It is amazing what a few black worms will do to cure apisto shyness. This video is of some Apistogramma. sp. ‘Melgar’ that took two days to lose their fear of the camera… but it required liberal quantities of worms to do it. This has to be one of the most under-appreciated dwarf cichlids from Peru. I think it is beautiful, especially the huge females. Here is a picture:
I love to feed fish. I think that we all do. I especially like it when the fish I am feeding are aggressive on the food, and the best food for that is live black worms. Here is a video of several of my dwarf cichlids I have set up in spawning tanks getting a treat. I feed black worms a couple times each week to the fish that can handle them. You will see some Congochromis sabinae and some Nanochromis splendens getting some worms, but those fish only get them every other week or so: and even then they do not get many. The apistos can handle the worms though, and in the immortal words of the incomparable Charley Grimes, ‘Nothing like worms to eggs in a belly.’
The tanks are all 10-gallon set up for breeding. All the structure is in the back, away from the light. The spawning site that I hope the fish use is visible from the front. I use yarn mops in dwarf cichlid tanks for a couple reasons. A fish being picked on can hide very well buried in a mop, and when that mop is mature it will be loaded with infusoria for the fry to eat. I also use wood, magnolia leaves and live plants (potted crypts and free-floating java moss) for structure. The filter is in the back corner, which makes it another place a fish can find refuge under. There is only a little sand on the bottom. Lighting is very dim (which is why some of the video resolution sucks). The magnolia leaves add tannin, but sometimes they make the water cloudy, which you will see in a couple tanks. After a week and a few water changes, however, the tank will clear. I also use alder cones, which add some antiseptic chemicals to the water.
The tanks all start with two pairs or two trios. After a few weeks I will remove any fish that are obviously not handling aggression. By the time fry start to appear, most tanks have a pair or a trio. There is a tank in the video with some A. kelleri, which cannot stay in a 10-gallon tank forever. This is one of the mouthbrooding species, and it gets BIG.
I have been holding and acclimating some wild fish for a very cool aquarium, and the fish are being delivered tomorrow. Stingrays, Brochis multiradiatus and wild angelfish. For those of you who are observant, yes… these are some of the same stingrays that were in the CustomAquariums.com booth at the Aquatic Experience show a few weeks ago. The owner of CustomAquariums.com loved the rays, and he called a client who wanted to do something special. Tomorrow we will see the result. A custom aquarium built with sting rays in mind. I will not tell you about the tank right now… I plan to shoot video tomorrow.
The fish in this video are the first stocking, which will include three rays, a school of Brochis multiradiatus catfish and some wild angelfish. The substrate in the aquarium is sand, and one of the dangers with rays is that a sand substrate can become dirty and cause infections on the skin of the rays. That is where the Brochis help out… these hoovers constantly turn over the sand and help to keep it clean. We will also be putting some eartheaters (Geophagus and Satanoperca) into the tank to help with that chore.
I am a little bit in love with these stingrays. They have been a lot of fun to have in the fishroom, and I will miss them. But I really do not have tanks large enough to house them long term… but that may change.
Here is a video showing two Apistogramma species from the most recent order from Peru. I set these fish up in the photo tank and decided to get some video as well.
Apistogramma bitaeniata ‘Rio Tigre’ is one of the prettiest forms of this species I have seen. I really like the black, white and yellow markings. Just after I put them into the photo tank a couple males really lit up, but by the time I had the video camera in my hand they stopped. Here is a still pic though:
The second species in the video is a bit of a mystery. It was shipped as A. payaminonus (a holy grail species), but that is not what was sent. I think that they are one of the cruzi-group fish that comes from the same area, possibly A. playayacu. It is a pretty fish though. Notice in the pictures and video how bent and skinny the larger fish are. This is sue to malnutrition, and can happen rapidly, especially in older fish. But the condition is usually reversible with plenty of food and good water quality. I generally stay away from buying these larger specimens, however, and choose younger fish when I can. Here are some still pics of a young male, an old male and a female:
Here is a video on a subject that I have been wanting to show you for a while…. unpacking a large order of fish. A lot of planning goes into getting a new order of fish into the fish room, especially am import from out of the country. In this case, 30 boxes from Peru!!!
