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Ctenochromis polli from the Congo River

Ctenochromis polli

Ctenochromis polli. Photo by Dave Hansen

Ctenochromis polli is thought to be among the first West African cichlids imported into the U.S. The first specimens were caught in Stanley Pool (Pool Malebo) but it is thought to be in several locations throughout the lower and mid Congo River. C. polli is not often found in the hobby and its original habitat is threatened by urbanisation.

In the aquarium Ctenochromis polli isn’t a very demanding fish. Males can reach 4″, while females are slightly smaller. Older, mature males can develop a nuchal hump. In the wild C. polli regularly eats insect larvae, but will adapt to most fish foods. C. polli can be aggressive and does well with mbuna and other hardy cichlids. Plenty of hiding places are recommended and subdued lighting is best, otherwise they will be very shy. To discuss Ctenochromis polli visit the West African forum.

Lake Malawi diversity driven by environmental change

lake malawi

Lake Malawi cichlids at Georgia Aquarium. Photo by Fredlyfish4 CC by 3.0

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that environmental change, specifically periods of deep water, created the right conditions for diversification in Lake Malawi.

According to the study, Lake Malawi’s blue phase periods, characterized by deep clear water, coincide with periods of rapid diversification in cichlid species. These blue phases were separated by green phases in which the water was shallow and murky. The longest blue phase periods began 750,000, 400,000 and 70,000 years ago, the same times as large diversification events. The study is behind a paywall but a summary can be found on the PHYS.org website. Visit the Lake Malawi Species forum to discuss.

Pundamilia nyererei from Lake Victoria

Pundamilia nyererei

Pundamilia nyererei (Makobe Island). Photo by Robert De Leon

Pundamilia nyererei is a species of fish from Lake Victoria made up of many different location variants. These variants look similar, but show many different color variations. Pictures of the different variants can be found in the Pundamilia species profiles.

Males of this species are very colorful regardless of the variant. Bright reds and yellows are common and make a great addition to anyone looking to add these colors to their aquarium. Pundamilia nyererei males and even the females can be aggressive and may not do well with certain fish. P. nyererei are hardy fish that adapt well to water conditions and foods. While the males are colorful, the females are very plain, rarely showing any color at all. On top of not showing color, the females of the different variants look alike. Cross-breeding between the variants will likely occur if housed together. This is also an issue in the wild. Various factors have driven fish from their normal locations and along with water clarity problems, different variants mix and reproduce. It is important never to keep different variants together. To discuss Pundamilia nyererei visit the Lake Victoria Basin forum.

Pseudotropheus demasoni from Lake Malawi

pseudotropheus demasoni

Pseudotropheus demasoni. Photo by Dave Hansen

A popular and easily recognizable Pseudotropheus demasoni is a favorite of Lake Malawi mbuna aficionados. The well defined black and blue bars of both males and females make them an attractive fish. Originally described by Ad Konings in 1994 and named after Laif DeMason.

Don’t let the small size of Pseudotropheus demasoni fool you. While the largest males only reach about 4 inches, these dwarf mbuna are very aggressive and won’t hesitate to tangle with larger fish. Care should be taken to ensure that tankmates are not only compatible in aggression levels, but also in dietary requirements. P. demasoni is a herbivore and feeding them an unsuitable diet could result result in bloat. P. demasoni is best kept in large groups so that aggression can be spread out and no individual will be singled out. Groups on one male to 3 or 4 females are recommended. To read more about this species visit the Pseudotropheus demasoni by Marc Elieson. This species can also be discussed in the Lake Malawi Species forum.

International Aquarium Congress meeting in Vancouver

international aquarium congress

The Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre is hosting this year’s International Aquarium Congress. The IAC meets every four years in different locations around the world to provide “the scientific community with the latest on marine life research, extending the opportunity to discuss global and local issues and sharing successful initiatives.” Although the IAC is geared toward marine life, many of the issues discussed have an impact on freshwater fish as well. Speakers will discuss climate change, conservation and sustainability. Noted conservationist, Dr. Paul Loiselle will be giving a presentation on the state of freshwater fish populations.

If you are going to be in Vancouver, Canada between September 25 – 30 and think you might be interested in attending the International Aquarium Congress visit their website at http://iac2016.venuewest.com.

