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Breeding cichlids in your aquarium

A video of a pair of Tropheus sp. black Bulu Point spawning by PISCES. Breeding cichlids in your aquarium is one of the most interesting aspects of the hobby.

Properly preparing and understanding your fish’s needs will improve the chances of successfully spawning and subsequently raising the offspring. Cichlids are often incredibly dedicated to their offspring. From mouthbrooders to egg layers, each species may have their own particular requirements. In order to better prepare for breeding cichlids check out the library’s breeding articles. Everything from preparing the parents, striping and tumbling eggs, and even determining gender is covered. For species specific discussion visit the appropriate forum section.

breeding cichlids

Orthoschromis stormsi with fry. Photo by Dave Hansen


Labidochromis ianthinus from Lake Malawi

Labidochromis ianthinus

Labidochromis ianthinus. Photo by Ad Konings

Labidochromis caeruleus, commonly known as the yellow lab, is the most widely known species in the Labidochromis genus. Their bright color and moderate nature make them ideal of many tank setups. Despite L. caeruleus’ popularity, the genus has an impressive amount of species. Most of which look nothing like the yellow lab. Labidochromis ianthinus is one of the many species in the genus that hasn’t become popular in the hobby.

Labidochromis ianthinus is found around Mbenji Island and Nkhoma Reef in southern Lake Malawi. The species feeds on invertebrates in shallow waters. Like L. caeruleus, L. ianthinus do not appear to be very territorial and both males and females display the rich blues seen in the picture above. Hopefully this species will become available in the hobby. To discuss L. ianthinus visit the Lake Malawi Species forum.


Eretmodus sp. “cyanostictus north” article


Eretmodus sp. “cyanostictus north”. Photo by Dave Hansen

An article on Eretmodus sp. “cyanostictus north” has been added to the library. New pictures and the author’s experience with the species help show some of the character and interesting behavior of this pair-bonding bi-parental mouthbrooder from Lake Tanganyika.

Most Eretmodus species like E. sp. “cyanostictus north” are not only a joy to keep but also demonstrate some of the traits that make cichlids so unique. E. sp. “cyanostictus north” pair up and breed for life, and share the responsibilities of raising their offspring. Both parents will hold the eggs/larvae in their mouths until they are old enough to be release. For more details check out the article titled Eretmodus sp. “cyanostictus north”. Discussion can be done in the Lake Tanganyika Species forum.


Petrotilapia nigra from Lake Malawi

Petrotilapia nigra

Petrotilapia nigra from Lake Malawi. Photo by Ad Konings

Rarely seen in the hobby, Petrotilapia nigra is a cichlid that has only been found in four isolated locations of southern Lake Malawi. The genus Petrotilapia is known for including some of the largest mbuna. Some species in the genus reaching upwards of 7 inches. P. nigra usually reach about 5 inches, which is a respectable size for an mbuna. The species feeds on algae and small organism found on rocks in both shallow and deeper waters.

Since Petrotilapia nigra hasn’t been seen much in the hobby, accurate on how to care for them is limited. It is safe to assume that like other mbuna P. nigra is territorial. Best kept in groups of one male to multiple females. A diet high in plant matter like Spirulina is best. To discuss this species visit the Lake Malawi Species forum.


Astatotilapia aeneocolor library article

Astatotilapia aeneocolor

Astatotilapia aeneocolor. Photo by Dave Hansen

A new article on Astatotilapia aeneocolor by Greg Steeves has been added to the site’s library. Originally found in Lake George and Kazinga Channel, this Lake Victoria Basin species spends most of it’s time feeding along the papyrus reeds, while rarely venturing into open waters. This omnivore appears to live mostly off of larvae and plant matter.

In the aquarium Astatotilapia aeneocolor is an undemanding fish that does well when some form of cover or caves are provided. Once they reach maturity, expect A. aeneocolor to spawn regularly in typical mouthbrooder fashion. For more pictures and information on this species see the Species Article. For discussion visit the Lake Victoria Basin forum.


