Tag Archives: aquarium

Crenicara punctulatum… The Hermaphrodite Cichlid

Once upon a time, all of the checkerboard cichlids were in the genus Crenicara.  When the genus was split, two fish were left in the genus and all the others went into Dicrossus.  The type species is C. punctulatum (the other is C. latruncularium).  This original checkerboard cichlid is a fun fish to keep.  They are not overly demanding, though they do not do well in dirty water.  This fish is a sequential hermaphrodite.  All of them start off looking phenotypically female.  As a group of young fish mature, the most dominant fish will grow faster and become the breeding male.  He will pair with a female that will also grow, though not as larger, and take on brighter colors and redder fins.  The rest will stay comparatively small… as though they are suspended in growth.  If the male is removed, a new male will arise (usually the previous dominant female).  The sex change is not reversible.  So that means that the easiest way to get a breeding pair is to pick up a group of 6-8 juveniles and let them grow up.  Once a pair forms, move the rest to another tank and another pair will arise. Fun fish!

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Filtration in the Fish Room

Finally!  A fish room blog post.  Hopefully I will be able to follow this one up quickly.  This post is about sponge filters, which I believe are the most cost effective method of filtering aquariums a fish room setting.  They are not pretty, but they work.  But not all sponge filters are the same, and the way they they are used can make a difference too.  One of the debates is whether a matten filter wall is worth cost.  Sure…. a filter all has a HUGE amount of surface area compared to a smaller cube filter.  But do you really need it more surface area in the same size tank that is being filtered effectively by a basic cube filter?  No… the only reason to use a matten filter, in my opinion, is if you want to over stock a small aquarium.

Bacteria grow and die very quickly, and their cell population is dependent upon the same ecological rules of carrying capacity as any other living things (except maybe humans… assuming we have surpassed our carrying capacity).  A biological filter needs the waste of fish to thrive.  If there is more waste than the bacteria cells can use, the cell population grows.  If fish waste reduces, bacteria cell population goes down.  And it happens very fast.  Days.  Hours even.  So there is really no point in a filter with 300 cubic inches of volume if the tank is going to hold two fish.  But… if you want to grow 200 cory cat fry in a 10-gallon tank, a matten filter will let that happen.

This video presents the basics of sponge filters, how they work and how to clean them.  I will cover how to run them with air in the next installment.

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Wet Spot Tropical Fish

A few weeks ago I went on the trip out to Portland, Oregon, to give a talk to the Portland A. S., and while I was there I had the chance to visit a store that I have really wanted to visit for a long time:  The Wet Spot Tropical Fish.  Marcie and Steve Lundblad have established a great store.  Easily one of the best in the USA.  A video is worth a thousand words…. Enjoy.

 

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Today in the Fish Room

Here is a short video of a few of the dwarf cichlids that are set up in spawning tanks.  The Apistogramma cacatuoides ‘Pucallpa’ have 10-day old fry.  A first look at the wild Pelvicachromis subocellatus ‘Moanda’ pair I got from Oliver a couple weeks ago.  An update on the Nanochromis splendens that are starting to mature.  And a look the the A. bitaeniata ‘Rio Tigre’ that are, hopefully, close to spawning.

 

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Apistogreamma alpahuayo

Here is a video of one of the black chin apisto types I am working with right now.  This is the ‘common’ variety, which means that it is a mix of fish from various places and given the descriptive term ‘yellow form’.  You will see two distinct types of males in the video.  I also have some of the same species from specific river systems (Rio Tigre and Rio Aguaytio).  They are different, though some of the fish in the ‘common’ look a lot like the Aguaytio form.  The black chin is very similar to A. cacatuoides.  They are often mistaken for each other.  One of the easiest featured to look for is the gap between the rear end of the lateral line stripe and the caudal peduncle spot… that gap is characteristic of A. aplpahuayo.  I really like this whole group of cichlids, and it seems like every river in Peru has a different form.  Enjoy…

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New Peru Order

A new import from Peru arrived last week with a lot of cool fish that I have not brought in before.  The price lists are updated on the livestock page.  Here are some of the highlights:

Corydoras stenocephalus – Rio Ucayali

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Corydoras cf. semiaquilus – Rio Napo

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Corydoras orcesi

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Elachocharax pulcher

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Trochilocharax ornatus

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Hyphessobrycon sp. ‘bleeding blue’

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Hyphessobrycon ‘red’

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Lots of splash tetras…

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Candelita tetra

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Odontocharacidium aphanes

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I have not started photographing the Apistogramma yet, but new fish include:

  • 3 different locations of A. cacatuoides
  • A. nijsseni
  • A. sp. Oregon
  • A. pantalone
  • A. bitaeniata ‘Rio Yavari’
  • A. atahualpa
  • A. alphuayo
  • A. baenschi
  • A. paulmueller ‘Apache’
  • A. ortagai ‘papagayo’

There are also some oddball catfish:  Helogenes marmoratus, Myoglanis koepckei & Denticetopsis seducta

And… because lots of you have asked for them….  more red wolf fish!  Erythrinus erythrinus

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Apistogramma panduro… Mirror Therapy

Here is a video of a pair of wild A. panduro that are in the process of getting ready to spawn.  This species is one of the nijsseni-group apistos, and as such it can be pretty aggressive.  They prefer to spawn in pairs, and other fish in the tank can take a pretty good beating from a dominant pair.  This can be a problem when a pair is not fully bonded.  If the male is not receptive to the advances of the female, or if an amorous male does not get the response he wants from a female, then there is a chance that the male can attack and kill the female.  Mirror therapy can help…  by using a mirror to solicit a territorial response by the pair, their bond is made stronger.  You will see in the video that the male is very aggressive on the mirror… he hits it hard multiple times.  The female will also join in on the defense, which is a good sign that the pair is bonding well.

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Apistogramma trifasciata

Here is a video of a new group of A. trifasciata.  When I set up apistos for breeding, I start with multiple males and females.  Once a dominant male becomes established I remove the extra males, otherwise the dominant male spends ore time worrying about the competition than he does spawning…. as you will see in this video.  I removed the extra male after shooting this footage.

This species comes in from the Czech Republic as A. trifasciata ‘Macilliensis’… but that is not really a valid name.  This is a basically a nice tank strain trifasciata.

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Feeding Time!

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.

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Two Apistogramma

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:

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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:

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Enjoy the video…

 

 

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