Aquarium Fish Species profile: Dimidiochromis Compressiceps the Malawi Eye Biter Cichlid

Hey cichlid fans, Jose here. We are going to profile dimidiochromis compressiceps the “Malawi eye biter”. Found throughout Lake Malawi this species inhabits the open water. It is also a large predator. One interesting method of hunting is the way they ambush prey. Dimidiochromis compressiceps uses its compressed body to hide in beds of reeds and vallisneria and when prey (small fish) swim by they tilt their head down at an angle until they are close and then with a burst of speed and a large mouth they dispatch their prey.When choosing an aquarium I would recommend a 75 gallon for a group of 4 to 6 fish due to their adult size of 12 inches. Keep the aquarium lightly decorated due to them being an open water predator.

Malawi Eye Biters like to hang close to the surface or in plants. They are not very territorial unless they are breeding.

Be careful with tank mates that may fit in their mouth, and if your going to feed them feeder fish know that it may make them more aggressive: especially towards tankmates.

This is an awesome looking fish that in my opinion is better looking than the electric blue ahli, when young. Males and females are a whitish silver with a single brown horizontal stripe. At 4 to 5 inches the male should start turning metallic blue with red and orange in his dorsal and anal fin. An adult male in breeding dress is a sight to behold. There is a gold version of this fish that although not as stunning it’s still an awesome fish to own.

Keep on keeping Cichlids,


Introducing a Catfish Fancier’s Dream: the Frog Mouth or Angler Catfish, Chaca bankanensis – Part 2

Click: Introducing a Catfish Fancier’s Dream: the Frog Mouth or Angler Catfish, Chaca bankanensis – Part 1, to read the first part of this article.

The Natural Habitat
The waters in which the frog mouth naturally dwells are almost always located within rainforests, and are quite acidic and soft (“black water”, in the trade). This habitat supports far fewer species of bacteria than most, a fact that may explain this fish’s susceptibility to bacterial and other infections in captivity.Animals hailing from low-bacteria environments lack immunities to micro-organisms that are commonly encountered outside of their natural habitats. I have faced similar problems when rearing other animals from unique habitats – desert-adapted tortoises and penguins are both very delicate in this regard.

Establishing the Frog Mouth Catfish in the Aquarium
I strongly recommend using Marc Weiss Co. Keta-Peat Nuggets in the frog mouth aquarium. Added to the filter, this product will help soften the water, reduce bacterial and algal growth, and create a “black water” environment for your fish. Aquarium Pharmaceuticals pH Down will help to maintain an acidic environment. The waters from which this species originates average 3-4 in pH, but a pH of 6 works well in captivity.

Light and Shelter
The aquarium should be dimly lit, as the frog mouth naturally inhabits muddy waters and is uncomfortable in bright light.

A bed of oak leaves thick enough to hide the catfish is essential if it is to adapt and behave normally. The leaves mimic the cover under which this fish spends most of its time, and will also assist in maintaining a low pH. The frog mouth catfish is most comfortable at temperatures of approximately 77°F.

The frog mouth is a sizable fish that consumes large prey, and so likely produces a good deal of nitrogenous waste. Careful attention should be paid to filtration – the fact that it inhabits muddy waters does not indicate a tolerance for poor water quality. However, the filter’s outflow should be slow, as these fish are not strong swimmers and are native to still and slow- moving waters.

In terms of diet, the frog mouth is a fish specialist, although it has been reported to feed upon earthworms and tadpoles as well. Neither I nor those I have spoken with could induce it to accept earthworms, but an aquarist in Japan reported that her frog mouth fed readily upon freshwater shrimp.

As this fish is still considered a delicate captive, and rarely if ever spawned in captivity (the related Chaca chaca has occasionally been bred), you might consider adding aquarium fishes hailing from Southeast Asia to the diet, along with guppies, minnows, goldfish, platies, mollies and other easily bred species. Until we learn more about its needs, dietary variety will remain an important key in maintaining this fish in captivity.

