Tag Archive | "tropical fish keeping"

Centipede Knife Fish (Steatogenys duidae)

Centipede Knife Fish (Steatogenys duidae)

The Centipede Knife Fish (Steatogenys duidae) also known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as the Leaf Knifefish or Grass Knifefish, is a nocturnal South American species that is found primarily in the deep water forest pools and creeks of the Amazon River and it’s tributaries throughout Venezuela and Brazil.

During the rainy season, Centipede Knife Fish are often found lying on the bottom of deeper leaf littered pools in small schools where they have easy access to worms, insect larvae, and small crustaceans that they feed on.   They prefer leaf littered substrates and pools with stronger currents where they blend in to avoid predation from larger species.

Centipede Knife Fish (Steatogenys duidae)

Centipede Knife Fish (Steatogenys duidae)

Centipede Knife Fish have a round head and a long flat body that becomes more rounded as it tapers toward the tail into a fine point.   They have no apparent dorsal fin, and an anal fin that runs underneath the entire length of the fish.

They are colored a brown to light tan, in a zig zag banded pattern that blends into the leafy substrate that they are often found among.

Like many knife fish species, Centipede Knife Fish have poor eyesight but posses an electric organ that they use to generate a weak electrical field around them, which allows them to communicate with others of their own kind, find a mate, navigate their surroundings, and locate the crustaceans, worms, and larvae that they feed on.

Although Centipede Knife Fish are a shy, peaceful species that usually do not bother other fish; in an aquarium environment, they need to be kept with at least 6 or more of their own kind to minimize individual bullying.    Kept singly in a community aquarium, they tend to be shy and will hide during the daylight hours, and when kept in smaller groups, they tend to constantly pick on each other to establish a “pecking order” of sorts.

Steatogenys duidae are relatively easy to care for compared to other knife fish species.

They do best in a densely planted aquarium of at least 55 gallon capacity, with a sand or very fine gravel substrate, some driftwood and rocks formed into caves for them to hide among, and some floating plants to diffuse overhead lighting. They require good water quality, a moderate amount of water movement, and regular 30 – 50% weekly water changes to keep them healthy.   A high quality canister type filtration system is recommended for this species.

Many tropical fish keeping enthusiasts place a clear acrylic or plastic tube into their tank as a hiding place so they can be observed during daylight hours, while others install “moonlight” blue LED lights on their tank to view them at night.

When kept in a community tank setting, they have been known to eat smaller fish like guppies, neons, etc., however, they should not be housed with much larger, overly aggressive, or fast moving species.   Because of their shy demeanor, too much activity in the tank tends to make them hide during the day.

Keeping them in groups of 6 or more fish, or with other calm, non aggressive species will alleviate the problem.

Centipede Knife Fish have never been bred in an aquarium environment and little is known about their reproduction activities.

Feeding Centipede Knife Fish is often the biggest challenge encountered with this species, especially when they are housed in a community environment.

As they get used to their surroundings, feeding them becomes a bit easier but because of their timidness, they usually hide when their tank mates are in a frenzy as they are being fed.  This being said, in the wild Centipede Knifefish are carnivores that eat when the sun sets.

They will accept fresh or frozen bloodworms, black worms, chopped earthworms, brine shrimp, baby guppies, pond snails, and ghost shrimp.   Although they have been “trained” to eat freeze dried bloodworms, they will usually never accept commercial flake foods or pellets.   Feed them when the lights are turned off on the tank and the food is on the bottom.

Centipede Knife Fish (Steatogenys duidae) are not common in tropical fish keeping shops however, they have recently become more available online and from specialty fish shops at moderate prices.

Centipede Knife Fish (Steatogenys duidae)

Centipede Knife Fish (Steatogenys duidae)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 55 gallons
Care Level: Moderate
Temperament: Peaceful
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy as adults
Water Conditions: 74.0 to 82.0° F, 5 – 10 dGH, pH 6.0-6.5
Max. Size: 8.25″
Color: Brown, Tan
Tank Compatability: groups of  6 or more
Diet: Carnivore
Origin: Venezuela, Brazil
Family: Hypopomidae
Lifespan: 15 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Advanced

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Elephantnose Knifefish (Sternarchorhynchus oxyrhynchus)

Elephantnose Knifefish (Sternarchorhynchus oxyrhynchus)

The Elephantnose Knifefish (Sternarchorhynchus oxyrhynchus) is one of 32 known species of knife fishes in the Sternarchorhynchus genus that is found in the slow moving tropical South American rivers, streams, and tributaries of Venezuela, the Guaianes, and the Amazon River, in Brazil.

Elephantnose Knifefish have have poor vision and are a relatively peaceful, largely nocturnal species that inhabit the dark muddy riverbeds and heavily vegetated areas where they feed on worms, small crustaceans, and other foods found along the bottom as they root around the substrate.

Although they are not aggressive to other species, they are territorial with others of their own kind.

Elephantnose Knifefish (Sternarchorhynchus oxyrhynchus)

Elephantnose Knifefish (Sternarchorhynchus oxyrhynchus)

The body of the Elephantnose Knifefish is a light gray to an almost black color.

They have a long, thin, elongated body with an anal fin that runs the entire length of the fish, pelvic fins located just behind the gills, and an almost comical looking, long, downward pointing, fleshy “nose” or proboscis, that they use to burrow around in the substrate for worms.   Sexing is next to impossible.

Elephantnose Knifefish are a scaleless species that emit a weak electrical charge that they use to locate food and possibly others of their own kind.

Because of the weak electrical charges they occasionally emit, they should not be mixed with other bottom dwelling species in an aquarium environment or with others of their own kind, especially in small tank.

The Elephantnose Knifefish is best kept alone in a single species biotope environment.   Although some tropical fish keeping enthusiasts have successfully kept them with other knife fish species, they are generally intolerant to others of their own species.

Sternarchorhynchus oxyrhynchus do best in a large, densely planted aquarium of at least 55 gallon capacity, with a mud or sandy substrate, a few pieces of driftwood or bogwood, some smooth river rock made into caves for hiding, and some floating plants
to diffuse overhead lighting and provide additional security to the fish.

Because they are nocturnal, they need minimal lighting, so low light loving plants like Java FernJava MossAnubias spp. and Vallisneria can be used to aquascape the tank.

When exposed to bright aquarium lighting, Elephantnose Knifefish become withdrawn and will eventually quit eating and waste away.   They should never be kept in a tank with a gravel substrate.

Elephantnose Knifefish are extremely sensitive to water quality and require a good filtration system with regular water changes to keep them healthy.   Like most scaleless species, they are also sensitive to salt and most aquarium medications.

To date, no successful spawning has occurred in an aquarium environment.

Elephantnose Knifefish can be fussy about eating.   They relish live tubifex but will also eat bloodworms, small or chopped up earthworms, live brine shrimp, and blackworms.

They can be weaned to accept frozen bloodworms, blackworms, or brine shrimp but live foods should be provided when they quit eating. Because they are largely nocturnal, it is best to feed them just before you turn the lights out on the tank at night.

Elephantnose Knifefish (Sternarchorhynchus oxyrhynchus) are rare in the aquarium trade but can be occasionally found online from wholesalers or from specialty tropical fish keeping shops.

Elephantnose Knifefish (Sternarchorhynchus oxyrhynchus)

Elephantnose Knifefish (Sternarchorhynchus oxyrhynchus)

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 55 gallons
Care Level: Moderate
Temperament: Peaceful
Aquarium Hardiness: Delicate
Water Conditions: 73-82° F, 6-12 °d, pH 6.5-7.0
Max. Size: 20″
Color Form: Gray, Black
Diet: Carnivore
Compatibility: Single species tanks
Origin: Venezuela, the Guaianes, Brazil
Family: Apteronotidae
Lifespan: 8-12 Years
Experience Lever: Advanced

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Karnataka Barb (Sahyadria denisonii)

Karnataka Barb (Sahyadria denisonii)

The Karnataka Barb (Sahyadria denisonii) is a new variety of Denison barb that has been collected from a new area in the state of Karnataka, India.   Karnataka is south of Kerala, in southern India where the majority of Red Line Sharks, up until recently, have been collected.

Although known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as the Karnataka Barb, Red Lined Torpedo Barb, Denison Barb, or Rose Line Shark, all are shoaling species synonymous to Sahyadria denisonii and are found in the fast flowing rivers, streams, and tributaries of southern India.

Like the Denison Barb, the Karnataka Barb is torpedo shaped and much longer than most other barbs.   They are fast swimmers that are shaped for speed and live in huge shoals to protect themselves from other predatory species.   In their natural environment they are frequently observed jumping out of the water.

Karnataka Barb (Sahyadria denisonii)

Karnataka Barb (Sahyadria denisonii)

The Karnataka Barb is predominately a silver color with a dark black line running the length of its body from the nose, through the eye and ending at the base of the caudal fin.

A bright red stripe that blends into a yellow stripe begins at the nose and runs through the eyes to about mid body, just above the black stripe.   The leading edge of the dorsal fin is bright red and the caudal fin is transparent with black over yellow accent stripes toward the tips.   The pectoral and anal fins are mostly transparent.

The Karnataka Barb has much more red than the Denison Barb, which makes it even more desirable to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts.

Like the Denison Barb, the Karnataka Barb is a peaceful fish that is a welcome addition to any large community aquarium.   They need good water flow with highly oxygenated water and they get along well with wide range of other similarly sized peaceful and semi-aggressive tropical fish species.

Karnataka Barbs are best housed in a densely planted aquarium of at least 55 gallon capacity, with a sandy or fine gravel substrate, some driftwood roots for them to hide among and some floating plants like Water Hyacinth, to provide security and minimize jumping.

Karnataka Barbs should be housed in groups of at least 6 to 8 specimens, and because of their skittishness and tendency for jumping, their tank must have a tightly fitting cover if floating plants are not provided.

A canister filtration system with a powerhead is recommended to provide the necessary current and oxygenation that this species requires.

In the wild, Karnataka Barbs consume both plant and animal based foods.   Although they are not picky eaters, in an aquarium environment they should be fed a balanced diet of plant, algae, and meaty foods.

Live, frozen, or freeze dried bloodworms, daphnia, brine shrimp, tubifex, a quality omnivore flake food or carnivore pellet will keep your Karnataka Barbs healthy and happy.

Almost all Denison Barbs sold to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts are specimens that have been bred in Indonesia, however, the Karnataka Barb so far is collected exclusively in the state of Karnataka, and is quite difficult to obtain.

When available from specialty shops or online dealers, they can be up to 6″ in size and quite costly.

Karnataka Barb (Sahyadria denisonii)

Karnataka Barb (Sahyadria denisonii)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 55 gallons
Care Level: Easy
Temperament: Peaceful
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 60-78° F, KH 4-10, pH 6.8-7.8
Max. Size: up to 6?
Color Form: Black, Red, White
Diet: Omnivore
Compatibility: Good Community Tank Fish
Origin: Karnataka, India
Family: Cyprinidae
Lifespan: 8 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate

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Panda Garra (Garra flavatra)

Panda Garra (Garra flavatra)

The Panda Garra (Garra flavatra) or “Panda Loach” is endemic to the Rakhine Yoma/Arakan mountain range in Rakhine state, western Myanmar (Burma) and although incorrectly labeled as a loach; is often sold to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as the Clown Loach, Panda Loach, Banded Butterfly Loach, or Rainbow Loach.

