or transferred to a larger container.

Grindal Worm (enchytraeus Buchholzi)

Grindal Worm (enchytraeus Buchholzi)

Many tropical fish keeping enthusiasts find Grindal Worms a great transition food for small tropical fish fry that require a lot of baby brine shrimp to get full, yet are too small to eat white worms.

Culturing Grindal Worms is not difficult;  just provide them a warm, moist medium, and food.

Small plastic deli food or freezer containers about 4” X 4” X 2” tall, with a large hole punched through the lid for ventilation are fine for small batches.    Put a small piece of filter floss into the hole to keep out mites and small insects.

For the growing medium, you can use  ground coconut fiber or mix equal amounts of potting soil and peat moss with enough water to create a thick, almost muddy, mix.   If you squeeze a golf ball size of the mix in your hand and get a few drops of water from the ball, you have the correct amount of water for the medium.

Spread a 1 inch layer of the growing medium on the bottom of the container, add the Grindal Worm starter culture along with some food, cover the medium with a small piece of glass, Plexiglas, or plastic cut from a container cover, and keep the container in a warm space.  They multiply quickly at higher temperatures and reproduce best between 75-80°F.

A “soil-less” method using two kitchen pot scrubbers can also be used in lieu of conventional medium.  Place the scrubbers in the container and add enough water to cover the bottom scrubber and barely dampen the top pad.  Add the culture, food, glass cover, and container cover.

A Styrofoam tropical fish shipping container with a small modified aquarium heater can keep several cultures at the correct temperature, or you can just keep them on top of a warm aquarium hood.

Regardless of which medium you choose, let the Grindal worm culture stand undisturbed for at least 7 days to allow them  to propagate.

Feeding the Grindal Worms is not a problem.   Just sprinkle some ground up dry cat food, multi grain baby cereal, oatmeal, or fish food flakes over the medium, place a plastic cover over the food, and close the container cover.

Grindal Worm (enchytraeus Buchholzi)

Grindal Worm (enchytraeus Buchholzi)

The worms will come to the surface of the medium to feed and congregate around the pieces of food under the plastic.   As they reproduce and  become thick enough, they can be harvested with a pair of tweezers or just scraped off the plastic cover into your aquarium.

Harvest the worms before you feed them.

Grindal Worm cultures occasionally develop mite infestations.

If you spot teeny white or brown mites moving around on the surface of the culture medium, you have an infestation.

Usually mites will not pose any problem, but if the population becomes too great, you may need to start another Grindal Worm culture.

This is easily accomplished by collecting as many worms as possible from the top of the culture and placing them in a glass of water for about 10 to 20 minutes.    The worms will sink to the bottom of the glass, and the mites can be carefully poured off with the water.

Use the washed grindal worms to start another culture, or feed them to your fry.

A Grindal Worm culture can produce worms for up to 6 months, but the medium will usually start to go bad after 4 months or so.

Most tropical fish keeping enthusiasts keep at least 2 or 3 cultures on hand that have been started at different intervals.   Label the start date on each container and begin new cultures as needed.

Grindal worms cultures are readily available online from a variety of sources and are usually supplied with an information sheet, instructions for growing the worms, and even bags of growing medium.

Substantial quantities can be grown in containers as small as a Deli container up to a shoe box.

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Pink Tail Chalceus (Chalceus macrolepidetus)

Pink Tail Chalceus (Chalceus macrolepidetus)

The Pink Tail Chalceus (Chalceus macrolepidetus) is found in highly oxygenated rivers and streams throughout northern South America in Colombia, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela.

Pink Tail Chalceus are considered a rare import and because of their large size are not usually kept by tropical fish keeping enthusiasts.

Pink Tail Chalceus (Chalceus macrolepidetus)

Pink Tail Chalceus (Chalceus macrolepidetus)

Pink Tail Chalceus are long and sleek with large iridescent silver scales that gradually diminish in size as they near the underside of the fish and a faint lateral line.

They have large eyes, a dark splotch on the lower gill cover, and dark red, pink, pale orange, or yellow fins.   The upper portion of the iris is orange to yellow.

The Pink Tail Chalceus is a skittish, predatory, mid to top water shoaling species that in their natural habitat feed on insects, aquatic crustaceans, worms, and smaller fish.

They are capable of sudden bursts of speed and in an aquarium environment often leap from the tank or injure themselves when startled.

Chalceus macrolepidetus is best housed as single specimens or in grops of at least 6 of their own kind. They need at least a 55 gallon aquarium with a sandy or gravel substrate with smooth river rock, a few background plants, some driftwood branches, and enough floating plants to diffuse overhead lighting and minimize skittishness.

They make good candidates for a large community aquarium with similarly sized characins like Leporinus, Brycon sp., Metynnis, Mylossoma, larger Loricariids, Pimelodiids, and Geophagus or Satanoperca sp. type cichlids.

Pink Tail Chalceus require a good filtration system with a powerhead for some water movement, a lot of free swimming space,and a tightly fitting cover to prevent jumping. Regular water changes are mandatory.

The Pink Tail Chalceus is an egg scatter that has been bred in an aquarium environment.  They require a very large, densely planted aquarium. Details are sketchy but females scatter up to 2000 eggs among the submerged vegetation that hatch out into relatively large fry that are capable of eating newly hatched brine shrimp as they become free swimming and the yolk sac has been absorbed.

The Pink Tail Chalceus is a carnivore that feeds primarily on insects and crustaceans. In an aquarium environment they should be fed live, frozen, or freeze dried prawns, mussels, clams, bloodworms, chopped earthworms, etc. along with floating carnivore flakes or pellets. Several small feedings daily are recommended.

When Pink Tail Chalceus (Chalceus macrolepidetus) are available for purchase, they are usually 3″ to 5″ in size. They are available from specialty tropical fish keeping shops and online from a variety of sources at moderate prices.

Pink Tail Chalceus (Chalceus macrolepidetus)

Minimum Tank Size: 55 gallons
Care Level: Moderate
Temperament: Peaceful
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 73-82°F , 5-18°H, pH 6.0-7.5
Max. Size: 10″
Color Form: Silver, Red
Diet: Carnivore
Compatibility: Keep with larger fish
Origin: South America
Family: Characidae
Lifespan: 15 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Advanced

 

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