Due to this specie’s extreme sensitivity to diseases and pathogens that might be carried, unnoticed, by other fishes, I pre-treat all feeder fish with Methylene Blue.

Research Needed
It has been reported, anecdotally, that the frog mouth catfish wiggles the barbels near its mouth in order to lure fish within striking range. Certainly the barbels do move about, but to my eye this seems to be a sensory rather than food-luring behavior. Documenting true luring, as in the manner of a marine anglerfish, would be an interesting project for the aquarist fortunate enough to acquire one of these fascinating animals.

The Standard Catfish Warning!
Please be aware that the spine next to the dorsal fin can inflict a painful wound.

We have a great deal to learn about this fascinating catfish and its relatives…please write in with any observations or questions you may have. Thanks, until next time, Frank Indiviglio.

You can read more about the natural history of this fish and view a picture at:

Introducing a Catfish Fancier’s Dream: the Frog Mouth or Angler Catfish, Chaca bankanensis – Part 1

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.

Those who believe that one must look to the sea for really bizarre aquatic life forms have no doubt missed the frog mouthed catfish. If ever a freshwater fish were to qualify as a true oddity, something along the lines of a marine anglerfish, it is certainly this Southeast Asian native. In its appearance, movements (“walking” rather than swimming) and ability to vocalize (the sound it makes, “chaca-chaca” has given rise to the Genus’ name), this unusual creature seems to straddle the line between fish and amphibian.

Catfish Heaven
I first came upon the frog mouth catfish in a book translated from Japanese. As I learned upon visiting Japan, catfishes of all types are incredibly popular there – one store I frequented had over 50 tanks of various species! The fact that Prince Akishino (son of Emperor Akihito) studies catfishes has increased public awareness and appreciation of these often over-looked creatures.

Fortunately, I had a number of contacts in Japanese pet stores and public aquariums…this was paradise for me, and I was able to learn a great deal about catfishes that I had not encountered before, including the frog mouth.

Description and Range
The frog mouth catfish is a squat, mainly brownish fish, possessing a huge mouth that gives a square shape to the head. The tiny eyes are nearly invisible, and from the wide head the body tapers sharply. Cutaneous flaps of skin help to break up the body’s outline and add to the camouflage effect as the fish lies on the river bottom waiting for prey.

Native to southern Thailand, Malaysia, Sumatra and Borneo, the frog mouth catfish is not common in the US pet trade but is becoming increasingly available. Best kept by those with some aquarium experience, it is well worth searching for.

A Shy and Sedentary Captive
Although not an active fish, the frog mouth does require quite a bit of room, as it reaches nearly 1 foot in length and is stressed by close confinement. A 30 Long Aquarium is the minimum that I would recommend for a single animal, with a 55 Gallon Aquarium sufficing for a pair or possibly a trio. It spends most of its time hunkered down on the bottom of the aquarium, preferably under cover of some sort, and even at night does not actively hunt for food.

The frog mouth catfish is best kept alone, as it can swallow prey nearly half its own length. Also, it is very prone to stress and does not do well in aquariums housing actively swimming fish.

Click here: Introducing a Cafish Fancier’s Dream: the Frog Mouth or Angler Catfish, chaca bankanensis – Part 2, to read the rest of this article.

Marine Biology in the News: Famed Oceanographer Jacques Piccard Dies

Eileen here. The oceanographic and scientific community lost one of its pioneers this past weekend with the death of a renowned Swiss oceanographer, Jacques Piccard. Piccard was one of the first deep-sea explorers and, along with Lt. Don Walsh from the United States Navy, reached a greater depth than any other scientist.

Jacques Piccard had science and discovery in his genes from birth. His father, uncle and aunt were revolutionary aeronauts and balloonists who helped the scientific community understand jet streams and atmospheric currents. Jacques’s own son is continuing this family tradition and completed a trip around the world in a balloon using his grandfather’s knowledge of the air current and his father’s research of deep-sea currents as inspiration.

