Melanochromis wochepa formally M. dialeptos. Photo by Ad Konings
There have been changes in the classification of many mbuna species. Over the next few weeks you’ll see some major updates to Cichlid-Forum’s mbuna profiles. The fish pictured above is just one example. For a long time it was believed to be a variant of Melanochromis dialeptos but has been reclassified as Melanochromis wochepa. If you visit the Malawi Mbuna Profiles you’ll noticed that we’ve already updated several dozen Pseudotropheus to Cynotilapia or Tropheops. Many of the well known Cynotilapia afra variants like Cobue and Jalo Reef have now become Cynotilapia zebroides. Along with the classification updates we’ll also be adding new species and images. Once the mbuna profiles are done, expect to see other group updates.
Scientists have long theorized that cichlids evolved on the ancient continent of Gondwana. Once the continent began to drift apart, it carried cichlids with it to the regions of the world they are found today. Today cichlids are found in South America, Africa, Madagascar, and India. All areas that were once part of Gondwana. However, researchers from Oxford University are claiming that fossil and DNA evidence suggests that cichlids postdate the breakup of Gondwana. They believe that cichlids didn’t make their appearance until about 65 to 57 million years ago. Granted that a lack of fossil records does not indicate that cichlids didn’t exist prior to 65 million years ago, but that does leave an 70 million year gap between the earliest known cichlid fossil and the breakup of Gondwana.
These new claims certainly bring up some interesting questions. If cichlids postdate the breakup of Gondwana, how are they found on so many different continents? Did they at one time have a tolerance to salt water? Was there perhaps an island chain linking the continents as they drifted apart which enable the fish migrate between the continents? Were there areas of freshwater within the ancient oceans? For more information on this research, see the study on the Royal Society Publishing website.
With Christmas just a month away many public aquariums will be hosting Scuba Santa. For hobbyists with a family, this is an activity you and the entire family can enjoy, especially for your youngest children. I couldn’t find where the tradition began, but it seems that many aquariums throughout the country have picked up on it. Aquariums having some type of diving Santa include the Seattle Aquarium, Newport Aquarium, Adventure Aquarium, and the Grapevine Sea Life Aquarium to name a few.
Visit your local aquarium website to see if they will be having a visit from Scuba Santa this holiday season. If they are, double check the dates and times so you won’t have a disappointed little one.
Short video of a pair of Tropheus brichardi spawning.
Tropheus brichardi is one of the handful of Tropheus species from Lake Tanganyika. T. brichardi, with its variants, isn’t as common in the hobby as the many variants of T. duboisi, T. sp. “Black” or T. moorii. Nonetheless, several variants of T. brichardi can be found from the right breeders, importers and hobbyists. Although often referred to as blue-eyed Tropheus, there are many variants within the brichardi genus and not all blue-eyed Tropheus are brichardi. Like other Tropheus species, T. brichardi are aggressive, algae grazers that make their homes in the rocky shallows throughout the lake. Keeping Tropheus requires special attention to their dietary needs and well as tank sizes and stocking. It is sometimes said that Tropheus are a species best left to “advanced” hobbyists, but with proper attention to the species’ requirements, anyone can keep them.
For more information of Tropheus brichardi and other Tropheus species, make sure to visit the Tropheus Corner.
Gold mining in the Madre de Dios region of Peru is not only threatening the region, but also poses a threat down stream to the Amazon River. Of particular concern are the illegal gold mining camps that have sprung up in the last few years. Unregulated and often ‘seat of your pants’ operations regularly dump mercury and other chemicals into the area.
The destruction left behind by these illegal gold mining operations is clearly seen. Whatever is dumped into the region makes it way into the Madre de Dios River which eventually reaches the Amazon River. Several species of cichlids make their home in the Madre de Dios River, including Mesonauta festivus, the flag cichlid.
Probably one of the more unusual aquarium products I’ve seen in a while, but certainly something I could use. RoboSnail can best be described as a hybrid between a Roomba and an automatic pool vacuum. According to the manufacturer, AquaGenesis International, RoboSnail prevents algae buildup on aquarium glass by automatically cleaning it once a day. The constant preventative cleaning stops algae from taking hold on the aquarium’s glass surface. This product seems like a fantastic idea, especially if you have a tank that is difficult to clean or you’re the kind of person that doesn’t like to do constant maintenance. Watching the video below I do have one huge concern. As someone who has scratched their glass by accidentally picking up some sand with a magnetic cleaner, I’d be really worried about the product doing the same and then proceeding to scratch the entire tank.
If you’d like to read more about RoboSnail, check out the product website at RoboSnail.com.
Billed as “Everything Aquatic Under One Roof”, the World Pet Association is having their first Aquatic Experience in Chicago this weekend. Speakers slated to give talks include Zeb Hogan, Heiko Bleher, Oliver Lucanus, Laif DeMason and Rusty Wessel. In a departure from the traditional speakers, Aquatic Experience will also be presenting a lineup of aquatic industry professionals representing manufacturers and retailers. The event is being held at the Schaumburg Convention Center, which boasts its 100,000 square foot facility. It will include a shark encounter tank, fish displays from around the world and manufacturer booths. This experience is definitely a departure from the traditional cichlid club conventions and may seem a little commercial. Nonetheless, it has a great lineup of speakers and activities. For some it might also provide an opportunity to see many of the latest products from the biggest manufacturers in the aquatic industry.
Defining what makes up the category of dwarf cichlids isn’t an exact science, but the species generally recognized as dwarfs can bring hobbyists many years of joy. For the most part, South American dwarfs are small (less than 5″) and prefer soft, acidic water. Species recognized as dwarfs fall into the genera Apistogramma, Apistogrammoides, Biotecus, Crenicara, Dicrossus, Microgeophagus, Nannacara, and Taeniacara. Depending on the species, a pair can be kept in a tank as small as 10 gallons, but larger tanks are advisable. If you are looking to squeeze in one more tank or only have room for a smaller tank, dwarfs might be exactly what you are looking for. In a community tank they do better with non-aggressive tankmakes and aside from spawning, they tend to not be very aggressive. They can be shy, but dither fish will help bring them out. Dwarf cichlids are also great for planted tanks.
If you’d like to try your hand at some South America dwarf cichlids, make sure to visit South American Dwarfs section of the New World Cichlids page.
Scuba diving at the Ndole Bay Lodge, Lake Tanganyika.
The blog is back and what better way to kick things off than a video of the wildlife in Lake Tanganyika. This video comes from the waters of Ndole Bay on the southwestern part of Lake Tanganyika. This part of the lake is know for many beautiful cichlids species including Cyphotilapia, Cyprichromis and featherfins. These fish and many more can be seen in this video, including some that have made their home in a wreck. According to the video’s author, the tremendous variety of fish and their habitats are all around the Ndole Bay Lodge.
An article submitted by forum member Chuck Greene (forest109) details the customization and installation of a 3D background. The article takes an in-depth look at the selection process of a background including some of the issues and decisions you will have to make. As stated in the article, 3D backgrounds are popular in Europe but haven’t caught on in the U.S., limiting their availability and size options. Once you’ve selected your background, Chuck covers topics such as painting and making modifications for filtration and water movement.