Smithsonian.com has put out an interesting article about evolution in the worlds deepest river. The Congo River, with its unique characteristics, has created some interesting evolutionary circumstances. With depths of over 700 feet and an average discharge of 1,400,000 cubic feet per second, nature has created some unusual cichlids. Some have sleek bodies to handle the fast moving water while others are completely blind. The fast moving water has also created fish that look alike on opposite sides of the river’s bank, but are genetically dissimilar.
To read more about the Congo River and the unique evolution of species living within its banks, visit Smithsonian.com’s Evolution in the Deepest River in the World article. Ichthyologist Melanie Stiassny of the American Museum of Natural History is featured along with many great photos in the photo gallery.
The wetlands surrounding Lake Victoria play a critical role in the overall health of the lake. They not only serve as a buffer to protect the lake from pollution, but some of the remaining native cichlids of the lake have taken refuge along the edges of the wetlands where predators won’t venture. The lake’s wetlands help to reduce land runoff from agriculture and deforestation that would otherwise make it into the lake. Millions of people depend on a healthy lake for their survival.
The government of Uganda has recently announced that many of the wetland land titles given in the past will be revoked in an effort to turn back some of environmental damage done to Lake Victoria. The question remains whether the government will follow through on its promises. For more information on the importance of the wetlands to the lake and its surrounding communities, read the New Vision article titled Cancelling wetland land titles.
The Tank of Merit Award is back. A combination of factors resulted in a the award not being given out for some time. Hopefully more forum members will submit and update their tanks and we will be seeing the award given out more often. I decided to award rck1984′s recent entry not only because the tank looks good, but because it shows that any size tank can be special. With a capacity of only 15 gallons, rck1984 has put together a single species community of Altolamprologus compressiceps sp. “shell”. The A. compressiceps sp. “shell”, like its name implies, is a species of compressiceps that lives its life as a shell dweller. As anyone who has had any type of shell dweller tank knows, watching these little fish do their thing is endlessly entertaining.
For more pictures and details on rck1984′s Tank of Merit, visit the Aquarium Gallery. While you’re there, maybe submit an entry or update an old one.
The Xingu river is one of the major tributaries of the Amazon river. It is also a source for many cichlid species. Unfortunately, a dam is being build on the Xingu river that will have a significant impact on the local ecology. Scientists from Brazil, Canada and the U.S. are working together to study and document the natural wildlife before it is forever altered. A journal of the activities called Witness the Xingu Expedition has been created to show what is being done. You can follow their day to day activities, see a short video and lots of pictures on Fluval Aquatics’ Expeditions website.
Chalinochromis cyanophleps at Namansi. Photo from publication.
After being misidentified as Chalinochromis sp. ‘bifrenatus’, then given the provisional name of Chalinochromis sp. ‘patricki’, Chalinochromis cyanophleps has officially been given a proper description. This rock dwelling cichlid makes its home in the rocky waters along the Tanzanian coast of Lake Tanganyika. This is a beautiful fish with bright blue highlights on its fins and yellow around the eyes.
C. cyanophleps is very reclusive and closely follows the contour of rocks, including swimming upside down as it makes its way along rock caves and crevices. Now that the species has been named, hopefully it will make its way into the hobby soon. If you would like to read the full description of Chalinochromis cyanophleps, the article can be found at MapPress.com in PDF format.
Chalinochromis cyanophleps. Photo from publication.
For hobbyist who haven’t heard of Cyclop-eeze, it is a food composed of a selectively bred, biologically engineered microorganism. It can be purchased frozen, as a coarse powder or a wafer. One of its characteristics is that fish go crazy for it. I’ve heard of people soaking pellets or flake foods in a cyclop-eeze soup to entice picky eaters to eat processed foods. Since it is a microorganism, it is a great food for the smallest fry and an excellent replacement for hobbyists who don’t want to raise live brine shrimp. For everyone who loves the product, there have been some unconfirmed rumors that there will be a cyclop-eeze shortage in the future.
There has been no official word from the manufacturer, Argent, of a Cyclop-eeze shortage. However, several reef and marine websites have been posting about upcoming shortages. In the short-term, don’t expect it gone from the shelves but if the rumor continues to circulate or there is an official confirmation, prices may start to creep up.
Freshwater Natural Aquarium Documentary is a detailed video showing the many fishes from Venezuela in their natural habitat.
If you keep New World cichlids, this documentary is for you. The producers of this video not only took the time to capture great footage, but they also include detailed commentary of what is being shown. Little details like flashing the two letter codes (i.e. SR for silty rivers, FA for flooded areas, etc.) let you know what biotype you are seeing and make for an educational presentation. The many species are also seen displaying their natural behaviors, everything from protecting their young to avoiding electric eels. The video is about 45 minutes long, but worth every minute.
Apistogramma guttata protecting its young. Image captured from video.
Freshwater Natural Aquarium Documentary and other great videos from the same person, Ivan Mikolji, can be found on his YouTube channel
Founded in 2004, the CARES Preservation Program seeks to encourage hobbyist to take part in ensuring a positive future for species at risk. Participation in the program was designed to be easy and enjoyable. The CARES program is overseen by Dr. Paul V. Loiselle, esteemed ichthyologist and champion of conservation. By visiting the CARES Program website, www.carespreservation.com, you can find the priority list of endangered species and more information about the program.
I’ve participated in the program through my local fish club. All it really takes is devoting a single tank to a CARES species fish. For those hobbyists who enjoy keeping and breeding rare fish, participation in the program can open doors to meet other hobbyist with similar interests. By exchanging CARES fish with other people, I have found several species that I’d never seen available from any retailers at the time. Now, in part with the efforts of the CARES Preservation Program, hobbyists have been breeding and spreading fish to other hobbyists and retailers. Here are just a couple of them:
Xystichromis phytophagus. Photo by Dave Hansen
Xystichromis sp. “Kyoga flameback”. Photo by Dave Hansen
What started as a Kickstarter project that has already met its goal, Isis Aquarium looks to change the look of aquariums. This new design breaks away from the traditional aquarium and offers something a little more sophisticated. Made entirely of acrylic, the Isis Aquarium will hold 25 gallons and is a little over two and a half feet long.
Personally I like the design. This aquarium is definitely meant to be an interesting highlight in a room without dominating it. Its clean and bright all around viewing will spur much discussion. Unfortunately, I do see a few problems that aren’t completely addressed by the designer. Cleaning will be an issue, especially with the smaller openings on the top. The other problem is what to do with the power cords for the filter and light. On side/end of the aquarium will need to be close to a wall and partially hidden.
If you think that an Isis Aquarium will look good in your home or office, keep an eye on isisaquariums.com for when they become available. You can also read and see more about this product on their Kickstarter Project Page.
The Greater Chicago Cichlid Association is holding their annual GCCA Classic 2014 & Pizza Banquet this Memorial Weekend. Register by tomorrow, May 1st, to take advantage of a discount price. The GCCA’s first meeting was almost 40 years ago and has since grown to be one of the biggest cichlid organizations. This year’s Classic will include the usual events; speakers, auctions, fish show and banquet. Guest speakers include Anton Lamboj, Rusty Wessel, Laif DeMason, Sam Borstein, and Ray “Kingfish” Lucas. For more information on the GCCA Classic 2014, including schedule, location, and registration, visit the Classic Show Overview page. If you live in the Chicago area or plan on being there Memorial Weekend, this is a show you don’t want to miss.