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Tropheops sp. “Aurora” from Lake Malawi

Tropheops sp

Tropheops sp. “Aurora”. Photo by Ad Konings

Another group of Lake Malawi mbuna is the genus Tropheops. This genus, like Pseudotropheus and Metriaclima, has undergone some revisions in recent years. At one time Tropheops were considered a subgroup of Pseudotropheus. For now, the fish pictured above goes by Tropheops sp. “Aurora”.

Like other Tropheops, T. sp. “Aurora” is a herbivore that spends its time eating algae from rock close to shore. These fish can be territorial and that behavior can be extreme in the confines of an aquarium. Males are intolerant of other T. sp. “Aurora” males and females are often harassed. It is best to keep multiple females to a single male. Although they tend to ignore other species’ males it is not guaranteed, especially if the other species has similar colors.

To discuss Tropheops sp. “Aurora” visit the Lake Malawi Species forum.


African Diving Ltd video

A video from African Diving limited titled Lake Tanganyika cichlids in the wild: The Earth forgives.

Unlike the other African Diving Ltd videos on Youtube, the video above has no narration, only music. What it lacks in narrative it makes up for with beautiful footage. From Eretmodus to frontosa, the video captures the diverse life in Lake Tanganyika. There is also quite a bit of footage showing large groups of schooling cichlids feeding along the bottom or in the water column. One scene shows hundred of Cyprichromis and it appears that about half the females are holding.

African Diving Ltd has an educational website, www.africandivingltd.com, and is also the importer of many cichlids from both Lake Malawi and Lake Tanganyika. To discuss some of the fish show in the video visit the Lake Tanganyika Species forum.

African Diving

Screen capture from video


Julidochromis transcriptus recognize faces

Julidochromis transcriptus

Julidochromis transcriptus. Photo by Dave Hansen

A new study has found that Julidochromis transcriptus, a rock-dwelling cichlid from Lake Tanganyika, use facial recognition to identify friends and foes. J. transcriptus were studied and it was determined that facial patterns play a larger roll than other visual cues in how these fish identify individuals. A study on archerfish concluded that they could discriminate between human faces, but the study on J. transcriptus points to something the fish might use in the wild.

The study is behind a pay wall, but a short synopsis can be found on the New Scientist website. To discuss the study or Julidochromis transcriptus in general visit the Lake Tanganyika Species forum.


Cichlid pond in South Texas

Texans always like to boast about how everything is always bigger in their state. The same can also be said for their cichlid tanks. Last year about this time there was a blog about a 5500 gallon cichlid pond. Once again it has been setup for the summer and it can be seen in the video below.

Other videos about this same cichlid pond can be found in the africancichlids2010 Youtube channel. They include initial setup and feeding time. A short article by Greg Steeves titled Raising Cichlids Outside details some of his early experiences keeping cichlids outside.

cichlid pond

Cichlid pond made from an above ground pool.


Astatotilapia tweddlei from Lake Chilwa

Astatotilapia tweddlei

Astatotilapia tweddlei. Photo by Greg Steeves

Astatotilapia tweddlei is a mostly unknown species found south of Lake Malawi in the Lakes Chilwa, Chiuta and surrounding rivers. The species appeared in the hobby during the 70s and 80s, and was formally identified in 1985. It is unknown if more have been commercially imported.

The lakes where Astatotilapia tweddlei is found are very shallow with high concentration of decaying plant matter where it feeds on detritus and insects. Males display a bronze color while females are plain and silvery. In the hobby this cichlid’s availability is very limited. However, stocks do exist among certain hobbyists. Discussion on this species should be done in the Lake Malawi Species forum due to their proximity.


Thysochromis ansorgii from West Africa

Thysochromis ansorgii

Thysochromis ansorgii. Photo by Dave Hansen

Found in many locations throughout West Africa, Thysochromis ansorgii is both at home moving or swampy waters. T. ansorgii is a pair-bonding cichlid that prefers cave-like locations to spawn. Sometimes commonly called the five-spot cichlid, it is not to be confused with the another five-spot cichlid, Hemichromis fasciatus.

