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Ich (Ichthyophthiriasis multifiliis)

Ich (Ichthyophthiriasis multifiliis)

Ich (Ichthyophthiriasis multifiliis)

Ich (Ichthyophthiriasis multifiliis)

Ich (Ichthyophthiriasis multifiliis) known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as White Spot Disease, is a parasitic ciliate that is arguably the most common ailment of all brackish, freshwater, and marine aquarium species.

Ichthyophthiriasis multifiliis is a protozoa that is wide spread in all freshwater fish but appears to be more common in aquarium species that are kept in close contact.

Almost every tropical fish keeping enthusiast at one time or another has housed fish that developed Ich, which is responsible for more fish deaths than just about any other fish disease.

LIFE CYCLE:

The life cycle of the Ich parasite includes a trophozoite (feeding or encysted) stage, a mature trophont stage, and an infectious theront (tomite) stage.

During the encysted stage, the Ich protozoan is called a trophozoite. The trophozoite attaches itself to the fish and begins to feed on the skin and tissue. As the protozoan continues to move around in the cyst feeding and growing on the tissue, the fish’s body will try to further encapsulate and wall it, off causing tremendous irritation.

Ich (Ichthyophthiriasis multifiliis)

Ich (Ichthyophthiriasis multifiliis)

The trophozoite eventually matures and is then referred to as a “trophont.” Each mature trophozoite (trophont) that falls off the fish will burst through the cyst wall and fall to the bottom of the aquarium where they begin to divide into thousands of new Ich infecting units called theronts (tomites).

The theronts, or tomites, are motile and swim around the tank looking for a fish to attach themselves to.

It is important to note that Tomites will only survive for 48 hours, however, if they can’t find a fish to attach to they will attach themselves to plants, rocks, filter media, etc. If you move a plant, piece of driftwood, or decoration from a tank infected with Ich, you have just infected the new tank.

Unless killed, the tomites will eventually penetrate the skin and gills of a new host to repeat the life cycle.  Depending on water temperature, the entire life cycle can take anywhere from 4 days to several weeks.

The encapsulation by the body of the fish during the trophozoite stage is why the Ich parasite is so difficult to treat in an aquarium environment.   Most medications cannot penetrate the wall of the cyst during this stage to destroy the Ich parasite.

The life cycle of the Ich parasite during the tomite stage progresses faster at higher water temperatures.   At 78-80 F, replication is completed in about 8 hours.   When replication is completed and the newly formed tomites are released into the water column, the parasite is most susceptible to a successful treatment regimen.

At lower temperatures replication takes considerably longer, as does treatment.

PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS:

Ich (Ichthyophthiriasis multifiliis)

Ich (Ichthyophthiriasis multifiliis)

Fish infected with Ich will be covered with white spots on the body and/or the gills which causes severe irritation.  Infected fish will try to rub or scratch off the protozoa on the sides and bottom of the aquarium.

As the disease progresses, the fish will display severe agitation, loss of appetite, respiratory distress, and eventually death.

 

Some or all of the following behaviors are symptoms of Ich infected fish:

  • Abnormal behavior such as isolation, inactivity, etc.
  • Anorexia or loss of appetite
  • Balance problems
  • Discoloration
  • Flashing, rubbing, or scratching against objects
  • Increased breathing rate (hyperventilation)
  • Resting on the bottom
  • Swimming upside down near the surface

Microscopic identification of an Ich lesion scrape will show a cyst between .5 and 1.5 mm in diameter with a horseshoe shaped nucleus.

CAUSE:

The primary cause of Ichthyophthiriasis is stress, with the most severe stress occurring during the shipping and handling of new fish.

Most fish that come in contact with the protozoan have strong immune systems that fight off the disease, but when the immune system is diminished and not functioning properly, usually because of stress, the lowered immune response allows the disease to take hold in the fish.

Farm raised and wild specimens imported by wholesalers, who distribute them to retailers, who finally sell them to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts, endure a tremendous amount of stress.

The Ich parasite is so wide spread that it is already present in a good number of collector’s, breeder’s, and wholesaler’s breeding ponds, holding tanks, and large aquariums.

Water quality, rapid changes in water temperature, improper diet, improper acclimation, shipping and handling, bullying by tank inhabitants, and a variety of other factors in an enclosed environment are all causes of stress that lowers the immune response in fish.

This is why Ich is most prevalent in newly purchased specimens.

TREATMENT:

We seldom recommend treating an entire tank for a disease, but Ichthyophthiriasis is the exception.

Because you cannot kill Ich while it is on the fish, removing the infected fish from a community tank to a quarantine tank does not solve the problem.

All effective Ich treatments are designed to kill the tomite form of Ichthyophthiriasis while it is in the tank.  The mature Ich organism (white spots) that you see on the fish does not die from the treatment, but will drop off in a couple of days during it’s normal life cycle.

The life cycle of the tomite is temperature dependent and because Ich can only be killed in the tomite stage, raising the tank temperature to between 78 and 80 F for at least 48 hours will speed up the life cycle and the parasites release from the host.

At higher temperatures, it takes approximately four days for the Ich life cycle to be completed.  However, at lower water temperatures (around 60 F) that goldfish and Koi prefer, it could take up to several weeks for any treatment to be effective.

When one fish in an aquarium has Ich, assume that the entire tank is contaminated.

You can treat the tank several ways.

Heat:

Most tropical fish are able to withstand temperatures around 86 degrees or more for short periods of time, but make sure your species can cope with higher temperatures before using this treatment.

Gradually raise the temperature in the tank to 90 degrees F. and hold for a period of two weeks.   To avoid stressing the fish, do not raise the temperature more than 2 degrees F every twelve hours.   After two weeks, bring the temperature back down to normal conditions.

The Ich in the tank will die in about 2 days, but keeping the temperature for two weeks will ensure an Ich free tank.

Keeping the water temperature (without fish) at 96 degrees F. for 3 to 4 days will completely eradicate Ich from the tank.

Salt:

Sodium chloride (NaCl) is effective against fungus, bacteria, external parasites, and provides essential electrolytes to fish.  Because it is cheap, readily available, never expires, and is easily used in low to high concentrations; it has been used by tropical fish keeping enthusiasts for years as an all around medication, but it has it’s drawbacks.

It cannot be used with most live plants, inverts, and scaleless species, and it is often difficult to determine the correct dosage for each species.  Salt overdoses have wiped out many freshwater aquariums.

Despite it’s drawbacks, here are three useful treatments.

1 Tbsp Salt per 3 gallons of water

Adding 1 tablespoon (Tbsp) of salt per 3 gallons of water will slightly irritate the slime coat on most species that creates a beneficial mucus on the skin that blocks parasites and microorganisms from harming the fish’s body.   Except for anchor catfish, this treatment is safe for most species.    Keep infected fish at this concentration for a week or so and increase if there is no improvement.

1 Tbsp Salt per 2 gallons of water

A concentration of 1 Tbsp of salt per 2 gallons of water combats a wider range of illnesses like Ich.   Keep infected fish in this concentration for 10 days or more and increase the dose if possible, if there is no improvement.

1 Tbsp Salt per 1 gallon of water

A high concentration of 1 Tbsp of salt per gallon of water will knock out virtually every illness however, it can be detrimental to scaleless fish and several other sensitive species.

Rasboras, danios, tetras, silver dollars, livebearers, most cichlids (and their fry), and even Neocaridina cherry shrimp are relatively salt tolerant.

Because salt does not evaporate or get filtered out of the water, overdoses most often occur when performing water changes.   Only add salt in proportionate amounts when doing water changes to maintain the necessary treatment level.

For example, if you are treating 100 gallons of water for Ich with 1 tbsp salt for 2 gal. water, you will initially need 50 Tbsp of salt.   If you make a 20% water change (remove 20 gallons of water), you need to add back 20% of the salt (or 10 Tbsp) to the new water to maintain the same concentration.

Unlike most medications, salt does not break down over time.

Salt and Heat:

Motile tomonts and theronts cannot survive in water with more than a trace of salt.   By increasing water temperatures and raising the salinity of the aquarium, the Ich parasite can be eliminated without harming more delicate species like such as elephantnoses and loaches.

Raise the water temperature to 82 – 86 degrees F. and gradually increase the salinity in the aquarium to 2 tsp/gal.   Instead of adding the salt directly into the tank; make a brine solution at the recommended ratio and over a few hours add it to the tank.

For example: When treating a 10 gal. aquarium, dissolve 20 tsp. of salt into a jug of warm, dechlorinated water and gradually add to the tank over a few hours.

Keep the salt in the tank for two weeks and gradually lower the salinity and temperature back to normal.

OTC Medications:

Over the counter Ich medications can be used to treat freshwater aquariums with species like tetras, barbs, cichlids, gouramis, livebearers, and goldfish but loaches, catfish, morymyrids, pufferfish, eels, and inverts like shrimp and snails react badly to many of them.

Malachite Green and formalin are good medications when used separately or in combination, and are readily available.   Methylene blue and copper treatments are also commonly used.

When using formalin products, it’s important that the product is fresh.   Old or outdated formalin precipitates into paraformaldehyde which is poisonous to fish.

Malachite green given at the recommended dose can also be toxic to some species like neons, piranhas, inverts, and many scaleless fish. Treat these fish with half the recommended dose and remove inverts.

Baths of salt, potassium permanganate, and quinine hydrochloride are also used but show no advantage over the more readily available medications.

Garlic:

Fresh garlic cloves, garlic juice, and/or commercial garlic products have been successfully used to eradicate Ich in tanks where snails, plants, shrimp, and delicate fish species are housed.   OTC products like Kent Garlic extreme or Sea Chem Garlic Guard mixed with the fish’s food improve the fish’s appetite and eliminate Ich sometimes within a couple of days.

Home made concoctions of freshly shredded and squeezed garlic cloves mixed with a bit of RO or tank water left overnight in the refrigerator and soaked into wafers, pellets, or sticks are proven cures.

In addition, a clove of garlic sliced, halved, or cut into quarters placed into the tank seems to eliminate the parasite in just a few days.  The garlic leaches into the tank water and the fish also seem to relish it.   For saltwater fish and freshwater species like plecos, catfish, snails, etc., where other products cannot be effectively used, it should be looked into.

Many tropical fish keeping enthusiasts remove all the fish from the community tank and raise the temperature to about 86 degrees F. or more for a couple of weeks before placing the fish back into the tank.

The removed fish are treated under observation in a medicated isolation tank to clear up the infection before being returned to the original tank.

PREVENTION:

  • Only buy fish healthy fish that are free of all signs of disease.
  • Never buy fish from a tank that contains dead, dying, or diseased fish.
  • Do Not buy plants that are kept in a tank with sick or diseased fish.
  • Quarantine all purchased fish and plants for a minimum of two weeks before introducing them into a community tank.
  • Avoid buying newly acquired fish from retailers. Wait a week or so before purchasing them.
  • Buy fish from the source when possible to reduce the amount of stress from shipping and handling.
  • Avoid temperature, pH, Nitrate, Nitrite, and ammonia fluctuations to reduce stress.
  • Avoid overstocking your tanks.
  • Immediately remove any fish that show signs of Ich into a quarantine tank.
  • Maintain pristine water quality with regular water changes.

Following these guidelines and treating infected fish promptly will greatly reduce the incidence of Ich (Ichthyophthiriasis multifiliis) and many other deadly diseases.

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Anchor Worms (Lernaea spp.)

Anchor Worms (Lernaea spp.)

Anchor Worms (Lernaea spp.)

Anchor Worms (Lernaea spp.)

Anchor Worms (Lernaea spp.) are not actually worms, but crustacean, copepod parasites of the Lernaea species that attach themselves to the skin of freshwater fish and then bury their head into the muscle tissue usually under the fins, scales, gills, and oral cavity.

Although Anchor Worms can infect any fish species, most tropical fish keeping enthusiasts find them in Koi, goldfish, and other cyprinids housed in larger aquariums and ponds.

Although Lernaea infestations are not necessarily fatal to fish, their burrowing often leads to inflammation, secondary bacterial infections, and fungal diseases that kill the fish.   Large numbers of Anchor Worms in copepodid stages can kill smaller fish by damaging their gills and interfering with respiration.

Anchor Worms occur in stagnant and slow moving bodies of water and are most prevalent during the warm summer months.  The optimal temperature range for Anchor Worms is between 79 and 83° F.   Below 68° F, juveniles are unable to complete their development and below 57° F, the females will not reproduce.

Adult females however, will spend the winter on a fish host and lay her eggs when water temperatures warm up in the spring.

LIFE CYCLE:

Anchor Worms (Lernaea spp.)

Anchor Worms (Lernaea spp.)

Anchor Worms are related to shrimp, lobsters, and crabs and have a multi stage 18 to 25 day life cycle that does not require them to pass through an intermediate host.

Only a fish or amphibian is necessary for them to develop from egg to mature adulthood.

During the various stages of their development, Anchor Worms can live on or off of the host fish.

After a male and female Anchor Worm mate, the male dies and the female bores into the fish’s tissue where it eventually embeds her head into the muscle of the fish.   Within 24 hours the female matures into an adult and will start releasing eggs into the surrounding water from a pair of posterior sacs.   The eggs hatch within 24 to 36 hours at 77° F. and the life cycle repeats itself.

Newly hatched Lernaea are not parasitic and develop through three different stages in about 4 days.   They then molt into the first copepodid stage, become parasitic, and attach themselves to a fish usually on the gills.

Over the next week the Lernaea go through five different copepodid stages but do not permanently embed themselves into the fish’s tissue until the last stage.

In the final stage, the females can embed themselves into the host fish or move on to another fish.   The males detach themselves and die.

