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Book Review - Tropheus In Their Natural Habitat
Ad Konings (2013)
by Pam Chin

Book or Interactive book for your iPad
Author: Ad Konings, 2013
Published by Cichlid Press
ISBN: 978-1-932892-12-3

Review

I was ecstatic to see the new book by Ad Konings devoted to the genus Tropheus from Lake Tanganyika. There have been many studies about this cichlid in recent years, including their DNA (mitochondrial and nuclear). Konings eloquently explains these scientific studies and how they pertain to our Tropheus, and as always he includes his references if you care to dive in deeper.

This genus includes eight species: Tropheus annectens, T. brichardi, T. duboisi, T. moorii, T. sp. ‘black,’ T. sp. ‘Ikola,’ T. sp. ‘mpimbwe,’ and T. sp. ‘red.’ The book is divided into chapters about the Lake, Genus, Species, Geographical Variation, Territory, Feeding, Breeding, Classification, and In the Aquarium. Konings shares over 300 color photographs, 99% of which are in their natural habitat. The iBook includes a bonus, eight videos of Tropheus in the lake.

Konings takes us back to the late 1800s where explorer John E. S. Moore used dynamite to collect fish from the southern part of the lake and delivered 21 pickled cichlid species including Tropheus to the British Museum for Boulenger to describe. However, the history of Tropheus goes back much further. According to DNA studies, 2.4 million years ago they split away, forming their own branch. I found this history of the genus fascinating.

Each species is explained in detail, including the history, scientific studies, and DNA research, all of which are complex. I love the fact that he includes a diagnoses or recap of each species and what all these studies mean. In the Geographical Variation chapter he shows how the lake levels, rivers, and mountain ranges have affected the way each species evolved into the Tropheus we see today.

Other chapters cover the importance of territory and food and how that leads to reproduction. Their natural habitat sets a high bar for aquarists to simulate and see the same results. The chapter on keeping Tropheus in aquariums is full of great tips and ideas of how to approach it and have success. There is no doubt about it; this book will make you a better Tropheus keeper,

Tropheus lovers rejoice! I can’t put it down!

Introduction

Cichlids of the genus Tropheus have fascinated aquarists since they were first exported from Lake Tanganyika in the late 1950s. It may have been their “unconventional” shape, or the fact that females brood their offspring to a relatively large size inside their mouths, that initially appealed to hobbyists. They have never been easy to maintain and are even more difficult to breed, but nevertheless they are still some of the most popular cichlids kept in aquaria. Over the years much has been said about their incredible diversity of coloration, with almost any new area collected in the lake resulting in new variants, and the emphasis in the aquarium literature has almost always been on the number of variants, morphs, or species that exist in the lake. Behaviorists have, however, discovered that Tropheus species have a lot to offer to science and that these fish exhibit breeding behavior not recorded from any other group of cichlids. Their behavior in the wild, as you will read in this book, is governed by ecological factors that cannot realistically be duplicated in the aquarium, and for this reason these fish behave rather differently in captivity.

Analogous to various bird species, where males attract females by offering edible delicacies, males of at least three Tropheus species attract females, who have their own feeding territories in the neighborhood, by offering them lush patches of filamentous algae. Once convinced of the suitability of a male as a mate, a female will pair with him and start feeding ravenously on the proffered algae, triggering the ripening of eggs in her ovaries. The pairing can last for up to three weeks, during which the male is “off the market”, so to speak. Needless to say, this is not “standard” practice among maternal mouthbrooders, where males can sire several broods p6er day and where male and female pair only briefly, for the actual spawning act. After spawning the female abandons the male and mouthbroods the eggs for four to five weeks. During this period she actually feeds the young inside her mouth, so that when they are released they are as large as possible and have an excellent chance of survival. Of necessity, a major part of this book is dedicated to the numerous geographical variants of the eight species of Tropheus that are recognized and characterized in this work. In discussing the classification of Tropheus I have relied heavily on a large body of research performed in the last ... more

Get the hardcover version from The Cichlidroom Companion
Get the ibook version from the Apple Store

Content:

  • Introduction, 5
  • Lake Tanganyika, 7
  • Maps, 11
  • The Genus, 15
  • The Species, 17
  • Geographical Variation, 59
  • Territory, 108
  • Feeding, 113
  • Breeding, 121
  • Classification, 134
  • In the Aquarium, 144
  • References, 154
  • Index, 159

Originally published in The Cichlidroom Companion.

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