An interesting article with an equally interesting title. The Angelina Jolie Project touches on two evolutionary topics; evolutionary change and parallel evolution. Axel Meyer, professor at the University of Konstanz, has spent a good part of his career studying fish evolution and sequencing DNA in the many lakes of Nicaragua. Affectionally called the Angelina Jolie Project, Meyer and his colleagues have studied how quickly evolutionary change can take place among cichlids. The study also looks into similar characteristics of cichlids thousands of miles away by the process of parallel (convergent) evolution. The unusual project name has to do with the focus on the evolution of thick lips in fish. To read the entire article and find many interesting reference links, visit The Loom on the National Geographic website.
Thick lips are not only found in the Midas cichlid (Amphilophus citrinellum) of Nicaragua, but also in African cichlids including Protomelas sp. “Mbenji Thick Lip”, Placidochromis milomo, and Paralabidochromis chilotes to name a few.
The other day I stumbled on some unique cichlid art and thought I would share it with other cichlid fans. A South African artist by the name of Lucas Grant paints cichlids and other creatures on old dictionary pages creating these out of the ordinary works. Lucas not only does paintings, but is also an excellent wildlife photographer. If you are someone that appreciates art and want to have some unique pieces that also incorporate your hobby, take a look at Lucas Grant’s website. If you are looking for more than just cichlid paintings, make sure to check out his photography and some of his other African wildlife paintings.
Archerfish are a family/genus (Toxotidae/Toxotes) of fish that get their name because of a unique ability to accurately spit water at prey. These little archers can be found in brackish water habitats from Australia to India. As you can see in the video, their shooting skills are quite impressive. Their accuracy improves with practice, and they can hit insects almost 10 feet away. Unfortunately keeping these fish with cichlids can be difficult. The main issue being that Archerfish do best in brackish water while most cichlids do not. There are a few cichlids that also make their home in brackish water, but brackish is a general term, and it is not always the same. Some possible cichlid candidates include the Asian Etroplus species.
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.