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Paralabidochromis chilotes Ruti Island

Paralabidochromis chilotes

Paralabidochromis chilotes Ruti Island. Female on right, male on left. Photos by Greg Steeves

Paralabidochromis chilotes in a species of cichlid found in Lake Victoria. There are two recognizable variants, the most common from Zue Island. Males have a checkerboard pattern on their body and dominant males will display greens and blues with red on the chest area. Females from Zue Island are silver with not much color. The other P. chilotes variant is from Ruti Island. While the males have a similar color pattern to males from Zue Island, the females sport a distinctive blotched pattern.

Paralabidochromis chilotes have a slightly upturned snout and as they mature their lips become enlarged. They are often referred to as the thick-lipped Victorian. P. chilotes is similar to other Lake Victoria cichlids. They are tolerant to a variety of water conditions, are generally robust, and easy to breed. P. chilotes is not as aggressive as other Victorian cichlids and does well with a variety of fish. To discuss Paralabidochromis chilotes Ruti Island visit the Lake Victoria Basin forum.

Tilapia joka from West Africa

tilapia joka

Tilapia joka. Photo by Dave Hansen

Tilapia joka is an unusual looking cichlids found in rivers and streams of Sierra Leone and Liberia. Fish from the genus Tilapia are not usually seen in the hobby, but T. joka is one of the few. Its attractive barring an small size have earned them a place in West African cichlid enthusiast’s tanks. While they grow to around 8 inches in the wild, in aquariums they tend not to exceed more than 5 inches.

Tilapia joka is a mild mannered fish and does best when kept with other less aggressive fish. A pair will bond and remain monogamous. T. joka should be kept in soft, clean water. Diet should include plant matter with some protein. Females will lay up to 200 eggs inside a cave and both parents will care for the offspring. During breeding males can become territorial. To discuss Tilapia joka visit the West African forum.

Astatotilapia stappersii from Lake Tanganyika

Astatotilapia stappersii

Astatotilapia stappersii. Photo by Adrian Indermaur. CC by 4.0

Astatotilapia stappersii is a cichlid that has been found and collected along the rivers and swamps surrounding Lake Tanganyika. The specimen pictured above was collected in the northernmost part of Lake Tanganyika along the Burundi border. Despite being found in many locations and its attractive colors, A. stappersii has not found its way commercially into the hobby. In the wild it reaches lengths of around six inches and feeds primarily on insect larva.

Little information is available about Astatotilapia stappersii. Those few hobbyists that do keep them have not made them widely available or put out much information about them. It is safe to assume that A. stappersii is a mouthbrooding cichlid that behaves similarly to other Lake Tanganyikan Astatotilapia like A. burtoni. They live the the shallow waters of wetlands, swamps and slow moving rivers the lake. To discuss Astatotilapia stappersii visit the Lake Tanganyika Species forum. Hopefully this species will become more commercially available in the coming years.

FOTAS 2016 Annual Convention

fotas 2016

The Federation of Texas Aquarium Societies will be holding its annual convention in Schertz, TX on October 21-23. FOTAS is an organization which includes aquarium clubs from Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma. Each year one of the member clubs hosts the organization’s convention. This year’s convention, FOTAS 2016, is being held by the Hill Country Cichlid Club.

Events planned for FOTAS 2016 include guest speakers, fish show, club vs club decorating contest and finishing with a large fish auction. Guest speakers include Susan Robinson, Kyle Osterholt, Dave Schumacher and Dr. Michael Kidd. Each year’s convention tends to lean heavily toward the host club’s interests. Since the HCCC is a cichlid club, expect to see a mostly cichlid oriented convention and auction. For more information visit the HCCC Events Facebook page.

Lipochromis melanopterus from Lake Victoria

Lipochromis melanopterus

Lipochromis melanopterus Makobe Island. Photo by Greg Steeves

Lipochromis melanopterus is another Lake Victoria cichlid that isn’t seen in the hobby very often, but they make a great addition to a variety of aquariums. Like other Lake Victoria Haplochromines, L. melanopterus is a hardy fish that has great color and breeds easily. Victorian cichlids are often thought to be too aggressive for beginning hobbyists, but in reality most are no more aggressive than other popular cichlids.

