These fish come from South America; Bolivia and Brazil, in the Rio Mamoré near the mouth of the Rio Guaporé at Trinidad, the Guaporé Basin at Santa Cruz, the Rio Quizer at San Ramón, flood plains below Todos Santos, and the mouth of the Igarapé at Guajara-Mirim. Founded in 1984 by H. Linke and W. Staeck.
I am a bit ashamed sometimes when it comes to talking
about these pretty dwarf cichlids. I had placed a pair of the M.
altispinosa in a 20-gallon tank containing soft water (10ppm) on
the top shelf of a fish tank rack. I was using straight RO water. The
temperature is kept at 76°F. My hardness was around 7.2. They did not
have much light. The only lighting they received was from the window
that was somewhat blocked to them by another stand with two 55-gallon
tanks stacked one above the other. I had placed a Hydro-Sponge®
filter in the tank with a four inch clay flower pot and a two inch layer
of fine sand. I did not give the tank much notice for several weeks
except to feed the pair live adult brine, frozen brine, live tubifex
(once a week), and sometimes newly hatched brine shrimp. The tank apparently
was getting enough light because the tank glass was covered in algae.
I decided it was time to check out the fish to see if they still existed.
I got my foot stool and slowly stepped up to where I could see into the tank. I was amazed. Toward the back of the tank to the right I could see a circular depression in the sand and they were fanning some opaque eggs! I couldn't believe they had spawned. I cleaned the algae off the front tank glass, cleaned the sand a bit and did a 50% water change with straight RO water. I then proceeded to keep an eye on the tank more closely for the next couple of weeks.
The eggs hatched three days later. The parents constantly moved the fry by mouth fulls to other depressions they had made in the sand. Sometimes the pair would have troubles trying to decide which hole to put their young. The male would move the fry to one depression while the female would start moving them to a completely different hole. After a while the pair would finally settle on one depression for the fry. After another 7 days the fry were free swimming.
That was in 1993. Now it's 1998.
I set up a pair of M. altispinosa, adults from
the fry from 1993. I put them in a 20-gallon tank with a Hydro-Sponge®
filter, a real log and a three inch flower pot. I was hoping to get
eggs so I could collect them and take pictures of the eggs and developing
embryo. To my surprise, on January 21, 1998, when I checked the tank
to see how the pair was doing, there were free swimming fry! Now I will
have to wait awhile before I get the eggs I was hoping to get for photographing.
The one thing I am finding in these altispinosa's is they like low light. When I had this pair in a 20-gallon on the top row with a light right over the tank they were not interested in spawning. Once moved to a tank with low light, they were quite happy and made a family, several times.
These fish are very beautiful. They have a yellowish coloration under the pectoral fins and a black vertical band that goes through the eye to the bottom of their mouth. The dorsal and tail fin have a fine red line outlining the fins. The ventral fin is red with some light blue speckling and the anal fin was red with a few red dots. (Reminding me of the 'egg spots' on mouth brooding cichlids.) There is a black spot in the middle of the body. Some dark vertical banding when stressed. When ready to spawn, the yellow and red areas intensify. For several years I had troubles sexing these fish. In 1998, I was watching the group of altispinosa in a 55-gallon community tank. After a few hours of just watching the fish in the tank I was able to sex the altispinosa! The markings are so much a like on both sexes but the main difference was with the dorsal fin. Like in most cichlid species the dorsal on the males are more pointed and elongated. The dorsal of the females are rounded. My fish were equal in size. Observation of their parents, the female was slightly smaller than the male.
These are very peaceful fish and can be included in
a community tank with fish of the same personalities