Female Anchor Worms can produce batches of up to 250 juveniles every two weeks for up to 16 weeks which is why they can quickly infest an aquarium or pond.

PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS:

Fish infected with Anchor Worms will have red and inflamed looking skin.    Closer investigation usually reveals a bloody red spot with a white to greenish looking thread protruding from the center, which is the adult female worm.

Because juvenile Anchor Worms are microscopic, there are no outward signs of infestation on the fish but you will notice the fish “flashing” or rubbing itself on the bottom or sides of your pond or aquarium as they try to rid themselves of the parasite.

When seen by the naked eye, the most commonly observed life stage of Lernaea is the adult female which looks like a thin hair or thread that is under an inch in length.

CAUSE:

Anchor Worm “disease” is caused by introducing new fish or aquatic vegetation into an aquarium or pond without being properly quarantined.    Fish with juvenile anchor worms or reproductive capable females under their skin will rapidly spread the parasite throughout an aquarium or pond.

TREATMENT:

Adult female Anchor Worms can survive 30 days on a fish host and are much hardier than the younger life stages.   If you are going to treat only a few fish, tweezers or forceps can be used to gently remove the visible female Anchor Worms.

To insure that all of the other life stages of the parasite are controlled, additional treatments of the entire system should continue for up to several weeks.

Other treatments available for anchor worms in an aquarium or pond environment include salt dips, formalin dips, and several over the counter antiparasitics like organophosphates, Dipterex, or Anchors Away.

  • Potassium permanganate is generally considered the best treatment and can be used either as a “dip” or a complete pond/tank treatment.

A Potassium Permanganate dip at 100mg/ 2.5 gallons of water will kill the other life stages of the Anchor Worm. Dip the infected fish in the solution for 25 to 30 minutes and remove it if it becomes overly stressed. Transfer the fish into a clean isolation tank and maintain clean fresh water.

If you decide to treat the entire tank add 2 mg of potassium permanganate per liter of aquarium water.

  • A 10 to 15 minute dip of 1 part water to 4,000 parts formalin is also effective in killing Anchor Worms. Use with extreme caution.
  • Salt is also an effective medication for Anchor Worms if your fish can tolerate it.   Use 1 to 2 tablespoons per 5 gallons of tank water and perform water changes every day for 1 week.

Maintain the 1 to 2 tablespoons of dissolved salt ratio in the aquarium for 30 days.

  • Dimilin (diflubenzuron) marketed as Anchors Away, is an effective treatment for Anchor Worm, Fish Lice, Gill Maggots (Ergasilus), and Flukes. It is less toxic than organophosphates towards fish.

In powder form a 10g to 2,642 gallon solution (25% Diflubenzuron)is a fairly forgiving dose. Although about 76% of the treatment remains after one week, a second treatment 10 to 14 days after the first treatment is needed to remove all stages of Lernaea spp.

(A level teaspoon equals approximately 2g)

  • Dipterex (Trichlorphon) is a water soluable insecticide often used at 98% potency to kill Anchor Worm infestations in ponds. A 1 milliliter to 790 – 1320 gallons of water dose is used three times at 7 day intervals to treat large ponds.

Dipterex breaks down after a few days. The Anchor Worm eggs that survive the initial treatment and emerging parasites are killed by the follow up treatments.

Using any of the above treatments may require follow up treatments for bacterial and fungal infections caused by damage to affected tissue from burrowing Anchor Worms.

PREVENTION:

Isolate and quarantine new fish before introducing them into an existing system. High risk species like Koi and goldfish should be visually screened for adult female Anchor Worms and then monitored for 18 to 25 days during quarantine.   If parasites are detected, treat immediately with one of the above mentioned methods and maintain high water quality.

Sterilize the aquarium completely to minimize any re-occurrences.

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Enteric Redmouth Disease (ERM)

Enteric Redmouth Disease (ERM)

Enteric Redmouth Disease (ERM)

Enteric Redmouth Disease (ERM)*

Enteric Redmouth Disease or (ERM) is a bacterial infection found in both freshwater and marine fish. Redmouth disease was first observed in in the 1950s in Idaho rainbow trout hatcheries. It is caused by the pathogen Yersinia ruckeri which is primarily found in cold water fishes like rainbow trout and other salmonids.

Being a cold water disease, it is relatively rare in tropical fish keeping circles where water temperatures are elevated, but it is occasionally found in Koi and goldfish ponds and aquariums. Mortality rates are generally high when not promptly treated.

PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS:

Enteric redmouth disease is characterized by hemorrhaging of the fish’s mouth, fins, and eyes.  It is seen as a reddening of the mouth, gill tips, throat, fins, and eventually (if not treated) total erosion of the jaw and palate of the fish.  As the disease progresses, hemorrhaging will also occur in the internal organs which causes the abdomen of the fish to be filled with a yellowish fluid.  The fish will exhibit a pot bellied appearance, show abnormal behavior and become anorexic.

CAUSE:

As with most preventable tropical fish diseases, Enteric Redmouth Disease is caused by poor water quality and overcrowding.

Although Redmouth Disease is mainly transmitted by direct contact with the infected fish, asymptomatic fish will often carry the bacteria in their lower intestines until a stressful situation occurs.   The infected fish then sheds the bacteria into the surrounding water through it’s feces where it can survive for several months in the sediment and other biofilm on surfaces of the aquarium or pond.

TREATMENT:

Several antibiotics are available for the treatment of Redmouth Disease in fish.   API Furan-2, API Melafix, and Fish Aid Amoxicillin are among some of the fish medications that can be used to treat Redmouth Disease.

PREVENTION:

The best way to prevent Enteric Redmouth Disease in ponds and cold water aquariums is by maintaining pristine water quality in the system.   Maintaining a low stocking level in ponds and aquariums is absolutely essential in the prevention of Redmouth Disease as well as most other bacterial infections.  Poor water quality is usually the culprit with most tropical fish diseases.

*Photo credit Alaa Eldin Eissa

Posted in Bacterial Infections, Featured Articles, Tropical Fish Diseases, Tropical Fish KeepingComments (0)

Swim Bladder Disease in Oranda

Swim Bladder Disease

Swim Bladder Disease in Oranda

Swim Bladder Disease in Oranda

Swim Bladder Disease, also called Floating Disorder, is a complication of the swim bladder that interrupts the fish from maintaining buoyancy.

Although it can affect any species of tropical fish that has a swim bladder, it is especially prevalent among Bettas and Goldfish.

PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS:

Fish suffering from swim bladder disease will have a distended belly which may eventually causes it to float upside down and appear dead.

Initially the affected fish will struggle to swim horizontally, have difficulty balancing and will float with its tail higher than its head until it can no longer hold it’s position.   It will also have difficulty surfacing.   These symptoms may occur after eating.

Many tropical fish keeping enthusiasts unaware of the condition assume that their fish has died when found floating upside down, but with proper care and an accurate diagnosis of the cause, Floating Disorder is treatable.

CAUSE:

Swim Bladder Disease is most commonly caused by compression of the fish’s organs which interferes with the proper functioning of the air bladder.   Organ compression does not necessarily have to affect the bladder directly; but can affect the organs surrounding the bladder.

Swim Bladder Disease can also be caused by any of the following:

  • An enlarged stomach caused by overfeeding
  • An enlarged liver caused by fatty deposits in the body, usually from improper diet.
  • Constipation, which compresses the intestines and exerts pressure on the bladder.
  • An enlarged stomach caused by inhaling too much air from the surface (mainly in goldfish)
  • Cysts that cause enlarged kidneys
  • Physical injury from hard impacts. Mishandling, dropping, etc.
  • Bacterial infections from improper maintenance
  • Bacterial infections from parasite infestations

TREATMENT:

Treating Swim Bladder Disease obviously depends on the type of disorder and the underlying cause that created the problem.

If the fish suffered from a physical injury or had a birth defect, it is unlikely that the Floating Disorder can be successfully treated.

The first and foremost treatment is to water quality.

The water quality in the affected fish’s aquarium should be pristine.   Making 20 to 30% partial water changes every two to three days virtually assures pristine water quality.

Aquarium salt should be added at a level of 2 tsp per gallon.   Adding salt will maintain hydration and aid in electrolyte balance.   Be careful that the species being treated is not sensitive to salt like most catfish, loaches, eels, etc.

Nutrition is one of the main culprits of Swim Bladder Disease.

Overfeeding can cause compression of the swim bladder.   Treat this problem by not feeding the affected fish for three or four days. Withholding food for 3 or 4 days allows excessive gasses to be flushed from the fish’s system.   Short term feeding of crushed peas also helps the removal of excess gasses from the fish’s gastrointestinal system.

After treatment, feed the affected fish very sparingly two or three times a day.   If there is uneaten food in the tank after 5 minutes, you are overfeeding.

What you feed your fish can also cause Swim Bladder Disease.

Some fish species should not be fed high protein foods like live or frozen tubifex, bloodworms, beef hearts, etc.   Discus for example are fine with this high protein diet, but many other species will suffer kidney damage which can lead to Floating Disorder.   Many cichlid species require a herbivorous diet and when fed the wrong protein source could develop a gastrointestinal condition known as bloat.   Feed your fish the  balanced diet they require to treat Swim Bladder Disease.

Improper Water Temperature

Low water temperatures can cause indigestion in many tropical fish species.   Indigestion or undigested food results in bloated bellies that causes buoyancy problems.   When indigestion is suspected, increase the water temperature to 80 to 82 degrees F. and cut back on the amount of food for a few days.   Adding a small amount of aquarium salt to the tank water also aids the process.

If symptoms persist, feed the affected fish a small amount of fresh spinach or a green pea without the skin as a laxative.

If you maintain pristine water conditions in your aquarium and the Nitrates, Nitrites, and Ammonia levels are correct, it is unlikely that Swim Bladder Disease is the result of environmental conditions.

Bacterial infections are normally the result of poor water quality due to over crowding, overfeeding, parasites, unclean conditions, etc.

When parasites are suspected as the cause and more than one fish is affected by Swim Bladder Disease, an antibiotic/anti parasitic treatment regimen may be necessary.   Isolate the affected fish in a hospital tank, lower the tank water to about 4 inches, and carefully follow the instructions provided.    Avoid using antibiotics whenever possible.

Generally, when more than one of your tropical fish suffers from Swim Bladder Disease on a regular basis, it is most likely that diet, overfeeding, or poor water quality is the culprit; all of which can be easily corrected.

If only one fish suffers from Swim Bladder Disease, and the above treatments do not reverse the problem, it may not be caused by environmental factors that are treatable and the fish may have to be euthanized.

PREVENTION:

Swim Bladder Disease is best prevented by providing your tropical fish with a pristine environment, the correct water temperature, and regular feedings of a varied, high quality diet.

Keeping the tank water immaculately clean and between 78 to 80 degrees F will eliminate most problems before they occur.

Adding a small amount of aquarium salt to the tank (depending on species) adds electrolytes and improves the well being of the fish.

Posted in Bacterial Infections, Featured Articles, Tropical Fish Diseases, Tropical Fish KeepingComments (0)

Septicemia

Septicemia

Septicemia

Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia – VHS

Septicemia or Sepsis is a bacterial infection in the bloodstream of the fish that is characterized by sluggishness, lack of appetite, fin damage, reddish discoloration, bulging eyes, and/or clamped fins.

PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS:

Septicemia

Septicemia

Septicemia can be detected initially by redness under the scales of the fish, lesions of hemorrhage, and ulcerations anywhere on the body.  Although it can be concentrated in only one area of the body, it will often spread all over the fish’s body.

Although Septicemia is more visible around the face of the fish, it is almost impossible to detect in dark or red colored species.

Open wounds on healthy fish are pinkish in color and normally heal quickly.  A gray, black, or fuzzy wound that is discolored around the site of the wound may be infected by Septicemia and should be treated quickly.

Septicemia occasionally shows up as a secondary infection to Popeye (exophthalmia) and can also lead to Dropsy.

Other symptoms like color loss, loss of appetite, general sluggishness, or clamped fins can also be an early indication of Septicemia.  

Watch you fish for abnormal behaviors to recognize diseases when they occur.

CAUSE:

Septicemia can be caused by either a bacterial infection (bacterial hemorrhagic septicemia – BHS) or a viral infection (viral hemorrhagic septicemia – VHS).

Nine species of bacteria have been identified as the cause of Hemorrhagic Septicemia including:  Aeromonas hydrophilla, Aeromonas sobria, Edwardsiella tarda, Flavobacterium columnare, Plesiomonas shigelloides, Shewanella putrefaciens, Streptococcus agalactiae, Vibrio cholera, and Vibrio fluviaris.

Septicemia occurs when infestations of external parasites cause wounds on the skin of the fish, when open wounds become infected by bacteria and viruses,  and when bacteria is consumed by the fish in it’s food.

Common Septicemia will usually occur when an open wound is not kept clean.  When humans injure themselves they need to keep the injury clean in order to prevent infection.  Fish also need to keep their injuries clean when they become wounded by mishandling, predation, external parasites, fights with other fish, etc.   The best way to do this is by performing regular water changes to keep toxins at bay.

Septicemia can also be contracted when fish are fed live and/or frozen foods infected with food born pathogens; usually associated with poor quality tubifex and blackworms.

TREATMENT: 

We usually recommend treating bacterial diseases with antibiotics* sparingly, however, with Septicemia their initial use is strongly recommended.

Septicemia in the blood can quickly overcome an infected fish and an antibiotic treatment regimen is the quickest and most effective way to treat this disease.

Although most aquarium antibiotics are made to dissolve in the tank water where they can be absorbed by the fish, Septicemia is an internal bacterial infection that requires a medicated antibacterial fish food to better target the infection.

