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Astatotilapia calliptera from Lake Malawi

Astatotilapia calliptera

Astatotilapia calliptera. Photo by Greg Steeves

Astatotilapia calliptera looks like a cichlid that belongs in the Lake Victoria Basin, but it makes its home in Lake Malawi and surrounding rivers. Because A. calliptera lives in various rivers around Lake Malawi, there are different variants displaying a variety of subtle color differences. The A. calliptera pictured above appears to be of the variant collected from Thumbi East Island in Lake Malawi.

Spawning of this species is typical of Lake Victoria Haplochromines. Males are aggressive and need multiple females in order to spread out aggression. They are prolific spawners. Astatotilapia calliptera should be feed a balanced diet of protein and vegetable matter. In the wild, A. calliptera eats a varied diet of invertebrates, plants, algae and small fish. To read more about this beautiful, out-of-the-ordinary cichlid, visit the Species Article by Greg Steeves. Discussion can be done in the Lake Malawi Species forum.

Cichlid colors and aggression research

cichlid colors

Hypsophrys nicaraguensis. Photo from publication.

A recent study in crater lakes of Nicaragua revealed details of how different cichlid colors play a role in aggression levels and why some colors may be rarer than others. The focus of the study revolved around Hypsophrys nicaraguensis and species from the the Amphilophus genus. It is understood that color plays a role in breeding and dominance within a species. This study tries to understand the role color may play between different species.

Amphilophus, including A. sagittae and A. xiloaensis, have different color morphs. There is the typical dark color and a rarer gold morph. It turns out that Hypsophrys nicaraguensis was more aggressive toward the rarer gold morph than the typical dark morph of the species. This results in a distinctive cost to an individual of the gold color morph. A. sagittae, which lives in close proximity to H. nicaraguensis has a lower gold morph rate than A. xiloaensis. A. xiloaensis inhabits deeper waters than H. nicaraguensis. To read more about this study and its conclusions about cichlid colors and their role visit The Royal Society Publishing to view the article.

Parachromis managuensis from Central America

Parachromis managuensis

Parachromis managuensis. Photo by George Chernilevsky. Wiki Commons

Parachromis managuensis is certainly an impressive fish. Commonly referred to as the Jaguar cichlid for its color pattern. Growing to over a foot in an aquarium, this Central American predator isn’t just large, but also extremely aggressive. Even with a breeding pair, care must be taken to protect the female from the male’s aggression. Large tanks are a must for this species. Large, aggressive cichlids are always a favorite of new hobbyists. Unfortunately, inexperience usually leads to problems. Not only does P. managuensis’ aggression cause issues, but often these fish are housed in tanks that are too small with inadequate filtration.

Parachromis managuensis can be a prolific spawner. Females will lay eggs on a flat surface and will be protected by the parents. They will be cared for by the parents until it is time to breed again. At this time the juvenile fish will be seen as a threat to the new batch so they must be removed. To learn more about Parachromis managuensis, visit the Central American Cichlids forum.

Ophthalmotilapia nasuta from Lake Tanganyika

Ophthalmotilapia nasuta

Ophthalmotilapia nasuta. Photo by Dave Hansen

Found in various locations throughout the Lake Tanganyika, Ophthalmotilapia nasuta prefers shallow, rocky coastlines where it can feed on plankton. In the aquarium this species needs plenty of room to swim and reach upwards of 8″ in size. A minimum of a 5-foot tank is best. Rocks that provide caves and a sandy bottom is recommended, especially if you hope to breed them. Peaceful tankmates are recommended for O. nasuta, otherwise they will become stress, hide and never show their colors. Unlike other Ophthalmotilapia, O. nasuta will develop a fleshy growth above the upper lip.

Ophthalmotilapia nasuta is a herbivore and care should be taken that they do not eat too much protein-based foods. Spawning takes place in a large depression in the sand created by the male and females will hold the eggs until they are free-swimming. Because of the tank size, diet and tankmate requirements, O. nasuta is not recommended for beginners. Water conditions should be stable and free of toxins. To discuss this out-of-the-ordinary species, visit the Lake Tanganyika Species forum.

Crenicichla anamiri species description

Crenicichla anamiri

Crenicichla anamiri from the Xingu river in northern Brazil. Photo by Leandro Sousa in publication.

A new species of Crenicichla had been described in a recent publication. Crenicichla anamiri is the eleventh species of Crenicichla described from the Xingu river in northern Brazil. Its species name, anamiri, comes from a South American Indian language meaning dwarf to indicate the species small size. The largest specimen collected was less than 2 inches in size. Hopefully some specimens will make it into the hobby soon.

To find out more about Crenicichla anamiri and how it compares to other species in the region, check out the publication on the SciELO.br website. To discuss C. anamiri visit the South American Cichlids forum.

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.

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