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Iranocichla hormuzensis
by Dave Hansen

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I acquired my "group" of fish in November 2007. I say group, but it was only four individuals. This is a species I had been chasing for a number of years and was always near the top of my "must have" list. I was appreciative to obtain them, but will admit only having four individuals made me feel a little nervous. I was unsure of how to maintain them so this really didn't give me very much room for error. The fish had just been released from the mother about 7 days previous to them coming into my possession and were extremely tiny. When I first gazed into the bag I couldn't even see the fry at all. I poured the contents of the bag into a coffee cup hoping it would be easier to see them. I made out 4 sets of tiny black eyes and breathed a sigh of relief.

Eye Organism Underwater Fish Marine biology

I am not a scientist and the idea of playing chemist with water parameters had me a bit anxious. The key factor I was trying to determine was the salt content of the water. I had a couple of weeks to prep and enrolled the help of my fellow fish geek, Nick Andreola, to figure out how I was going to set the tank up. The actual physical setup was easy. I prepared a 113 liter long as I would for any other cichlid I had maintained. I used a slightly oversized hang on the back filter and because I knew the fish were small I used a sponge over the intake tube to keep from siphoning them up into it. I employed pool filter sand as the substrate and dotted it with several medium size pieces of holey rock and tied in some artificial silk plants. These fish are accustomed to warm water, so I submerged a heater into the tank and set the thermostat for 23C. I filled the tank with water and looked at the volume of water and said to myself, "now what?" I had done as much research as possible on the specific waterways these fish were found and as I mentioned earlier it varies wildly. Even if I had exact readings, I had no idea how that would actually be executed in the tank. Nick was on the case though. I had total confidence he would figure this out for me. He called me to discuss and after listening to him explain in great detail; I had no idea what he was talking about. I don't think Stephen Hawking would know what he was talking about! He had a mouthful of equations and numbers and you need this measuring device and oh by the way do you have access to an electron smasher? Maybe I added the last part, but this was giving me a headache. If these fish can't survive in my tank how in the heck will they avoid disappearing in the wild? I hung up with Nick and told him I would call him later after I absorbed his information. Hopefully he isn't still sitting by the phone. It took a little longer than it should have, but I decided to reach out to the few other hobbyists I knew of, who had kept them to uncover their maintenance secretes. I asked three people and got three different answers. One of them kept them in pure freshwater, another said a large soup spoon of salt per gallon, and the other said a small palm worth per gallon. Great, what are your local tap water conditions, what size are the soup spoons in Europe, and how big are your hands? After fretting over this for a couple of weeks I decide I will use a soup spoon worth of salt per gallon. I went to grab a spoon from the drawer and my wife asked what I was doing. I went into great detail to demonstrate how smart I was and I was using this spoon to salt the tank. "You are not using one of my nice spoons for your tanks" was her reply. She handed me a tablespoon from an old cutlery set and said I could have that one. So after weeks of research and discussion I am using a tablespoon per gallon of salt.

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