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FOTAS 2015 annual convention

Fotas 2015

The FOTAS 2015 annual convention is being hosted by the Texas Cichlid Association.

The Federation of Texas Aquarium Societies is holding their annual convention this weekend, September 25-27. FOTAS is an organization made up of aquarium clubs in Texas and surrounding states. Every year, one of the member organizations hosts the event. FOTAS 2015 is being hosted by the Texas Aquarium Society in Irving, TX. For last minute information, visit TexasCichlid.org.

Member organizations are not all cichlid clubs. As such, FOTAS conventions are very diverse, hosting talks about everything from bettas to aquatic plants. Regardless, most conventions are very cichlid-centric, especially when hosted by a cichlid club. Expect the Sunday auction to have great deals and rare cichlids. For more information on FOTAS 2015, including a schedule and list of speakers, visit the event information page.

Alcolapia alcalicus from Lake Natron

Alcolapia alcalicus

Alcolapia alcalicus. Photo by Greg Steeves. Courtesy of AfricanCichlids.net

A true wonder of adaptation, Alcolapia alcalicus makes its home in hot, alkaline springs around Lake Natron. Water conditions routinely exceed 100 degrees and pH levels hover around 10! Rare in the hobby, A. alcalicus can be conditioned to live in the aquarium provided temperatures are in the mid-80s and the pH doesn’t drop below 8. This is definitely a fish that does well in a species only tank, as suitable tankmates can be hard to find. A. alcalicus is a maternal mouthbrooder and spawning is best done in groups of both males and females. In the wild, Alcolapia alcalicus has even adapted to excrete urea (carbamide) through its gills instead of ammonia as other do other fish. Ammonia in high pH waters quickly becomes toxic.

To discuss Alcolapia alcalicus, visit the Lake Victoria Basin, West African, Madagascar & Asian Species forum.

Toronto Metro Zoo cichlid tank

A great video of the Toronto Metro Zoo Lake Malawi cichlid aquarium. A thanks to Mbuna Marcus for uploading the video.

Lake Malawi has areas teeming with many species of cichlids, all going about their daily lives. The heavily stocked aquarium at the Toronto Metro Zoo gives a glimpse of the diversity of cichlids in Lake Malawi. Regardless of whether or not some of the species would ever be living so close together in the wild, natural behavior can still be observed. Mbuna are grazing on rocks and haps are cruising for a meal. It’s good to see large displays of cichlids at zoos, giving visitors exposure to all the great colors and varieties.

For anyone living in the Toronto area, make sure to stop by and support the Toronto Metro Zoo. If you have children, consider going to the Boo at the Zoo event. Children under 12 and in costume get free admission. For discussion on the fish in the video, visit the Lake Malawi species forum.

Toronto Metro Zoo

Toronto Metro Zoo’s Boo at the Zoo Halloween event.

Variabilichromis moorii from Lake Tanganyika

Variabilichromis moorii

Variabilichromis moorii. Photo by JBenoit. CC-BY-SA-3.0

Variabilichromis moorii is one of those fish that you might easily overlook if you see them at the wrong time. However, catch them at the right time and you won’t be able to take your eyes off of them. When not in breeding dress, V. moorii can look drab with its brown coloration. They tend to be somewhat shy and overly aggressive fish can stress them. When it comes to breeding or trying to attract a female, this fish does an amazing transformation into a black, silky body with glowing blue edges along the edges of its fins. It is at this time when their beauty can really be seen.

Native to the southern part of Lake Tanganyika, V. moorii can be found in rocky shallow waters. Once a male and female pair up, the female will lay its eggs along the walls of a cave. The male will generally stay close by to guard the entrance. They are very secretive spawners and many hobbyists don’t even know they have fry until they are large enough to venture out of the cave. To discuss Variabilichromis moorii, visit the Lake Tanganyika forum.

Italdraghe harvester headed to Lake Victoria

Italdraghe Harvester

Italdraghe harvester to remove water hyacinth from Lake Victoria. Photo from DredgingToday.com

An Italdraghe harvester is heading to Lake Victoria to attempt to alleviate some of the problems caused by water hyacinth. As has been reported in this blog, water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) is an aquatic plant native to the Amazon basin that has caused significant problems outside its native water. In Lake Victoria, with no natural population control, water hyacinth has covered large areas of the lake. Large mats of water hyacinth reduce oxygen levels in the water which in turn affect fish survival. The plant also affects foods supplies and increases mosquito borne diseases to the people living and depending on the lake.

