West African Community Aquarium

This aquarium is currently my longest-established display.  It is a semi-aggressive community of cichlids and tetras from the Congo region of West Africa.  The bright red cichlids that are currently dominating the tank are Hemichromis cf. lifilili ‘Moanda’.  That name is a relatively new concept for a fish that has been in the hobby for about 6 years under the designation H. sp. ‘Moanda’.  Dr. Anton Lamboj is in the process of ding a revision of the genus, and he is now calling this fish a color form of the species H. lifilili, and he tells me that it is ok to do so.  I guess that means that when the paper is published he will identify it such.  That rumor has been around for a couple years, and there are some other notable scientists who question that this fish H. lifilili.  But Anton is a friend, a good ichthyologist and is currently the guy working on the genus… so I will give him the benefit of the doubt (and fan the flames a bit!).  The fish that has been distributed around the hobby as H. lifilili for the past couple decades is not a pure H. lifilili.  This is something that the scientists who are actually interested in tank strains agree on.  The consensus is that they are the long-standing tank strains of fish that have been crossed in and out of H. gutattus varieties, may include some H. lifilili blood from a few decades ago and could have picked up some DNA from unintentional crosses to any of several red-jewel species that are all hard to tell apart (H. bimaculatus, H. letourneuxi & H. cristatus are the most likely contributors).  Cichlid taxonomy is FUN FUN FUN!!!!!

Other fish in the community include the Brycinus longipinnis and Phenacogrammus interuptus tetras (long-fin alestes and congo tetras, respectively), and the reophilic cichlid Steatocranus glaber (one of the buffalo-head cichlids).  The big male cichlid does a good job of defending the tube cave on the left end of the tank, and the two small females (not in the video) hang around with him all the time, but they have not spawned yet (that I know of).  I have bred the alestes tetras several times and the congo tetras twice.  The plants include Anubias sp., a Crinum sp. and some Cryptocoryne sp.  The crypts are not West African, but everything else is.

This current community has been going as is for about 18 months.  There have been a few additions and subtractions along the way.  The tank has held primarily West African fish for five years.  Former denizens have included breeder pairs of Teleogramma brichardi, Steatocranus irvinei, Pelvicachromis humilis, P. rubrolabiatus, Chromidotilapia guentheri guentheri, Arnoldichthys spilopterus (I really miss those tetras) and various singleton eels, catfish and mormyrids.  There is just something about a West African community aquarium that keeps my interest over the long term.  This tank is due for a change, and when I get back from Gabon in a month I hope to be able to convert it over to an all-Gabon community.

2 Replies to “West African Community Aquarium”

  1. Nice set-up! Folks give these Red jewels a bad name and I knew they were wrong! Just got a batch of juvies from a little old lady in my country neighborhood! Can’t wait to breed a few!
    Thanks Ted G.S.A.S. member Seattle, Wa.

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