Amoxicillin, gentamicin, ofloxacin and sulfamethoxazole/trimethoprim are the drugs of choice for the treatment of Bacterial Hemorrhagic Septicemia.

Aquatronics Osymanna flakes have been around since 1980 and are extremely effective for treating freshwater and marine fish.

Soaking pellets in a concentrated mixture of Mardel’s Maracyn and Maracyn 2 is also an effective method of treating SepticemiaJust chop up the amount you would normally use to treat the tank, add a few drops of water, soak several pellets in the mixture for 10 minutes or so, and feed the affected fish.  Add the pre-measured mixture to the tank as per directions.

Because there is no way to accurately measure exactly how much medicated food the fish is eating, especially with the loss of appetite that is commonly associated with the disease, the method is not fool proof.  This is why it is so important to administer the medicated food while the fish is still eating.

If the fish is no longer eating, employ the standard method of adding antibiotics to the tank water.

Because most tropical fish keeping enthusiasts have no way of determining the specific type of bacteria that infected the fish, a broad spectrum antibiotic or combination (like those below) that treats both gram positive and gram negative bacteria is highly recommended.

PREVENTION:

  • Perform regular water changes and testing to prevent bacteria buildup that can lead to Septicemia.
  • Do Not overcrowd your tank.  Fish wastes builds up quickly even with the best of filtration systems.
  • Do Not overfeed your fish.  Small quantities of quality foods fed two or three times daily is preferable to a single feeding and minimizes waste buildup.
  • Only keep compatible species in a community tank environment.  Watch new additions for bullying or nipping and separate or remove them when necessary.   Watch for changes to eyes,  fins, tails, body, appetite, and behavior.
  • Quarantine new fish before placing them in a community tank.  It is easier to spot and treat fish diseases in a quarantine tank than in a community environment.

Antibiotic resistance is a major problem facing tropical fish keeping enthusiasts throughout the world.   

Currently there are several strains and one particularly virulent strain of Flavobacterium columnare that has made its way into the aquarium hobby that has been known to kill fish in less than a day and may be untreatable.

Antibiotics should only be used when necessary or when all other treatment regimens fail.   Following the manufacturer’s instructions will help to avoid antimicrobial resistance and residues in fish, and can minimize the evolvement of newer, stronger strains of bacteria that cannot be handled with antibiotics.   

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Dropsy in Goldfish

Dropsy

Dropsy in Goldfish

Dropsy in Goldfish

Dropsy also known as Malawi Bloat, is a condition that occurs both in holding ponds and tropical fish keeping aquariums that when not treated promptly, is almost always fatal to the fish.   Dropsy is a bacterial fish disease that targets the internal organs causing the accumulation of water in the belly of the fish which is exhibited by swelling of the abdomen and protruding scales.

PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS:

The most obvious external symptom of Dropsy is the characteristically swollen belly of the fish which means that the internal organs have already been injured.   At this stage, it is unlikely even with prompt medical treatment that the fish will survive.   Other easily detectable symptoms include swollen eyes, pale gills, swollen bloody colored anus, pale feces, clamped fins, a curved spine, and protruding (pine cone like) scales that stand out from the fish.  Although some specimens with Dropsy may not show any visible symptoms, a loss of appetite and lethargic movement with the fish hovering around the top of the tank instead of swimming normally could indicate the early stages of the disease.

All of the above symptoms progress aggressively, which is why early detection is so important to the prevention and spread of Dropsy to other inhabitants of the tank.

If you notice even one of the these symptoms, start treatment immediately.

CAUSE:

Dropsy is caused by a common gram negative bacteria called Aeromonas which is present in all aquarium environments and attacks the immune system of the fish.   Although it displays a combination of symptoms that is actually more of a health issue then a disease, Aeromonas can lead to Dropsy only when the immune system of the fish is failing or has already failed.

Decreased immune system stability occurs when fish are under stress, which can be the result of several factors.

  • Poor water quality
  • Changes in Nitrate and Ammonia levels
  • Drastic changes in water temperature
  • Bullying and aggressive behavior
  • Poor or unbalanced diet

When fish in an enclosed system are stressed from anything at all, the immune system will start to fail and the Aeromonas bacteria begin to do their work.   The bellies of the infected fish will start to drop down and appear bloated as the bacteria infects the immune system.  When the swelling of the belly is sudden, the probable cause is probably Aeromonas however, when the swelling is gradual, parasites or cancer could be the culprit.

There is virtually no danger of your fish contracting Dropsy if they are healthy and thriving in a healthy environment without any of the above stress factors.

TREATMENT:

Treatment for Dropsy depends on how quickly the disease is diagnosed. Most tropical fish keeping enthusiasts euthanize infected fish to prevent healthy fish from being infected, but if you can detect the disease in its early stages, infected fish can be treated successfully.

This is what can be done:

  • Move all infected fish into a bare hospital tank with an air powered sponge corner filter.
  • Change 50% of the tank water in the infected aquarium
  • Monitor healthy fish for symptoms to prevent the further spread of the infection.
  • Add 1 tsp of salt per gallon of tank water to the hospital tank and maintain spotlessly clean conditions by performing weekly 50% water changes.
  • Provide the highest quality food you can acquire to boost the fish’s immune system. When the fish exhibit signs of improvement, maintain the diet until all symptoms are gone.

Most of the time, a healthy diet and immaculate water quality will “perk up” the immune systems of the fish.

  • If the fish still do not show signs of improvement, start treating the infected fish with a good antibiotic like Maracyn 2 or an equivalent. Usually a 10 to 12 day treatment will destroy any signs of Dropsy.

If the fish does not respond favorably after 3 weeks or so, the specimen may need to be humanely euthanized.

KanaPlex, ParaGuard, Furan-2, Melafix, SulfaPlex and several other over the counter bacterial medications also work on Dropsy.

PREVENTION:

All fish are prone to stress and when stressed over a period of time, their immune systems will eventually fail allowing them to become prey to a variety of diseases.

Like all bacterial infections, the best way to prevent Dropsy is to provide your fish with a clean, healthy, aquarium environment.

We know that a weakened immune system can cause Dropsy in freshwater and marine tropical fish.   This can be because of poor water quality, wide fluctuations in water parameters, constant stress, bullying from tank mates, malnutrition, etc.

Because poor water quality is the number one stress factor for all tropical fish, maintaining a clean aquarium should be the number one priority for all successful tropical fish keeping enthusiasts.

You can prevent Dropsy and virtually all other tropical fish diseases by adhering to the following:

  • Change the tank water on a regular schedule.
  • Clean and replace filter medium on a regular basis.
  • Clean power heads and pre-filters on a regular schedule.
  • Regular checks of Ammonia and Nitrite levels.
  • Avoid drastic changes in water temperature.
  • DO NOT over populate your aquarium.
  • Quarantine new additions to your aquarium.
  • Remove constantly bullied or bullying fish into another aquarium when observed.
  • Be careful about the quality, how much, and how often you feed your fish. Never overfeed.
  • Note the shelf life of prepared fish foods and use within a couple of months of opening or before the expiration date.
  • Provide your fish with a mixed diet of prepared, live, frozen, or freeze dried foods.

Posted in Bacterial Infections, Featured Articles, Tropical Fish Diseases, Tropical Fish KeepingComments (2)

Rainbow Wolf Fish Pair (Erythrinus erythrinus)

Rainbow Wolf Fish (Erythrinus erythrinus)

Rainbow Wolf Fish (Erythrinus erythrinus)

Rainbow Wolf Fish (Erythrinus erythrinus)

Rainbow Wolf Fish (Erythrinus erythrinus) known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as High Fin Wolf Fish or Red Wolf Fish are found in Brazil, French Guiana, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago,  and Venezuela.

Rainbow Wolf Fish (Erythrinus erythrinus)  are usually found among surface vegetation in the very shallow waters of small river tributaries, swamps, the margins of forest lakes, marshes, pools, and ditches of their range.

The Rainbow Wolf Fish has a modified swim bladder that allows it to breath air and survive in stagnant or oxygen depleted waters and like “walking catfish” they have been know to travel short distances over land when their native waters begin to dry up.

Rainbow Wolf Fish are carnivorous predators that sport a mouth filled with sharp teeth.   They show absolutely no fear and will viciously strike at any object introduced into their tank.

Rainbow Wolf Fish (Erythrinus erythrinus)

Rainbow Wolf Fish (Erythrinus erythrinus)

Rainbow Wolf Fish vary in color depending on locality.  In general they have a light to dark brown body color with a wide lateral line that runs from the eye to the caudal fin.  Their set back dorsal and caudal fins are brown tinged with yellow to reddish orange and their pelvic and ventral fins are translucent white to yellow.  Although most Rainbow Wolf Fish have bone to white undersides, a Peruvian variant has a brightly colored orange belly.   Adult females can be identified by their more slightly rounded bellies.

A species of juvenile Rainbow Wolf Fish in Grench Guiana has a color pattern that mimics a species of female Rivulus Killifish.    Male Rivulus are attracted to the mimic “female” and are promptly gobbled up by the Wolf Fish.  The strategy ceases as the Erythrinus grows into adulthood.

Genetic studies of different populations have determined that Erythrinus erythrinus is a species complex and not just a single species.  One other recognized species (Erythinus kessleri) that grows to a maximum length of 7.5″ is found in the Itapicuru River in Brazil and is virtually unheard of by tropical fish keeping enthusiasts.

Erythrinus erythrinus can be housed with similarly sized South American species in a large tank but because of their ferocity as adults, they are better suited to a densely planted, dimly lit, single species aquarium of at least 55 gallon capacity with a sandy or fine gravel substrate, plenty of floating plants, and plenty of hiding places in the form or driftwood or bogwood roots.

Erythrinus erythrinus  are extremely intolerant of conspecifics and like male Bettas, will often fight to the death.  Smaller fish introduced into the tank will be quickly eaten, so be careful when selecting tank mates if you plan on keeping them in a community environment.

Rainbow Wolf Fish are excellent jumpers and require a tightly fitting tank to prevent them from escaping.  Although they can handle a wide variety of water parameters, they need a good filtration system with little to no water movement to keep them happy.

There are no reports of Rainbow Wolf Fish being successfully bred in an aquarium environment.  This is probably due to their behavior towards conspecifics.

In their natural environment, Rainbow Wolf Fish feed on insects, worms, and other fish.  In an aquarium environment, they require live or frozen earthworms, mussels, prawn, shrimp, and white fish.  They will usually refuse freeze dried or prepared carnivore pellets or flakes but they have been known to accept them when gradually offered over time.  Because of the possibility of transmitting parasites or other diseases into the tank, refrain from feeding them live “feeder fish”.

Rainbow Wolf Fish are not often available to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts but on occasion, specialty fish shops, importers, and online fish auction sites do have them available as juveniles at  2 to 4 inches in length and occasionally as adults.

Rainbow Wolf Fish (Erythrinus erythrinus)

Rainbow Wolf Fish (Erythrinus erythrinus)

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 55 gallons
Care Level: Difficult
Temperament: Highly Aggressive
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 72-79°F, 2-25°H, pH 5.5-7.5
Max. Size:
Color Form: Red, Brown
Diet: Carnivore
Compatibility: Single species
Origin: Peru, Brazil, Venezuela
Family: Erythrinidae
Lifespan: 4-10 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Advanced

 

Posted in Featured Articles, Oddball Fish, Tropical Fish Keeping, Tropical Fish SpeciesComments (0)

cloudy eye disease

Cloudy Eye

cloudy eye disease

cloudy eye disease

Cloudy Eye disease is a condition that occurs in both tropical fish keeping aquariums and pond fish.   In many scenarios is is not actually a disease, but a symptom associated with other diseases.   The eyes of the fish become cloudy to the point of becoming white and without treatment, loss of vision will usually occur.  The good news about this condition is that it is relatively rare and not fatal when promptly treated.

PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS:

Cloudy Eye is identified when a cloudy white or gray haze is observed on one or both eyes of the fish.   The fish can show signs of distress, abnormal behavior, be off color, and in the worst case scenario, demonstrate loss of vision.

CAUSE:

Cloudy Eye can by caused by several factors which make it difficult to identify.  When rare fatalities do occur, it is usually due to untreated secondary fungal, parasitic, or bacterial infections during latter stages.    That being said, poor water quality is usually the most common culprit.  Elevated levels of nitrites, nitrates, ammonia, chlorine, chlormine, excessive salinity, frequent water temperature fluctuations, and pH shock may all cause the eyes of fish to become cloudy in ponds and aquariums.  Overcrowding, bullying, and stress can also exacerbate the condition causing a reduction of slime over the eye.

TREATMENT:

Once the underlying cause for Cloudy Eye is determined, the best treatment in most cases is to make regular water changes to the tank.  When possible, the addition of salt is helpful, especially in the early stages of the condition.

  • The first step is to check the fish for symptoms of another illness like velvet, ich, or tuberculosis that can be treated with medications.
  •  If no other illnesses are apparent, check the tank water for temperature, pH, the presence of nitrites, nitrates, and ammonia.
  • Correct any water quality disparities and perform regular water changes.    Add salt if possible.
  • If the Cloudy Eye is the result of a bacterial infection, treat with KanaPlex or ParaGuard, Furan-2, Melafix, or other over the counter bacterial medication.   If the fish does not respond, switch to SulfaPlex.

PREVENTION:

Anything that weakens the immune system can cause Cloudy Eye disease in freshwater and marine tropical fish.    This includes poor water quality, fluctuations in water parameters, constant stress, bullying from tank mates, malnutrition, using dirty nets, etc.