Although the Panda Garra and it’s related species are found predominately in the very shallow, clear, oxygen rich, streams of their range over substrates of mixed sand, gravel, pebbles and rocks; Garra flavatra have also been collected in relatively shallow, slow moving waters, with a number of specimens confined to almost stagnant pools.

In the Rakhine Yoma mountain range, Panda Garra were collected among Aplocheilus panchax, Puntius binduchitra, Rasbora daniconius, R. Rasbora, Olyra burmanica, Pterocryptis cf.

Panda Garra (Garra flavatra)

Panda Garra (Garra flavatra)

berdmorei, Sicyopterus fasciatus, Lepidocephalichthys berdmorei, Batasio elongatus and several unspecified Danio, Devario, Hara, Puntius, Parambassis, Pangio, Rasbora, and Schistura species.

Some of the other Garra specimens found in the same range of the Panda Garra includes Garra poecilura, which is the most similar to Garra flavatra in caudal fin pattern and body shape; Garra rakhinica, which has a comparable body shape but lacks the pretty caudal markings; Garra propulvinus and Garra vittatula, which are both an unremarkable, brown colored, laterally striped species ; Garra spilota, which has red fins, a coppery colored body with dark blue/gray blotches on the flanks; and Garra nigricolla, which is the larges of the species, distinguised by a dark stripe across the top of their head.

Garra flavatra is an attractive, active, entertaining species in the Cyprinidae family that contains over 100 recognized, but poorly documented species, most of which have never been seen by tropical fish keeping enthusiasts.   Because of their interesting behavior and attractive coloring, the Panda Garra is easy to recognize and has become more available in the hobby.

Panda Garra (Garra flavatra)

Panda Garra (Garra flavatra)

The Panda Garra (Garra flavatra) is the only member of the Garra genus that has alternating dark and light brown to black vertical bars on the flanks, and red markings in the fins.

Like all Garraina, they posess a modified lower lip that forms a somewhat adhesive disk that they use in turbulent waters to cling to the substrate while feeding.

In most species, the upper lip is almost absent, and both upper and lower jaws are keratinised (horny) and used to scrape food from the substrate.

Panda Garra are best kept in groups of 5 or more specimens, preferably in a biotope “hill stream” type community setting with other specimens collected from their range.

Garra flavatra should be housed in a well matured tank of at least 20 gallon capacity, with a mixed sand, gravel, pebble, and rock substrate, some driftwood branches, and a few hardy plants like Anubias spp., Bolbitis, or Microsorum attached to the rocks for decoration.   They need clean, well oxygenated water with a turnover of at least 10 times per hour, and regular water changes to keep them healthy and active.

An outside canister type filtration system with a powerhead and/or air stone is highly recommended to provide the necessary current and oxygenation.

Panda Garra have been known to  “climb” from the tank if water conditions are not to their liking, so a tightly fitting cover is also recommended.

The Panda Garra has been bred in an aquarium environment and at least two Myanmar exporters have been supplying the aquarium trade since 2008.

Adult specimens are collected during their natural breeding season which occurs from May to July.

Adults are housed together in large breeding tanks and conditioned with chopped earthworms, live Tubifex, and an algae rich diet.   The males develop turercules on their head when ready to spawn, and the females become noticeably gravid.   Breeders normally remove individual pairs at this stage and transfer them to smaller, highly oxygenated tanks with a moderate current.

Eggs are laid in the morning and hatch within 24 to 30 hours.   The fry are free swimming shortly thereafter and can be fed liquid fry food or a suspension made from egg yolk until they are large enough to accept newly hatched brine shrimp, usually in a week or so.   Continuous flowing water is believed to stimulate feeding and the growth rate of the fry.

In their natural environment adult Panda Garra graze on algae and other organisms from rocks with epilithic growth.   In an aquarium environment, they should be offered meaty foods such as live, frozen, or freeze dried bloodworms, Tubifex, brine shrimp, chopped prawn, chopped earthworms, etc. along with a quality sinking wafer containing vegetable matter or Spirulina.

They appreciate occasional treats of blanched spinach, melon, cucumber, and other fresh vegetables.   A river rock with live organisms placed in their tank on a regular basis is also readily appreciated.

Panda Garra are not common in tropical fish keeping shops and when available are usually misidentified as Panda Loaches, etc.   They are occasionally available online from importers in various sizes during their breeding season at relatively reasonable prices.

Panda Garra (Garra flavatra)

Panda Garra (Garra flavatra)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallons
Care Level: Moderate
Temperament: Peaceful
Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately Hardy
Water Conditions: 71.6 – 81F , 2-12 dKH, pH 6.5-7.5
Max. Size: 3.5″
Color Form: Brown, Tan
Diet: Omnivorous
Compatibility: Bio-tope and peaceful community
Origin: Myanmar
Family: Cyprinidae
Life Span: 5-6 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate

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

Red Hook (Myloplus rubripinnis) School

Red Hook (Myloplus rubripinnis)

The Red Hook (Myloplus rubripinnis) is found throughout Northern South America in the Amazon, Rio Orinoco, and many of the other major river systems.  It has been collected in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela from the densely vegetated slower moving rivers and streams in these regions.

In the aquarium trade, Red Hooks are often sold to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as “Silver Dollars”  however, their red with black edged anal fin, noticeably smaller adipose fin, and larger adult size quickly distinguishes them from their Serrasalmidae cousins.

All Silver Dollar species are found in tropical climates and prefer weedy river tributaries, with dense overhanging vegetation that provides the low light conditions they prefer.

Like most Silver Dollars, the Red Hook is a peaceful, but skittish, schooling species.  They are herbivores that in their natural habitat voraciously feed on the leaves of submerged and marginal plants however, they are opportunistic feeders that also eat earthworms,  small crustaceans, grubs, insects, and smaller fish.

In an aquarium environment, Red Hooks needs a huge amount of vegetable matter in their diet to prevent them from decimating a well planted tank.

Red Hook (Myloplus rubripinnis)

Red Hook (Myloplus rubripinnis)

The Red Hook (Myloplus rubripinnis) has a round, silvery, laterally compressed body with a long red pointed anal fin edged in black and a much smaller adipose fin.  They have small scales that give them a greenish blue sheen when viewed from different angles.

Although many tropical fish keeping enthusiasts say there is no way to differentiate between sexes, adult Myloplus rubripinnis can be sexed by the shape of their anal fin.  Females seem to have pinker bellies and an anal fin that points outward towards the tail, and then down to a point.    The anal fin in male Myloplus rubripinnis is usually somewhat longer and points almost straight down vertically, into the classic “J” shape.

Red Hooks do best in a densely planted, dimly lit aquarium of at least 75 gallon capacity, with a dark  sand or fine gravel substrate, some pieces of driftwood, a few well placed rocks for them to hide among,  and some floating plants to help diffuse any overhead lighting and reduce skittishness.    Hardy plants like Java Fern, Hornwort, etc. is recommended to minimize grazing.   They require good water quality and regular water changes.  A canister filter would be a good choice for this species to provide the water flow and quality necessary for their well being.

Because they are a schooling species, Myloplus rubripinnis do best when kept together with at least 5 or 6 other individuals in a single species biotope setup.   They are quite peaceful, and many tropical fish keeping enthusiasts successfully house Red Hooks with other larger peaceful fish in a community tank environment however, at least 3 or 4 should be kept together with plenty of hiding places to keep them from becoming too skittish, or reclusive.

To date, the Red Hook (Myloplus rubripinnis) not been successfully bred in an aquarium environment.

All Silver Dollars require vegetable matter in their diet and the Red Hook is no exception.   They should be fed commercial algae wafers, Spirulina flakes, cucumbers, lettuce, peas, zuchinni, spinach, and other fresh greens.   They will also eagerly accept regular offerings of fresh, frozen, or freeze dried bloodworms, tubifex, earthworms, ghost shrimp, and brine shrimp.

Myloplus rubripinnis are usually readily available in tropical fish keeping shops and online at reasonable prices.   They are usually sold as juveniles when they are 1 1/2″ – 3″ or larger in size.

Red Hook (Myloplus rubripinnis)

Red Hook (Myloplus rubripinnis)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 75 gallons
Care Level: Moderate
Temperament: Peaceful
Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately Hardy
Water Conditions: 73-81 °F°, <10dgH, pH 6.0-7.0
Max. Size: 10″ or more
Color Form: Silver, Red
Diet: Omnivorous (primarily Herbivorous)
Compatibility: Aggressive to small fish
Origin: Northern South America
Family: Characidae (Serrasalmidae)
Life Span: 5-10 years or more
Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate

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Silver Dollar (Metynnis argenteus)

Silver Dollar (Metynnis argenteus)

Silver Dollar (Metynnis argenteus) is a generic name that is attributed to a number of tropical species in the Characidae (Serrasalmidae) family that are closely related to the South American Pacu and Piranha. All are popular with tropical fish keeping enthusiasts.

This Silver Dollar (Metynnis argenteus), is endemic to the Rio Tapajós drainage, in Brazil and except for the black shoulder patch that they possess slightly above and behind each eye, they are identical to the “common” Silver Dollar (Metynnis hypsauchen) in appearance.

All Silver Dollar species are found in tropical climates and prefer highly vegetated, weedy river tributaries, with low light conditions.

Like most Silver Dollars, Metynnis argenteus is a peaceful, skittish, schooling species that inhabits the densely vegetated river tributaries of their range.  Although they are primarily vegetarians and voracious plant eaters, they are opportunistic feeders and will also eat earthworms, small insects, small crustaceans, and small fish.   In an aquarium environment, they will wreak havoc in a well planted tank unless additional vegetable matter is provided.

Although Metynnis argenteus is listed as a semi aggressive species, they are more like Pacu in temperament.

Juvenile Metynnis argenteus can be housed in a peaceful community tank with fish of the same size but if a tankmate can fit into their mouth, they will eat it.   Adults should be housed with larger catfish, other silver dollar species, Oscars, Pacu, etc.

Silver Dollar (Metynnis argenteus)

Silver Dollar (Metynnis argenteus)

As their name implies, the Silver Dollar (Metynnis argenteus) has a silvery, round, laterally compressed body with a black shoulder patch slightly above and behind their eye.   They have small scales give them a sheen of green and blue when viewed at certain angles.   The anal fin of the male is edged in red which becomes more pronounced during breeding, and a few species have small dots on their flanks.

Silver Dollars are best housed in a densely planted aquarium of at least 55 gallon capacity with a dark gravel substrate, some pieces of driftwood for them to hide among, a few rocks, and some floating plants to diffuse overhead lighting. Hardy plants like Java Fern, Hornwort, etc. should be provided to minimize grazing.     A shallow, peat filtered tank is also recommended to replicate their water parameters.

Being a schooling species, Metynnis argenteus do best when kept together with at least 5 or 6 other individuals in a single species biotope setup.   In a peaceful community tank setting with other larger fish, at least 3 or 4 should be kept together with plenty of hiding places, to keep them from becoming overly skittish and reclusive.

The best way to breed Metynnis argenteus is to purchase 6 or more juveniles and raise them together in a large tank to adulthood until a pair, or pairs can be identified.

