Mouthbrooding cichlids of Lake Malawi

The final episode of the Earthtouch Lake Malawi series is all about mouthbrooding cichlids.

The final Cichlid of Lake Malawi episode, like all the others, is full of high quality in-the-wide footage. The episode focuses on mouthbrooding cichlids and the care it provides their young. This video highlights Serranochromis females but can be applied to most mouthbrooding cichlids. Although mouthbrooding isn’t unique to cichlids, the extended care of their young free swimming fry is common in cichlids. By protecting their new offspring, cichlids are able to produce smaller numbers of offspring with a higher chance of survival than species who don’t look after their young.

Most cichlid mouthbrooding is done by females, but in some cases males can share in the mouthbrooding responsibilities. Bi-parental mouthbrooders can be found in Lake Tanganyika and include some Xenotilapia species and Eretmodus species. Of course, there are those species where males aren’t supposed to mouthbrood but do anyway as seen in this Neochromis greenwoodi video.

Mouthbrooding cichlids

Holding Sciaenochromis fryeri.

New York Aquarium plans partial reopening

New York Aquarium

The New York Aquarium is set to have a partial reopening some time this spring. On October 29th 2012, the storm surge caused by Hurricane Sandy caused extensive flooding and power outages throughout New York City. Although animal losses at the aquarium due to the storm were minimal, there was extensive damage to the facilities.

According to the Wildlife Conservation Society, which runs the aquarium, about half of the facility will be reopening. The Great Lakes of East Africa and Flooded Forests of the Amazon exhibits will be among those reopening. Other exhibits will include Glover’s Reef, Coral Triangle of Fiji, outdoor spaces of Sea Cliffs (walrus, sea lions, harbor seals, sea otters and penguins); and a fully re-modeled Aquatheater with a new sea lion demonstration.

If you live in the New York area or plan on visiting this late spring, make sure you stop by and show your support. For more information on the planned reopening of the New York Aquarium, visit the Wildlife Conservation Society news release.

Capital Cichlid Association presents AquaMania

Capital Cichlid Association

On the weekend of March 9th and 10th, the Capital Cichlid Association is presenting Aquamania 2013. Whether you’re just getting into aquariums or are an advanced hobbyist, AquaMania will have something for you! The weekend agenda has activities scheduled for both days. Speakers will include Ad Konings, Ken Davis and Rachel O’Leary. Talks will cover collecting in Honduras, Secrets of the Rio Queguay, Lake Malawi and Lake Tanganyika. When you aren’t enjoying the different presentations, you’ll be able to visit the Aquarium “Genius Bar” for help with your fish related questions. Vendors will be in attendance as well as a Marketplace to buy and sell everything aquaria related.

The Capital Cichlid Association is a not-for-profit organization located in Maryland that was organized to promote Cichlids in the aquarium hobby. For more information about AquaMania, including registration, venue and schedule, visit the AquaMania 2013 page.

If you are a member of a cichlid club and would like events announced on this blog, please Contact Me.

Invasive species threaten habitats

Invasive species like this 18-inch long, 4-pound goldfish found in Lake Tahoe threaten to destroy habitats and native species.

Invasive species

Goldfish found in Lake Tahoe. Photo by Heather Segale

Researchers from the University of Nevada Reno caught this rather large goldfish while trawling Lake Tahoe for non-native, invasive species. Probably dumped into the lake by am aquarium owner, this goldfish and many like it pose a serious threat to the native inhabitants. Non-native fish can upset the delicate balance of an ecosystem by preying on native fish or competing for food resources. And it’s not only fish that are introduced, intentionally or accidentally, into ecosystems that become invasive species. Just last month Florida held its Python Roundup in an attempt to reduce the non-native snake’s population. Lake Victoria and other lakes in East Africa are dealing with an infestation of water hyacinth. Of coarse, Lake Victoria is better known for the devastation to native species caused by the introduction of the Nile Perch.

Fish, or any other plant or animal, should never be released into a non-native habitat. The warm waters in South Texas rivers and streams are full of non-native species. Within 5 minutes of standing on the shore you will spot guppies, mbuna, convict cichlids and plecos. If you have a fish you can no longer keep, do not dump it in your local waters. You are not doing it or any of the other fish a favor. Chances are that the fish will not survive and will suffer a slow death. If it does survive, it may cause countless other fish their lives. Help protect your local waters and their wildlife. Take your fish to a local fish store, club auction or give it away on Craigslist. For more information of the giant goldfish found in Lake Tahoe, visit NBCNews.com.

Copadichromis bowers in Lake Malawi

EarthTouch video of some of Lake Malawi’s nightlife and some impressive Copadichromis bowers.

This episode of EarthTouch’s Cichlids of Lake Malawi series starts off with a quick view of some of the lake’s nightlife. Catfish, crabs and Protomelas can all be seen in the night footage. It is the second part of the video that really stands out. The team comes across two different types of bowers. The first set of bowers are large excavations big enough to hold a diver. The next type of bowers are raised with a flat top. These also appear to be quite large. The species that constructed these bowers are never identified. While a cichlid is shown constructing a raised bower, it is not clear if this is the species that made the large, flat top bowers. I sent a screen capture of the fish to a friend (ds1196) and he believes it to be a Copadichromis atripinnis. I wasn’t aware that Copadichromis bowers could be so large. More information of Copadichromis can be found in the Cichlid Profiles section.