  • Maintain a clean aquarium by performing regular water changes and testing to prevent bacteria buildup that can weaken the immune system.
  • Regular water changes are a critical part of tank maintenance.  Water changes done improperly can do more harm than good.  Sudden temperature changes during a water change can often worsen the Cloudy Eye condition.
  • Use a quality water conditioner to eliminate chlorine and Chloramine in the tap water.
  • Don’t overcrowd your tank.  Fish waste builds up quickly even with the best of filtration systems.
  • Don’t overfeed your fish.  Small quantities of quality foods fed two or three times daily is preferable to a single feeding and minimizes waste buildup.   Your fish should consume whatever you feed them within 5 minutes and any uneaten food should be removed from the tank.
  • Only keep compatible species in a community tank environment.  Watch new additions for bullying or fin nipping and separate them when necessary.
  • Always quarantine new fish before placing them in a community tank.  It is easier to spot and treat fish diseases in a quarantine tank than in a community environment.

*Melafix is a natural wide range antibiotic formulated to heal a wide variety of mild gram positive bacterial infections like tail and fin rot, eye cloud, mouth fungus and more.  **Pimafix quickly treats fungal and bacterial infections such as cottony growth, fin and tail rot, etc.

Posted in Bacterial Infections, Featured Articles, Tropical Fish Diseases, Tropical Fish KeepingComments (1)

Popeye

Popeye Disease

Popeye Disease

Popeye (exophthalmia)  is another one of the most common preventable bacterial diseases that occurs with aquarium and pond fish.

Fluid leakage into the area behind the eyeball causes swelling that eventually pushes the eyeball outward.   As the pressure builds up and the amount of fluid increases, the more the eyeball of the fish is forced outward.  Bacterial infections will usually occur during this stage which left untreated can cause damage to the cornea leading to possible blindness.

PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS:

Popeye is unlikely to be confused with any other fish disease.   One or both eyes of the fish become large and look like they are bulging out of the socket (hence the name Pop Eye).  As the eye of the fish continue to bulge outwards, the outer surface of the eye may become cloudy or milky white.    When only one eye is affected, Popeye is referred to as unilateral.  When both eyes are affected, it is called bilateral.

CAUSE:

Bilateral Popeye is most often caused by dirty tanks and continual exposure to chronically poor water quality which is the result of poor maintenance.  Internal metabolic system disorders, parasitic infestations, undernourishment, poor diet, vitamin A deficiency, stress, excess lighting, or previous diseases that had infected the fish can also be the cause of full blown Popeye.

Popeye is most common in overcrowded aquariums that do not receive frequent water changes.   Not surprisingly, large cichlids, goldfish, and other high waste producing species are where the disease is most often seen.

Unilateral Popeye can be caused by handling injuries, aggression between fish, collisions with objects in the tank, or failed predation attempts.

In both cases poor water quality in the aquarium contributes to Popeye and will need to be improved before the fish can recover.

TREATMENT:

Because Popeye is really three problems; cornea damage, fluid accumulation behind the eyeball, and opportunistic bacterial infections, it is very difficult to treat successfully.

With optimal water quality and a well balanced, vitamin rich diet, minor cornea damage can and usually does improve over time.  The swelling behind the eyeball of the fish will also diminish over time, assuming the affected fish is otherwise healthy.

Epsom salt at a dose of 1 to 3 tsp per 5 gallons of water can be used to reduce swelling when used in a quarantine tank.   It is not recommended in community aquariums.

Cornea damage can be prevented from turning into full blown Popeye by treating the affected fish with antibiotics or antibacterial medications that are used to treat fin rot.

*Melafix, **PimafixAPI Fin & Body CureAPI E.M. Erythromycin, Tri-Sulfa Tablets, Fish Mox Forte Amoxicillan , KanaPlex, and Methylene Blue  all work but be sure to remove all active carbon from the tank during treatment.

Once full blown Popeye develops, use antibiotics that are formulated specifically against internal and systemic infections.   Those administered in food are more effective than those added to the water.

The best treatment for Popeye is KanaPlex in a medicated food mixed in the proportions below with Seachem Garlicguard, and Focus.

  • 1 tablespoon fish food (pellets or frozen works best)
  • 1 scoop KanaPlex
  • 1 scoop Focus

Add enouth water or Garlic Guard and mix thoroughly into a paste.  Feed daily for 1 week or until the infection clears.  The mixture can be refrigerated or frozen between feeding.

KanaPlex is also very effective when dosed in water column.  Use 1 measure per 5 gal and repeat every 48 hours for 3 doses.

PREVENTION:

  • Perform regular water changes and testing to prevent bacteria buildup that can lead to Popeye.
  • Resist the urge to overcrowd your tank.  Fish wastes builds up quickly even with the best of filtration systems.
  • Don’t overfeed your fish.  Small quantities of quality foods fed two or three times daily is preferable to a single feeding and minimizes waste buildup.
  • Only keep compatible species in a community tank environment.  Watch new additions for bullying or nipping and separate or remove them when necessary.   Watch for changes to eyes,  fins, tails, body, appetite, and behavior.
  • Quarantine new fish before placing them in a community tank.  It is easier to spot and treat fish diseases in a quarantine tank than in a community environment.

*Melafix is a natural wide range antibiotic formulated to heal a wide variety of mild gram positive bacterial infections like tail and fin rot, eye cloud, mouth fungus and more.  **Pimafix quickly treats fungal and bacterial infections such as cottony growth, fin and tail rot, etc.

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Chocolate Cichlid (Hypselecara temporalis)

Chocolate Cichlid (Hypselecara temporalis)

Chocolate Cichlid (Hypselecara temporalis)

Chocolate Cichlid (Hypselecara temporalis)

The Chocolate Cichlid (Hypselecara temporalis) known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as the Emerald Cichlid is found in the Ucayali, Amazonas, SolimñƒÂ´es, Amapá and Oyapock Rivers in Brazil, Colomiba, Peru, and Venezuela.

The Chocolate Cichlid is a peaceful, rarely aggressive species that prefers living in the silt laden, slow flowing rivers and backwaters of their range where they forage on a variety of invertebrates, small crustaceans, algae, and other plant matter.

Chocolate Cichlid (Hypselecara temporalis)

Chocolate Cichlid (Hypselecara temporalis)

The Chocolate Cichlid is mostly brown in color but can be tinged with various shades of red, gold,orange, green or yellow.  Although their coloration changes with age, diet, stress, and during breeding, they retain a prominent black spot situated in the middle, upper body and another less prominent spot at the base of the tail.

They have rather large orange to red eyes and their fins vary in color from red to yellow.      Mature males develop a hump on their heads, more elongated fins, and are larger than females.

Because the Chocolate Cichlid grows to almost a foot long, it should be housed in at least a 70 gallon aquarium with a sandy or fine gravel substrate, some driftwood or bogwood, plenty of rock work arranged into hiding places, and some hardy plants if desired for aesthetics.

Despite their large size, Chocolate Cichlids can be safely kept in a community tank environment with other peaceful South American cichlids like Jurpari, Severums, Uarus, and larger cyprinids, characins, catfish, and Loricariids.

Chocolate Cichlids are easy to breed and are captive bred widely for the aquarium trade. They are primarily substrate spawners that will deposit their eggs in holes they have fanned or dug out in the sand.   A flowerpot or piece of slate placed vertically up the side of the breeding tank can also act as a potential spawning site. Chocolate Cichlids are good parents that will carefully guard their eggs and watch over the newly hatched fry.  Normally a placid species, they can become aggressive and somewhat territorial during breeding.

Hypselecara temporalis are not fussy eaters and will eat most live, frozen, or freeze dried food. They enjoy Mysis Shrimp, Bloodworms, Brine Shrimp, red worms, Cichlid pellets, and quality flake foods.

The Chocolate Cichlid (Hypselecara temporalis) is fairly common in tropical fish shops and are available online from dealers, importers, auction sites and tropical fish keeping forums when they are 2-1/4” to 2-3/4” or more in size.

Chocolate Cichlid (Hypselecara temporalis)

Chocolate Cichlid (Hypselecara temporalis)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 70 gallons
Care Level: Moderate
Temperament: Peaceful
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 76-82° F, KH 1-10, pH 5.5-7.5
Max. Size: 12″
Color Form: Brown, Orange, Red, Yellow
Diet: Omnivore
Compatibility: Community or Single species tank
Origin: Central America, captive bred Peru
Family: Cichlidae
Lifespan: 8-10 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner

Posted in Cichlids, Featured Articles, Freshwater Fish, South American Cichlids, Tropical Fish KeepingComments (0)

Spotted Raphael Catfish (Agamyxis pectinifrons)

Spotted Raphael Catfish (Agamyxis pectinifrons)

Spotted Raphael Catfish (Agamyxis pectinifrons)

The Spotted Raphael Catfish (Agamyxis pectinifrons) is also known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as the Spotted Talking Catfish, Spotted Raphael, White Spotted Catfish, White Barred Catfish, or Talking Catfish and is found in Brazil, Peru, Columbia, and Bolivia in the Amazon River basin.

Spotted Raphael Catfish (Agamyxis pectinifrons) are a gregarious nocturnal species that prefer living in slower moving waters with little to no current and plenty of aquatic vegetation and bogwood where they hide during daylight hours.   When active, they are peaceful, curious, naturally inquisitive, and full of personality.

The Spotted Raphael Catfish is known to be a burrowing fish that in its natural habitat prefers sandy bottoms where it feeds on worms, crustaceans, mollusks, and organic bottom debris.

Spotted Raphael Catfish (Agamyxis pectinifrons)

Spotted Raphael Catfish (Agamyxis pectinifrons)

Agamyxis pectinifrons has a curious tadpole like body shape with a large head, small eyes, and an impressive set of dagger like pectoral and dorsal spines.   It has a dark brown to blue black body color with an irregular pattern of spots on the back, sides, and fins that can be either pale yellow or white.   Mature females are noticeably fuller bodied than males.

In appearance, Agamyxis pectinifrons is very similar to Agamyxis albomaculatus which is known only from the Río Orinoco drainage in Venezuela.   Both species are regularly sold under the same trade names.

Like other members of the Doradidae family of armored catfish, Spotted Raphael Catfish are “talkers” and produce a guttural type of croak or a series of squeaks when threatened or when they want to intimidate other fish.

Spotted Raphael Catfish can be housed in a blackwater type biotope system in groups of 5 or 6 of their own kind or in a medium to large community tank environment with other peaceful Amazonian species.   Compatible tank mates include cichlids, characins, tetras, and other smaller size catfish.   Dark black specimens with pure white spots make an especially impressive addition to any South American tank.

Agamyxis pectinifrons is best kept in a densely planted, dimly lit aquarium of at least 55 gallon capacity with a sand or fine gravel substrate, some driftwood tangles, and either artificial caves or rocks formed into caves for them to hide during daylight hours.   Floating plants like duckweed, water lettuce, or Water Hyacinth can be used to diffuse overhead lighting.

These fish get along well with both peaceful fish and larger more aggressive species in a well aquascaped tank with plenty of hiding places.

Although Spotted Raphael Catfish can live in a variety of water conditions, they should be provided with a good filtration system and regular water changes.

The Spotted Raphael Catfish has not been bred naturally in an aquarium environment.   They have been bred using hormones to artificially induce spawning.

Spotted Raphael Catfish are omnivorous and will accept almost any live, commercially prepared flake, pellet, freeze dried or frozen food. A varied diet consisting of a good quality sinking pellet or wafer supplemented with live or frozen tubifex, bloodworms, earthworms, mosquito larvae, etc. will provide the necessary protein.

Spotted Raphael Catfish (Agamyxis pectinifrons) are available for purchases at reasonable prices from most tropical fish shops when they are anywhere from 2″ to 3″ in length.

 

Spotted Raphael Catfish (Agamyxis pectinifrons)

Spotted Raphael Catfish (Agamyxis pectinifrons)

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 55 gallons
Care Level: Easy
Temperament: Peaceful
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 71 – 19, H 18-357, pH 5.5-7.5
Max. Size: 6″
Color Form: Brown, Black, White
Diet: Omnivore
Compatibility: Good community tank fish
Origin: Brazil, Peru, Columbia, Bolivia
Family: Doradidae
Live Span: 5 to 20 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner

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Redeye-Tetra-Moenkhausia-sanctaefilomenae

Redeye Tetra (Moenkhausia sanctaefilomenae)

Redeye Tetra (Moenkhausia sanctaefilomenae)

Redeye Tetra (Moenkhausia sanctaefilomenae)

The Redeye Tetra (Moenkhausia sanctaefilomenae) is a peaceful, shoaling species that is found among submerged vegetation in the clear water rivers that flow into the Pantanal wetlands in Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay.

The range of the Redeye Tetra extends from the São Francisco, upper Paraná, Paraguay, and Uruguay river basins in central and eastern South America

They are often collected in tannin stained water among Salvinia, Eichhornia, and the various species of Echinodorus (Amazon Sword Plants) that flourish in these waters.

Redeye Tetras are a popular aquarium species that are bred in such huge numbers in Asia and Eastern Europe that wild caught specimens are seldom available to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts.

Redeye Tetra (Moenkhausia sanctaefilomenae) Pair

Redeye Tetra (Moenkhausia sanctaefilomenae) Pair

The Redeye Tetra has a bright silvery body with a black band at the beginning of the caudal fin that is edged in white. They have a red circle around the black eye which gives them their common name in the aquarium trade.

Similar to Moenkhausia forestii and Moenkhausia oligolepis (glassy tetra), the Redeye Tetra is often maintained in a black water Amazonian biotope setup.

Moenkhausia sanctaefilomenae are an active, boisterous, peaceful, shoaling species that should be housed in a densely planted aquarium of at least 30 gallon capacity, with a sandy or fine gravel substrate, a few pieces of driftwood or bogwood
, and some floating plants to diffuse overhead lighting. A bio-wheel filtration system is recommended to maintain water quality.