Their breeding tank should be heavily planted with fine leaved plants and have subdued lighting.   The water should be kept at a temperature of 80 to 82 degrees F, the pH slightly acidic, and at a hardness at 8 dgH or less.

The colors around the anal, caudal, and dorsal fins of the male will become darker, and the red around the chest area will intensify, when the male is ready to spawn.   He will begin chasing the females around the tank and shimmy up close to them to get them ready to spawn.

When a female is ready to breed, she will release up to 2,000 eggs which, after being fertilized by the male, will drop to the bottom of the tank.   The eggs will hatch out in about 3 days at a temperature of 82 degrees F.

Silver Dollars (Metynnis argenteus) are not likely eat their eggs or fry, but it is always better to remove them to another tank after spawning.   A week or so after hatching, the fry will absorb their yolk sacs, become free swimming, and be fed infusoria until they are able to consume freshly hatched brine shrimp, finely crushed spirulina, or commercial prepared fry foods.

Because egg mortality can be quite high, many breeders keep a layer of Indian Almond Leaves on the bottom of the breeding tank to promote the growth of humic substances which act as an antibacterial and antifungal agent to minimize losses.

All Silver Dollars require a huge amount of vegetable matter in their diet.   They can be fed commercial algae wafers, Spirulina flakes, and regular offerings of cucumbers, lettuce, peas, zuchinni, etc. They will also eagerly accept occasional offerings of fresh, frozen, or freeze dried bloodworms, earthworms, ghost shrimp, and brine shrimp.

Metynnis argenteus are readily available in tropical fish keeping shops and online at reasonable prices.   They are usually sold as juveniles when they are 1 1/2″ – 2 3/4″ or larger in size.

 

Silver Dollar (Metynnis argenteus)

Silver Dollar (Metynnis argenteus)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 75 gallons
Care Level: Moderate
Temperament: Peaceful
Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately Hardy
Water Conditions: 75-82 °F°, <10dgH, pH 6.0-7.0
Max. Size: 6″
Color Form: Silver
Diet: Omnivorous (primarily Herbivorous)
Compatibility: Aggressive to small fish
Origin: Brazil
Family: Characidae (Serrasalmidae)
Life Span: 15 years or more
Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate

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

Silver Dollar (Metynnis hypsauchen)

Silver Dollar (Metynnis hypsauchen)

Silver Dollar (Metynnis hypsauchen) is a generic name tagged to a number of tropical species in the Characidae (now Serrasalmidae) family which are closely related to the South American Pacu and Piranha; all of which are popular with tropical fish keeping enthusiasts.

The common Silver Dollar (Metynnis hypsauchen) is distributed throughout parts of Brazil, Guyana, Bolivia, Peru, in both the Amazon and Rio Paraguay drainages, and some of the northern rivers in the Guyana Shield. All species of Silver Dollars live in tropical climates and in highly vegetated, weedy rivers and prefer low light conditions.

The common Silver Dollar (Metynnis hypsauchen) is a peaceful, nervous, schooling species that inhabits the densely vegetated river tributaries of their range.   They are primarily vegetarians and zealous plant eaters, but they are also opportunistic feeders and will readily eat worms, small insects, and small fish.   In an aquarium environment, they can quickly decimate a well planted tank

Although they are listed as a semi aggressive species, they are more like Pacu in temperament.   As juveniles, they can be housed in a peaceful community tank  setting with fish of the same size.   However, if they can get a fish into their mouths, they will eat it.   Once full grown, they can be housed with larger catfish, other silver dollar species, Oscars, etc.

Silver Dollar (Metynnis hypsauchen)

Silver Dollar (Metynnis hypsauchen)

Metynnis hypsauchen is round and silvery; just as it’s name implies.   It’s body is laterally compressed, almost round in appearance and colored silver with a hint of green and blue.

The anal fin of the male is edged in red which becomes more pronounced during breeding.   Some species have a series of small dots on their sides.

It’s close relative, Metynnis argenteus, is also known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as the Silver Dollar.   This species looks identical to Metynnis hypsauchen except for the black shoulder patch that they possess slightly above and behind each eye.

Because Silver Dollars are a schooling fish that grow quite large, they are best housed in at least a 55 gallon or larger aquarium with a dark gravel substrate, that is densely planted with hardy plants like Java Fern, Hornwort, etc., some pieces of driftwood for them to hide among, and some floating plants to diffuse overhead lighting.   A shallow, peat filtered tank is recommended to replicate their water parameters.

Being a schooling species, they do best when kept together with at least 5 or 6 other individuals when housed in a single species biotope setup.   In a peaceful community tank with other larger fish,

Silver Dollar (Metynnis hypsauchen)

Silver Dollar (Metynnis hypsauchen)

at least 3 or 4 should be kept together with plenty of hiding places, to keep them from becoming overly skittish and reclusive..

The best way to breed Metynnis hypsauchen is to purchase 6 or more juveniles and raise them together in a 75 gallon or larger tank to adulthood.   Eventually a pair or two will develop.   The breeding tank should be heavily planted with fine leaved plants and the lighting should be subdued.   The water should be kept at a temperature of 80 to 82 degrees F, the pH slightly acidic, and the hardness at 8 dgH or less. .

Providing a warmer water change will often trigger spawning.

When ready to spawn, the male’s colors around the anal, caudal, and dorsal fins will become darker, and the red around the chest area will intensify.   The male will begin to court the females by chasing them around the tank and shimmying to entice them.   When ready to breed, the female will release up to 2,000 eggs which, after being fertilized by the male, will drop to the bottom of the tank.   The eggs will hatch out in about 3 days at a temperature of 82 degrees F.

At this stage, even though the parents will unlikely eat their eggs or fry, it is better to remove them to another tank.   After a week or so, the fry will absorb their yolk sacs and become free swimming.   They can initially be fed infusoria until they are able to consume freshly hatched brine shrimp, finely crushed spirulina, and commercial prepared fry foods.   Egg mortality can be quite high, but a layer of Indian Almond Leaves on the bottom of the breeding tank can minimize losses.

Silver Dollars require a large amount of vegetable matter in their diet.   They can be fed commercial algae wafers, spirulina flakes, and regular offerings of cucumbers, peas, zuchinni, etc.   They will also eagerly accept occasional offerings of fresh, frozen, or freeze dried bloodworms, earthworms, ghost shrimp, and brine shrimp.

Both Metynnis hypsauchen and Metynnis argenteus are readily available in tropical fish keeping shops and online at reasonable prices.   They are usually sold as juveniles when they are 1 3/4″ in size or larger.

Silver Dollar (Metynnis hypsauchen)

Silver Dollar (Metynnis hypsauchen)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 55 gallons
Care Level: Moderate
Temperament: Peaceful
Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately Hardy
Water Conditions: 75-82 °F°, <10dgH, pH 6.0-7.0
Max. Size: 6″
Color Form: Silver
Diet: Omnivorous (primarily Herbivorous)
Compatibility: Aggressive to small fish
Origin: Brazil, Guyana, Boliva, Peru
Family: Characidae (Serrasalmidae)
Life Span: 15 years or more
Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate

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

Leopard Bush Fish (Ctenopoma Acutirostre)

Leopard Bush Fish (Ctenopoma Acutirostre)

Leopard Bush Fish (Ctenopoma Acutirostre) are also known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as Anabas ocellatus acutirostris, Anabas acuitrostis, Leopard ctenopoma, Spotted Climbing Perch, Spotted Leaf Fish, Spotted Cichlid, and Spotted Ctenoporna.

Leopard Bush Fish are endemic to the Congo River basin in Middle Africa and can be found in the densely vegetated streams, rivers, and even stagnant ponds of their domain where they prey on any fish or insect small enough to fit into their voracious mouths.

Leopard Bush Fish are a highly aggressive, slow moving ambush species that is most active during the evening hours.    They are a labyrinth fish that like to lie motionless close to the surface, mimicking a floating leaf, where they can easily attack unsuspecting fish.

Like all labyrinth species, Leopard Bush Fish have a special labyrinth organ which allows the fish to breathe air and survive in muddy, oxygen depleted waters.

Leopard Bush Fish (Ctenopoma Acutirostre)

Leopard Bush Fish (Ctenopoma Acutirostre)

Ctenopoma Acutirostre have a base body color of yellow to dark brown, with large dark brown spots across the entire body that extend onto the fins.  They have large eyes and a slender, high profile body with a pointed head.

Both sexes have pointed spines on their dorsal, but males possess more developed patches of spines on their gill covers and at the base of their caudal fin.

Leopard Bush Fish can grow to over 6″ in captivity and do best in a densely planted aquarium of at least 55 gallon capacity, with a dark gravel substrate, plenty of driftwood roots, and lots of floating plants to subdue overhead lighting.   They require a lot of swimming space, plenty of places to hide, good filtration, and a tightly fitted tank cover; especially if you want to try breeding the species.

They can be housed in a community aquarium with peaceful fish larger than themselves, but cannot be kept with smaller specimens or aggressive species.   Good tankmates include Gouramis, Bala Shark, Silver Dollars, Corydoras, Plecostomus, Ancistrus Catfish, and other larger peaceful species.

Although Breeding Spotted Leaf Fish has been accomplished in an aquarium environment, it is very rare and there are only a few cases where successful spawning have occurred.   A large tank

Leopard Bush Fish (Ctenopoma Acutirostre)

Leopard Bush Fish (Ctenopoma Acutirostre)

of at least 55 gallon capacity is needed with lots of submerged and floating plants, a bubble type sponge filter, and a tightly fitting cover to provide the warm, humid air necessary for the development of the fry’s labyrinth organs.

The water temperature in the breeding tank should be 79 to 85 °F, with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0, and a water hardness of 2-4 ° dGH.

When ready to breed, the male will build a bubble nest under the floating plants.   The male will wrap his body around the female until she releases her eggs which are immediately fertilized by the male.   The eggs float into the bubble nest and hatch in about 48 hours.

The parents do not care for the eggs or fry and should be removed from the breeding tank.

After 2 days, the fry can be fed infusoria until they are able to accept baby brine shrimp and/or finely crushed flake food.   The fry need plenty of places to hide and the survival rate is reportedly quite low.

Leopard Bush Fish should be fed live, frozen, or freeze dried mosquito larvae, earthworms, tubifex, bloodworms, Drosophila fruit flies, small guppies, etc.   Live foods are preferred, but they can be acclimated to accepting flakes and floating pellets.

Ctenopoma Acutirostre are usually nor readily available to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts in local fish shops but can be occasionally purchased online and from importers at modest prices.

 

Leopard Bush Fish (Ctenopoma Acutirostre)

Leopard Bush Fish (Ctenopoma Acutirostre)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 55 gallons
Care Level: Moderate
Temperament: Peaceful
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 73-83 °F°, 5-12 NK°, pH 6.0-8.0
Max. Size: 7 7/8″
Color Form: Dark Brown, Yellow
Diet: Carnivorous
Compatibility: Aggressive to small fish
Origin: Africa; Congo basin
Family: Anabantidae
Life Span: 8-15 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Advanced

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

Astatotilapia flaviijosephi Dominant Male

Jordan Mouthbrooder (Astatotilapia flaviijosephi)

The Jordan Mouthbrooder (Haplochromis flaviijosephi or Astatotilapia flaviijosephi) is the only haplochromine cichlid whose natural range is not in the continent of Africa.  It is found in rivers, freshwater lakes, and freshwater springs in Israel and Syria, and because of habitat loss, is considered endangered.