Here is a screen capture of the fish:
Copadichromis bowers

Aquarium photography tips

Aquarium Photography

Photo by Kyle Ford, popphoto.com

Next time you visit a public aquarium, don’t go home with the same, bland photos. Make sure you come prepared with some aquarium photography tips and get a spectacular photo. Although we have some nice articles on how to photograph your fish at home in the Library Photography section, it does not have any tips for large, public aquarium photography.

Popular Photography Magazine has an article detailing Kyle Ford’s techniques for shooting large aquariums. Kyle Ford is an artist and photography professor at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY. Just looking at the picture above I realized what I’ve been doing wrong during my aquarium visits. I have lots of close up pictures of jelly fish, sharks and other fish, but like the saying goes, I missed the forest for the trees. I failed to capture the full scope of a large aquarium. For Kyle’s tips and techniques make sure to read the article Tips For Taking Stunning Aquarium Pictures. Have fun at your next aquarium visit.

Pungu maclareni from Lake Barombi Mbo, Cameroon

Out of the ordinary: Pungu maclareni from Lake Barombi Mbo, Cameroon.

Pungu maclareni

Pungu maclareni. By Dave Hansen

Just like Myaka myaka, Pungu maclareni is the only species in its genus. Lake Barombi Mbo is unusual in its isolation. All 11 endemic species of cichlids are believed to have evolved from a single species. Due to human pollution and the ever present threat of carbon dioxide emissions from volcanic activity, all inhabitants of the lake are endangered.

P. maclareni is a brightly colored fish with black splotches on its body and a blue mouth. It has an unusual diet consisting of Corvospongilla thysi, an endemic sponge. Hobbyists have been able to get P. maclareni to accept flake and pellet food, but spawns are rare. I’ve heard from hobbyists that the lack of its native diet and water conditions play a role having this fish spawn. It is recommended that these fish be kept in a species only tank to minimize stress and improve the changes of successful spawns.

For more information on P. maclareni and other cichlids from Lake Barombi Mbo, take a look at the Insight on Barombi Mbo, Cameroon article.

Cave of the Cichlids

Cave of the Cichids is another great, quality video from EarthTouch. In this episode we get a great view of some of the caves at Otter Point in Lake Malawi and the cichlids that live within them. According to the narrator, cichlids that make their homes within the caves are more colorful to make up for the low light levels. The quantity of cichlids living in and around the large rock formations is amazing and I can never get enough footage. The mbuna and peacocks that live in the cavities are not only colorful, but have developed some unusual behaviors.

What I found most peculiar was the Aulonocara that spent a lot of time upside down, using the cave ceilings as the bottom. I’ve only seen Julidochromis do this but now I’m guessing there are other species that do this too. Some of the peacocks captured in the video are incredible, especially towards the end. If I had seen these fish in a tank, I would have thought they were line-breed to get the color intensity they displayed. If you would like to read more about Aulonocara, make sure to visit the Peacock Corner where you will find many great articles.

Bolivia designates world’s largest protected wetland

Protected wetland

Río Yata Ramsar Site. Photo by Omar Rocha/WWF

To help mark World Wetland Day, Bolivia has created the world’s largest protected wetland. At more than 17 million acres, the Llanos de Moxos wetland is located in northern Bolivia along its borders with Peru and Brazil. Traversed by 3 major rivers that eventually become the Madeira River, the Llanos de Moxos is a tropical savanna and major tributary of the Amazon River. The announcement of its protected status was done by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance. The Ramsar Convention is an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.

Bolivia’s action to safeguard this large wetland helps ensure the continued health of not only the Amazon River, but of its rich natural diversity. The Llanos de Moxos wetland is home to the giant river otter, Bolivian river dolphin, and the critically endangered Blue-throated macaw. Llanos de Moxos is also home to 625 species of fish, including Mesonauta festivus (flag cichlid), Cichlasoma boliviense and Symphysodon (Discus) species. This newly protected wetland will help protect these and many other species.

In upcoming blogs I plan to include more information about changes that have been occurring in the Amazon River Basin. Stress from dam construction and weather changes have created new pressures on the Amazon River, the forest and all its inhabitants.

Hill Country Cichlid Club auction

The Hill Country Cichlid Club is holding their annual Spring Cichlid Day Auction.

Hill Country Cichlid Club Auction

The Hill Country Cichlid Club’s next event is coming up on February 24th. This is a great opportunity for hobbyists in South Texas to get great deals on fish, plants and equipment. There will also be a catfish raffle which in the past has had many rare and unusual specimens. The HCCC is also the flagship U.S. club for the C.A.R.E.S. Preservation Program. Club members will probably be bringing some of their C.A.R.E.S. fish to the auction.

Doors open at 10 a.m. and the auction begins at noon. For more information on the auction, visit the HCCC Events page.

If you are a member of a cichlid club and would like events announced on this blog, please Contact Me.