More bad news for the Amazon River. A landslide in Ecuador ruptured an oil pipeline spilling an estimated 400,000 gallons. The oil spill has made its way into the Napo River, a major tributary of the Amazon River. From Ecuador, the Napo River flows through Peru and Brazil where it eventually joins the Amazon River. All three countries are steps to minimize the damage. There have been accusations that the actual amount of oil released by the landslide is not known and could be much higher.
For more information on the oil spill, visit the Global Post article. Video of oil in the Napo River can be seen below.
Using new satellite imaging techniques, scientist at NASA have found that previously unnoticed wildfires have done more to destroy the Amazon Rainforest than intentional deforestation. Known as “understory fires”, these hidden wildfires burn on the ground below the dense Amazon canopy and were previously unseen by satellites. It is estimated that between 1999 and 2010, understory fires have destroyed almost 3% of the southern rainforest. This figure is far larger than intentional deforestation for agricultural purposes. Although these fires are believed to be started by human carelessness, there is little correlation between intentional deforestation and understory fires. Climate seems to play the largest part on how frequent and devastating these fires are.
Benitochromis nigrodorsalis is found only in a couple areas of western Cameroon, making its home in various rivers and streams. This pair bonding riverine cichlid gets its name from its black dorsal fin which contrasts its lightly colored body. At times, B. nigrodorsalis will also display a large amount of pink in the lower part of its body. When spawning or caring for their fry, the pair will become rather aggressive toward any other tank inhabitants so arrangements for tank mates should be made. An interesting note about this species is that they are bi-parental mouthbrooders. Both the female and the male take turns holding the egg/developing fry.
Benitochromis nigrodorsalis is considered endangered due to its limited distribution and commercial farming surrounding its habitats. There isn’t much information about this species but if you think you might be interested in keeping these endangered cichlids, take a look at the Species Article by Diane Tennison. The article also has more great photos.
A couple months ago we reported that the water levels in Lake Victoria were dropping. It appears that the same is happening in Lake Malawi. Like in Lake Victoria, Lake Malawi is more than a place where cichlids come from, especially to the millions of people who depend on the lakes for their survival. According to a Malawi Kinistry of Environment and Climate Change Management, water levels have dropped about 6 feet since the 1980s. The drop in water levels is blamed on the usual suspects; population growth, climate change and deforestation. Along with the decreased water levels, fisherman have seen a significant drop in daily catches of fish.
According to the article on The Guardian, a principle secretary in the ministry was quoted saying:
An estimated 1,000 fish species rely on the fresh waters of Africa’s third-largest lake for their survival, which also provides 60% of this southern African nation’s protein requirement. The mbuna cichlids species and the famous tilapia fish, locally known as chambo, are facing extinction. Chambo is Malawi’s most popular fish.
Over the past 20 years, fish stocks have dropped from 30,000 metric tons to 2000 metric tons per year. The drop in fish stocks are more than likely related to over-fishing, but climate change and deforestation/runoff also contribute.
This video can help in determining gender in species where the differences between males and females isn’t obvious by a method called venting.
Size, color and behavior are all things that can help determine the gender of your fish. Generally, males are more colorful and larger than females. Of course, this is not always the case. In some species, the female is larger or both sexes share the same coloration. The video above made by bolly12345 from The African Cichlid Hub demonstrates the process of venting your cichlids and shows what the differences are.
Flooded Forest gallery at Conservation Hall. Photo by Julie Larsen Maher
The New York Aquarium closed its doors late last year after flooding brought on by Hurricane Sandy. At the time, most of the aquarium’s inhabitants were moved to other aquariums and zoos. Seven months and 10 million dollars later, the NY Aquarium has reopened its doors to the public. This past Memorial weekend crowds returned to the partially opened aquarium to enjoy the shows and view the many fish on display. Among the open attractions is Conservation Hall, which houses coral reefs, freshwater lakes, Amazon flooded forests exhibits.
If you live or are going to be in the New York area, make sure to stop by and show your support. For more information on the New York Aquarium, visit NYAquarium.com.
After their long absence, some wild Victorian cichlids began to appear on some price lists. Apparently there were a couple of collection trips to Lake Victoria and shortly after they began to appear in Europe and here in the U.S. They were quickly bought up by hobbyists and now they are ‘Out of Stock’ and also out of mind. What ever happened to them? Are they breeding and reinvigorating the captive stocks? Since some species were collected from areas where they weren’t originally found, has their been any identification corrections? Any controversies? From what I understand, there are no new collection trips planned so we aren’t likely to see any more wild Victorian cichlids for a while.
Cichlid News Magazine lists 6 of the imported species (with pictures) in April’s What’s New segment for anyone who wants to take a look.
A short video of a pair of Herichthys cyanoguttatus protecting their fry.
This video was shot in the Comal River in Southern Texas. H. cyanoguttatus (aka Texas Cichlid or Rio Grande Cichlid) is the only native cichlid species in the United States. However, it is not native to the Comal River. Despite it relative proximity to the Rio Grande, H. cyanoguttatus wasn’t found in the Comal River until its introduction sometime between 1928 through 1943 by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The video shows a pair of Herichthys cyanoguttatus caring for their young. A big thanks to Greg Steeves for providing us with this video. For more videos, visit his site at AfricanCichlids.net. You’ll find an extensive collection of videos including cichlid ponds and many Victorian cichlids.
Using pre-filters on canister or power filters can greatly reduce maintenance. This doesn’t mean that you can skip water changes. Water changes and filter maintenance are done for different reasons. One reduces nitrates in your tank while the other removes solid waste and improves water flow. By using a pre-filter, you can reduce the amount of waste and food going into your filter, clogging up your mechanical filtration. Less waste going into your filter means less mechanical media cleaning or replacing. When using a pre-filter, I can go many months without having to do maintenance on my filters. Since I don’t use chemical or fine mechanical filtration, I only have to worry about the impeller being clean and moving freely. You do have to clean the pre-filter regularly, but that is easy to do by squeezing it under running water in the sink. It is much simpler than pulling apart a canister filter to clean or replace the mechanical media.
There are several companies that make pre-filters. Some make them specifically for their products while others are make to fit a variety of different intake tubes. You can also make your own pre-filter or adapt one made for a different product. I use to pre-filter my power filters with an idea I got from the DIY Sponge Filter article. I cut a mechanical filter sponge into a smaller 2x2x4″ sponge. Using a flat wood boring bit, I drilled a 1/2″ hole into it so it fit the intake of my power filter. It not only reduced maintenance but also saved me some money in replacement mechanical media.
For other filtration tips, check out the Power Filter “Tricks” at the bottom of the Aquarium Set Up page.
The President of Peru orders oil cleanup along the Pastaza River following the declaration of a contamination emergency. The Pastaza River flows into the Marañón River which is a source of the Amazon River. The 90 day cleanup order comes along with a hefty fine to the oil company blamed for the spill. This is a bold step for the South American country since Peru’s economy relies in part on oil extraction. It’s good to see that an effort is being made to preserve Peru’s forests and rivers and at the same time protect the Amazon River.