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Vanishing lakes of the world

vanishing lakes

Lake Poopó in Bolivia. Photo by NASA

A depressing article by New Scientist magazine tells the story of vanishing lakes around the world. Pictured above was Bolivia’s second largest lake that has recently dried up. Granted Lake Poopó was very shallow and it has dried up before, but this time it is unlikely to fill again. Its source of water, Lake Titicaca, and the river that feeds it have their own troubles.

Lakes in Europe, Australia and Africa aren’t doing much better. The general consensus as to why lakes are in trouble is due to various factors including climate change, increased use of water for irrigation and silt buildup in rivers that feed into lakes. It is believed that Lake Tanganyika’s reduced fish yields are due to warming water temperatures. For more in-depth information on the vanishing lakes check out the article on New Scientist.

Metriaclima pulpican from Lake Malawi

Metriaclima pulpican

Metriaclima pulpican. Photo by Dave Hansen

This attractive Lake Malawi mbuna has gone through a series of names (Cynotilapia pulpican. Pseudotropheus sp. “Kingsizei”), but is currently classified as Metriaclima pulpican. Like other mbuna, M. pulpican is a herbivore and should be fed a diet high in vegetable matter. This species is aggressive and it’s recommended to be housed with other fish that can take care of themselves. While females are somewhat drab, males take on nice black stripes on a powder blue body. Similarly colored mbuna like Pseudotropheus demasoni or Ps. saulosi should not be housed with Metriaclima pulpican. For more information, visit the Species Article or the Lake Malawi Species forum.

Thoracochromis sp. “Lake Albert”

Thoracochromis sp

Thoracochromis sp. “Lake Albert” dark morph. Photo by Greg Steeves

Lake Albert, like most lakes in Africa other than the “big three”, doesn’t get much recognition. In reality, Lakes Victoria, Tanganyika and Malawi are the largest of 10 lakes that make up the African Great Lakes. In Lake Albert we find can Thoracochromis sp. “Lake Albert” among other cichlid species. Pictured above is the common dark morph of the species. Other males of the T. sp. “Lake Albert” species are light in color with a yellowish body and red head.

There isn’t much information about Thoracochromis sp. “Lake Albert” and it has only recently started appearing in the hobby. Most likely its behavior is similar to other Thoracochromis like Thoracochromis brauschi. Hopefully we will start seeing more T. sp. “Lake Albert”. To discuss this species and other species from the Lake Victoria Basin visit the Lake Victoria Basin forum.

Perissodus microlepis lefty or righty

Perissodus microlepis

Perissodus microlepis. Photo from publication

Research to determine if side-dominance is something fish are born with or if it develops over time was conducted on Perissodus microlepis. P. microlepis is a scale-eating cichlid from Lake Tanganyika. Adult cichlids on this species have a preferred side of attack, righty or lefty, and as the picture above shows it can be seen by the shape of their mouths. Researchers were able to determine that the preference becomes more developed as the fish matures.

The question is whether Perissodus microlepis is born lefty or righty or if it develops over time, changing the shape of the jaw. According to the publication, morphology precedes the leaned behavior which then skews the mouth even further. To learn more about this study visit PLOS.ORG. To discuss Perissodus microlepis, visit the Lake Tanganyika Species forum.

Yssichromis genus article


Yssichromis piceatus. Photo by Greg Steeves

Originally thought to have been wiped out after the introduction of Nile perch, several Yssichromis species have made a comeback in Lake Victoria. Thanks to their ability to adapt, a few of the species survived and flourished by moving to habitats that provided cover or mixing in with schools of other fish. Despite the good news, some species didn’t fare so well and are critically endangered or considered extinct in the wild.

A new article titled ‘The Little Known Arrow-fish; Yssichromis’ by Greg Steeves has been added to the library. In it you will find descriptions of the different species of Yssichromis. Only a few of the species have made it into the hobby, but with their interesting colors, behavior and mild temperament they make a great addition to many setups. Check out the new arrow-fish article in the library. To discuss these species visit the Lake Victoria forum.

