Islands of Steel exhibit. Photo: Texas State Aquarium
The Texas State Aquarium is almost back to full capacity less than two months after a mislabeled chemical killed nearly 400 fish. The mistake caused the deaths of marine fish in multiple exhibits, including the 125,000 gallon Islands of Steel exhibit.
The recovery is just in time for the World Oceans Day celebration this Saturday, June 6th. If you are going to be in the Corpus Christi area this weekend, make sure you stop by to support the Texas State Aquarium. If you can’t make it this weekend, the aquarium will be open all summer long with all their new fish exhibits.
Neolamprologus helianthus became very popular as they started becoming available about 10 or 15 years ago. Since then they seem to have fallen out of favor by hobbyists looking to add color to their aquariums. The species name, helianthus, comes from the Greek words meaning sun and flower. N. helianthus‘ sunflower yellow color made them very desirable. Everybody wanted a pair for their Tanganyika community tanks. Unfortunately, like Neolamprologus pulcher and N. brichardi, a spawning pair can be extremely aggressive toward any other fish in the tank. It is often recommended that they be kept in a species only tank. If you must keep them with other species, a minimum 4 foot tank with hardy tankmates is recommended. Spawns can be quite large and the fry will swim close together under the watchful eyes of the parents.
Fishermen on Lake Tanganyika. Photo by Worldtraveller CC BY-SA 3.0
In a recent move, Woodside Petroleum pulled out of an agreement to continue oil exploration in Lake Tanganyika. Woodside, which had a 70% stake in some exploration permits, is the second oil company to withdraw from further exploration. News articles don’t give a reason as to why they’ve backed out. It may just be that low oil prices have not made it economically sound to drill around Lake Tanganyika. Of course, as an East Africa cichlid fan, I hope this means there just isn’t enough oil to make it worth drilling. Hopefully more news on this topic will come in the near future. To read more about it now, visit Yahoo News.
Steatocranus: A Genus Review article is the newest addition to the Cichlid-Forum library. For those that aren’t familiar with the Genus, this article is a great introduction to this group of West African cichlids. These fish have evolved to handle the fast moving waters of the Congo River, as is apparent by their unique body shape. Along with having a streamlined body, Steatocranus have also reduced their need for a swim bladder. The Author, Dave Hansen, has covered the basics of keeping and breeding this fish. The article, found here in the Library, also includes 10 great pictures by the author showing 5 different species.
Neolamprologus signatus is a species of shelldweller from Lake Tanganyika that hasn’t been as popular as other shelldwellers. This tiny fish rarely grows larger than 2 inches and is ideal for smaller aquariums. N. signatus is a harem spawner and only one male should be kept with a small group of females. Both parents will usually help raise the fry until they are old enough to look after themselves. The females have a characteristic cream-colored spot on their stomachs (pictured above) while males will have dark vertical barring throughout their bodies (below).
If this is a species you might consider keeping, make sure your provide plenty of shells and a couple inches of sand for them to dig. A group of one male and multiple females can be kept in larger community tanks as long as there are no other species that compete for the sandy bottom. Rock dwellers and open water swimmers make great tank mates. To discuss Neolamprologus signatus, make sure to visit the Lake Tanganyika forum.
An interesting article has been added to the library section. The article, titled Mbipia lutea, tells of how a huge fan of Lake Victoria cichlids came across and managed to identify a species that had only recently been described. Greg Steeves is know in the hobby for his vast experience keeping many unusual and hard to find species from Lake Victoria. His Mbipia lutea article details how he realized he had what was at the time a difficult to find species. M. lutea has since become fairly common in the hobby in part due to its amazing colors, small size and incredible ability to reproduce. In the short time I kept this species, they reproduced prolifically starting at a very young age.
A great video showing an Aulonocranus trying to fend off an Oreochromis that has taken an interest in his pit.
Male Aulonocranus will build pits in order to attract potential spawning females. In this video, a young Oreochromis seems to have decided he likes the pit as well. Oreochromis are a type of Tilapia and can grow quite large. Despite the larger size of the Oreochromis, the Aulonocranus seems to keep his pit when it’s all over. Several other species of pit and bower builders can be seen swimming around the sandy bottom. To discuss these and other Lake Tanganyika cichlids, visit the Lake Tanganyika Species forum.
Oreochromis tanganicae. Photo by Michael K. Oliver, Ph.D. at Berlin Aqaurium
Also know as the Stripeback Hap for a single dark stripe running along the back of females and young males. Buccochromis nototaenia is not as popular in the hobby as some of the other large predatory cichlids from Lake Malawi. Males can reach the length of a foot or more making large aquariums a must if you plan on keeping them. In the wild, B. nototaenia preys on juvenile cichlids along the sandy bottom shores of the lake. While you may not find them at every fish store, Buccochromis nototaenia is available from time to time. What is hard to find is much information about this species. Some forum members have discussed this species in the past, so your best bet is the check the Lake Malawi forum if you are planning on adding them to your large show tank.
Neolamprologus pulcher. Photo courtesy of Dave’s Fish.
Neolamprologus pulcher is at the center of another study. This study involves social interactions and the effects they has on brain develop. N. pulcher is a cooperative breeding cichlid where a pair will raise its offspring with the help of other younger adults, usually in large groups. Fish raised in large groups developed better social skills than fish raised in small groups. Not only were the offspring from larger groups better socially, but their brain structure was also different from those of smaller groups. Several conclusions were drawn from the study, including that the safety of larger groups allowed Neolamprologus pulcher to develop better social skills and that these social skills would have benefits later in life.
Unfortunately the study is behind a pay wall. A quick summary of the study can be found on the PHSY.ORG website.
A newly described species of riverine cichlid from the Congo River has been named in honor of President Obama. Melanie Stiassny, research curator at the American Museum of Natural History and Elizabeth Alter, Assistant Professor of Biology at City University of New York, have named the new species Teleogramma obamaorum. This species of Teleogramma differentiates itself from other species through various physical characteristics. The publication also goes into detail about the genetic differences between this species and other Teleogramma and how they are related.
Unfortunately I was unable to find a photograph of a live specimen. Hopefully some will surface soon. If you are into riverine cichlids, Teleogramma obamaorum’sdescription can be found at the American Museum of Natural History website.