Redeye Tetras are a highly adaptable species that do best with conspecifics in small groups of at least 6 to 8 specimens. They do well in a community environment with similarly sized tetras, rasboras, pencilfish, barbs, or danios and small bottom dwellers like Loricariids, loaches, or Corydoras.

When housed in an Amazon river type biotope setup, use a sand substrate with a few pieces of driftwood and a few handfuls of dried Beechwood leaves or a few Indian Almond Leaves on the bottom to complement the natural look. The water should attain a light tea color after a few weeks that simulates the black water conditions they are naturally found in.

Redeye tetras are egg scatterers that are spawned in small groups like many other of the tetra species. Condition a half dozen or so of each sex in a dimly lit 10 gallon tank with a small air powered sponge filter, several clumps of Java Moss or other fine leaved plant, and cover the bottom with a screen mesh that is just large enough to let the eggs fall through. The water temperature should be around 80-84°F with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0 and a gH of 1-10.

Some tropical fish keeping enthusiasts spawn Redeye Tetras in pairs by conditioning several males and females in a group and then selecting the ripest female and most robust male for spawning in a separate tank. Spawning usually occurs the next morning and the pair should be removed as soon as eggs are noticed.

Redeye Tetras will eat their eggs and need to be removed immediately after spawning.

Eggs will hatch out in 24 to 36 hours and the fry are free swimming 3 or 4 days thereafter. The free swimming fry can be fed infusoria for a few days until they are large enough to eat newly hatched brine shrimp or microworms.

Adult Redeye Tetras are omnivores that will eat just about anything offered to them. In addition to a quality flake food, they should be offered regular portions of live, frozen, or freeze dried foods like daphnia, bloodworms, brine shrimp, etc. They need vegetable matter in their diet, so a quality algae flake or blanched spinach leaves should also be occasionally offered.

Commercially bred Redeye Tetras (Moenkhausia sanctaefilomenae) are usually available for purchase in tropical fish shops when they are 3/4″ to 1-1/2″ in size.

Redeye Tetra (Moenkhausia sanctaefilomenae)

Redeye Tetra (Moenkhausia sanctaefilomenae)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons
Care Level: Moderate
Temperament: Peaceful
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 72 to 79 °F , gH 1-10, pH 6.0-8.0
Max. Size: 2.8″
Color Form: Silver, Red
Diet: Omnivore
Compatibility: Peaceful, keep with other small tetras
Origin: Farm Raised in Europe and Asia, Indigenous to South America
Family: Characidae
Lifespan: 5 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner

 

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African Butterfly Peacock Cichlid (Aulonocara jacobfreibergi)

African Butterfly Peacock Cichlid (Aulonocara jacobfreibergi)

African Butterfly Peacock Cichlid (Aulonocara jacobfreibergi)

African Butterfly Peacock Cichlid (Aulonocara jacobfreibergi)

The African Butterfly Peacock Cichlid (Aulonocara jacobfreibergi) known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as Malawi Butterfly Cichlid, Eureka Cichlid, Fairy Cichlid, Freiberg’s Peacock, Jakes or Jake Cichlid, Mamalela Peacock, and Swalllow Tail Peacock is endemic to Lake Malawi, Africa; Otter Point, Nkudzi, Monkey Bay, Nankumba, and the Domwe Islands.

Aulonocara jacobfreibergi is widespread throughout the southern part of Lake Malawi and is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List of endangered species.

Of the 23 Aulonocara species, the African Butterfly Peacock (Aulonocara jacobfreibergi) is one of the most colorful and most variable in color and size.   Natural color strains and sizes vary between individual populations from 4″ to over 9″ in length.

There are many variants of Aulonocara available to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts such as Cape Kaiser, Eureka, Aulonocara jacobfreibergi ”Mamela” maleMamela, Otter Point, Hongi Island, Lemon Jake and others. All of these variants will readily crossbreed with African Butterfly Cichlids of other geographical areas and should NEVER be kept together in the same tank.

All species of African Butterfly Peacock Cichlids are brilliantly colored with blues, reds, and yellows that give them their well deserved name in the aquarium hobby.   Most members can be easily recognized by the tiny sonar sensory pits that appear as wrinkles around the head that aid the fish in locating the crustaceans they feed on in the sandy bottom.

African Butterfly Peacock Cichlid (Aulonocara jacobfreibergi)

African Butterfly Peacock Cichlid (Aulonocara jacobfreibergi)

Adult male Aulonocara jacobfreibergi have broad, iridescent, white dorsal and caudal fin margins that most other Peacocks lack.  Adult males have a moderate to deeply forked (swallow tail like) caudal fin and are generally larger than other Peacocks.  They reach sexual maturity at 4″, about half of their maximum length which can be up to 9″ in length.

Adult female Aulonocara jacobfreibergi are more difficult to distinguish from other Aulonocara females.   They are a drab white to grayish brown color, with gray brown to beige colored vertical bands on the body, and faintly colored rounded dorsal and anal fins. The males are always much more colorful than females, and their dorsal and anal fins are longer and more pointed.

Unlike many other species of Aulonocara that spend their daylight hours close to the sandy, open water bottom of Lake Malawi feeding on crustaceans and insect larvae; Aulonocara jacobfreibergi are a deep water species that is found inside and around large dark caves.

Because Aulonocara jacobfreibergi are generally more peaceful and larger than their “rock-dwelling” Mbuna counterparts, avoid housing them with aggressive cichlids, particularly the highly active and aggressive Mbunas.

African Butterfly Peacock Cichlids can be housed with other medium sized Malawi cichlids that are not overly aggressive and will usually get along with all other Peacock Cichlids of the same genus.   They will tolerate cichlids of a different genus so long as they are peaceful, similarly sized, and shaped differently.

The African Butterfly Peacock Cichlid (Aulonocara jacobfreibergi) should be housed singly in an aquarium of at least 55 gallon capacity with an aragonite gravel or fine crushed coral substrate, lots of rocky caves to hide among, and plenty of free swimming space.    They can be housed in groups of a single male with 4 to 6 females in a harem when a larger aquarium of at least 75 gallons is used.

Two males of the same species should never be housed together unless the tank is large enough to provide rock cave territories for each group of harems.  African Butterfly Peacock Cichlids require clean water conditions to flourish, so an efficient wet/dry, canister, or dual bio-wheel type filtration system and regular weekly 20% to 50% water changes is highly recommended to keep them stress free and healthy. They prefer subdued lighting and moderate water movement in their tanks, so a small power head and appropriate lighting is suggested.

African Butterfly Peacock Cichlids are mouth brooders that are sexually mature at about 4 ” in length and are easily bread in captivity. Keep a harem of 4 to 6 females with one male in a 55 to 75 gallon breeding tank with a sandy substrate and plenty of rocks and at least one large rock cave. Although breeding can take place over rock or sand, it will occur in the cave and is generally done out of sight.

The male will begin to display intense colors to attract the females when ready for breeding. The female will lay her eggs in the cave, pick them up in her mouth, and pick at the male’s anal fin until milt is produced to fertilize the eggs. The female will take enough sperm into her mouth to fertilize the eggs and will carry them in her mouth until the fry hatch and are old enough to fend for themselves which can take anywhere from 20 to 23 days.   During this time the female does not eat.

To prevent cross breeding, keep different strains of Aulonocara jacobfreibergi in the same tank and don’t mix the fry from different strains.   The fry and juveniles are impossible to tell apart as they grow.

The African Butterfly Peacock Cichlid is a carnivore that in the wild primarily feeds on zooplankton, specifically insect larvae and small crustaceans that they sift from the sandy bottom.   In an aquarium environment they require a higher protein diet and should be fed a quality cichlid flake along with supplemental feedings of live, frozen, or freeze dried daphnia, fish, ghost shrimp, brine shrimp, bloodworms, etc.   To prevent “Malawi Bloat” do not feed them tubifex worms.   Juveniles should only be fed once a day, and adults, 5 or 6 times a week.   Avoid the desire to overfeed this species.

Pure strains of the African Butterfly Peacock Cichlid (Aulonocara jacobfreibergi) are occasionally available to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts from specialty fish shops or online from wholesale importers at prices that range from moderately to very expensive. Unfortunately they are often listed simply as “Peacocks” without regard to specific area of origin.

A few African Butterfly Peacock Cichlid color variations described area of origin in Lake Malawi are listed below.

Aulonocara jacobfreibergi “Eureka”

The Eureka Cichlid is a naturally occurring strain that grows up to 6″ in length. It is naturally an orangish yellow and metallic blue

Aulonocara Jacobfreibergi Eureka

Aulonocara Jacobfreibergi Eureka

color combination. The body is mostly blue with orange at the top of the head, behind the head, and along the back. The dorsal and caudal fins are a light blue color and the anal and pelvic fins are orangish yellow with ice blue trimming on the leading edge. The anal fin on this variety has very few in any egg spots. A captive bred color variety of Eureka Red Peacock that is more red is also available.

Female Eureka Cichlids are a very drab white color with dull, gray brown vertical bands and clear fins. Their anal fin is rounded with light gold coloring in the front two thirds, and white or clear closer to the back nearer to the tail fin. Their pelvic fins are also colored light gold with clear to white tips.

Aulonocara jacobfreibergi “Eureka albino”

The Aulonocara jacobfreibergi Eureka Albino is also known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as the Albino Eureka Peacock. It is one of the smaller strains that only grows 4 to 6 inches long. Its back, anal, and pectoral fins are a subtle tangerine color. The face, forehead and bottom part of the Eureka albino is white. The pectoral fins have white trim on the front rays and the anal fin has no egg spots. The bottom part of the dorsal fin close to the body is slightly tangerine colored, but the rest of the dorsal and the tips of the caudal fin are an icy light blue color. Females are basically white and both sexes have yellow eyes with tangerine pupils.

Aulonocara jacobfreibergi “Undu Reef” 

Aulonocara Jacobfreibergi Undu Reef

Aulonocara Jacobfreibergi Undu Reef

The Aulonocara Jacobfreibergi Undu Reef is also known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as the Mamalela Peacock, Lemon

Jake, and Lemon Jacobfreibergi. It is a naturally occurring strain that is found in the Undu Reef in Tanzania. Males grow to about 7″ in length and females max out at about 5″.

Undu Reefs have a lavender blue body with a vertical band of lavender blue and yellow located just behind the gills. The dorsal, anal, and pelvic fins are yellow, and the anal fin lacks egg spots.

Aulonocara jacobfreibergi “Otter Point”

The Aulonocara Jacobfreibergi Otter Point is a naturally occurring strain that grows to 6″ in length. They have a vivid electric blue

Aulonocara stuartgranti Otter Point

Aulonocara stuartgranti Otter Point

and orange red colored body, with faint dark blue vertical bands. The top of the head and part way back on top of the body is orangish red, and the only area that has an almost a blue turquoise color is the chin, below the eye. The caudal fin is a mixture of the main colors at the body,

changing to blue towards the rear. The dorsal fin is blue with a hint of gold along the fin and the anal fin is orange trimmed with ice blue. The pelvic fins are a dull red/brown color trimmed with red/orange on the front edges. The anal fin lacks eggs spots.

Note that there are several captive bred color form hybrids that are sold also under the name “Otter Point” which are obviously not pure strains.

Female Aulonocara Jacobfreibergi Otter Point have alternating thick beige and thinner white vertical bars. Their eyes are yellow and except for the pelvic and anal fins, are clear. The rounded anal fin is an orange yellow color. The pelvic fin is also orangish yellow trimmed with blue at the tip.

Aulonocara jacobfreibergi “Hongi Island” 

Aulonocara jacobfreibergi(Hongi Island)

Aulonocara jacobfreibergi(Hongi Island)

The Aulonocara Jacobfreibergi Hongi Island is a naturally occurring strain that grows to 6″ in length and is found near Hongi

Island. Males have a metallic blue face and except for the pectorals, orange fins. They have several alternating bluish black and light blue vertical bands on the body and dark blue into the caudal fin.

 

Aulonocara jacobfreibergi “Cape Kaiser” 

Aulonocara jacobfreibergi(Cape Kaiser)

Aulonocara jacobfreibergi(Cape Kaiser)

The Aulonocara jacobfreibergi Cape Kaiser, known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as the Cape Kaiser Peacock, is a naturally occurring color strain that grows to 7″ in length. Males are all yellow with long yellow fins edged and/or tipped with ice blue. Their foreheads have are dusted in yellow and they have an electric blue colored chin. The rest of their body has alternating ice blue to dark blue/black vertical bands.

 

Aulonocara jacobfreibergi “Tsano rock”

Aulonocara Jacobfreibergi Tsano Rock

Aulonocara Jacobfreibergi Tsano Rock

The Aulonocara Jacobfreibergi Tsano Rock or Aulonocara jacobfreibergi Tsano Rock “Swallow Tail” is a naturally occurring color form that has alternating colors of light blue and black on the body, faded in areas under the gold coloring that runs along the top two thirds of the body.  They have a yellow dorsal fin edged in ice blue at the very top and yellow down the balance of the back. The area under the chin and eyes are an electric blue color, and their caudal fin is blue with a bit of yellow. The pelvic and anal fins are a lighter blue color with yellow egg spots on the anal fin.

Females are light colored and have gray brown vertical bars along the side. They have light blue fins and eggs spots on the rounded anal fin.

Aulonocara jacobfreibergi “Cape Maclear” 

Aulonocara Jacobfreibergi Cape Maclear

Aulonocara Jacobfreibergi Cape Maclear

The Aulonocara jacobfreibergi Cape Maclear is almost identical to the Tsano rock in coloring. Except for a little orange where the

back and dorsal meet and the orange egg spots on the anal fin, they are almost identical.