For more information on the Italdraghe harvester and to see some more pictures, visit DredgingToday.com.

Uaru amphiacanthoides with fry video

A short video by Thomas Jetter showing a pair of Uaru amphiacanthoides guarding their fry.

Native to Brazil and Guyana, Uaru amphiacanthoides makes its home in both brackish and freshwater rivers and streams. In the wild U. amphiacanthoides feeds on both plant matter and crustaceans, but does very well on a mostly herbivore diet in aquariums. Often called by its common name; the triangle cichlid is relatively rare in the hobby, but can be found by determined hobbyists. This species is rather peaceful and do well in groups of other U. amphiacanthoides and many other fish. Adults can get upwards of 10 or more inches in length. Like Discus, newly hatched fry will feed off of the slime coat of the parents.

To discuss Uaru amphiacanthoides, visit the South American Cichlids forum.

Uaru amphiacanthoides

Uaru amphiacanthoides with fry. Screen capture from video.

Dam construction threatens Amazon

dam construction

Amazon river heavily loaded with sediment. Photo by NASA

Dam construction continues at a fast pace to meet the growing demand for electricity in South America. It is estimated that there are over 400 existing, in construction or planned dams dotting the Amazon river basin. The dangers to the aquatic biodiversity come from an excess buildup of sediments (as seen in the picture above) and toxins like mercury used in gold mining. Dams also destroy natural ecosystems and prevent fish migration essential to reproduction. A two part article on Mongabay details the dangers to the Amazon river as a result of all the existing and future planned dams. If you are a cichlid fan, especially of New World cichlids, these new dams could threaten many of the species you love and also species yet to be discovered and collected.

Enantiopus sp. “Kilesa” from Lake Tanganyika

Enantiopus sp.

Enantiopus sp. “Kilesa”. Photo by Benjamin L. Smith

Enantiopus sp. “Kilesa” is one of those fish that is on many hobbyist’s wishlists, but rarely fulfilled. These cichlids can be found on the sandy western shores of Lake Tanganyika. The males, as seen above, are incredibly colorful. The colors and display they put on always intensifies when spawning or challenging other males. One of the reasons these fish aren’t more popular is that they can be delicate to both stress and water quality. Transporting, moving and even startling the fish can cause them to become stressed and die. Water quality is also a big issue with E. sp. “Kilesa”.

Hobbyists who make the commitment to owning these fish also need to dedicate substantial tank space to them. They do best in a species only tank with a large sandy bottom. Enantiopus sp. “Kilesa” are best kept in groups of one male and multiple females. The males will move sand around and create mounds in an effort to attract potential males. It is this behavior along with their color that makes these fish so interesting to watch. If you would like some more information on this species check out the Enantiopus sp. “Kilesa” article in the library by Benjamin L. Smith. Discussion can be done in the Lake Tanganyika forum.

Steatocranus bleheri article

Steatocranus bleheri

Steatocranus bleheri. Photo by Dave Hansen

The article titled A Rheophilic Suprise, Steatocranus bleheri by Dave Hansen has been added to the library. West African cichlids are often underrepresented, especially when it comes to good information and first hand experience. Along with some general Steatocranus genus information, the article details the author’s experiences with Steatocranus bleheri from juveniles to breeding adults. All this with a strange beginning into keeping this species.

If you’ve been thinking about keeping any Steatocranus species, this article is a must read. If you don’t know much about West African cichlids, A Rheophilic Suprise, Steatocranus bleheri is a great introduction. You might just find yourself planning a new tank.

Paralabidochromis chromogynos from Lake Victoria

Paralabidochromis chromogynos

Paralabidochromis chromogynos, Zue Island, Lake Victoria. Photo by Greg Steeves

The color patterns of Paralabidochromis chromogynos can best be described as amazing. Not just because the piebald pattern is so interesting, but describing one particular piebald does an injustice to all other piebalds. There is just so much variation in their colors. Some bodies have plain black and white blotching patterns while others have a mixture of red, green, black and orange. Surrounding the body are colorful fins with iridescent blue, reds and yellows.

Paralabidochromis chromogynos is a typical Lake Victoria cichlid when it comes to care. They are hardy and breed easily. Groups of a single male and several females are best since males can be rough on each other. Because they aren’t overly aggressive to other species, they do well with a variety of fish. To find out more about P. chromogynos, read the Species Article by Greg Steeves. Discussion on this species can be done in the Lake Victoria forum.

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