Lamprologus congoensis from central Africa

Lamprologus congoensis

Young Lamprologus congoensis. Photo by Dave Hansen

Lamprologus congoensis is a rheophile (likes fast moving waters) found in various locations of the Congo River in both the Republic of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It thrives in the fast-moving, highly-oxygenated parts of rivers. L. congoensis’ body is streamlined to cope with the fast moving waters and their swim bladder is small to reduce buoyancy. Information on their behavior in the wild is limited due to the difficulty in observing them in the river.

In the aquarium, Lamprologus congoensis is highly aggressive and requires a large footprint tank. Tankmates should be carefully chosen in order to withstand their aggression. An effort should be made to provide adequate water movement not only to make them comfortable but also to increase oxygenation. The article Setting up a Rheophilic Tank by Dave Hansen gives some tips. To discuss L. congoensis visit the West African Species forum.

Herichthys carpintis from eastern Mexico

Herichthys carpintis

Herichthys carpintis. Photo by H. Zell CC by 3.0

Herichthys carpintis is a large cichlid from the Panuco River drainage of eastern Mexico. They can be found in both fast moving or still waters. A range of temperatures and water conditions are also well tolerated. H. carpintis is similar to, and often misidentified as, a Texas Cichlid (H. cyanoguttatus). Common names for H. carpintis include green Texas cichlid or pearlscale cichlid. Despite being confused for the Texas cichlid, H. carpintis is not native to Texas waters.

Herichthys carpintis males can reach a size of 12 inches while females rarely grow larger than 8 inches. These fish can also be very aggressive, especially when breeding or caring for their young. Because of their size and aggression, a 5 foot tank or larger is recommended, especially if you want more than on pair. A male and female will usually pair off and become aggressive toward other fish just prior to breeding. While spawns can number in the hundreds, larger adults can lay upwards of 1000 eggs. To discuss Herichthys carpintis visit the Central American Cichlids forum.

Chindongo a new mbuna Genus


Chindongo bellicosus, formerly Pseudotropheus sp. “Elongatus Aggressive”. Photo by Ad Konings

A new Lake Malawi mbuna genus has been described and several other species of mbuna have been reclassified. A recent publication by Ad Konings, Shan Li and Jay Stauffer describe a new genus in Lake Malawi. Chindongo bellicosus, formerly known as Pseudotropheus sp. “Elongatus Aggressive”, is the first species of the new genus. Unfortunately the publication describing the new genus and renaming of other species is behind a paywall here.

Along with Chindongo bellicosus 6 species have received official names. They are Cynotilapia chilundu, Metriaclima flavicauda, M. usisyae, Tropheops biriwira, T. kamtambo, and T. kumwera from what was known as Cynotilapia sp. “elongatus taiwan”, Metriaclima sp. “elongatus yellow tail”, M. sp. “elongatus usisya”, Tropheops sp. “elongatus greenback”, T. sp. “elongatus reef”, and T. sp. “elongatus boadzulu” respectively.

To discuss the new genus and species classifications visit the Lake Malawi Species forum.

Metriaclima sp. “lime nkhomo” from Lake Malawi

Metriaclima sp

Metriaclima sp. “lime nkhomo”. Photo by Dave Hansen

Not often seen on price lists or local shops, Metriaclima sp. “lime nkhomo” is a uniquely colored mbuna from Lake Malawi. M. sp. “lime nkhomo” made their debut into the hobby about 15 years ago. Often named Pseudotropheus sp. “lime nkhomo”, but without an official description, it is likely that this species may go other names.

Care and behavior of Metriaclima sp. “lime nkhomo” is similar to most other mbuna. They aren’t picky eaters so care must be taken that they receive plenty of plant matter in their diet. Despite their small size, they can be aggressive and won’t shy away from conflict with larger fish. Males have a yellow around the face and fins with a blueish hue on the body. Females lack the brighter color or the males. To discuss this species and other mbuna visit the Lake Malawi Species forum.

Oil drilling begins under Yasuni National Park

oil drilling

Oxbow lake, Yasuni. Photo by Geoff Gallice (CC by 2.0)

Despite an international effort to protect the Yasuni National Park in Ecuador, oil drilling has begun in the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. An initiative to preserve the pristine park began in 2007. Ecuador asked the international community for compensation in exchange for not drill the estimated 800 million barrels of crude oil under Yasuni National Park. The plan only raised a fraction of the necessary funds and drilling has begun.

Yasuni National Park is considered one of the most biologically diverse spot on Earth. The concentration and diversity of both animal and plant life sets records unmatched anywhere else. For more information on Yasuni National Park and the impact of oil drilling in the region visit CommonDreams.org.

A short video of some of the wildlife in Yasuni waters

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