My Top 10 Favorite Tanganyikan Cichlids, From the Mind of a Cichlid Mad Man

Hey folks Jose here, this time I’m talking about my 10 favorite Tanganyikan Cichlids. These guys didn’t attract me until I saw my first adult Frontosa at a fish show, next thing I know I was breeding shell-dwellers. The main reason I like Tanganyikans is because of their spawning behaviors, but there are some that would rival species from Malawi in beauty, so let’s begin shall we?

Cyprichromis sp. – It’s tough to just pick one variant or species of this genus as a favorite, as there are so many different color variants that occur, but if you want a schooler this is it. Just don’t keep them with aggressive species and Frontosas. They are docile and pretty enough to pack plenty of impact in a group.

Cyathopharynx sp. – Here’s another genus with many color variants. Again, I have a hard time picking just one, although I really love C. foai which I’ve kept and bred.  Maybe that makes me partial, but they are absolutely gorgeous fish.  In classic featherfin manner, their spawning habits are really interesting to watch.  The male shakes and coaxes the female to his crater-shaped nest in the substrate. There the ritualistic and well-choreographed spawning dance continues as the female lays her eggs.  The male then entices the female to take her clutch into her mouth by dragging his elongated fins over the sand.  As she picks up the eggs he fertilizes them.

Benthochromis tricoti – This 10″ deep water beauty has to be my all time favorite cichlid. The male is striking, especially when he is courting females. Females have a huge mouths despite their small clutch size. One important thing to know about keeping these guys is to keep the lighting on the dimmer side, as it will wash their color out if it is too bright.

Cyphotilapia frontosa – The frontosa is another big fish with a big head…enough said, see one and you’ll know.

Golden OcellatusShell-dwellers (any species) – These are little fish with big fish attitude! There are many different species, but my personal favorite is the Golden Ocellatus. They are fun fish for small tanks where you can really watch them do what they do.

Bathybates sp. – These deep water predators are mainly silver with lots of teeth (like barracuda!). There are 7 species ranging from 9 to 17 inches.  They’re  not very common in the hobby, but definitely worth keeping if you should see them available and you have a large spare tank aching for something fun to display.

Astatotilapia burtoni – These were my first experience with mouth brooders. I was captivated by the bright egg spots on the male’s anal fin. The very bright orange spots show beautifully against the males varying blue to yellow coloration, which largely depends on his mood. They’re moderately aggressive, but easy to breed and nice to look at.

Enantiopus sp. – This group of cichlids are also known as Flashers, as in the males flash their vivid colors at females during spawning, they are sensitive and delicate and should not be kept with more boisterous species.

Lepidiolamprologus kendalli (nkambae) – This 7 inch predator is L. nkambaeTanganyika’s version of our Northern Pike. Their aggressive attitude is ample, so make sure you have a tight fitting lid as an individual may try to exclude all other fish from its territory. They’re fish that command respect.

Neolamprologus buescheri – This 3 inch species is a reclusive fish that becomes very aggressive during spawning and towards similar species. A sharp looking fish, they prefer dimly lit tanks with plenty of rock to establish territory.

So that’s my top 10 Tanganyikan Cichlid picks! Next time I will share my picks of favorite Central American Cichlids (yay!)

Please comment and tell me your favorite Tanganyikans, I love to hear the experiences of other cichlid fanatics!

Until next time,

Jose

Live Foods for Fishes and Invertebrates – Daphnia, Copepods and Seed Shrimps

Daphnia magnaHello, Frank Indiviglio here. There was a time when all serious aquarists maintained live cultures of Daphnia. This practice has fallen out of favor today, with live foods being replaced by prepared diets. However, many tiny aquatic Crustaceans are easy (and interesting!) to maintain, and represent one of the most nutritious of all food sources for aquatic animals.

The animals highlighted here are especially valuable for fry and small or filter-feeding invertebrates, and are essential to the survival of tiny live food specialists such as seahorses and pipefishes. They can be used for freshwater or marine animals. Be aware, however, that freshwater species will expire rapidly in salt water, and vice-versa.

Daphnia

These tiny Crustaceans may easily be collected via plankton net (available at biological supply houses) from nearly any body of fresh water. Alternatively, a culture may set up by adding pond water and grass or hay to a tank placed in a sunny location (or use a full spectrum bulb).

Eggs or immature Daphnia magna, a very common species, will likely be present and, at 75-80 F, will mature within a week. This species reaches 0.25 inches in length (a Daphnia giant!) and is sometimes available commercially. Females produce 100 or more eggs every few days (with or without males), and so a healthy colony will easily meet the needs of most aquarists.

Daphnia fare best in tanks supporting a healthy growth of algae. While filtration is not essential, I’ve found a sponge filter
to be very beneficial (use a small air pump – strong currents should be avoided).

Decaying plant matter provides sufficient food, but growth and reproduction will be hastened if you supplement the culture with Artemia food , ground Spirulina discs and liquid invertebrate foods.

Copepods

Copepod kilsSmaller even than most Daphnia, Copepods are an excellent food source for the tiniest of fish fry, shrimps and filter-feeding invertebrates. I’ve used them for dwarf seahorses and newborn four-spine sticklebacks with great results.

Occurring in fresh and marine waters worldwide, over 5,000 species of these crustaceans have been described to date (Copepod taxonomists must be quite amazing people!). Cyclops fuscus, which reaches 0.124 inches in length, is the species most commonly encountered in the USA.

Copepods may be collected and raised as described for Daphnia.

