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Sympatric speciation in Nicaraguan cichlids

sympatric speciation

Midas cichlid (Amphilophus citrinellus). Photo by George Chernilevsky CC BY-SA 4.0

Sympatric speciation happens when different species evolve from a common ancestor without any geographic barriers to separate them. Each new species still inhabits the same areas and can come in contact with each other. Because there are no geographic barriers keeping groups apart, this type of evolutionary process can be difficult due to inbreeding.

Researchers working in crater lakes in Nicaragua have published research article providing empirical evidence of sympatric speciation. Two closely related species of Central American cichlids, Amphilophus citrinellus and A. labiatus are given as examples of sympatric speciation. To read more about this research visit the article on the Public Library of Science website. A summary of the publication can be found on the ScienceDaily.com.

RIPPLE Africa protecting Lake Malawi fish

ripple africa

Fish caught with mosquito net. Source RIPPLE Africa Fish Conservation quick guide PDF.

RIPPLE Africa is working to ensure the future of fish stocks in Lake Malawi. While preventing the depletion of fish species used for food they are also protecting cichlid species. As over-fishing has led to a reduction of catches by as much as 90%, many locals have resorted to larger nets with smaller mesh sizes. In many cases, mosquito nets are used along the shore. The result has been that smaller and smaller fish are being caught. The small mesh sizes are also catching unintended fish, like young cichlid fry.

RIPPLE Africa is working at the local level with community-run conservation committees which enforce local bylaws and even provide a 3-month no fishing season. More information on this initiative can be found on TheDailyMeal.com and on the RIPPLEAfrica.org website.

Google Earth and Maps get update

google earth

Screen capture from Google Earth of an island off of Kipili in Lake Tanganyika.

Google Earth and Maps has recently gotten an image resolution update. Along with the update the service has also made images available without cloud cover. While this isn’t exactly cichlid related, having the ability to see the locations where fish are collected in high resolution is worth taking a look. The higher resolution allows you to see the rock formations just below the surface as well as small fishing craft lined up along the coastlines. With the Google Earth application, user submitted images of locations can also be viewed to get a real appreciation of the area. To read more about the 700-trillion pixel update check out the article on TheAtlantic.com.

Neolamprologus sexfasciatus from Lake Tanganyika

Neolamprologus sexfasciatus

Neolamprologus sexfasciatus. Photo by Dave Hansen

Often called the six-barred Lamprologus or gold sexfasciatus, Neolamprologus sexfasciatus is one of those cichlids Lake Tanganyika enthusiasts often consider keeping. However, seeing and wanting a fish doesn’t always translate into owning them. Similar in appearance to Neolamprologus tretocephalus, N. sexfasciatus has the same shape and barring but with the added gold/yellow color. In the wild this species is aggressive and predatory, feeding on other fish.

In the aquarium Neolamprologus sexfasciatus can be difficult to keep and breed. Their aggression and dietary requirements make them incompatible with many species. Tanks should be at least 4 feet long with plenty of rocky cover for a single pair of N. sexfasciatus. Forming a breeding pair can be difficult. A male and female can’t be put together and expect them to get along, much less breed. Pairs should be formed by keeping a group of young N. sexfasciatus. If a male and female are compatible, they will pair up for breeding. Other N. sexfasciatus will not be tolerated. If a pair does breed by laying eggs in a cave, the male will become hyper-aggressive toward any fish. Once the fry are old enough to be on their own the pair will break up and the female will be a target of male aggression. If you are considering adding Neolamprologus sexfasciatus to one of your tanks visit the Lake Tanganyika Forum for more information.

Greg Steeves ACA 2016 Speaker

Greg Steeves

Greg Steeves

The American Cichlid Association Convention 2016 is less than two weeks away. The speaker profiles leading up to the convention continue and today we cover Greg Steeves. For those who have an interest in cichlids from the Lake Victoria region the name should be familiar. Greg probably has one of the biggest Victorian collections in the Western Hemisphere. Greg has kept cichlids most of his life and large part of his fishroom is dedicated to Victorian cichlids. If there is an out of the ordinary Victoria on your must have list, Greg has or has had it at one time.

He has co-authored several books and his latest publication with Anton Lamboj and Hans van Heusden titled Cichlids of Africa – Haplochromines II is due out soon. You’ll find many articles written by Greg in various publications and in this site’s library. Greg also maintains AfricanCichlids.net and is proudly involved with the C.A.R.E.S. Preservation Program (site currently down). To meet Greg Steeves and the other great speakers make sure to attend the ACA Convention 2016.

