March Issue of Aquarium International – The Freshwater Magazine

The New edition of Aquarium International – The Freshwater Magazine is available for download to your iPad or as a PDF. Got to to check it out.

This issue includes articles on collecting fish in Bolivia, French Guiana and Gabon. Breeding articles cover Betta tussyae and the freshwater pipefish Doryichthys martensii (the pictures are incredible!). Planted Aquarium 101 is our first column, and is dedicated to the basics of planted aquariums and will feature different authors (this month’s topic is how to set up a basic layered substrate with soil). Ingo Seidel tells us about the plight of Sturisoma festivum (the true long-finned farlowella) in the hobby, and Wolfgang Staeck reintroduces us to the Jack Dempsey cichlid and brings us up to date with what is new in the genus Rocio, as well as the origins of the electric blue phenotype. Lots of video in this issue (for the iPad edition). Please take a look!

Parananochromis brevirostris

This is a video of the 40-breeder aquarium where I house a breeding harem of the West African cichlid P. brevirostris (one male, five females and a few juveniles) that I collected in Gabon last February.  The dithers are a school of redcap moon tetras (Bathyaethiops breushegemi) and a couple yellow-tail Congo tetras (Hemigrammopetersius caudalis).  The giant danio is in there to condition to spawn.  If I leave her in with her male they will scatter eggs every day!

This tank is decorated with bog wood and oak leaves.  The cichlids need a low pH to spawn, so I am using straight RO water for changes and dropping the pH with an acid buffer to about pH 5.5.  There are several ‘burrito’ caves for spawning, which are roomy on the inside with a small opening.  I stuff the caves with long-fiber sphagnum moss which lowers the pH in the cave another half point or so.  The females seem to like the plants matter in the cave, and when given a choice of an empty cave they always use one with moss.

Trying these fish as a harem is a new idea.  Until about a month ago I was keeping each female in her own tank and shuffling the male between them (he appears in the video, but only briefly… the king is very shy).  As single pairs they have spawned several times, and I have enough fry on hand that I can now experiment a bit.  No spawns yet, but as you will see in the video the male is paired at the moment.  He chases all the other females.

Parananochromis gabonicus

This video shows a young female Parananochromis gabonicus caring for newly free swimming fry.  I brought the pair back from the Gabon trip in February, and they lived with a group of eight in this 20-gallon long aquarium.  By late March there were a few fish becoming mature enough to defend territories, so I removed all but two males and two females.  I did not see much indication of spawning until I was able to drop the pH to under 5.0.  I had already placed four caves in the tank, but the fish did not show much interest.

When we were in Gabon, Anton Lamboj and I were discussing the micro-habitat where these fish were found, and he suggested that Parananochromis species may be ‘leaf divers’, meaning that they like to bury themselves in leaf litter (which explains why they are not easy to net).  Other leaf diving fish I have kept (some Betta species, catfish and some South American cichlids) also chose spawning sites in dense plant matter, so I decided to fill all of the spawning caves in this tank with long fiber sphagnum moss.  That did the trick.  Within a day the females were exploring the caves and their abdomens turned bright red.

The spawning occurred in late May, and was evidenced by the female becoming very reclusive in the cave and also very aggressive to any other fish that came near the opening.  The fry did not appear until 12 days after the day I think they spawned, and this video was shot on their first foray (that I noticed) away from the spawning cave.  One of the interesting observations in the video is that the female takes many of the fry in her mouth, and keeps them there, when she feels they are threatened.  Other west African cichlids I have seen do this (other than the mouth brooding species) usually just relocate the fry and spit them out.

This is the first cichlid that I brought back from Gabon that has bred for me.  Hopefully the strategies successful with P. gabonicus will also prove effective with the others.

Going Gabon! – Mitzic and the Okana River

This episode of Going Gabon documents two days traveling out of the city of Ndjole to the north.  We spent one day in the vicinity of Mitzic, a town near the borders of Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon, and another in larger streams feeding into the Okana River.  The Okana is part of the Ogooue River system, the second largest watershed in the Congo ecoregion (second only to the Congo itself) and is contained entirely within Gabon.  One of the reasons Gabon is so interesting to fish collectors is that this large, isolated system is home to several endemic species.  Enjoy….

Going Gabon! – Makokou Part 2

We spent a total of three days collecting while based in Makokou, and this video covers the last two day trips.  The area is so rich in collecting opportunities and species diversity that you could make an entire 14-day trip just to this region.  1/2 of all the fish species we found on the trip were collected during the three days working out of Makokou!

Going Gabon!!! – Makokou Part 1

We left Libreville on out 3rd day in Gabon and drove across the country to the eastern city of Makokou, where we spent three days collecting in the region known best for its abundance of killifish and the cichlid genus Parananochromis.  This video shares our experience getting to Makokou and our first day of collecting.

Fish from Gabon

Here is a quick look at some of the fish I brought back from Gabon that are settling in well.  So far the only real disappointment were the mormyrids.  They did not last the quarantine.  One of the coolest is the freshwater pipefish (E. ansorgii).  Two of the males that I collected were carrying fry, so now I have MANY of them.  They seem to be eating well (paramecium and baby brine).  Hopefully they will grow up and add to the group of five adults I collected.  Even better… maybe the adults will breed!

Going Gabon! – Collecting Near Cocobeach

The first day of collecting in Gabon was at locations along the road north of Libreville up towards the town of Cocobeach.  We had to wait in Libreville for some members of the group having travel difficulties, and for some late-arriving luggage, so those of us already in Gabon decided dipping a net was better than waiting around.  The area of Cocobeach does not hold any of our target species, but you never know what you might find.  I apologize for the over-use of still images.  I apparently had a problem with the memory card I used in the video camera the first few days of the trip, and did not manage to make is home with video footage.

Chromidotilapia melaniae

This species is not common in the hobby.  My fish came from the Vienna Zoo and Anton Lamboj in 2009.  The fish in the video are the remaining male and two females from the original group of five.  The have produced fry a few times, but have not had a successful spawn in several months.  I have a few growing up that are close to spawning size, and I have distributed a few dozen around.  If you have some of this species that came from my fish room… get them breeding, because who knows if we will ever see it again!

Hopefully we will see wild fish in a little over a month.  C. melaniae is one of our target species for the trip we are taking to Gabon in February.  There are a few other Chromidotilapia species we are hoping to find as well, and my goal is to bring back as many species of this genus as I can.  The rainbow in the tank is Chilatherina fasciatus ‘Faowi Village’, a really nice larger species that makes a good tank mate for larger, semi-aggressive cichlids.