I am working on trying to spawn the African butterfly fish (Pantodon buccholzi) again. This is one of my favorite oddball fish. Obtaining a good pair has been a challenge. Most of the fish that are imported are half starved to death. Their bodies are very bony, however, so it is not easy to tell if they are thin or not. Feeding them is pretty easy to do, however, unless the fish are so starved that they will not longer eat at all. If wholesalers would do nothing more than toss a handful of small crickets on top of the water the morning after the fish arrive, then we would see a lot healthier butterflies in the stores.
The male in this video I have had for about a year, but the female is a new arrival. This is the first healthy female I have found in a store since getting the male. I have seen lots of males, and a few dying females. The way to determine gender it to look at the anal fin. A male looks like it has two of them, a long one under a short one. A female looks like it has only one anal fin. Mature females are also larger and heavier than males. I condition the pair by feeding them live crickets, about a dozen small crickets in a week. I usually feed them very heavily twice a week. I have not found a limit to the number of crickets they will eat in a meal! Here is a video of them being fed. Enjoy!
Here is a glimpse of the fishroom and homestead of my good friends the Bireley’s. Rich has a love of large tanks and the monster fish that go into them. Most serious hobbyists have one or two large tanks, maybe up to a 220 gallon (my largest is only 110!). Rich has several large aquariums, and some even larger vessels for holding fish. At one point in the video, Rich explains that the fish he is talking about needs a larger tank… the 180 it is in just will not do! You will also meet Anjoli, Rich and Laura’s daughter, who loves her big fish as much as her dad does. Great family. Great fish room. Enjoy….
I am shipping fish again for the next few months. Unfortunately, I do not have a ton of fish to ship. One big change is that I now have a REAL job, and I can only pack and ship fish on Tuesdays and Thursdays, which are the only days I can get to the post office on time (or have time in the morning to pack fish). That schedule may change at the end of October, but for now that is the best I can do. There is a new list of fish posted on the livestock page.
I like to leave cichlid fry with their parents for as long as possible, primarily because the parents will do a better job of raising the fry than I will. I also like to spawn cichlids in community aquariums, if possible, so that I can watch the interactions between the parents, their fry and the other fish in the tank. Care mus be taken to ensure that none of the fish in the tank are harmed too much, and the best way to prevent permanent damage is to use large tanks.
This video shows a pair of wild-caught Pelvicachromis pulcher raising a brood of fry in a 75-gallon aquarium. Other fish in the aquarium include an extra male krib, a small group of Melanotaenia vanhuerni rainbow fish and a breeding pair of Hemichromis cf. lifilili ‘Moanda’. I spend a lot of time watching this pair, and what strikes me is how the parents provide the basic requirements that fry need to survive: food, shelter and protection from threats. Enjoy…
Last weekend we had the pleasure of hosting Paul V. Loiselle in our home while he was in town to give presentations to our local aquarium clubs (Madison Area Aquatic Hobbyists and the Milwaukee Aquarium Society). Paul and I share an interest in west African fish (that’s a bit of an understatement), so I made sure to clean up all the class and do some big water changes before he arrived.
Everyone with a lot of aquariums will admit that there are usually one or two ‘catch all’ aquariums where fish that may not be current projects are kept. Tanks where young fish are placed to mature, single fish are kept until a mate can be found or any fish where there is simply not a place for at the moment.
The tank that serves that purpose in my house is the 110-gallon aquarium in the video below. Several months ago I happened upon some fish that I had always wanted and could not pass up buying, even though I did not have a breeding tank ready for them: Pelmatochromis buettikoferi and Bryconaethiops boulengeri. They were too young to breed anyway, so into the catch-all tank they went. I also keep my group of rather old Chromidotilapia melaniae in there, but they have not spawned in well over two years. There are also some Hemichromis cf. lifilili ‘Moanda’ that are extra breeders in case my productive pair has a problem. Rounding out the westie theme is an eel… Mastacembelus nigromarginatus, and a few miscellaneous Synodontis sp. catfish. The net result is a pretty cool large-species westie tank.
I turned on the light to show them to Paul, and surprise!!!… the Pelmatochromis buettikoferi were defending fry. I left them in with the parents with the intention of shooting this video, but when I got around to shooting the footage the fry were gone. They will spawn again though! Enjoy….
I have a wild pair of Pelvicachromis sacrimontis that are currently raising a batch of fry. I have had this species many times, but for some reason I cannot seem to keep them around for multiple generations. That is now my goal. There is some concern that this species is suffering from its close proximity to the human population of Lagos, Nigeria, and the barely-controlled oil drilling industry in the areas where the fish is found. Not to mention the deforestation that has decimated 95% of Nigeria’s rainforests. P. sacrimontis used to be a relatively common export, and we used to see them in stores all the time as ‘Giant Krib’. I can remember getting boxes of ‘mixed kribs’ and being disappointed when most of them were this species!!!! If I could only have now what I used to have then…
Hey! An actual fish video… from my fish room! About freakin’ time!
C. g. guentheri is the most widely distributed species in the genus. This pair was imported from Ghana, and were said to have been collected in Lake Volta. That lake is a reservoir which happens to have the largest surface area of all the reservoirs in the world, and the fourth largest by volume. Two river systems were flooded in 1965 to make the lake: the White Volta and the Black Volta. C. g. guentheri is actually a river fish that has been able to make the switch to living in a lake. I hate to think about all the species that did not….
What I like most about the genus Chromidotilapia is the diversity of behaviors and communication they display. While all cichlids are great communicators, these West African mouthbrooders seem to be very clear in how they talk to each other and their fry. You will some some examples of that in the video. Enjoy…
The Africa Live exhibit at the San Antonio Zoo is one of my favorite galleries to visit, because it features aquariums dedicated to most of the major (or at least famous) freshwater ecosystems that are of interest to aquarium keepers. And those displays are LARGE. Most zoos/aquariums have Lakes Malawi and/or Tanganyika exhibits, but most are not on the scale of what you will see at the San Antonio Zoo. But it is the West African river display that (in my biased opinion) takes the cake!
Jim Cormier was my host when visiting the New England Cichlid Association in February, 2012. We had plenty of time to kill between my arrival in town and the meeting, so im took me to see his fish room. My assumption was that we were going to his house, but that was not the case. Jim’s hatchery is located in rental space inside an old industrial mill. I wish we had places like this in Wisconsin! I would love to double the size of my room and have it ‘off site’. Not that I dislike having my fish room in my basement (very convenient), but just think about how easy it would be to ‘get lost’ if the aquariums were on the other side of town!