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Hormones and social status in cichlids

hormones

Neolamprologus pulcher. Photo courtesy of Dave’s Fish.

It wasn’t long after I started keeping cichlids that I started hearing about hormones and its effects on cichlids. Everything from stimulating breeding to restricting growth. One of the ideas was that a dominant fish could suppress the growth of other males thereby keeping possible contenders at bay. A study published in The Royal Society finds that hormones do play a role in the social and hierarchical structures of Neolamprologus pulcher, a cooperatively breeding cichlid from Lake Tanganyika. The study suggests higher levels of certain hormones found in sub-dominant may keep them submissive and facilitate social interaction between other sub-dominant fish.

To discuss this topic, visit the Lake Tanganyika forum.

Capital Cichlid Association event

capital cichlid association

The Capital Cichlid Association will be hosting its The Big Fish Deal event two weeks from now in Gaithersburg, MD. Hobbyists in the Washington and Baltimore area should start making preparation to attend the event on the weekend of February 27 – March 1. Speakers include Chuck Davis, Don Danko, Sandy Moore, and Larry Jinks. There will also be a rare fish auction Saturday night. Sunday will include a marketplace event where hobbyists and vendors can buy and sell their fish and fish related items.

For more information on the Capital Cichlid Association and their Big Deal Event, visit CapitalCichlids.org.

Ocean Swipe 360 makes cleaning a breeze

ocean swipe 360

A new product in development promises to make the tedious process of aquarium glass cleaning a thing of the past. Billed as the first automated aquarium cleaner, the Ocean Swipe 360 can clean all 4 sides of your aquarium. It can even go around the corners and avoid obstacles.

While it will probably be expensive to have one of these on all your tanks, the benefits for anyone with a large, hard to clean aquarium are obvious. Especially for aquariums there reaching the sides or back are difficult or aquariums with large, cumbersome hoods. The system works with a rechargeable battery and can clean a 300 gallon aquarium in about 12 minutes. Plastic traces at the top and bottom of an aquarium enable the Ocean Swipe 360 to move around corners. You can get more information and view videos of the product on OceanSwipe360.com.

Golden mussels threaten Amazon River

golden mussels

Golden mussels. Photo by AP/Leo Correa

A tiny, invasive species from China is slowly making its way to the Amazon River threatening its ecosystem. Golden mussels arrived in Argentina in the early 1990s. Since then, they have spread northward toward the Amazon River Basin. Golden mussels (Limnoperna fortunei) reproduce quickly and upset the balance in waters they inhabit. For the local flora and fauna, it can be a disaster as changes in nitrogen and phosphorus levels trigger toxic algae blooms. Not only are fish and other animals threatened, but the mussels clog dams and water treatment plants.

For more information read the article on the U.S. News website.

New PBS series Earth: A New Wild

new pbs series

Examining a shelldweller. Image capture from series.

A new PBS series titled Earth: A New Wild premiered yesterday. The entire 5-part series is about the travels of Dr. M. Sanjayan to various wildernesses around the world. While all episodes will be in stunning HD, the fifth episode should be of special interest to African cichlid fans. It spends some time exploring various cichlid species, the environmental impacts on their habitat and the importance of various species for the health of humans. More information on this new PBS series and scheduled run-times can be found on PBS.org. Check your local listings for a repeat of the first episode.

Fishless Cycle library article

fishless cycle

This Fishless Cycle article has been in the library for some time, but it hasn’t gotten much attention. If you don’t know what it means to cycle an aquarium, make sure to read the Nitrogen Cycle article.

The Fishless Cycle article, which can be found HERE, goes into detail explaining how to cycle your aquarium by using clear, additive free ammonia. The idea is that a tank can be prepared to support a large biological load of fish without endangering any fish. If you would like to experiment with this method, make sure you read the instructions carefully and follow all directions. Any questions you may have about fishless cycling should be directed to the Aquarium Setup forum.

Lake Malawi mbuna show tank video

A show tank that not only looks beautiful but also demonstrates how best to keep several aggressive species of Lake Malawi mbuna together.

Years ago I learned a hard lesson about keeping mbuna. While many species of mbuna are relatively small, often they are also very aggressive. Case in point is the Pseudotropheus demasoni. This dwarf mbuna may be small, but it packs a punch and its aggression can make it difficult to keep if the conditions aren’t right.

The tank above is a great example of how to keep aggressive Lake Malawi mbuna. Pseudotropheus demasoni, Labeotropheus trewavasae and Metriaclima sp. Membe Deep are all known to be aggressive, especially with others of the same species. The key to a great looking, health and active mbuna tank is a large footprint and to pack them in. Sub dominant fish need to have room to run and by having lots of fish, the most aggressive fish have many targets and no one fish is singled out. There is also a theory that it is best to only have one defined territory as opposed to two or more separate rock formation. Anyway, enjoy the video and if you wish to discuss keeping aggressive mbuna, make sure to visit the Lake Malawi species forum. A special thanks to Adam Klimczak (Iggy Newcastle on the forum) for another great video. You can view more of Adam’s videos on his AJK Aquaria YouTube channel.

Mosquito nets threaten fragile Lake Victoria

mosquito nets

Fishing with a mosquito net. Photo by Uriel Sinai for the New York Times.

Mosquito nets have helped to reduce the number of malaria infections and deaths around the world. Unfortunately, misuse of these same nets is threatening fish populations in Lake Victoria. These nets, intended to stop mosquitoes, are catching young fish and even eggs. On top of that, many of these nets are coated with a pesticide which seeps into the water when used for fishing.

The use of mosquito nets for fishing is being blamed as a contributor to the declining commercial fish populations in the lake. Cichlids are also undoubtedly paying the price for this as well. As seen in the picture above, the nets are being used along the sores in swampy areas. These same areas are where many of the remaining cichlid species of Lake Victoria have taken refuge. For more information on the misuse of mosquito nets and the impact on the region, check out the New York Times article.

Neolamprologus caudopunctatus dispersal

Neolamprologus caudopunctatus

Neolamprologus caudopunctatus.

In a new study researchers found that female Neolamprologus caudopunctatus, a cichlid from Lake Tanganyika, on average disperse from their nest 11 times further than males. This is the opposite behavior from what we see in most mammals, where the males tend to move further away from their birth place. Young female Neolamprologus caudopunctatus also tend to stick together when they move away, increasing their safety in numbers and insuring that their genetic material survives to reproduce. The original study is behind a pay wall, but a good synopsis of it can be found on the PHSY.ORG website. If you would like to learn more about N. caudopunctatus, check out the Species Profile. Discussion on this fish can be done in the Lake Tanganyika forum.

Cookie Cutter setups getting a face lift

cookie cutter setups

The cookie cutter setups are getting reworked over the next couple weeks. These setups are designed to help beginners get an idea of suitable fish combinations based on tank sizes. These guides aren’t the only options, especially for larger tanks, but are a good starting point. Keep in mind that other factors may play into the success of a tank, including aquascaping and even an unusually aggressive fish.

To kick off the new cookie cutter recommendations a new aquarium size was added, 15 gallon or 20 gallon Tall. While the 15 gallon size isn’t seen too often, it has the same footprint of the more common 20 gallon tall (24″ x 12″). This aquarium size fits in between the smaller 10 gallon and the popular 20 gallon Long tank. Keep an eye out for changes to the cookie cutter setups found in the Quick Reference section of the library.


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