Liquid Rainbow River of Colombia

An amazing video of the Liquid Rainbow River of Colombia by Ivan Mikolji.

The Liquid Rainbow River, or Caño Cristales, runs through an isolated mountain range in the center of Colombia. For a brief period each year the river explodes with colors ranging from reds, pinks and yellows thanks to a unique plant growing on the rocks. The video above details some of the efforts to preserve not only the river, but the wildlife around it. The video is narrated in Spanish so make sure to turn on the closed captions.

The video shows a few cichlid species living in Caño Cristales including Apistogramma alacrina, Aequidens and Crenicichla species. The underwater scenery is fantastic. To discuss the species in the video visit the South American Cichlids forum.

liquid rainbow river

Female Apistogramma alacrina. Screen capture for video.


Fish exercise can lead to variation

fish exercise

Larval cartilage and bone. Photo by UMass Amherst

A new study from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst may answer why evolution alone doesn’t account for all variability in cichlids. A study recently published describes how fish exercise, for instance jaw muscles, during the larval stage affect bone formation.

The study found that natural variation and experimental manipulation of jaw movement in Lake Malawi cichlid larvae led to differences in size and shape of the fish. They conclude that along with genetic differences, fish exercise is a contributing factor in species variation. The synopsis of the study can be found at ScienceDaily.com. Discussion can be done in the Lake Malawi Species forum.


My Aquarium Box monthly service

my aquarium box

My Aquarium Box is a monthly “mystery” box service available for hobbyists. The subscription based, monthly box service is nothing new. Many other industries offer this business model; in exchange for a monthly subscription fee you receive a variety of products. The advantages are usually that the combined retail price of the items is usually higher than the monthly cost and that you are introduced to products you may not have known about or tried otherwise. Not knowing what’s in the box adds a certain excitement to each delivery.

My Aquarium Box packages include a random variety of foods, decoration and maintenance supplies. Packages may also include some promotional materials or coupons for the product manufacturers that are associated with this service. My Aquarium Box allows you to select the type of products included in each box based on the type of aquarium fish you keep. The three choices include freshwater, saltwater and cichlid subscriptions. If you think you might be interested in this service visit their site at www.myaquariumbox.com.


Labeotropheus artatorostris described

Labeotropheus artatorostris

Male Labeotropheus artatorostris. Photo from publication / Ad Konings

Labeotrophus is a genus with only a handful of species, of which L. fuelleborni and L. trewavasae are the most well known in the hobby. A new species has been proposed by Michael J. Pauers from what were originally considered variants from Mumbo and Thumbi West Islands. The proposed new species name is Labeotropheus artatorostris.

The article is behind a paywall at BioOne.org, but the abstract mentions differences in shape, quantitative characteristics and color as the basis to declare the variants a new species. Hopefully more details and photos will become available. To discus the potential new Labeotropheus artatorostris species visit the Lake Malawi Species forum.


Xenotilapia boulengeri from Lake Tanganyika

Xenotilapia boulengeri

Xenotilapia boulengeri, Photo by Ad Konings

Xenotilapia boulengeri is a bi-parental mouthbrooder found throughout Lake Tanganyika. Their habitat is over the sandy bottom close to rocks. Adult pairs group with other X. boulengeri sifting through sand looking for small crustaceans. Males build nests for spawning and the pair will share mouthbrooding duties, lasting around a month.

In the aquarium Xenotilapia boulengeri should be provided with both sand and rocks. The sand will allow for spawning and to show their natural sifting behavior as pictured above. Rocks should be available to allow X. boulengeri to hide. These fish are sensitive to stress and don’t do well with overly active or aggressive species. Individual X. boulengeri aggression can vary from none to heavy. Food and water quality is a must for this species. To discuss X. boulengeri visit the Lake Tanganyika Species forum.


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