I entered the small-tank aquascape contest at the Aquatic Experience in Chicago this past weekend. This is the first truly competitive aquascaping contest I have ever tried. There were some great entries. Mine was different that all the others… I went with a biotope riparium. Special thanks to Devin Biggs at Riparium Supply for providing the centerpiece fern. Check it out….
I have a new aquarium. 180 gallons. One of the largest I have ever owned. This tank and stand was built by CustomAquariums (click the link… ). I will show some more videos in the future about the aquarium hardware, but for now this video is just showing the fish after they have been in the tank for 24 hours.
The community includes a lot of odds & ends, lonely hearts and personal favorites that I cannot bear to part with. You will see the original Chromidotilapia kingsleyae that I brought back from Gabon in 2011. There is a big Pelmatochromis beautkofferi that lost his mate to my own stupidity, and a big male Betta patoti that lost his mate to his own aggression (let’s see how he likes living with these big fish… hah!). There is a redtail shark that is the lone survivor from a tank crash when I first opened the new fish room. The pair of Pelvicachromis sacrimontis are the grand-offspring of a wild pair I owned four years ago, but the male beats the female up a lot, so I put them in here to see if they can get along in a busier tank. There is a single Bryconaethiops boulengeri tetra that is the sole survivor of a group of 6 that I bought four years ago. There are also some alestes tetras that I have had for nearly 10 years! The Sayhadria rohani barbs are personal favorites that I swear I will spawn someday. And the Pelvicachromis humilis ‘Friya’ are in there to grow up. All the smaller fish are African tetras that have been sitting in my fish room for months with nobody buying them… so I brought them home. I like them! There are Arnoldichthys spilopterus, Micralestes cf. acutidens, Micralestes occidentalis, yellow-tail Congo tetras and a few red-cap moon tetras (which I have had for years). Plus a few things I did not list… see if you can find them.
I was working in the fish room this evening, getting ready for a couple huge orders coming in this week, and noticed that all the dwarf cichlids were very active. I kept getting distracted (and making floods), so I took a break, grabbed the camera and made this little video. All the fish are available, and if you are interested contact me quick. These fish have been going fast, and I need them to go faster! We are about to discover how much this fish room can hold…. 40+ boxes of fish coming in this week.
Here is a short video of a Betta patoti pair that I have been working with for a month or so. This is a big, active fish, but they hate the video camera. They do not particularly like me, except when I give them food… and even then they will not come out to eat until I walk away from the tank. My son Matthew, however, is welcome. He was able to shoot pictures of this pair for an hour without spooking them at all. Enjoy…
Thanks to the Missouri Aquarium Society, Inc. I had a chance to play with my video camera’s underwater housing in an Ozark stream this week. North American native fish would be an addiction easy to succumb to. Unfortunately, the Wisconsin invasive species laws prevent me from being able to collect fish all over the midwest and bring them back to my fish room. I will just have to stick to video and pictures… they are easier to transport anyway.
We spent half a day filming and netting in Whittenburg Creek, at the town of Steelville, MO, which is a tributary of the Meremac River. The conditions were great. Clear, shallow water on a sunny day. Take a look at the video:I thought the variety of fish we found was great, but the MASI members on hand told me that they usually find more at this location, especially darters. I netted this nice male fantail darter (Etheostoma flabellare)
There were two common minnows in the stream, southern redbelly dace (Crosomus erythrogaster)
and bleeding shiners (Luxilus zonatus).
We also found two species of Fundulus killifish: the black spot top minnow (F. olivaceus)
and the northern studfish (F. cantanatus)
Banded sculpin were very common (Cottus carolinae).
Unfortunately, we disturbed a madtom catfish nest, but did not catch the catfish. Here is a picture of the eggs. They were hard like a cory cat egg, and very well attached to the underside of this rock. Mike Hellweg (my host for the trip) took them home to try to hatch them. If anyone can do that, it will be Mike!
We also collected fish in the Meremac River itself, but the water was cloudy and filming poor. Maybe next time!