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Stomatepia pindu of Barombi Mbo, Cameroon
by Jim Beck

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The S. pindu are fed a mixture of HBH® Seafood Lovers and HBH® Graze Vegetable flake. This diet helps to fulfill their piscivorous protein requirements. Feeding procedures differ between hobbyists; we use one which fits our daily routine. I feed once a day, late at night, 10 PM and wait for 30 minutes before turning off tank lights, and then another 15 minutes before room lights are turned off. (I need to get a timer). I also do not alter my feedings before, during or after spawns. They are a mouth brooding species and unfortunately I have not been privileged to observe their spawn. The pair just seems to stop when they feel comfortable and go about their business, the female dropping eggs on the gravel followed by the male circling in to fertilize. As this species of fish is mouth brooder, the female then picks up the eggs for incubation (McKinney, 2003). I only realize that spawning has taken place, when I have observed the female holding the next day. The male was still in breeding dress, a gleaming shiny black.

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Of the information I have gathered, they are difficult to breed. It is my experience that the difficulty is in trying to preserve the fry. On the first spawn, I attempted to remove the female after two days to a safer fry tank. I removed all the rocks and plants from the breeding tank during which time the fish were very excitable and in a nervous frenzy. Their color also faded drastically. After netting female, she spit her eggs. I attempted to tumble unsuccessfully. All six perished within 24 hours.

I was more prepared for the next spawn. I allowed the brooding female to hold for 16 days before attempting to move her. I separated a portion of their tank into a fry proof area. I took my time removing the ornaments and allowed these nervous fish to calm down. The same result occurred upon netting the female. She spit out nine fry. This time they were placed conveniently next door and the female was returned to the colony. They are growing very fast even outgrowing some of my Malawians. The fry are very black like their parents with one exception: Young S. pindu exhibit a tilapia spot on their dorsal that vanishes upon adulthood (Steeves, 2003).

Because the second spawn was successful, I again waited 16 days on the third spawn before going through the ritual of removing the female. The identical result of spitting the fry took place again upon netting. A small portion of egg sack was still visible on the fry. This time I placed her and the fry in the fry tank. Within a short time she had picked up all her fry. She held for another five days then began releasing a few at a time. All were released in three days. Again, there were nine fry from this successful spawn. I kept her in the fry tank for an additional three days to regain her stamina before returning to colony. Both groups of fry are doing great and eating the same flake foods as parents only it is finely crushed.

Water Fin Fish Underwater Tail

S. Pindu tolerates other species in the tank and show some aggressiveness toward co-specs which does intensify during spawning. The sub-dominant male did take a beating but had areas of seclusion for safety. Once spawning was complete, the dominant male's aggression was reduced. The subdominant male healed quickly and was in full health again. If you wish to keep this fish, plan ahead. A large tank with plenty of places for refuge will acceptably house this species. S. pindu requires a high protein diet. If one is fortunate enough to have a spawn, careful removal of the female is necessary.

Unlike the Peacocks, Mbuna and Lake Victoria cichlids, with their brilliant coloration, Stomatepia pindu is still a very attractive fish sporting its solid black coloration and sleek body design. Another factor in my selection of this species is that it is endangered. All in all after the trial and error, Stomatepia pindu is a very nice addition to my hobby and will be to yours as well.
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References and Acknowledgements:

Editor and consultant: Greg Steeves

Loiselle, Paul V. (1997) Cichlid News, Aquarium Husbandry of the Pindu, Stomatepia pindu Trewavas 1972.

McKinney, Michael. The Underwater News, Pioneer Valley Aquarium Society. (December 2003)

Steeves, Greg. (2003) Insight on Barombi Mbo, Cameroon -Originally published in The Lateral Line, the official publication of the Hill Country Cichlid Club

IUCN Red List of Endangered Species - Critically Endangered (CR) (B1+2c)(Ref. 57073)
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