There are a small number of isolated populations in the waters surrounding the Sea of Galilee, the Baisan Valley, Azraq Oasis, Lake Tiberias, and Lake Muzairb which may be considered sub-species.

Little is known about the Jordan Mouthbrooder in Syria, but all of the sub-populations are considered threatened.  In Israel, there are 4 or 5 populations that currently exist in lakes and rivers, but extreme droughts, pollution, and loss of water has resulted in a decline in habitat quality.   All populations are found in shallow, vegetated waters.

The Jordan Mouthbrooder is basically a silvery tan colored fish with twelve faintly visible vertical bars running along the sides of the fish. The fins are mostly transparent, but dominant or breeding males undergo an almost spectacular color transformation.

Astatotilapia flaviijosephi Juvenile

Astatotilapia flaviijosephi Juvenile

The pelvic fins and entire underside of the males turn a jet black, and two to three large orange “egg spots” appear on the anal fin and cross the fin rays. The bottom lip becomes a bright blue color and a distinct black bar appears at the top of the eye socket and continues forward and downward past the corner of the mouth into the black throat.

The head and rest of the body is a tan color with a slightly reddish tinge, and an orange splotched area begins around the base of the pectoral fin and continues rearward to the caudal peduncle.

When stressed, both sexes exhibit dark blotching along the flanks but males are much darker and brightly colored than females.

Adult male Jordan Mouthbrooders can reach a length of over 5″, with females being slightly smaller. Males can be distinguished from females by their diet and teeth.   Males posses molariform teeth and feed mainly on snails, while juveniles and females posses slender, blade like teeth and feed on insects, small echironomid larvae, oligochaetes, and amphipods.

Jordan Mouthbrooders can be housed in a 30 gallon or larger aquarium with a medium sandy or gravel substrate, some plants such as Anubias, a few rocks, and a piece of driftwood if desired.  Moderate filtration and bi weekly water changes are recommended to keep the water as pristine as possible.

Astatotilapia flaviijosephi are maternal mouth brooders that are reportedly relatively easy to breed.  They are seasonal spawners that in their native waters reproduce several times from April to July.

The females gestate the young for around two weeks at a temperature of 82° F.   Males court the females by fanning out a pit in the gravel at the base of a rock where spawning occurs.   When the male entices a gravid female into the pit with a series of shimming gyrations, spawning takes place and the male leaves the female to fend for herself.

The female will find a spot to brood her developing young and for up to two days after release, she will continue to allow the free swimming fry into her buccal cavity.   After this period, the female will continue to protect the area around her fry, but she will not allow them back into her mouth.

Jordan Mouthbrooders are a carnivorous species that do well on a variety of fresh and frozen foods.   Commercial carnivore pellets, flakes, and granules can be used as a staple diet, with regular offerings of fresh, frozen, or freeze dried bloodworms, brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, etc.

Because Astatotilapia flaviijosephi is regarded as endangered, it is unlikely that any will ever be available in a tropical fish keeping shop or online any time soon.  Obtaining specimens from breeders is possible through worldwide cichlid organizations.

Astatotilapia flaviijosephi Dominant Male

Astatotilapia flaviijosephi Dominant Male

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons
Care Level: Difficult
Temperament: Semi Aggressive
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 68-84° F, dH 18-30, pH 7.0-9.0
Max. Size: Males 5″+, Females 4″
Color Form: Silver, Tan, Black
Diet: Omnivore
Compatibility: Single species tank or other eastern cichlids
Origin: Israel and Syria
Family: Cichlidae
Lifespan: 5 years +
Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate

Posted in Asian Cichlids, Cichlids, Featured Articles, Freshwater Fish, Tropical Fish SpeciesComments (1)

Convict Cichlid (Archocentrus nigrofasciatus)

Convict Cichlid (Archocentrus nigrofasciatus)

 

 

 

The Convict Cichlid (Archocentrus nigrofasciatus)also known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as the Zebra cichlid, is found in the lakes, rivers, and streams of Central America, primarily from El Salvador to Guatemala on the Pacific coast, and from Honduras to Guatemala on the Atlantic side.

Although Convict cichlids are found in lakes, they prefer living in rivers and streams with rocky substrates and sunken branches where they can easily prey on small fish, insects, worms, crustaceans, plant matter, and algae.

Several color strains of Archocentrus nigrofasciatus exist in the wild such as the Honduran Red Point Convict found from Honduras south to Costa Rica, however both Amatitlania coatepeque from Lake Coatepeque in El Salvador, and Amatitlania kanna from Panama’s Atlantic coast which was originally identified as A. nigrofasciata, are now considered separate species.

Convict Cichlid (Archocentrus nigrofasciatus)

Convict Cichlid (Archocentrus nigrofasciatus) Female

Wild caught Convict Cichlids have 8 to 9 dark black vertical bars over a bluish gray body, a greenish tint on the fins, and a darker blotch on their operculum.

Males are larger but less colorful than the females and as they grow, develop a lump on their foreheads.  Males also have more pointed dorsal, ventral, and anal fins.

Female Convict cichlids are colored a pink to bright orange around their ventral area and the dorsal fin, and have more intensely colored black bands on the body.   Selective breeding has produced white, pink, and gold colored Convict cichlids which lack the distinctive black banding.

Archocentrus nigrofasciatus is an aggressive species that can tolerate a wide range of water conditions. They have been found in waters with a pH of 6.6-7.8, a GH from 63 to 77 ppm, and water temperatures from 79-84 degrees F. but they can also tolerate much cooler water.  Their low care requirements make them an excellent beginner species for newcomers to cichlid fish keeping.

Convict Cichlids should be kept in an aquarium of at least 25 gallons with a fine gravel or sandy substrate, plenty of rocks, some driftwood roots, and a few hardy plants like Java Fern or Amazon Swords for them to hide among, and a good filtration system.   Floating plants are recommended as a form of cover and to diffuse overhead lighting.  Because they come from moving streams and rivers, a power head or an outside canister filtration system is recommended to provide them with some current in the tank.

Convict Cichlids are notorious for rearranging their surroundings, so don’t expect them to leave the tank neat and tidy. This is another reason why canister filters are preferred for this species.

In general, Convict Cichlids are a relatively timid species but when they are breeding, they become extremely aggressive.  A breeding pair is fearless and will attack any size fish without hesitation. For this reason, keeping them in a single species environment is recommended.

If you choose to keep them in a community environment with other larger cichlid species, a 55 gallon or larger tank is recommended. But, even then, don’t overcrowd the aquarium. Some tropical fish keeping enthusiasts recommend keeping Convict Cichlids with faster swimming species like mollies or barbs in a community tank with some success.

Convict Cichlids are are prolific breeders that are unbelievably easy to breed.

If you decide to breed them, make room for a batch of at least 20 to 30 juveniles within just a few weeks.

Convict Cichlids start spawning at a very young age, and when they do, they will breed with any female Convict Cichlid in the vicinity.  Convict Cichlids will readily pair off to form a patriarch/matriarch family where both the male and female care for the young.

In the wild, Convict Cichlids will lay their eggs underneath rocky overhangs and in caves. In an aquarium environment, replicate these conditions by placing flat stones on top of each other, adding half of a clay flower pot to the tank, or cutting a section of PVC pipe and placing it in the tank.   Don’t worry about placement, the fish will just move everything around to their liking anyway.

If you feed them plenty of food, within a few weeks you can expect to see a batch of eggs on the upper part of the cave.   To promote breeding, increase the water temperature between 75-79°F. The eggs will hatch in 3 to 5 days and you can begin feeding the fry infusoria, freshly hatched brine shrimp, or finely crushed cichlid flakes almost immediately.   The fry grow quickly and should be fed 3 or more times a day.

The parents are incredibly good parents and will guard the eggs and the fry to the death.  They will also help the fry find food and will create pits for them to keep them safe as they mature.

In the wild, Convict Cichlids primarily feed on small insects, insect larvae, and small crustaceans.  In an aquarium environment, they will eat just about anything you put in the tank.   However, a quality cichlid flake or pellet should be their main diet with regular supplemental feedings of live, frozen, or freeze dried tubifex, bloodworms, brine shrimp, daphnia, chopped earthworms, ocean plankton, etc.

Convict Cichlids are readily available in most tropical fish keeping shops at reasonable prices when they are 1-1/2″ to 2″ in size.

Convict Cichlid (Archocentrus nigrofasciatus)

Convict Cichlid (Archocentrus nigrofasciatus)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons
Care Level: Easy
Temperament: Aggressive
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 68-82° F, KH 9-20, pH 6.5-8.0
Max. Size: 6″
Color Form: Gray, Black
Diet: Omnivore
Compatibility: Community or Single species tank
Origin: Central America
Family: Cichlidae
Lifespan: 8-10 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner

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

Kribensis (Pelvicachromis pulcher)

Kribensis (Pelvicachromis pulcher)

The Kribensis (Pelvicachromis pulcher) or “Krib” as many tropical fish keeping enthusiasts call them, is endemic to Nigeria and Cameroon, Africa. Kribs are a popular aquarium species that are sold under various names such as; the common krib, red krib, super red krib, rainbow krib, rainbow cichlid, and purple cichlid

Although some populations of Kribensis have been found in brackish waters, they are more often found in the heavily vegetated still and slow moving waters of their range

Kribensis (Pelvicachromis pulcher)

Kribensis (Pelvicachromis pulcher) Female

Both Kribensis sexes have a dark longitudinal line that runs from the caudal fin to the mouth of the fish.   They have pink to red abdomens, and both their dorsal and caudal fins have gold ringed ocelli or eye spots on them. During breeding, the females develop a purple belly and the colors of both sexes become much more intensified. Males are larger than the females and have more pointed pelvic, dorsal, and anal fins. Females are smaller, rounder, and have more rounded dorsal and anal fins. Adult males have a much more elongated and spade shaped caudal fin, and also lack the gold sheen on the dorsal fin.

Kribensis are a shy and retiring species that are often recommended for community tanks, but like all cichlids, they become territorial and mildly aggressive when breeding. They can be housed with other West African Dwarf cichlids but they need enough tank space to set up territories for themselves. They can also be housed with barbs, danios, rasboras, characins, gouramis, Corydoras, and Loricariids.

Although a single pair of Pelvicachromis pulcher can be kept in a 20 gallon tank, they do best in a densely planted aquarium of at least 30 gallons, with a fine gravel or sandy substrate, some rocky caves or clay flowerpots for them to breed and hide among, and some driftwood roots for decoration and shelter.
Give them plenty of potential breeding spots and hiding places.

Kribensis are an easy to breed monogamous cave spawning species that make a great “first fish” for new cichlid enthusiasts.

The best way to obtain a pair is to buy a group of 6 or more juveniles and allow pairing to naturally occur. Set up the breeding tank with plenty of caves and an air powered sponge filter to prevent the fry from being sucked into a power filter.  The water should be in the 75-81°F range with a pH of 6.5-7.0.

If the pH is too acidic, the result will be mostly females. If the pH is to alkaline, more males will be the result.

Condition the breeding pair on a diet of live, frozen, or freeze dried bloodworms, brine shrimp, etc.