Male Lipochromis melanopterus have the familiar barring and bright colors of other Victorian cichlids. However, the females are orange blotched (OB) instead other the usual dull grey. To discuss L. melanopterus visit the Lake Victoria Basin forum. To learn more about Lake Victoria cichlids in general, check out the article New to the Hobby Haplochromines by Greg Steeves for information on other great species from the region.

Lake Tanganyika oil exploration deal

lake tanganyika

Lake Tanganyika. Photo: NASA

The governments of Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have signed an agreement for joint exploration of oil and gas in Lake Tanganyika. It is believed that oil and gas can be found in and around the lake. Gas and oil production is an untapped resource for the impoverished nations and has the potential of improving economic conditions in the area. However, contamination of the lake and surrounding areas poses a threat to the already threatened lake ecology. Rising temperatures in the lake have already led to declines in commercial fishing production.

For more information on the agreement for oil exploration visit CNBCAfrica.com. Discussion on Lake Tanganyika can be done in the Lake Tanganyika Species forum.

Ctenochromis polli from the Congo River

Ctenochromis polli

Ctenochromis polli. Photo by Dave Hansen

Ctenochromis polli is thought to be among the first West African cichlids imported into the U.S. The first specimens were caught in Stanley Pool (Pool Malebo) but it is thought to be in several locations throughout the lower and mid Congo River. C. polli is not often found in the hobby and its original habitat is threatened by urbanisation.

In the aquarium Ctenochromis polli isn’t a very demanding fish. Males can reach 4″, while females are slightly smaller. Older, mature males can develop a nuchal hump. In the wild C. polli regularly eats insect larvae, but will adapt to most fish foods. C. polli can be aggressive and does well with mbuna and other hardy cichlids. Plenty of hiding places are recommended and subdued lighting is best, otherwise they will be very shy. To discuss Ctenochromis polli visit the West African forum.

Lake Malawi diversity driven by environmental change

lake malawi

Lake Malawi cichlids at Georgia Aquarium. Photo by Fredlyfish4 CC by 3.0

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that environmental change, specifically periods of deep water, created the right conditions for diversification in Lake Malawi.

According to the study, Lake Malawi’s blue phase periods, characterized by deep clear water, coincide with periods of rapid diversification in cichlid species. These blue phases were separated by green phases in which the water was shallow and murky. The longest blue phase periods began 750,000, 400,000 and 70,000 years ago, the same times as large diversification events. The study is behind a paywall but a summary can be found on the PHYS.org website. Visit the Lake Malawi Species forum to discuss.

Pundamilia nyererei from Lake Victoria

Pundamilia nyererei

Pundamilia nyererei (Makobe Island). Photo by Robert De Leon

Pundamilia nyererei is a species of fish from Lake Victoria made up of many different location variants. These variants look similar, but show many different color variations. Pictures of the different variants can be found in the Pundamilia species profiles.

Males of this species are very colorful regardless of the variant. Bright reds and yellows are common and make a great addition to anyone looking to add these colors to their aquarium. Pundamilia nyererei males and even the females can be aggressive and may not do well with certain fish. P. nyererei are hardy fish that adapt well to water conditions and foods. While the males are colorful, the females are very plain, rarely showing any color at all. On top of not showing color, the females of the different variants look alike. Cross-breeding between the variants will likely occur if housed together. This is also an issue in the wild. Various factors have driven fish from their normal locations and along with water clarity problems, different variants mix and reproduce. It is important never to keep different variants together. To discuss Pundamilia nyererei visit the Lake Victoria Basin forum.

Pseudotropheus demasoni from Lake Malawi

pseudotropheus demasoni

Pseudotropheus demasoni. Photo by Dave Hansen

A popular and easily recognizable Pseudotropheus demasoni is a favorite of Lake Malawi mbuna aficionados. The well defined black and blue bars of both males and females make them an attractive fish. Originally described by Ad Konings in 1994 and named after Laif DeMason.

Don’t let the small size of Pseudotropheus demasoni fool you. While the largest males only reach about 4 inches, these dwarf mbuna are very aggressive and won’t hesitate to tangle with larger fish. Care should be taken to ensure that tankmates are not only compatible in aggression levels, but also in dietary requirements. P. demasoni is a herbivore and feeding them an unsuitable diet could result result in bloat. P. demasoni is best kept in large groups so that aggression can be spread out and no individual will be singled out. Groups on one male to 3 or 4 females are recommended. To read more about this species visit the Pseudotropheus demasoni by Marc Elieson. This species can also be discussed in the Lake Malawi Species forum.

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