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Mosquito nets threaten fragile Lake Victoria

mosquito nets

Fishing with a mosquito net. Photo by Uriel Sinai for the New York Times.

Mosquito nets have helped to reduce the number of malaria infections and deaths around the world. Unfortunately, misuse of these same nets is threatening fish populations in Lake Victoria. These nets, intended to stop mosquitoes, are catching young fish and even eggs. On top of that, many of these nets are coated with a pesticide which seeps into the water when used for fishing.

The use of mosquito nets for fishing is being blamed as a contributor to the declining commercial fish populations in the lake. Cichlids are also undoubtedly paying the price for this as well. As seen in the picture above, the nets are being used along the sores in swampy areas. These same areas are where many of the remaining cichlid species of Lake Victoria have taken refuge. For more information on the misuse of mosquito nets and the impact on the region, check out the New York Times article.

Neolamprologus caudopunctatus dispersal

Neolamprologus caudopunctatus

Neolamprologus caudopunctatus.

In a new study researchers found that female Neolamprologus caudopunctatus, a cichlid from Lake Tanganyika, on average disperse from their nest 11 times further than males. This is the opposite behavior from what we see in most mammals, where the males tend to move further away from their birth place. Young female Neolamprologus caudopunctatus also tend to stick together when they move away, increasing their safety in numbers and insuring that their genetic material survives to reproduce. The original study is behind a pay wall, but a good synopsis of it can be found on the PHSY.ORG website. If you would like to learn more about N. caudopunctatus, check out the Species Profile. Discussion on this fish can be done in the Lake Tanganyika forum.

Cookie Cutter setups getting a face lift

cookie cutter setups

The cookie cutter setups are getting reworked over the next couple weeks. These setups are designed to help beginners get an idea of suitable fish combinations based on tank sizes. These guides aren’t the only options, especially for larger tanks, but are a good starting point. Keep in mind that other factors may play into the success of a tank, including aquascaping and even an unusually aggressive fish.

To kick off the new cookie cutter recommendations a new aquarium size was added, 15 gallon or 20 gallon Tall. While the 15 gallon size isn’t seen too often, it has the same footprint of the more common 20 gallon tall (24″ x 12″). This aquarium size fits in between the smaller 10 gallon and the popular 20 gallon Long tank. Keep an eye out for changes to the cookie cutter setups found in the Quick Reference section of the library.

Red devil cichlid color variants studied

red devil

Red devil cichlid Amphilophus labiatum by AtelierMonpliOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Variants of the same species of cichlids are fairly common. Usually the variations are subtle and the result of a physical separation between two or more groups. But what about color variants within a population? Scientists have always wondered why some plant or animal species can have different colors within the same population. Natural selection is supposed to determine which color is best and be the only color in the group. The red devil cichlid (Amphilophus labiatum) is one of those species where two different color morphs can exist within one population. A paper published in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology tries to answer this very question about the two color variants of red devil cichlids. A synopsis of the paper can be found HERE.

Apistogramma kullanderi – the titan dwarf

Apistogramma kullanderi

Apistogramma kullanderi. Top male, bottom female. Photos from article.

The largest discovered Apistogramma has been officially described in the journal Ichthiological Exploration of Freshwaters. The authors Henrique R. Varella and Mark H. Sabaj Pérez have named the giant dwarf Apistogramma kullanderi. The new species was originally given the informal name of Apistogramma “gigas” when it was first seen in 2009.

The entire article can be found in pdf format on the Pfeil-Verlag.de website. Most notably Apistogramma kullanderi can grow to over 3 inches in the wild. Mature males and females are have different coloration as seen above. The species can be found in the Curuá River of north central Brazil. Hopefully this species will be making its way into the hobby soon.

Lake Malawi mass fish deaths

lake malawi

Kironga, Lake Malawi. Google Earth.

Large quantities of dead fish have washed up along the shores of the Kironga district in the north part of Lake Malawi. This follows sightings of dead fish on other shores around the lake. The Malawi government is investigating to determine the cause of the fish deaths. A recent spill at a nearby uranium mine is being looked at as a possible cause. The story about the untreated radioactive material that leaked into Lake Malawi can be found HERE. The story about the dead fish and the government investigation into the causes can be found HERE.

Anglerfish are stranger than you can image


Representatives of Anglerfish. Photo from Evolutionary history of anglerfishes. CC BY 2.0

Most people have seen pictures of the Anglerfish. These fish get their name from a modified ray with luminous flesh that they dangle to attract prey. These fish also look very scary with their strange shapes and long sharp teeth. However, none of these things come close to what really makes them strange. When scientist first started capturing these fish they noticed the female specimens had parasites attached to them. Turns out that in order to reproduce, males seek out and bite the females. They then release an enzyme which fuses the male to the female until the male is completely dependent on the female for nourishment. THe male even loses most of its organs in the union. In return, the male provides the female with sperm for reproduction. The male will remain attached to the female until she dies taking him with her.

For more general information on Anglerfish, visit the Wikipedia article. If you are looking for more insight into the evolutionary biology of this unusual fish, check out the research article on BioMed Central titled Evolutionary history of anglerfishes (Teleostei: Lophiiformes): a mitogenomic perspective.

Biotope aquarium design videos

Biotope Aquarium Design

A series of videos show the best entries in last year’s JBL Biotope Aquarium Design Contest. First place went to an Australian biotope, but 3 out of the top 5 were cichlid biotopes. Biotope aquariums are designed to recreate the natural environment of the fish that live in the aquarium. Not only does it provide the best opportunity for the fish to feel at home, but it allows the fish to demonstrate their natural behavior in what would be their natural environment.

Second place of the biotope aquarium design contest went to an entry modeled after the Nun River basin in Nigeria (video below). Among the tank inhabitants are the dwarf cichlid species Pelvicachromis pulcher

The rest of the videos including a detailed description on each biotope can be found HERE.

Amazon Rainforest 2015 predictions

amazon rainforest

Belo Monte Dam. CGI rendition by Eletrobras and Brazilian ministries.

Mongabay.com has created a list of 10 rainforests things to watch in 2015. The Amazon Rainforest is prominent on the list and the outlook is mixed. Some gains in preserving the parts of the rainforest should come into effect in 2015. Unfortunately deforestation in Peru and Bolivia is on the rise. Brazil has shown an overall reduction trend in deforestation, but the country’s continued construction of dams along several rivers is posing a threat to the Amazon Rainforest and the many cichlid species that live within the various rivers.

Visit Mongabay.com for more details.

Pungu maclareni library article

Pungu maclareni

Pungu maclareni. Photo by Dave Hansen Esq.

Almost two years ago we did a blog about an out-of-the-ordinary species from a small crater lake in Cameroon. The species is only one of 11 native cichlid species found in the lake. Thanks to Troy Veltrop, we now have a detailed article on Pungu maclareni.

Lake Barombi Mbo formed in the crater of a volcano on the western part of Cameroon. The lake’s isolation has resulted in the evolution of some unique fauna, including a handful of cichlids. Troy’s article gives a quick summary about the lake and the other cichlid species that call it home. However, the majority of the article is devoted to his experiences keeping and breeding Pungu maclareni. The article titled The Barombi Mbo Sponge Eater also has many great photos. To discuss P. maclareni or any of the other cichlid species from Lake Barombi Mbo, visit the Lake Victoria Basin, West African, Madagascar & Asian Species forum.

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