Spawning should commence when the colors of the pair intensify, especially the female. The female’s belly will turn a deep purple and she will initiate a spawning ritual to entice the male. When ready, the pair will choose a cave to spawn in and up to 300 adhesive eggs will be deposited on the walls or the roof of the cave where they are fertilized by the male. The female tends to the eggs while the male defends the cave against any intruders.

The eggs will usually hatch out in 2 to 3 days. The fry becoming free swimming after another 7 to 8 days. The fry are herded out of the cave en masse and shepherded around the tank by both of the parents. When a singles stray away from the heard, they are rounded up into the mouth of the parents and spit back out into the main group. Both parents provide brood care which lasts from 21 to 28 days.

At this point, some females will turn on their partners, so watch the pair carefully.

Feed the fry newly hatched brine shrimp or microworms, but keep them with the parents until signs of the next spawn are seen, then remove the fry to another system.

Kribensis are easy to feed and will accept most foods. Feed them a quality cichlid pellet and augment their diet with regular feedings of fresh, frozen, or freeze dried tubifex, bloodworms, mosquito larvae, brine shrimp, etc.

Kribensis are readily available to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts in a range of sizes at reasonable prices, or they can be purchased online.

Kribensis (Pelvicachromis pulcher)

Kribensis (Pelvicachromis pulcher) Male

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons
Care Level: Easy
Temperament: Peaceful
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 75-80° F, 0-12°H, pH 5.6-7.5
Max. Size: Males 5″, Females 4″
Color Form: Black, Blue, Red, Gold
Diet: Omnivore
Compatibility: Community or Single species tank
Origin: Nigeria, Cameroon
Family: Cichlidae
Lifespan: 10-15 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner

Some images courtesy of Kevin Bauman

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

Burton's Mouthbrooder (Astatotilapia burtoni)

Burton’s Mouthbrooder (Astatotilapia burtoni)

Burton’s Mouthbrooder (Astatotilapia burtoni) has been found in Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Zambia, and is considered a Victorian cichlid from the middle of Lake Tanganyika, however, it has also been collected from Lake Kivu, which is north of Lake Tanganyika and west of  Lake Victoria.

Burton’s Mouthbrooders, synonymous with Haplochromis burtoni, prefer living in the smaller streams, river mouths, shallower parts of lakes near the mouth of rivers, freshwater swamps, island deltas, and swamps near Lake Tanganyika; where several color varieties (including a blue and yellow morph) have been found.

Burton's Mouthbrooder (Astatotilapia burtoni)

Burton’s Mouthbrooder (Astatotilapia burtoni) Female

Non territorial male, female, and juvenile Burton’s Mouthbrooders are a sandy gray green, silver/brown color and except for orange anal fin spots, lack any other distinctive markings.  Juveniles may have a hint one or two horizontal bars and several faint narrow vertical lines on the body.

Dominant territorial male Burton’s Mouthbrooders are a bright gray to luminescent blue to yellow color, with lighter marbling, and a reddish orange splotch above the pectoral fins.  They have several distinct black head markings consisting of 2 to 3 bars across the forehead, a horizontal bar that extends backward from the eye along the body, and a bar that extends from the mouth to the eye.   They have blue dorsal and caudal fins with red spots, and an anal fin with an irregular row of 5 to 9 large orangs “egg” spots.    Incubating females may also possess head markings.

Dominant male Burton’s Mouthbrooders from the Lake Tanganyika area have more of a blue “glow” to their body and a red splotch behind the gill covers.  The

Burton's Mouthbrooder (Astatotilapia burtoni)

Burton’s Mouthbrooder (Astatotilapia burtoni) Male

black mask over their head is also much more intense than the variants found in the Nile and Kivu lake basins.  Specimens from the latter area also tend to have a more greenish glow over their body than the Tanganyikan variants.

Dominant male Burton’s Mouthbrooders are much more colorful than non-dominant males and females.  Males also grow much larger than the females.

Male Burton’s Mouthbrooders are highly aggressive and become more so as they become adults.  Males color up when another male is present in their territory and become as drab as the females when other males are absent.

Astatotilapia burtoni can be kept in groups of one male to at least three females in a tank with other fish that do not resemble Astatotilapia burtoni,  to minimize aggressive behavior.   A ratio of 3 males to 5 or 6 females in a single species tank will also minimize aggression, however keeping 3 males with several females will cause the demise of the sub-dominant male in short order.    At a size of 3″ it is difficult to keep more than one male in a 55 gallon tank.

Although they can be kept with other aggressive fish like mbuna types, Burton’s Mouthbrooders are best kept in a single species aquarium of at least 55 gallon capacity, with a sandy or fine gravel substrate and plenty of rocks, heaped high, to provide hiding places for bullied females.  Because they are mouthbrooders and enjoy digging in the substrate, only hardy plants, if any, should be provided.  They do best in clean hard water that should be changed weekly, or at least every other week.

If you can keep the male from terrorizing everybody else in the tank, Burton’s Mouthbrooders are easy to breed.   Spawning occurs like other Victorian cichlids; the females become gravid, produce eggs, and spawning occurs.

The male digs a breeding pit in the sand and vigorously defends it against intruders.   He then entices a female into the breeding pit where the eggs are laid and fertilized.   The female then holds the eggs in her mouth until hatching occurs, usually in about 18 to 22 days.

During breeding, the female will usually not eat and will keep hidden between the rocks.  When the eggs hatch, the female will tend to the fry and hold them in her mouth until they become large enough to take care of themselves.  The broods (from 12 to 20) and the fry are small, but the fry grow quickly.  In about 5 weeks, they will grow to about one inch in length.  The females are protective of their fry for a week or two after release.  With the slightest scare, all the fry will scoot back into the mouth of the female for protection.

The fry can be fed baby brine shrimp or finely crushed omnivore flakes.

In their natural habitat, Burton’s Mouthbrooders are opportunistic predators that feed on aquatic  insects, insect  larvae,  annelids,  small fish, small rotifers,  copepods,  plant  material, diatoms, seeds, and organic detritus.  In an aquarium environment, they do well on a quality cichlid flake or pellet, augmented with Spirulina flakes and live, frozen, or freeze dried bloodworms, Daphnia, earthworms, etc.

Astatotilapia burtoni is not a fish that tropical fish keeping enthusiasts will commonly see, however it is becoming more popular in fish keeping circles.  They are available online and from specialty fish shops at a size of 1 1/2″ to 3″ at reasonable prices.

Burton's Mouthbrooder (Astatotilapia burtoni)

Burton’s Mouthbrooder (Astatotilapia burtoni)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 55 gallons
Care Level: Difficult
Temperament: Aggressive
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 75-79° F, GH 7-11, pH 8.5-9.0
Max. Size: Males 5″,  Females 4″
Color Form: Gray, Blue, Green
Diet: Omnivore
Compatibility: Community or Single species tank
Origin: West Africa
Family: Cichlidae
Lifespan: 10 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner

Images courtesy of Kevin Bauman

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

African Butterfly Cichlid (Anomalochromis thomasi)

African Butterfly Cichlid (Anomalochromis thomasi)

The African Butterfly Cichlid (Anomalochromis thomasi) is a small riverine cichlid that inhabits the heavily vegetated forest streams of Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia in Western Africa.

African Butterfly Cichlids prefer living in slightly acidic, oxygen rich streams with a great deal of overhanging vegetation. The fallen leaves, branches, etc. in the water column stains the water a tea color, which is caused by the tannin released during the decomposition of the decaying organic matter.   Anomalochromis thomasi often share the same waters with Hemichromis and Pelvicachromis species.

African Butterfly Cichlid (Anomalochromis thomasi)

African Butterfly Cichlid (Anomalochromis thomasi)

Anomalochromis thomasi have six black bars over a light brown to gray background.   Their dorsal and caudal fins are a dark brown to black color, edged with baby blue and red on the outside.   A diagonal black bar intersects the red iris in their eyes, and they have a dark black spot on their operculum with a red to reddish blotch on top.  Females have less distinct black markings, are a bit smaller than the males, and are noticeably rounder when viewed from the top; especially when gravid.

The African Butterfly Cichlid is a shy, relatively peaceful species but like all cichlids, it becomes territorial during spawning.  In an aquarium environment they can be kept with other dwarf African cichlids, smaller tetras, Corydoras, and gourami.  Because they are loosely gregarious, they do best in a single species tank in small groups.  They should not be housed with any of the more aggressive cichlid species.

African Butterfly Cichlids should be kept in at least a 30 gallon aquarium with a fine or medium size gravel substrate, plenty of rocks for them to hide and spawn upon, some driftwood, and a few broad leaved plants like Echinodorus sp. if desired.

These cichlids will not usually dig up the substrate, so a densely planted aquarium with a lot of rocky cover and roots makes an ideal habitat for them.   Some floating plants can be added to diffuse overhead lighting and a good filtration system is needed to maintain water quality.

The African Butterfly Cichlid makes a good choice for newcomers to dwarf cichlids.   They are hardy, relatively undemanding, peaceful, and easily bred in an aquarium environment.

If you plan to breed Anomalochromis thomasi, purchase a 6 or more juveniles and grow them out together.   Condition them on live or frozen foods until you can identify a pair, or pairs.   This species is monogamous and the pairs can easily be identified as they begin to defend their territories.

African Butterfly Cichlids are not too fussy about water chemistry.   They are substrate spawners and will readily breed in slightly acidic or alkaline water.

Place the breeding pair in a separate tank with a lot of flat stones and broad leafed plants.   An air powered corner sponge filter should be provided for water movement and filtration.   When she is ready to spawn, the female will start to clean off several plant leaves or stones to lay her eggs on. The male will join her in cleaning a selected area. When ready, the female will deposit her eggs and move away, letting the male fertilize them.  The process continues until up to 500 eggs are deposited.

The eggs hatch out in about two days. During this time, both parents defend the spawning area as the female tends to her eggs. Both take turns digging shallow depressions around the area.  When the eggs hatch, the parents move the entire batch of fry from pit to pit until they become free swimming; usually in about 3 to 4 days. It takes another day or so for the free swimming fry to completely absorb their yolk sacs, at which time they can be fed newly hatched brine shrimp or microworms.

The fry are slow growers and the parents will usually continue to care for their brood for another month or so before spawning again.

African Butterfly Cichlids are easy to feed.   They are not fussy eaters but should be fed a quality Cichlid pellet along with regular feedings of live, frozen, or freeze dried brine shrimp, bloodworms, daphnia, etc.

African Butterfly Cichlids are somewhat drab as juveniles and are frequently overlooked when found in tropical fish keeping shops.   However, once they settle into an aquarium environment, they color up well and are quite beautiful.   They are usually available on line and from specialty fish shops at a size of  1″ to 2″.

African Butterfly Cichlid (Anomalochromis thomasi)

African Butterfly Cichlid (Anomalochromis thomasi)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons
Care Level: Easy
Temperament: Peaceful
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 73-80° F, KH 10-15, pH 5.5-7.5
Max. Size: 3.15″
Color Form: Gray, Black
Diet: Omnivore
Compatibility: Community or Single species tank
Origin: West Africa
Family: Cichlidae
Lifespan: 10 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner

Images courtesy of Kevin Bauman

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

Spotted Sleeper Goby (Eleotris picta)

Spotted Sleeper Goby (Eleotris picta)

The Spotted Sleeper Goby (Eleotris picta) is a large species that is also known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as the Spiny Cheek Sleeper Goby, Water Cow, or Water Cow Goby.

