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.