Oil spills in Peruvian Amazon

oil spills

Cleanup at spill site. Photo via twitter ‏@vozdelatierra

Two oil spills have dumped 2000 to 3000 barrels of oil into two separate rivers in the Peruvian Amazon. Both spills occurred within 10 days of each other into tributaries of the Amazon River. This isn’t the first time oil has spilled by PetroPeru, the state-owned petroleum company. In 2014 there was a 3000 barrel oil spill into the Marañón River, also an Amazon tributary. All the oil spills have resulted in wildlife deaths and contaminated water supplies for inhabitants of the region. All the oil spills have been attributed to poor pipeline maintenance and lax attention to preserving the local ecology. For more information visit the ZME Science website.

Lamprologus’ sp. “Ornatipinnis Zambia”


Lamprologus‘ sp. “Ornatipinnis Zambia”. Photo by Dave Hansen

Lamprologus‘ sp. “Ornatipinnis Zambia” is one of the wonderful species of shell dwelling cichlids from Lake Tanganyika. Shell dwellers make their homes in empty Neothauma tanganyicense shells. The shells offer shell dwelling cichlids not only protection, but also a place to lay eggs, raise fry and declare territories. Different species of shell dwellers bury the shells in different ways. Some species will dig a pit around the shells while others will bury the shell. ‘L.‘ sp. “Ornatipinnis Zambia” buries its shell leaving only a tiny entrance visible.

Lamprologus‘ sp. “Ornatipinnis Zambia” is not as common in the hobby as other species, but its behavior is just as entertaining. To find out more about Lake Tanganyika shell dwellers check out the Shelldweller Corner in the Library. To discuss ‘L.‘ sp. “Ornatipinnis Zambia” visit the Lake Tanganyika forum.

Boiling river found in Amazon

boiling river

Photo by Delvin Gandy/The Boiling River Project

A legendary boiling river has been found in the Amazon forest. While there are no cichlids in this river, or probably any fish whatsoever, the story is still interesting. Despite the legends of a boiling river deep in the Amazon jungle, scientists believed that there wasn’t volcanic activity in the region to create high temperature waters. It is believed that the hot water is the result of cracks and faults that allow heated water to rise from deep in the earth’s crust.

For more information, pictures and a video on the discovery near Mayantuyacu, Peru visit the article on the Daily Mail website.

Aquatic Gardeners Association 2015 winners

Aquatic Gardeners Association

The Aquatic Gardeners Association is an organization geared toward beginner and advanced hobbyists. The AGA publishes an English language quarterly journal available to the association’s members. The AGA also has an international aquascaping competition where participants enter their creations in various categories.

If you’re into aquatic gardening or just enjoy the beautiful creations, make sure to check out last year’s winners on the AGA 2015 contest page. You’ll find the different categories which link to the entries and winners. There is also a Biotope Aquascape category showing the different environments including those where you’d find cichlids. Thanks to DJRansome for bringing Aquatic Gardeners Association contest to my attention. Discussion on aquarium plants can be done in the Aquarium Decoration forum.

Steatocranus irvinei from the Volta River

Steatocranus irvinei

Steatocranus irvinei. Photo by Dave Hansen

Often referred to as the blue-lipped blockhead, Steatocranus irvinei isn’t often seen in the hobby. Originally from the Volta River Basin in Ghana, this West African cichlid is very drab. Despite the lack of color, many Steatocranus fans find beauty in their unique appearance and are endeared with their behavior.

Although several species of Steatocranus do well in community tanks, Steatocranus irvinei does have an aggressive streak and will harass other fish. They need large tanks and do best in a species only tank or with other fish that can take care of themselves. To learn more about Steatocranus check out the article by Dave Hansen Steatocranus: A Genus Review. You can discuss S. irvinei and other West African cichlids in the Lake Victoria Basin, West African, Madagascar & Asian Species forum.

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