 

Aulonocara jacobfreibergi “Nkudzi”

The Aulonocara jacobfreibergi Nkudzi is a naturally occurring strain that have alternating vertical bands of dark blue to black

Aulonocara jacobfreibergi Nkudzi

Aulonocara jacobfreibergi Nkudzi

along the body that begin just behind the head. The beautiful electric blue head has yellowish gold on the forehead, above and below the eye, and extends along the back to the first third of the dorsal fin.

The dorsal fin is a yellowish gold color edged with ice blue on the top part. Their pelvic and anal fins are a yellowish gold color edged with light blue.  The caudal fin is a mottled mixture of yellow/gold and dark blue/black with ice blue tips.

African Butterfly Peacock Cichlid (Aulonocara jacobfreibergi)

Minimum Tank Size: 55 gallons
Care Level: Mildly Difficult
Temperament: Semi Aggressive
Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately Hardy
Water Conditions: 73.0 to 82.0° F, dH 6-10°dGH, pH 7.7-8.6
Max. Size: Males 9″
Color Form: Red, Yellow, Blue, Green
Diet: Omnivore
Compatibility: Single species or peaceful Malawi
Origin: Lake Malawi
Family: Cichlidae
Lifespan: 8-10 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner to Advanced

Posted in African Cichlids, Cichlids, Featured Articles, Freshwater Fish, Lake Malawi Cichlids, Tropical Fish SpeciesComments (0)

Super Red Dragon Flowerhorn

Flowerhorn Cichlid Hybrid (Cichlasoma X)

The Flowerhorn Cichlid (Cichlasoma X) known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts simply as Flowerhorns, was first developed in Malaysia, Taiwan, and Thailand and except for culled specimens that were intentionally dumped into the ponds and riverine ecosystems of Malaysia and Singapore, does not occur naturally in the wild.

The Flowerhorn Cichlid Hybrid originated in Asia and is believed to have been initially bred in 1993 and 1994 in western Taiwan and Malaysia by crossing Amphilophus labiatus (Red Devil Cichlid) and Amphilophus trimaculatus (Trimac cichlid) that were imported from Central America to Malaysia, with the hybrid Blood Parrot Cichlid that had been imported from Taiwan to Malaysia.

Kamfa Flowerhorn Cichlid

Kamfa Flowerhorn Cichlid

The Flowerhorns slightly protruding head with long tail fins were prized by the Taiwanese for bringing good luck, and in 1995, Blood Parrot Cichlids were further crossbred with Flowerhorns to produce new color strains.

Because of their beautiful colors, protruding nuchal humps, long fins, and friendly personalities towards humans, Flowerhorn Chchlid Hybrids quickly became popular with tropical fish keeping enthusiasts worldwide.

Selective crossbreeding of the species continued through 1998 with the Seven Color Blue Fiery Mouth (Greenish Gold Tiger) imported from Central America and the Jin Gang Blood Parrot from Taiwan to produce the first generation of hua luo han flowerhorn hybrids generically referred to in English as luohans.   These were then followed by subsequent flowerhorn introductions.

A large number of Flowerhorn Cichlid Hybrid cast offs were released into the wild, primarily in Singapore and Malaysia.   These flourished to the extent that they are now considered an invasive pest species in that area of the world.

LohanYang Menjadi Flowerhorn

When louhans were first imported into the United States, only two varieties of Flowerhorns (those with white spots, called pearls, and those without) and two varieties of Golden Base (faded and non faded) were available to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts.

The flowerhorn hybrids with white spots immediately became very popular and were called Pearl Scale Flowerhorns, which were later developed into the Zhen Zhu variety.

The faded gray skin Golden Bases also gained in popularity when they developed into an attractive golden skin variety.

Commercial breeders continued crossbreeding fertile Flowerhorns until in 1999, four varieties became available to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts:

  • Regular Flowerhorns
  • Pearl Scale Flowerhorns
  • Golden Flowerhorns
  • Faders

The Kamfa variety of Flowerhorns had some new traits like short mouths, wrapped tails, sunken eyes, and larger head bumps.   This cross between any species of the genus Vieja or Parrot Cichlid, with any kind of Flowerhorn appeared around 2001.

Competitive breeding of Flowerhorns continues to this day with more colorful strains being developed every few years.  Currently, there are five distinct variations of Flowerhorn Chiclids:

  • Golden Base
  • Golden Monkey
  • Kamfa
  • Thai Silk
  • Zhen Zhou

Kamfa Flowerhorn Cichlid

The Flowerhorn Cichlid Hybrid is hard not to notice.   They are vividly colored and have thick oval shaped bodies, distinctively shaped heads with a large nauchal hump, long pointed trailing dorsal and anal fins, a spade shaped caudal fin, and like other cichlids, along with their regular teeth, a set of well developed pharyngeal teeth in their throat.

Almost all varieties of Flowerhorn Chchlid Hybrids have black

Louhan Beserta Flowerhorn

horizontal markings on their flanks.   Their scales are multicolored with hues that vary from metallic green with pinks and reds on the front half of the body, to metallic blue.

An interesting characteristic of Flowerhorns is that the colors and patterns of these fish will constantly change until they become fully mature adults.

Male Flowerhorn Cichlid Hybrids are generally larger than females, are more vividly colored, have a larger nuchal hump, longer dorsal and anal fins, and develop a thicker more pronounced mouth than females.

Females are generally smaller than males, have black dots on their dorsal fins, and tend to have more orange bellies, especially during breeding.   Adult females will also lay eggs every month even without the presence of a male in the tank.

King Kamfa Flowerhorn

All Flowerhorn Cichlid Hybrids are highly aggressive and are best kept in a single species tank. Although pairs can be kept very large aquariums, some type of glass or acrylic divider is highly recommended to separate them until they show signs of compatibility.

Because many long bodied varieties of Flowerhorn Cichlid Hybrids grow to almost 16 inches in length, single specimens are best housed in an aquarium of at least 100 gallon capacity with a sand, tile, or large gravel substrate, some rocks fashioned into hiding places, a few pieces of driftwood or bogwood, and some hardy plants like Anubias, etc. for aesthetics.

Flowerhorns are large, strong fish that produce a lot of waste and require a good filtration system with moderate to high water flow in their tanks.   They prefer soft to moderately hard water and are extremely sensitive to ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites in the aquarium.

A wet/dry trickle filter, large Bio-wheel, or canister filtration system along with a powerhead mounted close to the bottom of the tank and regular bi-weekly water changes is recommended to keep them healthy and happy.

Although Flowerhorn Cichlid Hybrids are able to tolerate a variety of water conditions, stability is more important than maintaining perfect water quality.

Because the majority of male Flowerhorn Cichlid Hybrids are sterile and cannot reproduce, most tropical fish keeping enthusiasts find that Flowerhorns are extremely difficult to breed.

Breeders must wait for males to reach sexual maturity before attempting to pair them up with females and test their fertility. This can take as long as 8-12 months.

In addition, their fiercely territorial aggressiveness towards other members of their species often results in severe injuries or death to their mates.

Breeders start by placing an upside down ceramic flowerpot into the breeding tank to give the potential pair a place to spawn.   If the tank has a fine gravel or sandy substrate, the male will scoop out a depression or hole in the substrate for the female Flowerhorn to deposit her eggs.

If the reproductive period has not yet begun, the male and female Flowerhorns kept in the same tank may attack and/or kill each other. However, if the stars align, the male will clean an area of the flowerpot or fan out a depression in the substrate for the female to deposit her eggs and the pair will spawn.

When ready to mate, the male will try to attract the female to the cleaned area for spawning by displaying, touching, and finally embracing her.   When ready to mate, the female will nestle into the male and the eggs will be deposited and immediately fertilized by the male.

If the fish attack each other after spawning, remove the male and leave the female in the tank to oversee incubation of the eggs or, remove both parents and incubate the eggs artificially. When doing this, add a few drops of methylene blue to the water to prevent fungal infections from killing the eggs.

When free swimming, the fry will accept finely ground flake foods, newly hatched brine shrimp, etc.

Flowerhorn Cichlid Hybrids are not picky eaters and will accept almost anything placed into the tank. They require a protein rich diet and should be provided a staple carnivore pellet along with live, frozen, or freeze dried crickets, grasshoppers, shrimp, mealworms, white worms, black worms, earthworms, nightcrawlers, etc.   Feed a varied diet with several small meals a day in lieu of a single large meal.

Flowerhorn Cichlid Hybrids of all types are available from specialty fish shops and online from a variety of websites and demand a hefty price depending on size and the hybrid type purchased.

Thai Silk Flowerhorn Cichlid

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 100 gallons
Care Level: Difficult
Temperament: Extremely Aggressive
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 80-85°F, dH 6-20°d, pH 6.0-8.0
Max. Size: 12-16″
Color Form: Red, Yellow, Green
Diet: Carnivore
Compatibility: Single species
Origin: Variable Southeast Asia
Family: Cichlidae
Lifespan: Short Body 4-5 years
Long Body 8-12 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate

 

Posted in Asian Cichlids, Cichlids, Featured Articles, Freshwater FishComments (0)

Ruby Green Cichlid (Haplochromis sp. Ruby Green)

Ruby Green Cichlid (Haplochromis sp. Ruby Green)

Ruby Green Cichlid (Haplochromis sp. Ruby Green)

Ruby Green Cichlid (Haplochromis sp. Ruby Green)

The Ruby Green Cichlid (Haplochromis sp. Ruby Green) is a herbivore known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as the Ruby Green Hap or Ruby Green, and is found around the heavily vegetated shorelines of Lakes Kyoga and Nawampasa in Uganda.

The Ruby Green Cichlid is often mistaken for the Flameback Cichlid (Haplichromis sp. “Flameback”)

Ruby Green Cichlid (Haplochromis sp. Ruby Green)

Ruby Green Cichlid (Haplochromis sp. Ruby Green)

Male Ruby Green Cichlids, like the Flameback Cichlid, are colored a vivid red and vibrant green combination.

The Ruby Green Cichlid has more green on the body and the red does not extend as far back on the fish as it does with the Flameback.

During breeding, males are colored a vivid red on the upper portion of the fish, that extends from the tip of the mouth to the middle of the back.   The sides of the fish are colored yellow down to the lateral line and a vibrant green below.   They have black pectoral fins and an orange to red anal fin with up to five black outlined egg spots.

An albino strain is also known to hobbyists that is quite beautiful.

Female Ruby Green Cichlids are colored a drab battleship gray, with a few dark lines and a yellow anal fin.

The Ruby Green Cichlid is undoubtedly one of the most peaceful Victorian cichlids you can keep.   Fully grown males are not nearly as aggressive as other Victorian cichlids, even to their own kind.

When keeping Ruby Green Cichlids in a single species rocky rift valley lake setup, a single male with a harem of 5 or 6 females is a good proportion.   Adding an additional male will cause the dominant male to stay in full breeding color all the time.   When a single male is kept in a tank without any females or males present, they will usually NOT color up.

Haplochromis sp. Ruby Green are mouthbrooding herbivores that do well with other peaceful, mild mannered species, and despite their similar dietary requirements; should never be housed with Tropheus or mbunas.    If bullied, you will not experience the vivid colors that the males can exhibit.

The Ruby Green Cichlid is best housed in an aquarium of at least 40 gallon capacity, with a sand or fine gravel substrate, plenty of rockwork piles formed into caves for them to hide, and some bogwood planted with Anubias barteri or other hardy plants for aesthetics. With two males in the same tank, make sure there are plenty of hiding places available.    Rocks, PVC pipe, or ceramic “caves” are all good options.

Keep in mind that in their natural habitat, Haplochromis sp. Ruby Green spend a lot of time scraping algae off of aquatic plants and will exhibit the same behavior in an aquarium environment.

Ruby Green Cichlids need good water quality and a little water movement in their tank.   A canister, bio wheel, or wet/dry trickle filtration system with regular water changes is highly recommended to keep them healthy and happy.

The Ruby Green Cichlid is a polygamous mouthbrooder that is very easy to breed.   Although strict water conditions is not critical, the water should not be to acidic.   A pH of 7.6 or more and a general hardness of 9 degrees or more is usually enough to motivate them.

Average broods consist of up to three dozen fry that are held by the female for two to three weeks. During this period, the female does not eat and the males will warn off any interlopers.   When the fry are spit out, the parents do not protect the young and in many cases will eat them.

To raise as many fry as possible, many tropical fish keeping enthusiasts will remove the brooding female into a “brooding” tank until she spits out her young, and then place her back with the “harem” in the breeding tank.   The young grow quickly and will eagerly eat brine shrimp or crushed cichlid flakes.

When the fry are a little over an inch in length, males will begin to color up and may even begin to spawn.   For the first couple of times, it’s not unusual for females to have difficulty holding her brood full term.

In their natural environment, Ruby Green Cichlids are algae grazers that feed by scraping algae off of aquatic plants, rocks, driftwood, etc. In an aquarium environment, they do well on a vegetarian diet of omnivore or Spirulina flakes, blanched spinach, boiled zucchini, etc. Although they will eat just about anything you put in their tank, make sure they get their vegetables.

With their natural habitat dwindling, the beautiful Lake Victorian Ruby Green Cichlid (Haplochromis sp. “Ruby Green”) is not kept by many tropical fish keeping enthusiasts.   They are not common but are occasionally available from importers, specialty fish keeping shops, breeders, cichlid forums, and auction sites at premium prices.

