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Nandopsis hatiensis
by Del Calhoun

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I thought I would start with the story of Nandopsis hatiensis from a Chicago perspective.

To the best of knowledge, this story gets its start back in 1988 after the American Cichlid Association (ACA) convention. Back then, I was still pretty new the local Chicago club and hadn't thought much about going to a convention, but whenever the guys got back from one of these shows I would rush over to their house to see what new fish they had brought back with them. As I was walking through aquarist Milo Manden's fish room, I saw a tank with some small Nandopsis-looking things that I had never seen before. I couldn't wait to ask him what they were. When he told me what they were, I was very excited for a couple of reasons. One, I had wanted haitiensis for some time and, two; I knew that if Milo had them it wouldn't be long before he spawned them. He had the golden touch back in those days.

After about a year, Milo did successfully spawn them. The only problem was that he was only getting about twenty fry from each spawn and this was very unusual for a Nanadopsis. I was lucky enough to get some of the first fry from Milo and I set off to spoil them- I used to do that back in those days. My luck was not as good as Milo's as I ended up with only one large cichlid. So, I guessed that it was a male and decided to raise it for a show fish. About three weeks before the 1992 Cichlid Classic, my supposed male proceeded to lay about 500 eggs - shows you how much I knew about sexing fish. I decided to enter it in the show and luckily the judges liked it so much that I won my first show ever.

Water Nature Organism Fin Underwater

At this same time, Mlio's large male had grown to 14 inches, killed its females and looked great. Milo decided to take it to the ACA convention in Minnesota. Sure enough, his fish won the show. Milo had a show-winning male and I had a show-winning female. The only thing left to do was spawn these fish, as they were desirable. Milo placed the pair in a 90-gallon aquarium to try to spawn them. A couple of weeks after he put the pair together, I went over to his house to see how they were doing. The female hap been badly beaten and looked terrible. I was sure she was going to get killed. Milo reassured me that the female would not get killed. His patience paid off as the female did learn to hide when the male was too aggressive and about six months later the pair spawned. They must have had 500 fry. It was great to watch.

After Milo raised the fry for several months I went to his house to pick up a hundred or so fry to raise up. I put them in a 200-gallon tank to grow out. This was the most fun I had ever had raising fish. At about eleven months, the fish were close to four inches long and proved very easy to sex.

Females get a very dark almost black color to them while males get an intense white background with black markings all over the body. I ended up with several breeding pairs for myself and dispersed several more to any Cichlasoma fan that wanted a pair. It wasn't long before every Cichlasoma keeper in the area was breeding haitiensis and the market was flooded. The fish almost disappeared, but if you want some, Milo is still breeding them to this day. Not the original pair of course, but he always seems to have a breeding pair around.

Just in case youre not familiar with this fish here are a couple of quick facts. The largest male I have ever seen was about 16 inches. Males also get a nice nuchal hump when mature. The largest female that I have seen was about 10 inches. Although this is a Nandopsis species, it is not nearly as aggressive as dovii, red devils or black belts. It can be kept with other large Cichlasomines like bifasciatum, godmani, and such. I hope you get the chance to keep and enjoy this fish some day.
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