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November 09, 2012

Two weeks ago, I introduced you to the Mbuna fishes of Lake Malawi. We learned the best way to keep them was by overcrowding the tank and to avoid protein rich foods in their diet. The following week, we learned the Utaka (Peacocks) find their food by using a sonar sense. There is, of course, a third “flock” of fishes known as the “Haps” of the lake. As much as I would love to talk about these other very beautiful and large growing fishes, I will leave them for another time. Today, I will talk about some other animals that are rarely seen in the hobby.

I’m sure many of you are like me and are in love with catfish, but can never seem to get your hands on the only species of Synodontis that occurs in Lake Malawi. Because this fish is never seen, we are forced to purchase the two cats from neighboring Lake Tanganyika that are available - Synodontis multipunctatus and Synodontis lucipinnis. To that, I say your endless search has finally come to an end here at our store. Once again, The Wet Spot Tropical Fish has set itself apart from other pet stores by acquiring a small group of the indeed very elusive catfishes of Lake Malawi - the Synodontis njassae “Malawi Squeaker Cat”. It would appear there are two forms of this exceptionally spotted cat. The northern form has small spots, while the fish of the south exhibits large spots. At this time, it’s unclear whether or not these two fish are a separate species or just variations of each other. In the lake, most specimens are found to reach about 8”. In the aquarium, I hypothesize they’ll probably grow closer to 10” given that they will be offered a more regular diet. The Malawi Squeaker Cats are fairly peaceful towards each other and other catfish. I would recommend you keep more than two if you wish to see them. In my experience, as the numbers dwindle so does the behavior of the catfish. Small fish should be avoided as the catfish are nocturnal predators and will consume small animals if given the chance.

Eels are often another fascination of mine. I’ve kept a few of them over the years, and each one has been a rewarding experience in its own. Unfortunately, most grow to large sizes and housing them became problematic and I was forced to find new homes for my beloved pets. For over the past year, we have kept an eel that most have only dreamed of seeing, Aethiomastacembelus sp. “Rosette”. First observed and photographed by our friend Ad Konings, on the Mbenji Islands, this remarkably patterned eel has now been observed in other localities, including on the Mozambique side of the great Rift Lake. Because of the considerable variants of the fish, it is unclear wither or not A. sp. “Rosette” is just a subspecies of the already described A. shiranus, or if the Rosette Eel is indeed an un-described African mastacembelid. I’ve read reports that the Rosette Eel only grows to around a foot in the lake. I’m not sure if I agree with these statements, but at this time I have no other information. I would suggest if you wish to keep one of these eels, you should have a large aquarium in case they exceed this estimated growth length. Also, because of their particular diet, it is probably best to house the animals by themselves. This will ensure they are fed properly. It is my strong suggestion if you do wish to house these animals with other Malawi cichlids that you do not keep them with the Mbuna species. The Peacock and Haps would be a much better choice for this aquarium.

Aethiomastacembelus sp. “Rosette”

Aethiomastacembelus sp. "Rosette"

That’s it for this week’s newsletter. I would like to thank you all again for continuing to read these and for all of your support. You can find the new pricelist under the products link, or by clicking If you have any questions about these fish or items from the list please feel free to ask.

Happy fishes!

Anthony Perry
Sales Manager