Since Thysochromis ansorgii is a pair-bonding cichlid, it is best to obtain a group of younger fish and allow them to pair off on their own. They aren’t always found is stock lists but they do appear from time to time. They aren’t too aggressive, even when spawning, but will protect their eggs and young. It is said that pairs will breed often when young, but will slow down as they age and get larger. To discuss T. ansorgii visit the West African Species forum.


Platytaeniodus degeni from Lake Victoria

Platytaeniodus degeni

Platytaeniodus degeni. Photo be Greg Steeves

Platytaeniodus degeni, aka Haplochromis degeni, was originally collected in Lake Victoria. This species was thought extinct in the wild but some specimens were found about 10 years ago. This species is also alive and well in captivity at zoos and in some hobbyist’s tanks.

In the wild Platytaeniodus degeni is a snail eating cichlid found over sandy bottoms. In an aquarium the usual Lake Victoria cichlid precautions should be taken. Similarly colored fish or fish from the same genus should be avoided to prevent hybridization. Best kept in groups of a single male to multiple females. Although it appears P. degeni has made a comeback in Lake Victoria, the species is still under threat from the Nile Perch and hybridization due to cloudy waters. To discuss this species visit the Lake Victoria Basin forum.


Apistogramma megastoma described

Apistogramma megastoma

Male Apistogramma megastoma is breeding colors. Photo from publication.

Found in the Río Jutai along the border of Peru and Brazil, Apistogramma megastoma has finally been described. This species has gone by temporary and trade names including A. sp. “Diamond Face” and A. sp. “Jutai”. Dominant males normally sport a light rust color but will change when being aggressive or mating to the coloration in the image above. Subdominant males can display vertical barring. Females on the other hand are a bright yellow with a dark band on their cheek. Images of the different colors can be seen in the Vertebrate Zoology article on Senckenberg.de.

A unique feature of Apistogramma megastoma is that it is one of the few Apistogramma species which mouthbroods their young. A. megastoma, with its large mouth, is a maternal mouthbrooder that picks up and carries the young once they have hatched. For more information on this unique species check out the Vertebrate Zoology article. To discuss A. megastoma visit the South American Species forum.


Benitochromis batesii from West Africa

Benitochromis batesii

Benitochromis batesii. Photo by Dave Hansen

Not often seen in the hobby, Benitochromis batesii inhabits various rivers and lakes from southwestern Cameroon to northern Gabon. These fish don’t get much larger than 3-4″ and males and females look very similar. B. batesii shares the same type of bi-parental mouthbrooding strategy as other Benitochromis. However, B. batesii is a larvophilic mouthbrooder. While other mouthbrooders will pick up their eggs right way, B. batesii will protect they eggs and not pick them up until after they have hatched. Females lay upwards of a 100 eggs and perhaps this ensures that only viable fry are cared for.

Although not often found for sale, Benitochromis batesii is sometimes available from some retailers or other hobbyist. To discuss this species and other Benitochromis visit the West African forum. Although not the same species, the library contains an article on Benitochromis nigrodorsalis by Diane Tennison that may be useful.


Mesonauta insignis from South America

Mesonauta insignis

Mesonauta insignis. Photo by Clinton & Charles Robertson (CC BY 2.0)

Mesonauta insignis is one of six species belonging to the small Mesonauta genus. All species within the genus are commonly called flag cichlids. Since the common name is used for all species in the genus, there is often confusion in the hobby about the true species of any individual fish.

Found in the Negro and Orinoco Rivers of South America, Mesonauta insignis can be found in Venezuela, Columbia and Brazil. They live in calm waters with lots of vegetation feeding on a variety of plant matter, small fish and insects. In the aquarium M. insignis is best kept in peaceful community tanks. Over time and under the right care, M. insignis can get quite large. Pairs will spawn and deposit eggs on a flat surface. Both parents will care for the young. To discuss this and other flag cichlid species visit the South American Cichlids forum.


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