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Fossorochromis rostratus from Lake Malawi

Fossorochromis rostratus

Fossorochromis rostratus. Photo by Elizabeth Steffen (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Fossorochromis rostratus is a large carnivorous cichlid from Lake Malawi. Commonly known as the Malawi sand diver, F. rostratus will bury itself in the sand when startled. Found in shallow waters over sandy bottoms, F. rostratus sift through the sand in small groups looking for their invertebrate meals. Mature males can reach 10+ inches.

In the aquarium Fossorochromis rostratus need lots of room. A sandy bottom aquarium is a must not only to see their sifting behavior, but because they may dive into the substrate if startled. This species is peaceful and don’t do well with overly active or aggressive fish. Best kept in small groups of 2 or 3 females per male. F. rostratus is a maternal moothbrooder with spawns of 100+ fry, although it is hard to get them to breed in the aquarium. Males will dig a large pit where spawning will take place. Check out the species article by Richard O’Brien. For discussion visit the Lake Malawi Species forum.


Melanochromis chipokae release video

A video showing the first release of Melanochromis chipokae at Chidunga Rock.

The video shows Pierre le Roux releasing 68 Melanochromis chipokae he raised into waters where they have almost disappeared. The video was taken by le Roux’s son, Jean. The release was made possible by donations to the Stuart M. Grant Cichlid Conservation Fund.

Melanochromis chipokae is popular in the cichlid hobby. Their popularity has contributed to the over-capturing of the species at Chidunga Rock. M. chipokae is an extremely aggressive Lake Malawi mbuna. Its bright colors and abundance in the hobby have made it a favorite of beginners. However, this species’ hyper-aggressive is often difficult to manage by inexperienced hobbyists. A great article by Brett Harrington describes some tips to keeping M. chipokae. For discussion visit the Lake Malawi Species forum.

Melanochromis chipokae

Screen capture of release video.


Paretroplus maculatus video

A short video of a pair of Paretroplus maculatus digging out a pit. The video come from the africancichlids2010 Youtube channel. The video was taken at the San Antonio Zoo.

Paretroplus maculatus, with its distinctive black spot, was originally found in several locations in northwestern Madagascar. Due to habitat loss, the introduction of invasive species and over-fishing, P. maculatus is now critically endangered. This is the fate of many native Madagascar cichlid species. Because it is unlikely that much will change for P. maculatus in the wild, the species’ survival now depends on hobbyists and zoos. To discuss this species visit the Madagascar Species forum.

The San Antonio Zoo has an Africa Live! exhibit that features many African cichlid species. In the next few weeks we’ll be posting more videos from the zoo’s exhibits.

Paretroplus maculatus

Paretroplus maculatus. Screen capture from video


Qeye and Qshooter – watch and shoot

Qeye and Qshooter

This blog has featured various new tech products. Many are taking advantage of WiFi and digital streaming technologies commonly available today. Some seem practical, while others not so much. One good thing is that as technology becomes more accessible, we are bound to see new items that will improve our enjoyment and care of our fish. This Qeye and Qshooter are two new products that can work together to not only feed your fish while you’re away, but you can watch and remotely initiate the feeding.

Available in both Android and iOS, the Qeye and Qshooter streams a video image to your device while you’re away. You can watch your fish through the 720p Qeye camera that swivels and use the Qshooter to launch pellets for their meal. This product isn’t cheap, but for someone who needs to feed their fish while they are away and make sure they are eating, the Qeye and Qshooter might be perfect. For more information go to the Coral Vue website. To discuss this item visit the Equipment & Supplies forum.


Astronotus crassipinnis – Oscar’s forgotten cousin

Astronotus crassipinnis

Astronotus crassipinnis. Photo by Sebastian Jurado Garcia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Most everyone in the hobby should be familiar with Astronotus ocellatus, aka Oscar. Found in almost all pet stores and first cichlid aquariums, the Oscar is just one of those species that even non-hobbyists can identify. Despite Oscar’s notoriety the only other species in the genus, Astronotus crassipinnis, is largely unknown.

Astronotus crassipinnis is found in various rivers of South America, generally south of Oscar habitats. A. crassipinnis are smaller than their famous cousins reaching only about 10 inches in length. A. crassipinnis, while also having a variable barring pattern like Oscars, tend to be darker in overall color. Like their cousins, A. crassipinnis need a large aquarium and can also be quite messy. Good filtration is a must and soft and slightly acidic water is recommended. Since their native native waters tend to have cover and hiding spots, it is recommended that similar features are provided in the aquarium. To discuss Astronotus crassipinnis visit the South American Cichlid forum.