Seed Shrimp or Ostracods

These aptly-named Crustaceans (Class Ostracoda) do indeed resemble tiny shrimps encased within a seed. The 13,000+ described species thrive in a nearly every aquatic habitat known, from the deepest oceans to the few drops of rainwater that collects in bromeliads growing in rainforest canopies. They are truly amazing in their range of forms and adaptations.

Seed shrimps “bounce” along the substrate, a habit that renders them an ideal food for bottom-dwelling aquarium pets. Although rarely cultured for food, I have found them to be quite hardy, and well worth the small effort involved in keeping them. Their exoskeleton is an excellent source of calcium.

Seed shrimp care is as described for Daphnia.

Useful Products

A number of highly nutritious crustacean-based foods are available to supplement live-food diets. The following are well-worth trying:

Further Reading

Despite their small size, seed shrimps are incredibly complicated creatures, and quite interesting in their own right. Read more about their structure and behavior at http://w3.gre.ac.uk/schools/nri/earth/ostracod/introduction.htm.

Please write in with your questions and comments. Thanks, until next time, Frank Indiviglio.

Copepod image referenced from Wikipedia and originally posted by Uwe Kils

Cory’s Christmas Fish & Coral Wish List

Cory here.There are so many things that I would love to add to my aquarium, but would never buy for myself. So, I add them to my list for Santa every year.

1. Purple Rhinopias (Rhinopias aphanes):

I’m not really a predator fish person, but this fish is beautiful and expensive. Most likely the only fish I would put in the tank, but would do just fine in a 40 gallon tank.

2. Conspicillatus Angel (Chaetodontoplus conspicillatus):

Another beautiful fish with the price to go along. Typically retailing for around $2000, the Conspicillatus Angel is rarely seen in hobby.

3. Magnificent Shrimp Goby (Flabelligobius spp.):

Excellent choice for a nano aquarium, but hard to find for less than $350 for a 1.5 inch fish!

4. French Polynesian Maxima Clam (Tridacna maxima):

Collected only a couple of times, the colors are one of a kind! The clams start around $280 for a 6 inch clam to as high as $800 for an Ultra variety.

5. Jason Fox My Miami Chalice Coral (Echinophyllia spp.):

Awesome coral for an amazing price of $1500 for one eye. I’m sure this will be on my wish list for quite some time.

With so many fish and corals in the oceans, it was very hard to narrow down my list to just 5, I’m sure the list will change for next year. Merry Christmas!!

Until Next Blog,

Cory

New LED lighting technology coming to TFP – Part 1

Aquarium with 2 Panorama LED fixture Dave here.  I just got back from a trip to California to visit with the folks from Ecoxotic, a new aquarium lighting company that specializes in LED technology.  Many thanks to Ecoxotic for the opportunity,not only was the trip informative, but it is much warmer in southern California than it is here in frosty Pennsylvania.  Ecoxotic has just started shipping product this month, and we will have it here at TFP very soon, so I wanted to give a quick rundown of the new products that we will be carrying from this exciting new company. Read More »

Assassin Snails – Killer Snails for Your Aquarium

In my first blog, I talked about why the Zebra Loach (Botia striata) is well suited for smaller aquariums, and why it was certainly a more sensible choice for snail control than its larger cousin, the Clown Loach. The Zebra Loach is one of the most under rated of the snail eating Botia, in my opinion. But what if you have a planted aquarium and you’re keeping small shrimp? Zebra Loaches may very well eat them! Or what if you have a small tank, but don’t have room to house 4 or 5 of these fish? Well, I think there may be something that is just as effective, does not appear to want to eat the little shrimp, and won’t take up a lot of room. A somewhat new introduction into the hobby called the Assassin Snail.

The Assassin Snail (Clea helena or Clea Anentome helena) comes from lakes and ponds in Southeast Asia, where it feeds on decaying protein, worms, and other snails. That’s right, a snail that eats other snails. Voracious little predators, the Assassin Snail has an attractive yellow shell with a spiraling brown stripe wrapped around it. While they do have an appetite for snails, predation does not occur within their own species. This allows several individuals can be kept in a single small aquarium. At an adult length of just under an inch, a 10 gallon aquarium could easily house a dozen of these snails. They are pretty durable and can take a wide range of water chemistry, as long as it does not fluctuate greatly. While preferring a pH of 7.0 or 7.2, they can tolerate a range from slightly above 6 to about 8.2. Water hardness, can also be somewhat flexible. Reports of keeping them in water with GH values of 5 and a dKH of 1 seem to be pretty standard. Fine gravel or sand is always preferred, but not a necessity. If you do have fine substrate, these little guys will burrow and crawl through the substrate in search of food.

Assassin Snails are known to be extremely active. The idea that snails are slow and plodding is definitely challenged by this gastropod. Assassin snails will scale plants, glass, large stones, and wood with surprising speed when hunting for food. I have even seen them suspended upside down on the surface of very still water! Being able to move quickly gives this snail an advantage over slower moving prey items, such as the troublesome pond snail, Physa sp. In large numbers, Physa sp. pond snails can damage soft plant tissue and can present a real problem if you are trying to keep a well-groomed planted aquarium. A handful of Assassin Snails will eventually clear the aquarium of unwanted snails. After the problem snails are eaten, Assassin Snails will take up a somewhat more laid back role by eating left-over fish foods and decaying protein. While some reports of shrimp predation have occurred, it is a pretty rare occurrence.

Watching a group of these curious little snails cruising around your aquarium is really fascinating. I have never really gotten absorbed into the snail world, but seeing the Assassin Snail hunt and forage for food has definitely piqued my interest! From my personal observations, I have to say that these snails are definitely more than capable of ridding an aquarium of unwanted snails. They may be the predator you’ve been looking for.

Thanks, until next time,

Craig