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DIY acrylic aquarium project

diy acrylic

DIY Acrylic Aquarium by Brad Newton

For a while I’ve been considering purchasing a large acrylic aquarium. I really like how clear acrylic looks compared to glass. On a whim, I stopped by a local shop to have a look at what they carried. I knew they were expensive, but I was still taken aback by the cost. The price wasn’t even the only issue. I was planning on a large shelldweller/rockdweller Tanganyikan community tank. Most of the tanks I saw had large water volumes, but they were very tall with a small footprint for what I needed. Sad and disillusioned I drove home. It wasn’t until later I remembered an article posted about 10 years ago in the Do-It-Yourself section of the library. When I first read the article a DIY acrylic aquarium seemed really cool, but at the time I was using smaller tanks. It was just easier and more practical to buy glass tanks.

Anyway, I’m really looking into the idea of a DIY acrylic tank. Not only will I be able to save some cash, but I’ll be able to build it to the dimensions I need. There won’t be a foot of wasted space at the top. If you haven’t read Brad Newton’s Building an Acrylic Aquarium article, check it out. You might just get inspired.

Crenicichla gillmorlisi, new species from Paraguay

Crenicichla gillmorlisi

Crenicichla gillmorlisi. Photo by Walter A. Gill Morlis A.

A new species of Crenicichla, aka pike cichlids, has been found in the Paraná river drainage of Paraguay. Crenicichla is a large genus with around 100 described species. These predatory fish make their homes in rivers, streams and ponds of South America. Most are located in the Amazon basin, but some can be found as far south as central Argentina. While pike cichlid species vary in size from a few inches to up to 2 feet, the new species of Crenicichla gillmorlisi reaches a maximum of around 8″.

For a hobbyist, pike cichlids can be a challenge to keep. They can be very aggressive and finding suitable tankmates can be difficult. Aquarium size is also an issue particularly with the larger species. If you are looking for a challenge and think that Crenicichla might be something you are interested in keeping, make sure you read Vinny Kutty’s Introduction to Pike Cichlids or Dwarf Pike Cichlids articles.

For complete information on Crenicichla gillmorlisi, the full description can be found on the Biotaxa.org website

Lake Malawi oil drilling

lake malawi

Lake Malawi satellite image

This week an environmental assessment study into the possible effects of drilling for oil in Lake Malawi was completed. Oil production, especially to a country like Malawi, can be a big economic boom for the region. Environmental risks should always be factored into the equation whenever drilling for oil is considered. Lake Malawi isn’t just where cichlids come from, it is a source of water and food for millions of people. That being said, a troubling detail about the environmental assessment is that it is being conducted by the same company licensed to drill for oil. The study isn’t being conducted by an independent organization that can gain from turning a blind eye to environmental dangers. To find out more about SacOil and the environmental concerns in Lake Malawi, visit OOSKAnews.

Lake Tanganyika; Jewel of the Rift

lake tanganyika

The other day I was feeling a bit nostalgic so I decided to pop in an old favorite VHS tape. Yes I still have a VHS player, don’t judge me. In the mid-90s National Geographic released Jewel of the Rift, and it turned me on to Lake Tanganyika cichlids. Until them I had only kept Lake Malawi and Victorian cichlids. Unfortunately, Jewel of the Rift was never released on DVD. The video has some great in the wild footage of Tanganyikan cichlids; from the smallest cichlids living their lives in shells to emperor cichlids protecting their young. If you have never seen the video or haven’t in a while, take some time to view it. There are several YouTube channels that have the entire video in parts. Unfortunately, they all appear to have originated from one of two versions. One version has good audio while the other version has better video, but poor audio. I found that Dailymotion has a pretty good version.

Nicaragua canal threatens local environment

nicaragua canal

Proposed canal path. Image by Nature magazine

The Nicaraguan government has granted Hong Kong based Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Company permission to develop a canal linking the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. The $40-billion project will undoubtedly help the economically struggling Central American nation. The proposed paths of the new canal will not only cross various wetlands and reserves, but also Lake Nicaragua. Lake Nicaragua is home to a variety of cichlid species which have already been devastated by the introduction of non-native fish species.

Professors Axel Meyer and Jorge A. Huete-Pérez are leading the charge for an independent assessment of the environmental impact of the Nicaragua canal. For more on this story read their article, Conservation: Nicaragua Canal could wreak environmental ruin, on the Nature website.

