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:
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…
This video shows a pair of Apistogramma defending their spawning site from their own reflections in a mirror. I use ‘mirror therapy’ to keep cichlid pairs bonded, especially pairs that I do not have extra fish of the same species for. I am convinced that an individual in a pair kept in a tank without tank mates has the potential to go nuts and start seeing its mate as a threat. I usually keep extra fish in with the pair as targets, but it that is not possible a session with the mirror once a week seems to reset their bond.
I recently imported a lot of dwarf cichlids from the Czech Republic, and the fish in this video was sold as sp. ‘Abacaxis’, which it most certainly is not! What is it? I have not been able to nail it down with the key in the Mergus atlas. I think it may be caetei or regani, but those are not quite right either. If you know, please tell me!
T. ruweti is a small, true Tilapia found in the far southeastern sections of the Congo River basin. It is famous as being the cichlid found in the Okvangu delta, a very unique habitat where the Zambezi River literally empties into a desert, creating an incredible oasis. Unfortunately, that aqua-oasis comes close to completely drying out every dry season, and if that were to happen the population of T. ruweti in that delta could disappear. That is why the fish is a priority species in the C.A.R.E.S. Preservation Program.
This diminutive cichlid is also one of the most well-suited Tilapines for a small aquarium. Adults rarely grow larger than 3″, and they are not overly aggressive, even when spawning. Breeding reports are few for this species. The trio I am working with act like they want to spawn, but so far… no luck. Hopefully soon….
Here is a short video of some cool fish that I am holding in quarantine until their permanent aquarium is ready. Luciocephalus pulcher, the crocodile pikehead, is a predatory anabantid from south east Asia. Not a lot is known about these fish, and the success rate with keeping them long term is pretty poor. I am hoping to buck that trend this time (yes, I have had them before). The fish in this group are the largest I have ever seen, and so far they are doing very well. They are voracious eaters, and I am glad that they like black worms. Otherwise I am not sure I could keep them well fed. Look for more blog posts about this species in the future…