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.
Short video of a pair of Tropheus brichardi spawning.
Tropheus brichardi is one of the handful of Tropheus species from Lake Tanganyika. T. brichardi, with its variants, isn’t as common in the hobby as the many variants of T. duboisi, T. sp. “Black” or T. moorii. Nonetheless, several variants of T. brichardi can be found from the right breeders, importers and hobbyists. Although often referred to as blue-eyed Tropheus, there are many variants within the brichardi genus and not all blue-eyed Tropheus are brichardi. Like other Tropheus species, T. brichardi are aggressive, algae grazers that make their homes in the rocky shallows throughout the lake. Keeping Tropheus requires special attention to their dietary needs and well as tank sizes and stocking. It is sometimes said that Tropheus are a species best left to “advanced” hobbyists, but with proper attention to the species’ requirements, anyone can keep them.
For more information of Tropheus brichardi and other Tropheus species, make sure to visit the Tropheus Corner.
Gold mining in the Madre de Dios region of Peru is not only threatening the region, but also poses a threat down stream to the Amazon River. Of particular concern are the illegal gold mining camps that have sprung up in the last few years. Unregulated and often ‘seat of your pants’ operations regularly dump mercury and other chemicals into the area.
The destruction left behind by these illegal gold mining operations is clearly seen. Whatever is dumped into the region makes it way into the Madre de Dios River which eventually reaches the Amazon River. Several species of cichlids make their home in the Madre de Dios River, including Mesonauta festivus, the flag cichlid.
Probably one of the more unusual aquarium products I’ve seen in a while, but certainly something I could use. RoboSnail can best be described as a hybrid between a Roomba and an automatic pool vacuum. According to the manufacturer, AquaGenesis International, RoboSnail prevents algae buildup on aquarium glass by automatically cleaning it once a day. The constant preventative cleaning stops algae from taking hold on the aquarium’s glass surface. This product seems like a fantastic idea, especially if you have a tank that is difficult to clean or you’re the kind of person that doesn’t like to do constant maintenance. Watching the video below I do have one huge concern. As someone who has scratched their glass by accidentally picking up some sand with a magnetic cleaner, I’d be really worried about the product doing the same and then proceeding to scratch the entire tank.
If you’d like to read more about RoboSnail, check out the product website at RoboSnail.com.
Billed as “Everything Aquatic Under One Roof”, the World Pet Association is having their first Aquatic Experience in Chicago this weekend. Speakers slated to give talks include Zeb Hogan, Heiko Bleher, Oliver Lucanus, Laif DeMason and Rusty Wessel. In a departure from the traditional speakers, Aquatic Experience will also be presenting a lineup of aquatic industry professionals representing manufacturers and retailers. The event is being held at the Schaumburg Convention Center, which boasts its 100,000 square foot facility. It will include a shark encounter tank, fish displays from around the world and manufacturer booths. This experience is definitely a departure from the traditional cichlid club conventions and may seem a little commercial. Nonetheless, it has a great lineup of speakers and activities. For some it might also provide an opportunity to see many of the latest products from the biggest manufacturers in the aquatic industry.
Defining what makes up the category of dwarf cichlids isn’t an exact science, but the species generally recognized as dwarfs can bring hobbyists many years of joy. For the most part, South American dwarfs are small (less than 5″) and prefer soft, acidic water. Species recognized as dwarfs fall into the genera Apistogramma, Apistogrammoides, Biotecus, Crenicara, Dicrossus, Microgeophagus, Nannacara, and Taeniacara. Depending on the species, a pair can be kept in a tank as small as 10 gallons, but larger tanks are advisable. If you are looking to squeeze in one more tank or only have room for a smaller tank, dwarfs might be exactly what you are looking for. In a community tank they do better with non-aggressive tankmakes and aside from spawning, they tend to not be very aggressive. They can be shy, but dither fish will help bring them out. Dwarf cichlids are also great for planted tanks.
If you’d like to try your hand at some South America dwarf cichlids, make sure to visit South American Dwarfs section of the New World Cichlids page.