Cichlid Fish Forum banner
1 - 1 of 1 Posts

3,588 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
The State of Frontosa in Australia
by Steve Carruthers

I'd best kick this thing off with the standard disclaimer. I am just a keen hobbyist, no real expert, so please give me a little rope here. At least I'm having a go. That said, personally I can thank cyphotilapia frontosa for luring me deep into the wonderful world of Tanganyikan cichlids.

Water Terrestrial plant Fish Marine biology Underwater

The first time I laid eyes on them was in a local breeder's fish room back when I was still a one community tank guy. The breeder owned a colony of Burundis and another colony of Kigomas. Amongst their fifty or so assorted tanks, those two colonies were that couple's pride and joy and sparked what has grown to be a real passion for me present day.

On a national scale we're very restricted here in Australia with the species of fish that we can import and unfortunately frontosas are not on the list. Over 99% of the frontosas here are progeny of stock brought into the country a heap of years ago when no restricted import laws existed. Back then, of course, Burundi was the only variant available. These days Burundis are a commonly seen fish in retailer's tanks, selling at around $40 AUD ($25+US) each for 1 ½ inch fry. There are plenty of nice fish out there but well barred, nicely formed fry can be mixed up with the odd malformed striped fry. So, it pays the buyer to look closely. According to discussion board guys this is not unique to Australia but the incidence of such fry turning up down here seems to be a regular thing. This is, of course, due to our limited breeding stock. Breeders down here don't have much to work with in the way of a gene pool and the best we can do is get our stock from different sources to form a colony.

I guess the ideal approach would be to start out with a heap of nice looking fry from two different sources, grow them up separately to a sexable size and then swap the males. Alternatively, spare males are around, so if any Aussie brother to sister front breeders are reading this, you would be doing yourselves and frontosas in Australia a great favor to just let your local retailer and others know you are interested in swapping males.

Jaw Organism Fish Fin Font

Bottom line: there is more, stronger and better fry for the breeder and a better class of fish in Australia. Looking at a lot of the photos of big old Burundis on the internet for some comparison, we definitely do still have some nice fish downunder. I'm certainly no geneticist - don't know if I even spelled it right but, from talking to other much more knowledgeable fish guys than myself, the above sounds like the best we can do for the fish that we have.

Kigoma "seven stripe" frontosa turned up in Australia, I'm told, after the import restriction laws came to life. Rumor has it that all Kigomas in Australia these days are descendants of a single pair snuck in by some enterprising individual (good on you mate!). Kigomas are no where near as commonly seen as Burundis down here but, are none the less out there for the dedicated hobbyist prepared to hunt them down and pay, the on average, $80+ AUD retail price per fry.

Incidentally, I'm sitting here watching a lovely Kigoma spawning right now. What better motivation can there be hey? There are eleven three year olds swimming around in one side of an 800 gallon tank beside me. Keeping them company are ten cyathopharynx foai "sumbu". Three of the glorious males are nesting and displaying plus a few leleupi, compressiceps and eretmodus. Its a real pleasure to watch!

From the few colonies that I've actually seen, the Kigomas down here seem to be doing very well as far as quality goes. Maybe this is due to the fact that they have not yet had the many generations of inbreeding that the Burundis have had to endure.

Organism Fin Fish Art Electric blue

Some new blood in the country would sure be a good thing. I don't mean to paint a gloomy picture here, we do have some very nice fish, I just believe all of the facts should be aired here. Inbreeding is definitely a problem us Aussie fish keepers need to address. I suppose again, new blood is the only answer there is but selective pairing or colony building can only help. The stuff of Aussie frontosa fanatics' wettest dreams (wet as in pH8 clear stuff) - Mpimbwe, Zaire Blue, Samazi, etc are for us at the moment just that, a dream. There is the strong possibility that the method of birth of Kigomas into Australia could be repeated with one of the blue variants in the near future. Most probably Mpimbwe or Zaire blue.

Officially though there is only one avenue open to getting a fish species onto the import list. I've looked into this heavily while putting these garbled words together and what it briefly amounts to is firstly applying to Environment Australia to initiate the addition of the species to schedule 6 of the Wildlife Protection Act. The Australian Quarantine & Inspection Service then conducts an import risk analysis to identify and classify potential quarantine risks. Today I talked to the chairman of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council and he confirmed that frontosa is amongst ten species recently applied to the above process. Incidentally, all you fellow Aussies, royal plecos are on there as well. AQIS informed me that a petition from aquarists would have no bearing on the acceptance of frontosa into the country as the outcome is based solely on the import risk analysis. The vibes that I got from talking to several well placed people concerning the application were not particularly positive. The process takes from twelve to eighteen months and AQIS apparently doesn't really like big predatory animals of any type coming into the country. I could get into a huge few paragraphs on why feral frontosas would not survive in the wild here but I won't. I think that the argument of imported fronts somehow going feral in our northern inland waters is obsolete anyway.

Building Wood House Art Rectangle

That horse bolted a long time ago. The simple reason is that frontosas have already been here for over twenty years! Maybe that very fact, that frontosas have been here for that long without incidence, will help in the analysis. We'll just have to wait it out. All us hobbyists want is to be able to strengthen our Burundis and Kigomas with some new blood and be able to enjoy the new blues swimming around in our tanks. I may well be wrong but I get the feeling that there are breeders down here that see imported fronts as a threat to the strong market for their home grown fry. We get $15 to $20 AUD wholesale for 1 ½ inch fry. I again talked to a couple of fish importers on this subject and apparently on German price lists fronts (I'm assuming Burundis) are around the same price as tropheus duboisi. Last I saw duboisis were retailing here around $50 AUD - I might be a bit out of touch there. There's a good chance that the hype of newly imported fronts will bump that up somewhat as well. You can bet that the blue varieties would be much dearer items as well. So from what I can see there is no substantial threat to the home grown market from imported fronts. Im probably not making any friends here discussing such things but I guess 'till the day comes it's all just my thinking anyway.

Well that's about it guys. That Kigoma female that I mentioned earlier didn't hold her eggs. They've been doing that for a while now. But I'm patient (have no choice there) and they're growing, they'll get the hang of it eventually. My Burundi females are a lot more experienced and have anywhere from twelve to about seventy fry at the most, every two months. The last spawn was forty nicely barred younguns. Sure would be nice to have the other side of that 800 gallon tank swarming with Mpimbwes! Two dozen wild fish should do it nicely - I'll keep on dreamin' and droolin' for now.

Steve Carruthers
1 - 1 of 1 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.