Several species of Sleeper Gobies are found in fresh and brackish water rivers, estuaries, and coastal regions throughout the Indo-west Pacific, from the eastern coast of Africa to the Hawaiian Islands, and in many parts of their range, they appear to reside only in fresh waters.

Although Spotted Sleeper Gobies are found in a variety of habitats including brackish estuarine and coastal areas, they are most often found in small coastal freshwater streams.

The Spotted Sleeper Goby inhabits rivers with low to high currents which generally occur in freshwater and occasionally in slightly brackish waters at the river mouths.

Smaller specimens are normally more abundant near the coast where they feed on small shrimp and fish.   Only larger individuals are found upstream.

Sleeper Gobies occur in American Samoa, Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Christmas Island, Comoros,Fiji, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritius, Micronesia, Mozambique, Myanmar, New Caledonia, Palau, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines Réunion, Seychelles, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Taiwan, Province of China, Tanzania,the Hawaiian Islands, Vanuatu, and  Viet Nam.

The Spinycheek Sleeper Goby has a broad head, a robust body, a short snout, a large mouth with a protruding lower jaw, with an upper jaw that extends to the middle or end of the eye.    They have several rows of teeth on their jaws, with an outer row of canines in the rear and an inner row where the jaws meet at the front of the mouth.   The front nostril overlaps the upper lip, the rear nostril is an open pit, and the gill openings extend to below the opercle.    All species have a strong forward pointing spine embedded in the skin at the lower corner of the preopercle which gives them their name.

Sleeper Gobies have two dorsal fins with the base of the second dorsal less than the distance from the end of that base to the tail fin.    Except for the tip of the snout, the top of the head, cheeks, opercle, and entire body is scaled with tiny scales.  They have no visible lateral line.

Spotted Sleeper Goby (Eleotris picta)

Spotted Sleeper Goby (Eleotris picta)

Spotted Sleeper Gobies and many other Eleotris species can change their colors depending on their mood, or to camouflage themselves.

The body of the Water Cow can be a tan to dark chocolate brown, usually with a few scattered brown spots on the upper sides and the top of the body being lighter than the sides.   Two stripes radiate across the cheek from the eye to the rear, with no dark spots on the upper part of the fish.

Eleotris picta can also be colored a light gray on top, with a darker gray color extending along the sides of the fish  to the undersides, which are lighter.

Sleeper Gobies are primarily bottom dwelling predators.    They are a sedentary species that when disturbed by larger fish, seldom get overly agitated however, they should never be housed with inverts or fish smaller then themselves, or they will be quickly devoured.

Don’t let their docile nature and inactivity trick you into putting them into a community tank setting.    They spend most of their time scanning the aquarium for potential prey and if it can fit into the Goby’s mouth, be assured the Goby will eat it.

This is one species that is best kept in a single species tank, or with peaceful fish larger than themselves.

Juvenile Sleeper Gobies can be housed in at least a 55 gallon aquarium until they grow out, and then transferred into at least a 100 gallon planted tank, with a medium to fine gravel or sandy substrate, some rocks formed into caves for them to hide among, and some driftwood or bogwood.    They will stay on or near the bottom of the tank and like to rest on the rocks and driftwood when they are not hiding in the rock work or in the substrate.

Although they are adaptable to a variety of water conditions, they do require a good filtration system and a powerhead to provide some current in the tank.

Sleeper Gobies have not been bred in an aquarium environment.  They have pelagic eggs and larvae.

In their natural habitat, “Water Cows” feed on a variety of insects, crustaceans, worms, and fish.     In an aquarium environment, juveniles can be fed live or frozen mysis shrimp, brine shrimp, bloodworms, etc.    Larger fish can be fed fresh or frozen shrimp, earthworms, mussels, silversides, bloodworms, or appropriately sized chunks of fish.     Although some tropical fish keeping enthusiasts  feeding their Sleeper Gobies  live feeder fish, it should be done only occasionally.

Sleeper Gobies should only be fed once a day.    They will eventually recognize their owners and often become quite friendly.  Over time they will eat out of the keepers hand.

Sleeper Gobies aka “Water Cows” are occasionally available from specialty fish shops, online, and from importers however, they are not a common aquarium fish.

Spotted Sleeper Goby (Eleotris picta)

Spotted Sleeper Goby (Eleotris picta)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 100 gallons
Care Level: Difficult
Temperament: Peaceful
Hardiness:  Hardy
Water Conditions: 73°F – 82° F, 10 dH – 30 dH, pH 7.4 – 8.2
Max. Size: 20″
Color Form: Brown, Tan, Gray
Diet: Carnivore
Compatibility: Single species tank
Origin: Indo West Pacific, Africa, Hawaii
Family:  Eleotridae
Lifespan: 8 years plus
Aquarist Experience Level: Experienced

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Black Spotted Eel (Mastacembelus dayi)

Black Spotted Eel (Mastacembelus dayi)

The Black Spotted Eel (Mastacembelus dayi) also known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as the Polka Dot Eel or Spotted Spiny Eel is found in Asia from the Irrawady and Chindwin river drainages of western Myanmar, and eastern Thailand.

Black Spotted Eels are found in rivers and streams with a lot of moving water, dense vegetation, and sandy or heavily pebbled bottoms.

During the dry season, the Black Spotted Eel migrates into the deeper canals, lakes, and floodplain areas where the water movement is minimal.

Black Spotted Eels are a shy, largely nocturnal species that spends the daylight hours buried in the substrate.  They become active at night when they come out to forage on worms, insect larvae, crustaceans, small fish, and occasionally vegetation.

Black Spotted Eel (Mastacembelus dayi)

Black Spotted Eel (Mastacembelus dayi)

Mastacembelus dayi have an elongated snout with both the dorsal and anal fins extending and joined to the caudal fin.

They can be colored a dark (almost chocolate) tan, to a light brown, and have a series of rather large, dark, irregular spots aligned along the entire length of its body.

The spots along the upper part of the body are normally darker than those below the lateral line, and some of the spots along the lateral line are more elongated than round.  The pattern begins from the tip of the mouth and extends to the rear of the eel.

It is almost impossible to sex Black Spotted Eels however, mature females are believed to be more full bodied than the males.

Because the Black Spotted Eel is a large species that can grow to over 20 inches in length, they require a densely planted aquarium of at least 55

Black Spotted Eel (Mastacembelus dayi)

Black Spotted Eel (Mastacembelus dayi)

gallon capacity with a sandy or fine gravel substrate, a piece of PVC pipe and/or plenty of rocks made into makeshift caves for them to hide among, some driftwood roots, and some floating plants to diffuse the lighting and afford them a sense of security.

Black Spotted Eels need pristine, well oxygenated water conditions with a decent water flow.   Frequent 30% weekly water changes are mandatory for this eel and a canister filter along with an adequately sized powerhead is highly recommended to produce the required conditions.

Like all spiney eels, they tend to be escape artists, so a tight fitting tank cover is highly recommended.

Black Spotted Eels are burrowers and will spend most of the daylight hours buried in the sand. Providing them plenty of hiding places will often get them moving around more.

Mastacembelus dayi get along well in a community tank with larger tank mates, however they need several caves or pieces of PVC pipe in the tank where they can retreat to.   They do not get along with others of their own kind, and smaller fish should never be kept with this species.   Although It is peaceful with larger tank mates, smaller fish will be regarded as food.

Over time, as Black Spotted Eels become more comfortable in their surroundings, they will recognize their owners and will often take food from their keepers hands.

Although the Black Spotted Eel has never been bred in an aquarium environment, it is presumed that their breeding process is similar to other Spiny Eels.

The courtship lasts for several hours. The pairs will chase each other around in a circle until breeding takes place. The sticky eggs are generally deposited among floating plants and will hatch out in 3 to 4 days. The fry become free swimming in a few more days and can be fed baby brine shrimp. Because of their susceptibility to fungal infections, the fry are difficult to raise and anti fungal water treatments or Indian Almond Leaves are often used to combat the problem.

In their natural habitat, the Black Spotted Eel is omnivorous.   They are opportunistic nocturnal feeders that will eat benthic insect larvae, worms, aquatic invertebrates, and some plant matter.

In an aquarium environment, they will eat live, and most frozen foods such as small fish, shrimp, bloodworms, and earthworms.   They can be trained to eat freeze dried bloodworms or brine shrimp but it should not be their primary diet.

Feed them only a couple of times a week, and then only after the lights in the tank have been turned off.

Black Spotted Eels, aka Polka Dot Eel or Spotted Spiny Eel, are commonly available online and at specialty tropical fish shops at reasonable prices.

Black Spotted Eel (Mastacembelus dayi)

Minimum Tank Size: 55 gallons
Care Level: Moderate
Temperament: Shy, Peaceful
Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately Hardy
Water Conditions: 74-82° F, 6-25 dGH, pH 6.0-8.0
Max. Size: 20″
Color Form: Brown, Tan
Diet: Omnivore
Compatibility: Community
Origin: Western Myanmar, Eastern Thailand
Family: Mastacembelidae
Lifespan: 8-18 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate

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Rhino Pleco (Pterygoplichthys scrophus)

Rhino Pleco (Pterygoplichthys scrophus)

The Rhino Pleco (Pterygoplichthys scrophus) also known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as the Alligator Pleco or Chocolate Pleco is found in the Marañon and Ucayali River basins at Nauta, Peru.

Rhino Pleco (Pterygoplichthys scrophus)

Rhino Pleco (Pterygoplichthys scrophus)

Rhino Plecos can be identified by the number of rays they have in their dorsal fins.   Most plecos, like the larger Hypostomus species, have 8 or fewer rays however, the Rhiono Pleco and all Pterygoplichtys species have more than 10.

Rhino Plecos have two horn like protrusions emanating from their large nostrils which are actually nasal flaps, and alligator like ridges along the sides of their body which give them their common name.

They can be colored black, a rich dark brown, cinnamon, or a light and dark mottled brown.

Sexing can be determined by comparing the papilla in adult specimens.   Male fish have a small, thick stump that protrudes from their underside.   In

Rhino Pleco (Pterygoplichthys scrophus)

Rhino Pleco (Pterygoplichthys scrophus)

female specimens, the stump is recessed or lies flat along the body.   Females are also chubbier than the males.

Although Pterygoplichthys scrophus is considered an omnivore, they are excellent algae eaters and will eat all but the hardiest of plants.   They will even eat floating plants when sufficient algae is not present in the aquarium.

Rhino Plecos are a shy, peaceful species that can become aggressive with other bottom dwellers if not given enough space, however, they generally make an excellent community fish and usually get along with any medium sized community tank species.

Rhino Plecos should be housed in a large densely planted tank of at least 55 gallon capacity, with a small to medium size substrate, some rocks positioned into caves for them to hide among, some bogwoodor driftwood, and some floating plants to diffuse overhead lighting.

Like most plecostomus, they need a good filtration system to remove the large amount of waste they produce. A good canister type filtration system is recommended to keep the water pristine.

There have been no successful documented breeding of Pterygoplichthys scrophus but they are believed to be cave spawners.

