Elephants in Serengeti National Park. Photo by Bjørn Christian Tørrissen CC BY-SA 3.0
There is a push in Tanzania, if successful, would expand the Serengeti National Park all the way to Lake Victoria. Currently, there is a strip of land between Lake Victoria and the Serengeti park. The park has been experiencing a drought and the reliability of local water sources is questionable in the future. The plan would enable the wildlife to reach the shores of Lake Victoria for water. The plan does call for the relocation of thousands of residents, but it is believed that the overall effect on the regions economy would be positive.
Not covered in the eTurboNews article is what this might mean for Lake Victoria. The park’s wildlife would benefit from access to the lake, but what about the wildlife within the lake? I’m not an expert in any way and I my opinion is purely speculation, but I believe that this can have a positive effect on Lake Victoria. I doubt that animals drinking from a small part of the shore will cause damage to the lake as a whole. The Serengeti National Park is a flagship symbol for Tanzania. Anything that is good for the park is good for the local economy, including preserving the lake’s water. Tourism money is very important and if helping to preserve the lake insures that the money keeps coming in, then it can only be good for Lake Victoria.
Haplochromis vanheusdeni juvenile. Photo from journal article.
A journal article has been written describing a new species from the Great Ruaha River drainage in Tanzania. Haplochromis vanheusdeni can be found in the fast-moving waters of several streams and in a stretch of the Great Ruaha River. This mouthbrooder spends its time in the rocky or debris covered areas of the river. It appears to feed on small organisms in the sand and debris as well as any floating food particles that passed by. Larger individuals were about 3.5″ long in the wild. Groups of up to 10 H. vanheusdeni could inhabit a small area, but large males and brooding females would defend small territories.
If rheophilic cichlids are your thing, keep an eye out for this species. They are already being bred in captivity and brood sizes are between 20-40 fish. To read more about Haplochromis vanheusdeni, visit Africhthy.org for a copy of the article in PDF format. If you would like to learn about keeping rheophilic cichlids, take a look at the library article titled Setting up a Rheophilic Tank by Dave Hansen Esq.
Stationary videos showing the same cichlid bowers from different angles in Lake Tanganyika.
The same people that brought you the hours-long Battle of the Shells documentary uses the same technique to capture bower-building cichlids. Instead of swimming around and filming cichlids in their natural habitat, these videos are shot from a stationary position. Fish are more likely to display their natural behavior if there isn’t a person swimming around close to them. Also, a stationary camera can shoot hours of uninterrupted video.
The cichlids identified in the video are Aulonocranus dewindti and a Callochromis species. Males of both species build bowers or nests in order to attract females. Spawning takes place within or on top of the bower. The Library section of this site have several articles on species that build bowers, even in tanks. Cichlid bowers are build by Opthalmotilapia heterodonta and Callochromis pleurospilus to name a few.
Satellite photo of Amazon Basin river. Google Earth
Brazil has made progress in reducing the rate in which the Amazon Rainforest is being destroyed. A report commissioned by Norway shows that while Brazil has made progress while Indonesia is expected to suffer setbacks in protecting its rainforest. Norway has led the way in protecting rainforests around the world, including giving 1.7 billion dollars to various countries for conservation initiatives. An outline of the report can be found in this Reuters article.
Arapaima gigas. Photo by Sergio Ricardo de Oliveira
The Amazon’s largest fish, Arapaima gigas, is facing extinction. Over-fishing has resulted in dwindling numbers of the unusual, air-breathing fish. Reaching sizes of 10 feet, the fish is a prized catch for fishermen. The arapaima fish has in addition to gills, a primitive lung that allows it to breath oxygen. It is this ability which has enabled the arapaima to survive in oxygen poor waters. Unfortunately, coming up for air makes it easy prey for fisherman. Efforts have been made to protect the arapaima and they have met with success. As the numbers of the various species of arapaima dwindle, fishermen have resorted for different fishing methods, including gill nets to catch smaller fish.
Almost 80 minutes of video showing fish from the Morichal Largo River both in the aquarium and in the wild.
All you South American cichlid fans should really enjoy watching this documentary. The Morichal Largo River is located in Venezuela and is part of the Orinoco River basin. The video contains in the wild footage of various local cichlid species including Cichlasoma bimaculatum and Apistogramma guttata. A good amount of time is devoted to parents and the care they offer their fry. Even hobbyist who don’t keep New World species will enjoy the great footage.
Cichlasoma bimaculatum. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Archive, Bugwood.org. CC 3.0
Iranocichla hormuzensis is the only species of its genus and the only cichlid found in Iran. Finding them on price lists is almost impossible although occasionally some hobbyist do have them for sale. If you are lucky enough to locate this rare species, it is advisable that you find out as much as you can about them. Hobbyist, photographer and publisher Dave Hansen Esq. has written an article about his experiences with I. hormuzensis. Having been one of the few hobbyists in the U.S. to keep this rare species, Hansen had to do a lot of experimenting while raising and attempting to breed them.
I. hormuzensis has proven to be difficult to breed and the wild sources for this fish are diminishing, not to mention getting to them is difficult. If you would like to read more about his unusual cichlid or think that you might want to try and obtain some, make sure to check out the Iranocichla hormuzensis library article. Lots of photos too.
Iranocichla hormuzensis close up. Photo by Robert De Leon
Nile Perch in Lake Victoria. Courtesy photo from East Africa Business Week
Originally introduced into Lake Victoria as a sport and commercial fish, the Nile Perch appears to be facing the same fate as the native species it displaced. Since its introduction in the 1950s, the large, predatory fish contributed to the extinction of over 200 native cichlid species. It also grew to became a source of food for millions of people in the region and has also become an export commodity. However, its popularity has led to illegal overfishing and its numbers are rapidly declining in Lake Victoria.
Although the declining numbers of Nile Perch might seem like a good sign for the remaining native cichlid species, the future of all fish in Lake Victoria is far from rosy. As stocks of Perch decline, more fishing, especially the illegal kind, will shift to smaller and smaller fish. Cichlid species will increasingly become caught in illegal nets. The Nile Perch is also a fish that is very sensitive to pollution which has contributed to its decline. Increased levels of pollution and agricultural runoff have also had a negative effect on cichlids and their remaining habitats. As the lake starts to provide less food, the demand for more agricultural substitutes will increased, leading to more pollution. For more information on the this topic, visit East Africa Bussiness Week.
A new photography article helps hobbyists understand the basic elements of photography for getting great fish pictures. Frank Mueller explains how aperture, shutter speed and sensor sensitivity work together in his article Getting Sharp Aquarium Photos By Understanding Exposure. Many people take advantage of the modern camera’s ability to handle proper exposure. However, the camera’s decisions aren’t always the best. With an understanding of what the different controls on the camera do, it won’t be long before you can start taking control of your photographs.
USA Today is running a reader poll for the 10 best North American aquariums. The nominated aquariums are up and ready for your vote. Several of the nominations have been profiled previously profiled on this blog. Chances are you haven’t visited most of these aquariums and undoubtedly most people will vote for their local aquarium. Regardless, this list serves to help identify some of the best aquariums to visit in North America. If you live close by make sure to support your local aquarium. Money from admission fees often goes to conservation programs. If you are vacationing with the family, aquariums make a great, relaxing and cool place to visit for the entire family. Even if you are traveling on business, an aquarium is a great place to relax for a few hours when away from your own tanks and offers great photography opportunities.
To see the list and vote on the best North American aquariums, visit 10Best.com.