The staff at Cichlid-Forum would like to wish everyone happy holidays. Please keep in mind that moderators and administrators will be busy traveling and spending time with their families, so we may not be able to get to things right away. Pictured above are a couple juvenile Tropheus moorii blue rainbow. If you would like to learn more about this species and the incredible variety of Tropheus, make sure to visit the Tropheus Corner. Tropheus can also be discussed in the Lake Tanganyika section of the forum. If Tropheus aren’t something you are interested in, there is plenty more cichlid discussion in the forum.
Seven months ago a worldwide search was on to find a mate for what was believed to be the last two males of an endangered Madagascar cichlid. Ptychochromis insolitus, affectionally called “gorgeously ugly” by zookeepers, was believed extinct in the wild as a result of habitat destruction. There are only a handful of Madagascar cichlids, but P. isolitus is unusual because it has kept many of its ancestral traits.
According to the article on ScienceMag.org, an email arrived at the London Zoo from someone in Madagascar saying they could find the fish.
Zimmerman and his colleagues searched for days near the Mangarahara River with no luck. But when they arrived in a village called Merotandrano, on a small tributary of the river, a fisherman gave him a Mangarahara cichlid that had been dead only a few days. Zimmerman hiked about 2 hours from Merotandrano to a few deep pools where villagers had set out traps. “They went charging into water,” Zimmerman recalls. “They were shouting: Joba mena!” That’s the local name for the fish, which means “red girl,” although in fact it’s the males that have trailing red edges on their fins.
Eighteen specimens of this endangered Madagascar cichlid were collected. Hopes are high that they will be able to breed them, and if successful, there are plans to move some of the offspring into a reserve further upstream.
Payara, Hydrolycus scomberoides, from Uraima Falls in Venezuela
Animal Planet is having a River Monsters marathon all day. Although the fish in the episodes are not cichlids, the show is exciting to watch. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Animal Planet show, River Monsters is hosted by Jeremy Wade and depicts large and dangerous river fish from around the world. Aside from trying to solve various who-done-it attack mysteries, Wade is an accomplished angler who tries to catch these very same fish.
The shows take place in the same waters where many cichlid species also make their homes. River Monsters will travel from South and Central America to Africa and Asia. You can find the show schedules on the Animal Planet website. Make sure to set your DVR.
If you are a fan of Central American cichlids or if you think you might be interested in taking the plunge, take a look at CjCichlid’s 135gal Central American Community tank topic. The topic has been active for two years and was even awarded Tank of Merit in October 2012. Not only is there an informative discussion about the fish, but there are many pictures and videos. The tank’s many inhabitants have at one time included Astatheros robertsoni, Vieja synspilum, and Hypsophrys nicaraguensis to name a few.
Ad Koning’s Cichlid Press has recently branched out to offer 2 books in digital format. The books are Tropheus in their natural habitat and The Cichlids of Lake Malawi National Park. These books are in addition to the Malawi Peacocks app reviewed HERE by Pam Chin. These two e-books are great news for iPad and Mac owners. Digital publishing has taken a bite out of print sales so don’t be surprised if other cichlid-related books start appearing in digital versions. At this time, the two books from Cichlid Press are not available for Android users but hopefully we will see something in the future.
An interesting study conducted by researchers at the University of Hull and the University of Nottingham have led to some interesting ideas on cichlid evolution. Specifically, the many different species of cichlids in Lake Malawi that build bowers. Researchers found that if they altered the shape of a bower, the male experienced less aggression from other males. At the same time, a different shaped bower did not discourage females. It is then possible that females will begin to favor males who build different shaped bowers since these males wouldn’t suffer from the negative effects of aggression. Over time, it is believed that this could be a mechanism of cichlid evolution. Some females will begin favoring the different shaped bowers. For these females the different bower will become the normal bower, splitting away from the original group. For a detailed look of this study, visit PeerJ.
A short video of Petrochromis moshi Sibwesa spawning from PISCES.
Petrochromis are large, colorful herbivores from Lake Tanganyika. Some species reach a foot in length and can be very aggressive towards each other; making them more difficult to keep than the average cichlid. They need large tanks to accommodate their size and do best in large groups to help spread out aggression. Petrochromis have similar tank requirements to Tropheus, except they need even more room. Despite their size and aggression, the video shows a pair of Petrochromis moshi Sibwesa behaving very delicately toward each other as they spawn. If you would like to learn more about Petrochromis, make sure to read Care and Maintenance of Petrochromis, Petrochromis sp. “Red – Bulu Point”, and The Petrochromis Myth.
Melanochromis wochepa formally M. dialeptos. Photo by Ad Konings
There have been changes in the classification of many mbuna species. Over the next few weeks you’ll see some major updates to Cichlid-Forum’s mbuna profiles. The fish pictured above is just one example. For a long time it was believed to be a variant of Melanochromis dialeptos but has been reclassified as Melanochromis wochepa. If you visit the Malawi Mbuna Profiles you’ll noticed that we’ve already updated several dozen Pseudotropheus to Cynotilapia or Tropheops. Many of the well known Cynotilapia afra variants like Cobue and Jalo Reef have now become Cynotilapia zebroides. Along with the classification updates we’ll also be adding new species and images. Once the mbuna profiles are done, expect to see other group updates.
Scientists have long theorized that cichlids evolved on the ancient continent of Gondwana. Once the continent began to drift apart, it carried cichlids with it to the regions of the world they are found today. Today cichlids are found in South America, Africa, Madagascar, and India. All areas that were once part of Gondwana. However, researchers from Oxford University are claiming that fossil and DNA evidence suggests that cichlids postdate the breakup of Gondwana. They believe that cichlids didn’t make their appearance until about 65 to 57 million years ago. Granted that a lack of fossil records does not indicate that cichlids didn’t exist prior to 65 million years ago, but that does leave an 70 million year gap between the earliest known cichlid fossil and the breakup of Gondwana.
These new claims certainly bring up some interesting questions. If cichlids postdate the breakup of Gondwana, how are they found on so many different continents? Did they at one time have a tolerance to salt water? Was there perhaps an island chain linking the continents as they drifted apart which enable the fish migrate between the continents? Were there areas of freshwater within the ancient oceans? For more information on this research, see the study on the Royal Society Publishing website.
With Christmas just a month away many public aquariums will be hosting Scuba Santa. For hobbyists with a family, this is an activity you and the entire family can enjoy, especially for your youngest children. I couldn’t find where the tradition began, but it seems that many aquariums throughout the country have picked up on it. Aquariums having some type of diving Santa include the Seattle Aquarium, Newport Aquarium, Adventure Aquarium, and the Grapevine Sea Life Aquarium to name a few.
Visit your local aquarium website to see if they will be having a visit from Scuba Santa this holiday season. If they are, double check the dates and times so you won’t have a disappointed little one.