 

Ruby Green Cichlid (Haplochromis sp. Ruby Green)

Ruby Green Cichlid (Haplochromis sp. Ruby Green)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 40 gallons
Care Level: Mildly Difficult
Temperament: Relatively Peaceful
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 74-79°F, dH 6-10°d, pH 7.2-7.5
Max. Size: Males 4″ Females 3″
Color Form: Red, Yellow, Green
Diet: Herbivore
Compatibility: Single species or peaceful Victoria tank
Origin: Lake Kyoga and Nawampasa, Uganda
Family: Cichlidae
Lifespan: 4-10 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Advanced

Posted in African Cichlids, Cichlids, Featured Articles, Freshwater Fish, Lake Victoria, West Africa and Madagascar, Tropical Fish Keeping, Tropical Fish SpeciesComments (0)

Fire Red Uganda Cichlid (Haplochromis s. “fire”)

Fire Red Uganda Cichlid (Haplochromis s. “fire”)

Fire Red Uganda Cichlid (Haplochromis s. “fire”)

Fire Red Uganda Cichlid (Haplochromis s. “fire”)

The Fire Red Uganda (Haplochromis s. “fire”) or (Paralabidochromis sp. “fire”) is known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as the Fire Red Ugandan, and is found in the Northern section of Lake Victoria and Lake Kyoga.

Fire Red Uganda Cichlid (Haplochromis s. “fire”)

Fire Red Uganda Cichlid (Haplochromis s. “fire”)

The Fire Red Uganda is a rock dwelling cichlid (mbipi) from the Ugandan shores of Lake Victoria that is easily identified by the grey color below the dorsal fin that runs into the “face” of the fish, and the brilliant crimson red/orange on the lower half of the body.

The caudal fin and the rear of the dorsal fin in adult males is a crimson red to reddish orange color, and the first five rays of the pectoral fins are jet black with the rest of the fin tinged red.   The anal fin has three to four yellow to orange “egg spots”.

A black bar, which becomes more pronounced when excited, runs through the eye from the top of the head to the lower jaw and two horizontal black bars cross the head on the forehead.

Females are a much more drab, steel silver to greenish color with the same black barring and are smaller than males.

Fire Red Uganda Cichlid (Haplochromis s. “fire”)

Fire Red Uganda Cichlid (Haplochromis s. “fire”)

The Fire Red Uganda cichlid is slightly less aggressive than most other rift valley cichlids and can be housed with other Victoria Lake cichlids and/or Lake Malawi M’buna.  Synodontis petricola and others can also be safely housed with them.

In a single species rocky rift valley lake setup, a single male with a harem of 5 or 6 females is a good mix.   Adding additional males may cause the dominant male to kill the interloper.

Fire Red Uganda cichlids are best housed in an aquarium of at least 40 gallon capacity, with a sand or fine gravel substrate, some limestone rocks piled up to form a few caves, and some bogwood planted with Anubias barteri if desired for aesthetics.

Some tropical fish keeping enthusiasts even keep floating plants like Riccia fluitans on the surface for shade, which the fish seem to enjoy.

Fire Red Uganda cichlids need good water quality and some water movement in their tank.    A bio-wheel filter or a wet/dry trickle filtration system with 25% to 30% weekly water changes is recommended.

The Fire Red Uganda like many other rock dwelling cichlids is a maternal mouth brooder.   A single male with 5 or 6 females will breed without any extra help.   The male will constantly display to the females and breed with several.    The female will hold the eggs in her mouth up to 3 weeks until hatched and brood them for 3 or 4 more days until the egg sacs of the fry are absorbed.

When released, the fry are able to eat crushed flake food or baby brine shrimp immediately.   The fry grow quickly and are for the most part ignored by the parents, but many tropical fish keeping enthusiasts remove the fry or strip them from the female after about 14 to 18 days into a separate rearing tank to reduce the mortality rate.

Fire Red Uganda eat insects, larvae, and small crustaceans in their natural environment.   In an aquarium environment they will eat just about anything you give them.   A good quality flake food or cichlid pellet along with live, frozen, or freeze dried bloodworms, krill, mosquito larvae, etc. will keep them healthy.   Feed them only once a day and take care not overfeed these cichlids.

The Fire Red Uganda Cichlid (Haplochromis s. “fire”) is occasionally misidentified as Harpagochromis sp. “Orange Rock Hunter”.    Although neither species is common in the aquarium trade, they are available online and from specialty tropical fish shops at premium prices.

Fire Red Uganda Cichlid (Haplochromis s. “fire”)

Fire Red Uganda Cichlid (Haplochromis s. “fire”)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 40 gallons
Care Level: Difficult
Temperament: Mildly Aggressive
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 74-79°F, dH 6-10 °d, pH 7.2-7.5
Max. Size: Males 3.25″ in the wild to 7″ in aquariums
Color Form: Silver, Black, Red, Yellow
Diet: Insectivore
Compatibility: Single species or Victoria/Malawi mbuna
Origin: Lake Victoria, Africa
Family: Cichlidae
Lifespan: 4-10 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Advanced

Posted in African Cichlids, Cichlids, Featured Articles, Freshwater Fish, Lake Victoria, West Africa and Madagascar, Tropical Fish Keeping, Tropical Fish SpeciesComments (0)

Crimson Tide Cichlid (Pundamilia nyererei)

Crimson Tide Cichlid (Pundamilia nyererei)

Crimson Tide Cichlid (Pundamilia nyererei)

Crimson Tide Cichlid (Pundamilia nyererei)

The Crimson Tide Cichlid (Pundamilia nyererei) known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as Nyerere’s Victoria Cichlid, Crimson Tide Flameback, or Flameback is only found along the shallow coast lines of several islands located at the southern end of Lake Victoria, East Africa.

All Pundamilia nyererei from Lake Victoria are beautiful and highly aggressive, even more so than many Malawi Mbuna cichlids.  Adult males are regarded as one of the most beautiful freshwater fish in the world.

Juvenile Crimson Tide Cichlids are a gray color with faint bars and yellowish tinged fins.   At this stage it is almost impossible to tell males from females.  As juveniles mature, the males change from their silver gray body color to a brilliant rainbow of colors that vary on geographic location.

Crimson Tide Cichlid (Pundamilia nyererei)

Crimson Tide Cichlid (Pundamilia nyererei)

Crimson Tide Cichlids are colored a vibrant red, black, green, and yellow with a black belly and dark vertical stripes that go from the belly to the back.

Females are a drab green gray color with black stripes.

Although males and females both have egg spots on their ventral fins, adult males have many more than the females.

Female Crimson Tide Cichlid (Pundamilia nyererei)

Crimson Tide Cichlid (Pundamilia nyererei)

A typical male will have anywhere from 5 to 10 spots.

Females grow slower than males and are always much smaller.   They also retain their gray green body color.

Some other common geographical color varieties are listed below:

  • Pundamilia nyererei (Anchor Island)
  • nyererei (Igombe Island)
  • nyererei (Luanza)
  • nyererei (Makobe Island)
  • nyererei (Mwanza Gulf)
  • nyererei (Python Island)
  • nyererei (Ruti Island)
  • sp. “blue bar” Hippo Point Blue Bar
  • sp. “crimson tide” Red Snout
  • igneopinnis Black & Orange Nyererei

Pundamilia nyererei are extremely aggressive and will defend their territories against any fish than interlopes.   Even in a highly stocked Lake Victorian cichlid tank, they will attack and kill any species of similar color, especially during breeding.   Housing a single male in a single species tank with at least 3 to 5 females is recommended to prevent males from harassing a single female to death.

In an African community tank environment, recommended tank mates include, Malawi Peacocks, Cichlids from Lake Victoria, mild tempered Mbunas like the Lemon Yellow Mbuna, and Synodontis Catfish.   Avoid placing them with cichlids from Lake Tanganyika.,

Crimson Tide Cichlids should be kept in at least an 80 gallon aquarium with a sparse layer of coral gravel or a sand as a substrate and plenty of lava rock work for hiding places.   Live plants are beautiful and improve water quality but this species will quickly uproot them.    Some tropical fish keeping enthusiasts use artificial plastic plants in the tank for aesthetics, but most natural plants will be uprooted by their digging activities.

Pundamilia nyererei require almost pristine water conditions so a couple of Bio-Wheels or a large capacity wet/dry filtration system is highly recommended, along with regular 20 to 30% water changes.

Crimson Tide Cichlids are maternal mouth brooders.    The female lays her eggs, the male immediately fertilizes them, and the female gently picks up the eggs in her mouth and broods them for about 3 weeks or so until she releases the the fry back into the aquarium.   The fry are able to eat baby brine shrimp, Daphnia, and crushed cichlid flakes immediately after being released.

In the wild, Crimson Tide Cichlids are rock dwelling insect pickers that feeds on insect larvae, small fish, and mosses.    In an aquarium environment they need a varied diet of live, frozen, or freeze dried foods such as bloodworms, mysis shrimp
, brine shrimp, a quality Cichlid flake or pellet, and and algae based food like spirulina flakes.   A varied diet is essential to prevent nutritional deficiencies.

The Crimson Tide Cichlid (Pundamilia nyererei) is not readily available to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts but are occasionally found in cichlid forums, from breeders, specialty tropical fish shops, importers, and online auction sites when they are 1 1/2″ size to adult breeding pairs, at premium prices.

Crimson Tide Cichlid (Pundamilia nyererei)

Crimson Tide Cichlid (Pundamilia nyererei)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 80 gallons
Care Level: Difficult
Temperament: Extremely Aggressive
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 74-78°F, dH 6-10 °d, pH 7.2-8.6
Max. Size: Males 3.25″ in the wild to 7″ in aquariums
Color Form: Silver, Black, Red, Yellow
Diet: Omnivore
Compatibility: Single species
Origin: Lake Victoria, Africa
Family: Cichlidae
Lifespan: 4-10 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Advanced

Posted in Cichlids, Featured Articles, Freshwater Fish, Lake Victoria, West Africa and Madagascar, Tropical Fish Keeping, Tropical Fish SpeciesComments (0)

Aulonocranus-dewindti

Aulonocranus dewindti

Aulonocranus-dewindti

Aulonocranus-dewindti

Aulonocranus dewindti is a species of “featherfin” cichlid that inhabit sandy bottom areas that are littered with rocks and empty shells in Lake Tanganyika, the Rusisi, and the Lukuga rivers.

Aulonocranus dewindti is endemic to and widely distributed throughout the Lake Tanganyika basin in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, and Zambia.

Aulonocranus dewindti are semi pelagic species that roam over sandy bottom areas of the Lake that are dotted with rocks and empty shells commonly referred to as “intermediate habitat”, where they feed on insect larvae, drifting plankton, and a variety of small crustaceans that hide in the sand.   They frequently occur in schools of several hindered fish.

Aulonocranus dewindti

Aulonocranus dewindti

Aulonocranus dewindti have a silvery body color that in males is marked with yellow longitudinal stripes.  They have a moderately elongated and compressed body shape, with a length that is approximately three times the height of the body.

They are called “featherfins” because of their long filamentous ventral fins that in adult males, reach to the anal fin.   Their caudal fins are crescent shaped.

Aulonocranus-dewindti

Aulonocranus-dewindti

Several color varieties occur and are dependent on locale.,

In addition to their two lateral lines, Aulonocranus dewindti have developed enlarged sensory pores on their heads that help them detect the plankton, insect larvae, and small crustaceans that they feed on under the sand.   Their lower triangularly shaped, slightly protruding lower jaw bone has two to three rows of small, conical teeth that assist them in their foraging.

Aulonocranus dewindti are best kept in an aquarium of at least 65 gallon capacity with a sand or very fine gravel substrate and plenty of shells, crushed corals and small rocks.   Featherfin cichlids are best kept in a single species tank, and although several males can be housed in the same aquarium if it is large enough, it’s best to keep a small harem of females for a single male.

In large tanks, several males can be kept together as long as at least three females are provided for each male, there are plenty of hiding places, and plenty of rocks, coral, shells, or even flowerpot pieces are provided for the males to create nests.

A good filtration system and weekly 25% to 35% water changes is required to maintain water quality for this species and a large capacity wet/dry and/or canister filtration system with a powerhead or two is highly recommended to keep these cichlids healthy.

Aulonocranus dewindti are maternal mouth brooders that are relatively easy to breed in an aquarium environment provided good water quality is maintained and a few tips are adhered to.

If the breeding aquarium is large and well decorated with an abundance of hiding places and nest building materials, a couple males can be kept with 6 or 7 females.   Although this is not a scientific ratio, it does minimize excessive aggression from a single dominant male.   A dominant male can harass females and submissive males to the point of death, and keeping more than one male in the tank will usually focus part of the dominant male’s attention on the other male and give the females a break.

Because Aulonocranus dewindti are nest builders, it is important to have a lot of building materials in the breeding tank.    Rocks, pieces of coral, shells, pieces of flowerpots, and flowerpots should be placed in the tank.   In the wild, adult males will set up breeding colonies to try to attract females and the males that build the most impressive nests usually get the female.

If you provide Aulonocranus dewindti with a suitable environment, nature will take over and the fish will take care of the rest on their own.   Generally, several females can be brooding their young simultaneously in the same tank without any problems.

Most tropical fish keeping enthusiasts allow the offspring to remain with the adults in the aquarium until their mother grows tired of them and wants to spawn again, but you can force brooding females to spit out the fry into a rearing tank filled with the same aquarium water as the breeding tank.   Regardless of which method is used, the female should be allowed to brood her fry for at least 10 days.    This allows the highest survival rate for the fry.

The fry can be immediately fed newly hatched brine shrimp and/or crushed flake food.   When raised on a balanced high protein diet, they will grow quickly should be about 1″ long in about a month or so.