The Rhino Pleco is easy to feed and will readily eat a variety of foods.  They are voracious algae eaters but will also eat a good quality sinking pellet, algae wafers, blanched vegetables, as well as a variety of frozen or freeze dried foods.

Rhino Plecos are available online and from specialty tropical fish shops at reasonable prices when they are 1 1/2″ in size to adults.

Rhino Pleco (Pterygoplichthys scrophus)

Rhino Pleco (Pterygoplichthys scrophus)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 55 gallons
Care Level: Moderate
Temperament: Peaceful
Aquarium Hardiness: Relatively Hardy
Water Conditions: 71-83°F, GH 0-12 ° dH, pH 6.0 – 7.6
Max. Size: 11″
Color Form: Black, Brown
Diet: Omnivore
Compatibility: Good community tank
Origin: Marañon and Ucayali River basins, Peru
Family: Loricariidae
Life Span: 10 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate

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Red Devil Pleco (Pseudacanthicus pirarara)

Red Devil Pleco (Pseudacanthicus pirarara) L025

The Red Devil Pleco (Pseudacanthicus pirarara) is also known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as the Scarlet Cactus Pleco, Cactus Pleco, Scarlet Pleco, or their formal identification as L025.   It is a relatively new unnamed species that was discovered in the lower to middle Rio Xingu, Sao Felix, Senador José Porfírio, Pedral do Caitucá, the Rio Bacajá and the Rio Iriri in Brazil.

Red Devil Plecos are found in clear, fast flowing, highly oxygenated warm water rivers and streams and are mostly a nocturnal species.

Red Devil Pleco (Pseudacanthicus pirarara)

Red Devil Pleco (Pseudacanthicus pirarara)

The leading edges of the fins of Pseudacanthicus pirarara are colored scarlet to reddish orange, which is most pronounced on their dorsal and caudal fins.

The Red Devil Pleco is a large pleco that in their natural environment can grow to over 17 inches in length.

Although both males and females posses pectoral odontodes, adult males have noticeably more odontodal growth on their fins, especially on their pectorals.   Males are usually more brightly colored than females and as the fish grow, the males become longer and more slender in appearance, compared to the chubbier and shorter females.

The Red Devil Pleco is similar to L024 except that it has more red in the fins, and the black spots on the body are more pronounced.   Their eyes look

Red Devil Pleco (Pseudacanthicus pirarara)

Red Devil Pleco Suiper Red (Pseudacanthicus pirarara)

“hooded” which give the fish an unusual, almost evil look; hence their name.

Red Devil Plecos cam be housed in at densely planted aquarium of at least 70 gallons (preferably larger) with a fine smooth gravel or sand substrate, plenty of driftwood, some rocks that are formed into caves for them to hide among, and some floating plants to diffuse the lighting in the tank and discourage jumping.

They need at least one power head or a canister filter to provide the fast flowing, highly oxygenated water they require to keep them healthy, and are best kept in a Loricade or single species tank.   Juveniles are particularly susceptible to nitrite and ammonia spikes so over filtration is recommended.

Red Devil Plecos are shy, reclusive, and non-aggressive to other bottom dwellers and as long as other species in the tank do not infringe on their space, or cave that they have staked out, they can be housed with other omnivorous species.   However, they are extremely aggressive and territorial towards conspecifics.

Barbs of all sizes seem to get along well with them in a mixed species tank.

Although many tropical fish keeping enthusiasts house them with Oscars, Cichlids, or other large Loricariids; it is not a good idea to do so.   They are quite messy and like all plecos will produce a large amount of waste.   In addition, because they are largely nocturnal, they will aggressively defend their territory and may cause problems when housed with similar sized nocturnal species.

Breeding Red Devil Plecos in an aquarium environment has not been successfully documented however some fish are being sold online as domestically raised breeding pairs.

Although Pseudacanthicus pirarara are not predators, they are primarily carnivores that have a healthy appetite.    They will accept omnivore sinking wafers when they become acclimated to your tank but prefer live, frozen, or freeze dried prawn, chopped mussel, small pieces of fish, mysis shrimp, bloodworms, etc.

Round out their diet with some vegetables or Spirulina wafers on a regular basis.

Red Devil Plecos are an uncommon species that are priced in the hundreds of dollars, if you can find one for sale.   They are occasionally sold in specialty fish keeping shops and online at ridiculous prices.

 

Red Devil Pleco (Pseudacanthicus pirarara)

Minimum Tank Size: 70 gallons +
Care Level: Easy
Temperament: Moderately Peaceful
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 74-79° F, KH 6-10, pH 6.0-7.4
Max. Size: 17″
Color Form: Black, Red
Diet: Omnivore
Compatibility: OK community tank fish with barbs
Origin: Rio Xingu, Brazil
Family: Loricariidae
Live Span: 10 – 15 years
Aquarist Experience Lever: Intermediate

 

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

Julidochromis regani Kipili group

Convict Julie (Julidochromis regani)

The Convict Julie (Julidochromis regani) is a slender, torpedo shaped cichlid species that is endemic to Lake Tanganyika and found in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Tanzania, and Zambia.

Similar to Marliers Julie (Julidochromis Marlieri), the Convict Julie (Julidochromis regani) is a “dwarf cichlid” that is easy to breed and care for as long as the water parameters of Lake Tanganyika are met.

Convict Julie (Julidochromis regani)

Convict Julie (Julidochromis regani)

The Convict Julie grows to just at 5 inches in length and has an elongated, pale white to golden yellow body with four lateral varying black striped patterns that are determined by which section of the lake the fish re collected from.   The black lateral stripes run the length of body and are vertical on the dorsal fin. The outer edges of the caudal, dorsal and anal fins are white tinged with blue, and the pectoral fins are yellow.

Females are generally plumper than males but otherwise identical in color.   Adult males can be identified by a small genital papilla.

In an aquarium environment, Convict Julies do best in a highly oxygenated tank of at least 20 gallon capacity, with a sand or fine grain gravel substrate decorated with plenty of rock piles arranged to form caves and caverns.   Hardy plants can be added for aesthetics, but if you plan to house more than one Tanganyikan species of “rock dweller” in the tank, make sure to arrange the rocks into several distinct piles so the fish can stake out individual territories so as to minimize aggression.

Although more than one species of Julidochromis can be housed in the same tank, it is not recommended.    Because Convict Julies hybridize easily with other Julidochromis, Chalinochromis, Lamprologini, and Telmatochromis; it’s better to keep them in a single species tank.

Convict Julies are easy to breed and make excellent parents.   Although Julidochromis regani pairs are largely monogamous, females in the wild and in an aquarium environment often take on more than one mate.

Pairs can be easily identified by placing several juveniles into a tank and watching them bond and pair off as they grow.   Like many Lake Tanganyikan cichlids, Julidochromis regani are aggressive, secretive, territorial substrate spawners that like to retreat into rock crevices and caves for safety and to breed.   Unless you keep them in a huge tank, a breeding pair should be housed separately in a biotope setting.   Both parents will aggressively guard their eggs and care for the fry and as the fry grow, the parents can often be seen leading their brood around the aquarium.  The fry should be fed protein rich foods such as baby brine shrimp until they are able to eat omnivore flake foods and adult fare.

In their natural habitat, Julidochromis regani are omnivores that feed primarily on algae, crustaceans, insect larvae, and molluscs found in the aufwuchs.   They are opportunistic feeders that will also eat sand particles with filementous and diatomaceous algae.

In an aquarium environment, Convict Julies do well on a diet of quality flake or pellet food, augmented with live, frozen, or freeze dried mosquito larvae, mysis shrimp, Daphnia, brine shrimp, and plankton.

The Convict Julie can be purchased online and from specialty tropical fish keeping shops.   Because hybridization of this species is relatively common, be sure to purchase your fish from a reputable dealer, a member of a cichlid society, or from a reputable group.

Depending on size and variety, Julidochromis regani can be moderately expensive to very inexpensive.   When available for purchase, juveniles are usually sold when they reach 1 1/2″ in length.   Adults can be 3″ to 5″ in length.

Convict Julie (Julidochromis regani)

Convict Julie (Julidochromis regani)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallons
Care Level: Moderately Difficult
Temperament: Aggressive
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 77-79° F, KH 10-25, pH 7.5-9.5
Max. Size: 5.1″
Color Form: Black, White, Yellow, Blue
Diet: Omnivore
Compatibility: Other Lake Tanganyikan fish except other Julidochromis
Origin: Kipili, Lake Tanganyika, Africa
Family: Cichlidae
Lifespan: 5-8 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate to Experienced

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

Blue Gularis Killifish (Fundulopanchax sjoestedti)

Acquiring Killifish For The Home Aquarium

Acquiring Killifish for the home aquarium can be a challenging proposition.   With only a few exceptions, most pet shops do not normally have a supply of  killifish, and those that do usually bring in Fundulopanchax gardneri, Aphyosemion australe, or Fundulopanchax sjoestedti.

The more unusual and rarer species are seldom, if ever, found in tropical fish shops.

Fortunately, we now have access to the internet which allows killifish enthusiasts the ability to purchase the eggs or adults from specialty breeders, importers, and members of various killifish organizations throughout the world.

Although having the means to acquire killifish for the home aquarium makes the job of finding them easier,  it can be a challenge (especially for beginners) to know which species to purchase.

Unlike most tropical fish species that have common names, killifish are generally referred to by their scientific names.

This requires some education which can only be provided by joining a killiefish association, a killie group, a club, or learning about them from books, journals, or other publications on or off line.

Although some pet store proprietors are familiar with killifish, many owners sell fish that are incorrectly identified by their suppliers.

Many killifish species and local strains look very similar to each other and can easily be misidentified.   In addition, many unnamed or unidentified species that are collected in the wild are often combined with shipments of identifiable fish and shipped to importers as a by catch.

Nothobranchius rachovii Beira ’91, is a beautiful killifish strain that is identified by the year it was originally collected (1991), and the locality where it was found.   It has no common name.

Tropical fish keeping enthusiasts who are interested in keeping killifish would do well to concentrate on acquiring the following before moving on to some of the rarer and more difficult to keep species.

  • Aphyosemion

Aphyosemion is a genus of African rivulines that as the name indicates, is endemic to Africa.   The killifish species in this genus are some of most popular with tropical fish keeping enthusiasts and are also the most commonly available.

Almost all of the species in this genus come from West Africa, and are relatively easy to acquire, keep, and breed.

The Lyretail killifish (Aphyosemion australe) comes in three color forms;  Chocolate Brown, Orange, and Gold, and is one of the more common killies found in tropical fish shops.

Aphyosemion ahliAphyosemion bivittatum, and Aphyosemion calliurum are also relatively common and make good “starter fish” for beginning killifish enthusiasts.

All are beautiful, easy to keep, and most can be easily bred using spawning mops, Java Moss, or floating plants like Water Hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes).

  • Fundulopanchax

Several colorful species of the Fundulopanchax genus of killifish that are found in the near coastal fresh water streams and lakes of Western Africa, are also suitable for beginning killifish enthusiasts.

Among these are Fundulopanchax gardneri, Fundulopanchax sjoestedti, and Fundulopanchax filamentosus.

Fundulopanchax Sjoestedti pair

Fundulopanchax Sjoestedti pair

All of the species in this genus can be found in several color strains, and although some species like Fundulopanchax sjoestedti are more challenging to keep, most of the other species are easy to breed and care for and are suitable for beginning enthusiasts.