Northeast Council of Aquarium Societies Convention

northeast council

Mark your calendar for the Northeast Council of Aquarium Societies 39th annual convention. The convention will be held at the Crowne Plaza in Cromwell, CT from March 28 – 30, 2014. The NEC was established in 1956 to assist and strengthen member societies. Currently there are 29 member organizations including the Boston Aquarium Society, New England Cichlid Association, and the Cichlid Club of York to name a few. If you live in the Connecticut, Massachusets or New York City area, seriously consider attending this event. Talks will include digital photography, keeping and breeding cichlids, aquascaping, and many more fish topics. These is a great list of speakers. Vendors will be present to show off their stuff and of course Sunday there will be a huge auction.

For more information visit the Northeast Council of Aquarium Societies 2014 Convention page. If you live in the area, don’t miss out!

Apistogramma helkeri – New dwarf Apistogramma

Apistogramma helkeri

Apistogramma helkeri. Photo by Frans Vermeulen

A new species of dwarf Apistogramma has been formally described. Apistogramma helkeri, named after collector Oliver Helker who found the fish, becomes the 83rd described Apistogramma species. Currently found only in a black-water swamp of the lower río Cuao, a tributary of the lower río Sipapo in Venezuela. Individual Apistogramma species are known to be limited to small ranges which is one of the reasons there are so many different species in the Apistogramma genus.

The detailed description of Apistogramma helkeri can be found on Senckenberg.de in pdf format. For more information on keeping the small tank friendly dwarf Appistogramma, check out the Apisto Keeping & Maintenance article by David Soares.

Telmatochromis temporalis – evolution in action

Telmatochromis temporalis

Telmatochromis temporalis Magara. Photo by Ad Konings

A study of Telmatochromis temporalis by the University of Bristol has shown that competition plays a role in the evolution of new species. T. temporalis is an endemic cichlid from Lake Tanganyika. According to the study, the larger T. temporalis drive the smaller temporalis away from the preferred rocky habitat. The smaller T. temporalis are forced to build their homes in shells along the sand. The competition for the preferred habitat has separated the two groups of fish. Once separated, the two groups will only breed among themselves. This separation opens the door for different evolutionary paths. Ad Konings has always considered T. sp. “temporalis shell” to be a morph of the original T. temporalis.

A video by one of the authors of the study explains the process:

A quick synopsis of the study can be found on the International Science Times website.

More information on the smaller variant can be found in the Telmatochromis sp. “Temporalis Shell” article by Brett Harrington.

Telmatochromis temporalis mbita. Photo by Ad Konings

Telmatochromis temporalis mbita. Photo by Ad Konings

Amazon River source found?

amazon river

Possible source of Amazon River (red circle)

For hundreds of years the starting point of the Amazon River has been disputed. The starting point, at one time or another, has been attributed to many different rivers. A new study claims the Mantaro River in southwestern Peru is the beginning of the world’s largest river. This same region has claimed the title in several locations. If the study is correct, the new starting location extends the overall length of the Amazon River by 47 to 57 miles. The read more about the quest to determine the origins of the Amazon River and opposition to the study’s results, visit National Geographic Daily News.

Mantaro River. Photo by J. Valeriano/Google Earth

Astatotilapia flaviijosephi

Astatotilapia flaviijosephi

Astatotilapia flaviijosephi. Photo by Greg Steeves

Astatotilapia flaviijosephi is a rare cichlid that has the distinction of being the only non-African Haplochromine. Populations of this species can been found in rivers and lakes in Israel and Jordon. How this Haplochromine managed to get from Africa to its current habitat isn’t exactly know. It is believed that its ancestors migrated over a land bridge that joined Egypt and the Middle east millions of years ago. A. flaviijosephi’s closest relative is Astatotilapia desfontainii, a North African cichlid. Due to habitat destruction, A. flaviijosephi’s is currently listed as endangered.

Greg Steeves was able to obtain some specimens of A. flaviijosephi’s. Through his experience with its closest relative, A. desfontainii, he was able to keep, raise and successfully spawn them. You can read all about Astatotilapia flaviijosephi and how to successfully keep this unique fish from his article titled Astatotilapia flaviijosephi – The only Non-African Haplochromine.

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