In the wild Aulonocranus dewindti feed on small crustaceans, dipterans, and sand fly larvae.   In an aquarium environment, they do well on a balanced diet of live, frozen or freeze dried bloodworms, brine shrimp, Daphnia, mosquito larvae, mysis shrimp, cyclops, cichlid flakes, cichlid pellets, and an algae based food like spirulina flakes.   A varied diet will prevent nutritional deficiencies.

Aulonocranus dewindti are available to tropical fish keeping enthusiast through cichlid forums, breeders, specialty tropical fish shops, importers, and online auction sites when they are 1 1/2″ size to breeding size paired adults.

Aulonocranus-dewindti-Muzi-Polombwe-Bay

Aulonocranus-dewindti-Muzi-Polombwe-Bay

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 65 gallons
Care Level: Moderately difficult
Temperament: Mildly Aggressive
Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately hardy
Water Conditions: 76-80° F, H >120 ppm, pH 8.6
Max. Size: Males 4.5″
Color Form: Silver, Yellow
Diet: Omnivore
Compatibility: Single species
Origin: Lake Tanganyika, Africa
Family: Cichlidae
Lifespan: 8-10 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Advanced

Posted in African Cichlids, Cichlids, Featured Articles, Freshwater Fish, Lake Tanganyika Cichlids, Tropical Fish Keeping, Tropical Fish SpeciesComments (0)

Sardine Cichlid (Cyprichromis leptosoma)

Sardine Cichlid (Cyprichromis leptosoma)

Sardine Cichlid (Cyprichromis leptosoma)

The Sardine Cichlid (Cyprichromis leptosoma) known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as Slender Cichlid, Cyprichromis, or Slender Cyprichromis, is a small, colorful, sardine shaped open water species that is found only along the rocky eastern shoreline of Lake Tanganyika, between Kigoma in Tanzania, and Mpulugu in Zambia.   They are prized by tropical fish keeping enthusiasts for their mild temperament and dazzling colors

The Sardine Cichlid is an open water species that inhabits the intermediate zones and is found throughout Lake Tanganyika in deep water areas with rocky shores, sandy bottoms, and clean water.

Sardine Cichlid (Cyprichromis leptosoma)

Cyprichromis leptosoma is a peaceful, mid water, schooling species that in the wild live in schools that number into the thousands.

In an aquarium environment, they do best in groups of at least twelve or more specimens.

There are five (blue and yellow tailed) color variants of Cyprichromis leptosoma that occur over their 300 mile range listed below, and all are gorgeous.

  • Cyprichromis leptosoma “Kigoma” found around KigomaBlue-tailed males: Yellowish head with blue dorsal and anal fins.
    Yellow-tailed males: Yellowish head with white dorsal and anal fins.
  • Cyprichromis leptosoma “KARILANI” found around Bulu Point to Kasoje (including Karilani Island)Blue tailed males: Blue dorsal fin with a yellowish tinge and a single dark ocellus at the posterior tip. Yellow orange body.
    Yellow tailed males: Blue dorsal fin with no ocellus.
  • Cyprichromis leptosoma “IKOLA” found from Kasoje to IkolaBlue tailed males: Yellow dorsal fin.
    Yellow tailed males: Blue dorsal fin and bright yellow anal fin.
  • Cyprichromis leptosoma “MALASA LEPTOSOMA” found froum Utinta Bay to SamaziBlue tailed males: Blue dorsal fin. Some males may have a dark ocellus visible at the posterior tip.
    Yellow tailed males: Blue dorsal fin with a yellow ocellus at the posterior tip.
  • Cyprichromis leptosoma “MPULUNGU” found from Kasanga to MpulunguBlue tailed males: Light blue dorsal fin speckled with small, dark spots.
    Yellow tailed males: Blue dorsal fin with a black band along the base

Sardine Cichlid (Cyprichromis leptosoma)

Cyps are divided into four species and two groups:

  • leptosoma
          Jumbo
          Goldfin
  • microlepidotus
  • pavo
  • zonatus

Sardine Cichlids are virtually impossible to sex until they begin to reach breeding age, at which time they are impossible to miss.   Over a period of a few months, males develop striking colors.   The normal size varieties are brightly colored blue and yellow.  The larger “jumbo” varieties are yellow, lavender, pastel colored and often black.

Juvenile males will begin to occasionally shimmy or shake a little before they color up, which is usually when they are around an inch in length.

Because Sardine Cichlids (Cyprichromis leptosoma) are a gregarious open water species that frequent the upper layer of the water column, they should be housed in groups of at least 8 or more individuals in a long, deep tank of at least 55 gallon capacity to provide the amount of free swimming space they require.    Recommended decor inside the tank is a sandy or fine gravel substrate, with several piles of rock situated over the bottom.

Because good filtration is necessary to provide the pristine clean water they require; a wet/dry, canister, or bio wheel type filter is highly recommended, along with regular 20% to 30% water changes.

As a rule, Cyprichromis leptosoma are very peaceful and are often kept in a community tank environment with other Tanganyikan species that dwell in other areas of the tank.   Rock or shell dwelling species like Julidochromis or Altolamprologus are good choices, but don’t house them with boisterous species like Mbuna.

Males tend to jump a lot during their spawning displays so a tight fitting aquarium cover is highly recommended.

Sardine Cichlids are easy to breed and will frequently spawn in a community aquarium, but if you plan to raise the majority of fry to adulthood, breed them in a single species aquarium environment.

Unlike many mouth brooders, Cyprichromis are best kept in groups with about the same number of males as females.   Although groups of one or two males with two or three females per male also works well, and because males are much more colorful than females; you might just as well get equal numbers of males to females for your breeding tank.

Sardine Cichlids live and reproduce totally independent of the substrate, which makes them unlike any other mouth brooding cichlid species.

Place a breeding group in a wide tank as deep as possible, keep the pH at about 8.0 to 8.5, the temperature in the 75 to 85 degrees F range, and leave the fish to themselves.

The males will stake out and defend a territory in mid water and when a ripe females passes through it will display to her.   If she is ready to breed, she will follow him into his territory where spawning commences.

The female lays her eggs in mid water and catches them as they are dropping in the water column.   Males have egg shaped growths on the tip of their ventral fins that attract the females and when the female tries to add the “egg” growth to her brood, the male fertilizes all the eggs in her mouth.

The female will carry anywhere from 5 to 20 eggs in her mouth for up to 4 weeks before the fry are released to fend for themselves.    During this period, she does not eat.

Brooding females can be easily recognized by their “chewing” action as they move the eggs around in their mouths. If left in the breeding tank, the female will deposit the fry among the rocks where a good number will survive.

At about two weeks, many breeders will strip the fry from the female’s mouth into a separate rearing tank to raise them.   This approach results in a greater number of fry being raised to adulthood.   However, unless you are breeding them commercially or the female is being harassed by other males, it’s best to leave her in the breeding tank with the breeding group.

The fry will eat baby brine shrimp as soon as they are released from the female’s mouth and are usually not harmed by adult Sardine Cichlids.

In their natural habitat, Cyprichromis leptosoma feed primarily on zooplankton, flying insects, insect larvae, and small crustaceans.   In an aquarium environment, they do well on a diet of live, frozen, or freeze dried brine shrimp, Daphnia, freeze dried cyclops, etc., and a quality cichlid flake food.

Although Sardine Cichlids (Cyprichromis leptosoma) are not common, they are occasionally available in specialty fish shops but are more easily acquired from online auction sites, cichlid forums, etc. when they are approximately 1″ or more in size.

Despite the demand for this species, they are usually reasonably priced.

Sardine Cichlid (Cyprichromis leptosoma)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 55 gallons
Care Level: Moderate
Temperament: Peaceful
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 75-82° F, pH 7.8-9.0, H 10-25°
Max. Size: 4″
Color Form: Blue, Yellow
Diet: Carnivore
Compatibility: Tanganyikan Community or single species tanks
Origin: Lake Tanganyika, Africa
Family: Cichlidae
Lifespan: 8-10 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Advanced

Posted in African Cichlids, Cichlids, Featured Articles, Freshwater Fish, Lake Tanganyika Cichlids, Tropical Fish Keeping, Tropical Fish SpeciesComments (0)

Wild Caught Red Devil Cichlid (Amphilophus labiatus).

Red Devil Cichlid (Amphilophus labiatus)

Wild Caught Red Devil Cichlid (Amphilophus labiatus).

The Red Devil Cichlid (Amphilophus labiatus) is a large Central American species that is usually found in submerged rocky areas hiding among the crevices in Lake Managua and Lake Nicaragua.

Tropical fish keeping enthusiasts will readily attest that the Red Devil Cichlid is one of the most aggressive cichlids around, bar none. Keeping a single male can only be done safely in a large single species tank, regardless of size.

Red Devil Cichlids are often confused with the Midas Cichlid (Amphilophus citrinellus). Wild Red Devil cichlids have large lips, smaller nuchal humps, and are less “stocky” than Amphilophus citrinellus.

Because of hybridization by tropical fish keeping enthusiasts to achieve different colors and patterns, pure bred specimens of either species are becoming increasingly difficult to obtain.

Red Devil Cichlid (Amphilophus labiatus)

Although the majority of wild caught Red Devil Cichlids are a nondescript gray color, a few wild specimens have an orange or red color pattern.

These fish have been selectively bred to produce different color patterns for the aquarium trade including, grey, yellow, orange, red, white, barred, and piebald forms.

Mature male Red Devil Cichlids are larger, stockier, and develop longer dorsal and anal fins than females.  The nuchal humps that develop during the breeding season in their natural environment is larger and more spectacular in males than in females.   Aquarium bred specimens often posses large permanent humps that demand higher prices.

Because of their viscous temperament, Amphilophus labiatus are best kept in a single species aquarium of at least 80 gallon capacity with a sand and large gravel substrate, some large river rocks constructed into caves, a large flowerpot, and some large driftwood branches.  Plants are not recommended as they will be quickly dug up and shredded.

Because of their greedy, messy feeding habits, Red Devil cichlids produce large amounts of biological waste.  Weekly water changes are a must and a trickle filter or a large canister filter system, along with a power head, is highly recommended to provide the clean, highly oxygenated water they require.

Be sure to protect your heaters, filters, air lines, water intakes and outlets, etc. from being attacked by the fish when they become excited or aggressive.   A heavy aquarium cover is recommended to keep the fish from jumping out of the tank when they become excited or startled.

If you have the space and can afford to keep Red Devil Cichlids in a community aquarium environment, a tank of at least 300 gallons is required to minimize aggression and keep them from killing the other inhabitants.

In this setting they can be housed with large Loricariids, large catfish, other Central American cichlids, and other large fast swimming species like tinfoil barbs or silver sharks however, even in this setting, a single male may murder everything else in the tank.   NEVER try keeping more than a single male in one tank regardless of size.

Red Devil Cichlid (Amphilophus labiatus).

If you can get a compatible pair of the same species, Red Devil Cichlids are easy to breed.

A large breeding tank at least 6 feet long decorated with large rocks and several heavy flowerpots to act as potential spawning sites is needed.

The trick is to successful breeding is to keep the pair from killing each other before they breed. If the pair is placed in the tank together, the male will often kill the female. Some breeders place a clear divider in the tank until the fish get used to each other, but even then mortalities occur.   Most breeders purchase 6 to 8 young specimens, wait for a pair to form, and then remove the other fish from the tank before they are murdered.

A “mated” pair will breed without any outside help. The nuchal hump in both sexes will grow larger when the fish are in spawning condition. Courtship is long, often violent, and consists of gaping, a lot of tail slapping and a lot of digging by both fish. The female will often rub her lateral line along the hump of the male.

If the male does not turn and kill the female, the female will lay her eggs in a cave, flowerpot, or any vertical rock surface in the tank. The male fertilizes the eggs which hatch in about 2 to 3 days.

Red Devil Cichlids are excellent parents and will fiercely defend the eggs and fry against all intruders, including the tropical fish keeping enthusiast should they try doing any tank maintenance. The parents move the newly hatched fry into a pit that they excavate in the substrate where they become free swimming in about 5 to 7 days.

Many breeders install a divider at this stage to keep the female from the male.

Don’t remove the fry from the tank or the male will try to spawn with the female a second time.   If the female is not ready to participate, the male will often kill the female.

The free swimming fry have a barred body pattern and can be fed newly hatched brine shrimp and dried flakes.   They grow very quickly under the right conditions, and will start to change color at around 2″ to 2.5″ in size.

Red Devil Cichlids are not fussy feeders and will try to eat anything that looks edible.   They do well on a quality floating cichlid stick with supplemental feedings of live, frozen, or freeze dried prawn, mussels, shrimp, earthworms, peas, spinich,etc.   Do not feed them red meats, beef hearts, or feeder fish.

Despite the Red Devil Cichlids (Amphilophus labiatus) nature and reputation as a killer, they are one of the most popular aquarium species.   They quickly learn to recognize their owners and will intelligently interact with them.   They will actually “beg” for food when their owners are recognized entering a room.

Amphilophus labiatus are readily available to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts online, from specialty fish shops, online auction sites, and cichlid forums in a wide range of sizes at reasonable prices.

 

Red Devil Cichlid (Amphilophus labiatus) Piebald

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 100 gallons
Care Level: Difficult
Temperament: Super Aggressive
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 69.8-78.8° F, KH 5-25, pH 6.0-8.0
Max. Size: 13”
Color Form: Gray, Orange, Red, Yellow
Diet: Omnivore
Compatibility: Single species tank
Origin: Nicaragua, Costa Rica
Family: Cichlidae
Lifespan: 10-15 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Advanced

Posted in Central American Cichlids, Cichlids, Featured Articles, Freshwater Fish, New World CichlidsComments (2)

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