Fundulopanchax sjoestedti and Fundulopanchax filamentosus are bottom spawners.

Some species of Fundulopanchax gardneri are topwater spawners, while other species like Fundulopanchax gardneri nigerianus and Fundulopanchax gardneri garderni are both top and bottom spawners.

  • Epiplatys

All species in the Epiplatys genus are surface feeding killifish that prey on insects and other organisms that inadvertently fall into the water.

Many species in the Epiplatys genus are larger than the average sized killiefish.   All of them are extremely hardy, easy to breed in an aquarium environment, and will lay their eggs on spawning mops or  floating plants.

Both Epiplatys sexfasciatus and Epiplatys fasciolatus are good choices for beginner killiefish enthusiasts however, Epiplatys annulatus should be avoided.

  • Nothobranchius

Nothobranchius is a genus of small, freshwater, annual killifish that are found mainly in East Africa, from the Sudan to northern South Africa.

Several species occur in the upper regions of the Congo River Basin and two species are found in West Central Africa.   The largest number of over 70 species comes from Tanzania.

Without exception, these small East African annuals are prized for their beauty.

Nothobranchius rachovii

Nothobranchius rachovii

Nothobranchius rachovii is considered by many to be the most beautiful fresh water species in the world.   Unfortunately, all the species in this genus are short lived.

In their natural habitat, killifish in the Nothobranchius genus inhabit ephemeral pools that fill up during the monsoon season and dry up during the hot months.

Over the years, they have adapted to these harsh conditions and learned to lay their eggs in the substrate.   When the pools dry up and the parents die, the embryos survive in the hard clay by entering diapause, and when the pools fill up again during the wet season, the eggs hatch out and the life cycle repeats itself.

Nothobranchius furzeri reach adulthood in only 17 days and live for only 3 to 6 months

Breeding killies in this genus requires the patience of Job.   Their eggs need to be dried out of water for prolonged periods of as long as one year before they can hatch.

If you decide to try keeping any of these species, Nothobranchius guentheri or Nothobranchius korthausae would be an excellent choice for a beginner.

Although they are extremely hardy and can be kept in a variety of water conditions, most are susceptible to velvet disease.   In their natural habitats, they are often found in hard, alkaline pools of water but they do well in a variety of water conditions.

Adding 1/2 to 1 teaspoonful of salt per gallon of their aquarium water will minimizes any outbreaks.

  • Nematolebias

The Nematolebias genus of killifish is native to South America and includes many popular aquarium specimens.

Nematolebias whitei is an elegant, easy to breed killifish suitable for beginning enthusiasts that is also easy to care for, however, like all species in the Nothobranchius genus, patience is needed to breed them.    Several months must elapse after spawning before the eggs will hatch out successfully.

  • American killiefishes

Several species of killies in the genus Autrofundulus, Cyprinodon, Fundulus, Rachovia, and Rivulus among others, are good candidates for the home aquarium.

Jordenella floridae (Florida Flagfish)

Jordenella floridae (Florida Flagfish)

Jordenella floridae (the Florida Flagfish) is found throughout the state, and is frequently found in tropical fish shops.

They are interesting, colorful, inexpensive, easy to keep breed, and make an excellent choice for beginner killifish enthusiasts.

Fundulus auroguttatus, Fundulus cingulatus, and the Golden Topminnow (Fundulus chrysotus) are also some of the more colorful North American species that are easily kept in an aquarium environment.

The Desert Pupfish (Cyprinodon macularius) on the other hand, can survive extreme salinities, pH, temperature, and low oxygen content environments, but because it is on the endangered species list would not be an easily acquired species to keep.

Regardless of which genus you  acquire your species of killie from, some research is recommended before purchasing your specimen or their eggs.

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Blue Gularis Killifish (Fundulopanchax sjoestedti)

Killifish

Killifish are a group of egg laying tooth carps that comprise over 1270 species from various families including Aplocheilidae, Cyprinodontidae, Fundulidae, Profundulidae, Valenciida, and Rivulidae.   Of the 1270 species discovered, about 350 of these are found within the equatorial belts throughout the world.   The largest family Rivulidae, contains over 320 of the known species.

Although some of the specialized species of Killifish that have lifespans no longer than 9 or 10 months are found in temporary ponds, ditches, and puddles in the flood plains; most species of killifish have lifespans between 2 and 3 years, and are found in the lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams that have water throughout the year.    These killifish (Cyprinodon, Fundulus and Rivulus) are common in the Americas, Africa, Asia (including Aphyosemion, Aplocheilus, Epiplatys, Fundulopanchax and Lacustricola) and Southern Europe (Aphanius).

In the Americas, Killifish can be found as far south as Argentina, and as far north as southern Ontario.   They have also been found in Southern Europe, South Africa, as far south as Vietnam in Asia, the Middle East, and on several islands in the Indian Ocean.   To date, no species of Killifish has been discovered in Antarctica, Australia, or in Northern Europe.

Killilfish are an extremely hardy species that can withstand a wide range of temperatures, salinities, and pollutants (such as organochloride fertilizers and pesticides) however, most killifish in their natural habitat live in a soft, slightly acidic water environment, with a pH of 6.0 to 6.8, and at temperatures between 71 to 80° F.    Several species of Killifish are found only in extremely harsh ephemeral aquatic environments, where they have learned to survive and even thrive in periods of total or partial dehydration.

Although Killifish are primarily a freshwater species, they are also found in brackish to saltwater environments, and in areas where very few other fish species could survive.

Devils Hole pupfish (Cyprinodon diabolis)

Devils Hole pupfish (Cyprinodon diabolis)

The Devil’s Hole in Nevada, is an example of such an extreme environment that has a constant salinity and temperatures of 92 °F.

The Devils Hole pupfish (Cyprinodon diabolis) is the only natural resident of this 300′ deep cavern.

The eggs of many annual killifish species are like plant seeds, and rely on periods of drought in order for hatching to successfully take place.   Their eggs, when entirely submerged in water will not survive more than a few weeks unless they are allowed to dry out to be later reconstituted.

This fact makes the sale and distribution of many annual killifish species a simple matter of mailing the eggs, without the need for water to the recipient, so they can be hatched out at a later date.   A few species like adult Kryptolebias marmoratus can even survive out of water for several weeks.   However, few Killifish fall into this category.

All 1270 species of Killifish can be separated into three distinct breeding categories:

  • Annual species
  • Semi Annual species
  • Non Annual species

Annual species mature quickly and are generally short lived.   In their natural habitats, they are found in small ponds, ditches, puddles, etc. that dry up for sometimes for extended periods of months to years.   Killifish in this category tend to spawn continuously over extended periods to ensure the survival of the next generation.

A small number of eggs (usually only 3 to 5) are laid daily over a period of weeks, until the puddle or pond that they live in dries up.   The eggs remain dormant in a state of hibernation known as diapauses, until the coming of the rainy season, when the puddle or pond again fills up with water to stimulate the hatching of the eggs.   The eggs will hatch out in a matter of hours after the introduction of water.   The young of annual killifish species grow to adulthood very quickly, and as soon as they reach maturity, they immediately begin their spawning activities to continue the life cycle.   This process is ongoing until the pond or puddle dries up again and a new generation of killifish is produced.

Semi Annual species are generally longer lived than the annual species, and are found in areas that do not totally dry out in their natural habitat during the dry season.   The ponds, ditches, and puddles that they are found in may hold water throughout the dry season and at the worst, dry out to a moist muddy bottom as the rains subside.

These killifish are substrate spawners that lay their eggs in the muddy sediment or organic debris at the bottom of the pond or ditch.   As the rains subside, the water evaporates and the eggs remain damp and partially dry out in the sediment for periods of up to four months.   When the rains return again, the eggs hatch out within a few days and the live cycle begins again.

Semi annual killifish species can be bred in an aquarium environment by simulating these conditions using peat moss, spawning mops, or Java Moss.   Removing the eggs with the substrate, and partially drying them out for a period of 30 to 60 or more days (depending on species) essentially duplicates the spawning conditions.   The eggs usually hatch out in a just few days after the introduction of water to the substrate.

Non Annual species are the longest lived of the three groups, and many (such as the Aphyosemion genus) can live up to five years or more in an aquarium environment.  These fish live in small streams, ponds, and other permanent bodies of water that do not dry up during periods of drought.   Non Annual killifish are harder to keep and are usually more challenging to breed.

Most of them are plant spawners that in an aquarium environment are bred using spawning mops or Java Moss.   The eggs are incubated in water, not allowed to dry out, and usually hatch out in about 20 to 30 days depending on water temperature and species.

Blue Gularis Killifish (Fundulopanchax sjoestedti)

Blue Gularis Killifish (Fundulopanchax sjoestedti)

The largest killifish species can grow to almost 6 inches in length, but most killifish are less than 2 inches long.

Many klillifish species are as brightly colored as salt water fish and are prized by tropical fish keeping enthusiasts in the aquarium hobby.

Males are generally more colorful than females and often have incredibly elegant finnage.   The females are usually larger than the males and are always less brightly colored.

Most killifish are territorial and will defend their areas from other males in the tank.   They will vigorously mate with any available female in the area.   When housed in an aquarium environment, it’s best to keep at least two or three females for every male in the tank.   If you place more than a couple males in the same tank, it’s best to include at least three females for every male fish to minimize aggression.

In their natural habitat, the majority of Killifish are carnivorous and consume insect larvae, small invertebrates, mosquito larvae, worms, and zooplankton, however several species in the Americas do consume algae and other aquatic plant matter.

All killifish are great jumpers.   In their natural habitats, they often jump from puddle to puddle as their environments shrink.   In an aquarium environment, they need either a tightly fitting lid or some floating plants to discourage them from jumping out ot the tank.

Throughout the world, Killifish are prized by tropical fish keeping enthusiasts for their beauty, finnage, and breeding challenges, but they are also used as bait fish in many areas of the world, in laboratory studies in a variety of learning, aging, pigmentation, embryological, and endocrinological experiments, in inter tidal and nearshore pollution tolerance studies, and as a biological control agent to reduce mosquito populations in fresh and brackish waters.

If you have never come across any of these gorgeous little fish, it is probably because most tropical fish shops do not have a steady killifish supplier.

Unlike many other species of tropical fish, commercial suppliers are unable to mass produce killifish.   Therefore, most species are bred by small breeders out of their homes and occasionally sold to commercial suppliers, or are wild caught.

Shipping wild caught specimens is an expensive proposition.  Mainly because the males of most species fight when in close confinement, creating sometimes huge losses in shipments.    Additionally, most killies are excellent jumpers and because many fish shop employees do not keep their tanks tightly covered,  lots of expensive stock often ends up on the fish shop floor.

If you can find a pair of killifish in your local pet shop, you can be expected to pay in the neighborhood of $20 to $50 or more per pair.

Many tropical fish keeping enthusiasts breed killifish which are then distributed within killifish societies throughout the world.    If you care to join one of these societies online, many of these specialty breeders will sell the eggs and occasionally the adults at reasonable prices, and may even give away the eggs to members.

One of the best source of killies is the Fish and Egg Listing (F&EL) found in the Business Newsletter of the AKA (American Killifish Association).

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