Haplochromis vonlinnei from Lake Victoria

Haplochromis vonlinnei

Haplochromis (Harpagochromis) vonlinnei. Photo by Greg Steeves

Haplochromis vonlinnei, sometimes referred to as Harpaglochromis vonlinnei, is a predatory species originally found in and around the Mwanza Gulf of Lake Victoria. Due to the introduction of the Nile Perch in the 1950s, H. vonlinnei’s numbers have decreased steadily and it is believed that the species is extinct in the wild. This species would hunt smaller fish over the muddy-bottom waters of Mwanza Gulf.

Named after naturalist Carl Linnaeus, Haplochromis vonlinnei is characterized by a slender, grey body and black band running from head to tail. The band is said to be thicker in males than females. The photo above appears to show a little red and green on what is an otherwise grey body. Although thought to be extinct, some hobbyists keep the species alive in their tanks. If you have an opportunity to keep these fish, consider devoting a tank to them. To discuss H. vonlinnei visit the Lake Victoria Basin Species forum.


Neolamprologus longicaudatus from Lake Tanganyika

Neolamprologus longicaudatus

Neolamprologus longicaudatus. Photo by Dave Hansen

Getting its name from the length of its tail, Neolamprologus longicaudatus is a rock-dwelling cichlid found in Lake Tanganyika. In the wild this species is solitary spending its days close to a protective cave feeding on small invertebrates. As they mature, males will develop a nuchal hump.

In the aquarium Neolamprologus longicaudatus will do fine on a diet of quality flakes or pellets. Large tanks with rock formations are recommended both for comfort and to recreate natural behaviors. They can be aggressive toward each other, especially males. Males are a little larger than females. To discuss N. longicaudatus visit the Lake Tanganyika Species forum.


Les Kaufman article on Lake Victoria biodiversity

les kaufman

Some of the many haplochromine species

An interesting article by Les Kaufman on the importance of biodiversity for an ecosystem’s resilience. Kaufman is a professor of biology at Boston University. He has been interested in cichlids since he was a student at Johns Hopkins University.

Les Kaufman’s article discusses how biodiversity helps and ecosystem withstand changes and pressures. Unfortunately, Lake Victoria’s biodiversity was devastated after the introduction of the Nile Perch. What was once 80% of the biomass made up of cichlid species became 80% Nile Perch. Despite these changes there is still hope for the remaining cichlid species and the human population that depends on a healthy Lake Victoria. The article can be found on Secure Fisheries website. Most haplochromine species can be discussed in the Lake Victoria Basin forum.


Xenotilapia flavipinnis from Lake Tanganyika

Xenotilapia flavipinnis

Xenotilapia flavipinnis. Photo by Dave Hansen

Xenotilapia flavipinnis is a delicate and peaceful fish found throughout Lake Tanganyika. In the wild, X. flavipinnis spend their time in open water over the sandy bottom where they sift the sand looking for small creatures. This species can be found in large groups but will pair off when spawning. X. flavipinnis is a bi-parental mouthbrooder and pairs will usually stay together for the duration of the spawning season.

In the aquarium Xenotilapia flavipinnis needs a little more attention than many other cichlid species. This species doesn’t do well when water conditions aren’t right. Frequent water changes are recommended to remove buildup of nitrates and other toxins. This species is very peaceful and does not do well with boisterous or aggressive fish. Best kept in large groups to recreate natural conditions and for pairs to form. After spawning, the female will hold the eggs for about 10 days and then transfer them to the male. Both parents will watch over the fry until they are old enough to go off on their own. To discuss this species visit the Lake Tanganyika Species forum.


Far-reaching impact of dams on Amazon River

An article on Nature.com titled Damming the rivers of the Amazon basin details the far-reaching consequences of dams along the Amazon River. Although this blog has covered other articles about the impact of damming the Amazon River, new research has shown that the impact goes far beyond the immediate areas around a new dam.

Detailed on this article and in a short synopsis by Popular Science, dams along the Amazon River can even cause environmental changes on coastal regions far away from the mouth of the river. Much of the impact comes from the restriction of sediment flow. The more dams, the greater and far-reaching the impact. At this time there are proposals to build up to 428 dams along the Amazon River with 140 already completed of being build.

To discuss this topic and the impact on native species of cichlids visit the South American Cichlids forum.


Symphysodon aequifasciata, aka Discus. Originally from the Amazon River. Photo by Patrick Farrelly


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