I have a group of P. taeniatus ‘Moliwe’ (one male and three females) that are doing well in a 33-gallon long aquarium with some Neolebias cf. trewavasae and Barbus jae that I brought home from Gabon last Winter. I used to keep all my kribs as single pairs, but I have discovered that they do better in small colonies, so long as there is enough space. In this case, I have three females and three breeding locations separated by visual barriers. This video shows the most dominant female with a group of fry and the male helping her to care for them. But he sneaks off to visit another female that is ready to spawn! This is not typical behavior. Pairs with fry usually have a very strong bond, but captivity does strange things to fish behavior. I have never had two females of this species together in the same tank guarding fry… it will be interesting to see what happens!
This video is one that I shot today, a little over a week after adding some more P. taeniatus ‘Moliwe’ into a tank that originally housed just a pair. An earlier video featured the pair by itself. This new footage shows that if you really want to see this species at its best, there needs to be territorial competition in the aquarium. The problem is that unless the tank is larger, and has a lot of caves and hiding places, the aggression between individuals outside the pair can be deadly. Nobody wants to see beautiful fish destroyed, especially if a wild pair cost $30 – $40! Some Pelvicachromis sp. are meaner than others, however, and P. taeniatus ‘Moliwe’ is one of the varieties that can exist as a colony so long as there in enough space.
Long and low is the key. This aquarium is a 48″ long 33-gallon tank. There are two piles of driftwood that create visually separated areas. When the fish are in one area, they are out of sight of fish in the others. Each of those areas has a spawning site. The very dominant female and larger male are the original F1 pair. All the other fish are smaller wild-caught fish. What we thought were one male and three females has turned out to be two of each sex. One male is just a lot younger than the others. The video shows the alpha female shifting between two spawning sites. Eventually (very soon) she will settle on one and defend only it. When this species has fry their territories get really, really small. The other fish will not be pressured as much. While the pair is establishing that territory, however, they will range farther and push the other fish out of more space. The trick is to provide enough space, and enough other fish, so the pair will not be able to single a fish out and kill it. So far this colony is shaping up nicely.
This pair of P. taeniatus ‘Moliwe’ were born in my fish room from wild parents. I gave this pair to a friend when they were just old enough to sex, and he kept them as the only fish in a heavily-planted tank for over a year. They spawned several times for him, but he was not really trying to save any fry. When I heard that he still had the pair I asked if I could borrow them to get a few spawns from, and he responded by giving the pair back to me (he has fry in the tank that will grow up).
I am very happy to have this species back. This is my favorite location variety of P. taeniatus. I was able to collect fish at Moliwe (in Cameroon) in 2009, but I did not bring any back with me because I had some wild fish at home already. One of my dreams is to one day have a BIG tank set up as a Moliwe biotope, complete with the barbs, killies, cichlids and plants from that location. Since the barbs and other endemic cichlid (Benitochromis nigrodorsalis) are larger and more aggressive than the P. taeniatus, I will need the tank to be at least 6 feet long.
P. taeniatus is not very aggressive towards other species. They are very territorial towards other P. taeniatus, however, which will be apparent in this video.
This is a really old video (about a year ago) shot with our Flip video camera. The production is bad, but the subject is great. I no longer have this fish (I really wish I still did). Since I am learning this whole video-making art I thought I post this to remind myself of where I started. This variety of P. taeniatus relatively new on the scene. It was first collected in 2008 (I believe), and was not first exported from Cameroon until 2009. When I was in Cameroon in February of 2009 we probably drove within 10 km of this population and never even new that they were there. It is very similar to the Muyuka variety that is extinct in the wild, which is the variety that the finder of this Njanje location was hoping to rediscover. The word is that the Njanje location is very small, so extensive collecting for export should be discouraged. It is a very prolific strain, however, so if you have them keep on breeding them (and let me know wen you have some available).