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Prognathochromis (Tridontochromis) sp. "silver stiletto"
by Greg Steeves

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In Lake Nawampassa, Prognathochromis sp. "silver stiletto" attains a length of 9cm (Kaufman, 2008) but in captivity, 14cm is not uncommon. At maturity, females are slightly smaller than their male counterparts. The body is laterally compressed and a foil-like silver coloration. The dorsal is powder blue in mature males and hyaline on females. The caudal fin is colorless with slight tinges of red between the fin rays. The anal fin has red hues, a slight blue base and is adorned with a small number of ocelli. Among males, the fist hard ray of the pelvic fin is black while the rest of the appendage is clear. These fins as well as the pectoral fins of both sexes are colorless. There is an eye bar that extends from the corner of the mouth, up the cheek and through the eye. The large mouth is down turned and full of unicuspid teeth spaced in 3-4 rows. The lower lip is much more pronounced than the upper with a lobed extension at the center portion. The forehead is angled at 45° with a strong premaxilla but little indentation where the appendage begins.

Very limited spawning details are available. This species is a maternal mouth brooder with seemingly small brood sizes of between 8-20 larvae. Even with the onset of mating, male do not establish a defined territory. Prognathochromis sp. "silver stiletto" spawns in the open over a sandy substrate with no obvious excavation of a spawning pit. The female will incubate eggs for 18 days at 27°C. The brood period can be extended with cooler temperatures and hastened at higher. Females will continue brood care for two weeks post release. The male, apart from the act of spawning, exhibits no parental care.

Water Organism Fin Fish Underwater

This is a rather undemanding resident in the aquarium providing some obvious and basic husbandry techniques are employed. As an open water hunter, it is not necessary to arrange the aquaria with an abundance of rockwork or other space consuming décor. Many of the Vallisneria species can be aqua-scaped into clumps with some open spaces. I have found that this cichlid looks best when housed with reed-like plants on each end of the aquarium and an open area in the center. A substrate consisting of sand works nicely for this fish. Prognathochromis sp. "silver stiletto" does well when maintained in a species only arrangement however; it is possible to add select tank mates. Despite being a piscavore, this cichlid is relatively docile and easily bullied by more boisterous species. One must ensure that tank mates are large enough to avoid being eaten. Two cichlids that work well with Prognathochromis sp. "silver stiletto" are Haplochromis sp. "ruby and Yssichromis sp. "blue tipped". Some of the oral shellers such as Ptyochromis sp. "salmon" might also work well. I recommend avoiding more active fish such as Pundamilia or Neochromis species. There are some Synodontis that make excellent tank mates as well. When adding Synodontis ensure there is cover for these catfish and stay away from the "busy" Tanganyikan species such as S. multipunctatus and S. lucipinnis. Synodontis flavitaeniatus and S. nigrita are good choices to diversify the aquarium.

Feeding presents no problem at all. All foods are readily taken however, to maintain in good condition, one must keep in mind the fish's carnivorous nature. High protein foods work best. I supplement feedings of flake with live Gambusia affinis. Many people do not advocate the use of live fish as a food source. In this case, ample brine shrimp (Artemia sp.) or red and black worms can be supplemented.

Never overly numerous in Lake Nawampassa, Prognathochromis sp. "silver stiletto" still appears regularly in native catches (Kaufman, 2008). In the cichlid hobby, this is an extremely rare cichlid. It is not the easiest fish to induce to spawning which evidently, has led to fewer and fewer aquarists working with this species. What a shame it would be to lose this sparkling gem in the hobby.
Eye Plant Petal Tints and shades Font

Originally published in The Lateral Line, the official publication of the Hill Country Cichlid Club
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