Mchenga conophoros from Lake Malawi

Mchenga conophoros

Mchenga conophoros. Photo by Dave Hansen

Mchenga conophoros is another of the bower-building species of Lake Malawi. Males create bowers in order to attract females. Each species builds the same type of bowers, but the variation between species is considerable. In the case of M. conophorus, bowers are build in the shape of a cone on the sandy bottom at a depth of around 10 to 20 feet. M. conophorus feeds primarily on zooplankton found in open water.

In the aquarium Mchenga conophoros can be difficult to keep. When mature they require plenty of room, especially if you expect to see bower-building. Males can also be very intolerant of other males. Groups of a single males and multiple females are best. A protein based diet is best. To discuss M. conophorus and other bower-building cichlids visit the Lake Malawi Species forum.

Astatoreochromis alluaudi from Lake Victoria

Astatoreochromis alluaudi

Astatoreochromis alluaudi. Photo by Greg Steeves

Although generally thought of as a Lake Victoria species, Astatoreochromis alluaudi is found in many lakes, rivers and streams in the region. A. alluaudi, commonly known as Allauad’s Haplo, was first collected and named over a hundred years ago. It was somewhat common in the hobby a while back, but mostly disappear from the trade. Its current status is in wild is unknown but not believed to be under serious threat thanks to its wide distribution.

In the aquarium Astatoreochromis alluaudi is an interesting fish. Males are more colorful and larger than females. In pictures its size can be deceiving as they can reach over 7 inches in length. Despite aggression between males, A. alluaudi is mild-mannered toward other species. Its intense yellow coloration and size can be an excellent addition to a suitable aquarium. They will accept most foods and will rid tanks of unwanted snails. To discuss A. alluaudi visit the Lake Victoria Basin forum.

Wayne Leibel ACA 2016 Speaker

Wayne Leibel

Wayne Leibel

The American Cichlid Convention 2016 is less than a month away as we profile Wayne Leibel, this year’s banquet speaker. Wayne is known for his work with New World cichlids. A professor of biology at Lafayette College, Wayne has several studies and publications on cichlids. He has also been a prolific writer for Aquarium Fish Magazine, Tropical Fish Hobbyist and is the editor of Cichlid News.

As this years banquet speaker, Wayne Leibel will undoubtedly give an interesting and exciting talk titled Going Wild. To meet and hear Wayne and other great speakers make sure to attend this years American Cichlid Convention 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. We will be profiling the remaining speakers as the convention dates draw nearer.

Tropheops novemfasciatus from Lake Malawi

Tropheops novemfasciatus

Tropheops novemfasciatus. Photo by Ad Konings

Tropheops novemfasciatus is widespread throughout Lake Malawi. It prefers shallow waters in sheltered bays where it feeds mostly on algae. Like other mbuna, T. novemfasciatus males are territorial. Breeding takes place in typical mouth-brooder fashion. Males will attract females into dugout, shallow depressions where the females’ eggs are fertilized.

Although not often found in the aquarium trade, Tropheops novemfasciatus does occasionally appear on stock lists and auctions. Males sport the yellow coloration as seen above while females are usually a dull grey. Because of their aggressive personalities, they are best kept in ratios of one males to multiple females. Similar shaped fish and other Tropheops should not be housed together. The Tropheops genus has undergone some revisions in the last few years. As of now, this species still remains as a Tropheops. To discuss T. novemfasciatus visit the Lake Malawi Species forum.

5500 gallon backyard cichlid pond

Short underwater footage showing cichlids in a 5500 gallon backyard pool converted into pond.

Almost 10 years ago an article titled Raising Cichlids Outside by Greg Steeves was added to the library. At the time, a 400 gallon kiddie pool was turned into an outdoor cichlid pond. Since then the kiddie pool was upgraded to a 5500 gallon above ground pool.

As seen in the video, the pool is stocked with Pseudotropheus demasoni, Labidochromis caeruleus, Neochromis omnicaeruleus and Copadichromis borleyi to name a few of the species. If you are interested in finding out about the filtration and setup used in this project, check out the YouTube video on the setup. Make sure to leave Greg a comment!

5500 gallon

Screen capture of the backyard pond

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