Jacques Piccard is most famous for his 1960 dive into the Mariana Trench with Lt. Walsh. The Mariana Trench is located near Guam in the Pacific Ocean. It is the deepest point in the oceans known to man and Piccard’s dive went to about 35,797 ft below the surface to reach the bottom of part of the trench. Piccard is quoted as saying one of the most surprising parts of the 20-minute dive was the life discovered there, life that many marine biologists said could not possibly survive because of the extreme pressure at that depth. The submarine used for the dive reportedly started leaking during the dive and cut the trip even shorter than planned. That submarine, the Trieste, was eventually retired and inspired other naval research submarines as Piccard continued his research with the Untied States Navy until a few years ago. Piccard was 86 years old when he passed away on Saturday.

Read more about Jacques Piccard:

Until next time,

Scary Halloween Fish for Aquariums

Happy Halloween fish blog readers! I thought I might stay in the theme of things and introduce some of the more frightening and bizarre fish you might find in the tanks here at That Fish Place. I’ve always been drawn to fish that a lot of people find to be ugly or plain, I just don’t think they get the credit they deserve. I think that a fish or invert with bizarre characteristics is way more fascinating than the more popular pretty stuff.

One of my favorite types of fish is angler fish, or Frogfish. Though there are examples of brilliantly colored frog fish, most of the ones that we see have muted colors, brown, grey, pale yellow, nothing too exciting. Frogfish are masters of disguise, mimicking their surroundings to blend seamlessly with rocks, sponges, floating seaweed, and other articles in the reef. They can even change color over time to blend if necessary. This ability to blend is essential as they are ambush predators. They lay in wait for prey to pass close enough for them to snatch with lighting speed. Anglers have some unique anatomy that allows them to be effective predators. They have a lure on their head that can extend and jiggle, attracting smaller fish and inverts to within striking distance. Their gill openings are found behind their modified pectoral fins so the movement is hidden from the view of prey. And another amazing feature is their capability to swallow prey their size, accommodated by a huge mouth and highly expandable abdomen. They’re a ton of fun to watch, and they’re adorable in their own lumpy, grumpy way.

Sea Goblins are aptly named; these guys would fit in just right in Jim Henson’s monster shop. They and their scorpionfish and stonefish cousins are intimidating in appearance, but by nature are not aggressive with the exception of their predatory nature. They are content to blend like the anglers, waiting for unsuspecting prey to pass by. Some of these fish are brightly colored, too, but many are cloaked in colors to blend with rock and the sea floor, many even have fins, spikes, and frilly skin and appendages that help them to blend and make them even more ferocious looking. Many, with faces only a mother could love, are not respected for their unique looks, but for their needle-like venomous spines, reliable means of defense.

Trumpet fish are weird and amazing predators. They seem so docile and shy, their long, slender bodies hovering on and above the rock reef. Unassuming prey should not Trumpet Fishunderestimate the stealth and speed of these hunters. With incredible speed they swoop in and suck down their prey like a vacuum with their long, specialized snout and mouth.

I really have to give some freshwater fish props too. With the exception of piranhas, I don’t think people find freshwater fish to be as intimidating and scary as many marine fish. There are, however, lots of freshwater fish that are pretty unusual and frightening to look at, even if they don’t have demeanor to back it up. Take for example, the vampire tetra. Even when they come to us at only a couple of inches in length, their fierce fangs can give you a shudder. Same goes for Goliath Tiger fish and Alligator Gar, especially if you’ve seen any articles on the adults.

In a previous article, Frank Indiviglio posted a profile of blind cavefish. Fish with no eyes? Pretty creepy!
Glass catfish and Indian Glass fish are two fish that share a unique trait. Both of these fish are crystal clear! Neither of them is remotely scary, but it’s rather a strange characteristic. You can feed them different colored flake foods, and actually see the foods in their guts. Fun.

No wonder the Sci-fi channel never runs out of ideas for Saturday premiere original movies! With crazy creatures you can find at the local pet store leering at you from the dark corners of aquariums, it doesn’t take too much imagination! Come on in and check out the selection, and have a terrific Halloween!