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November 8, 2013

The moment you have been waiting for has arrived…. Drum roll please… HERE YOU HAVE IT! A BRAND NEW stock list, complete with wild imported African cichlids, direct from Lake Malawi! After many months of waiting, the first attempt never making it passed Nairobi, plus a week of stabilizing them, we finally have wild African cichlids available to offer you.

 

Aulonocara hueseri

Getting fish from Africa’s Lake Malawi all the way to Portland, Oregon, is no easy task. Our location makes their trip arduous and lengthy, with our little fishy friends making four different connections before finally landing at the SeaTac Airport in Seattle. Once they have arrived, it takes another two and half hours of drive time for them to reach Portland (have you ever witnessed a cichlid try to drive? It is not pretty!).The fish arrive at their destination during the evening. Many late nights have been spent getting them comfortable and settled in at our facility, after their long trip. Even with such a long journey in coach, with no extra leg room, the males show up brightly colored and ready to claim their spot in a tank.

 

Aulonocara koningsi

For those of you who are not familiar with Lake Malawi, there are three types of cichlids that inhabit the lake. There are the rock dwelling fish known by the locals as “Mbuna”. These fish generally have a rounded face and elongated body, and prefer to eat algae, but they will pick at zooplankton if they find it. The bigger “haps” are found living amongst the sand beds and in the rocky areas. These fish generally have a tall body, and like to construct large “pits” to attract their mate into. Some of the haps have even learned to play dead in order to ambush potential prey. Lastly, there are the well-known “peacocks,” or as the locals call them – “Utaka” - that inhabit the entirety of the lake. Their heads have sensory pores that enable them to use sonar to detect prey as they hover over the sand bed. They typically can be found in the sandy areas, or hiding out in caves.

Aulonocara korneliae

 

Though each of these fish has their own specialized feeding habits, they all seem to share the same breeding practice known as mouthbrooding. This type of breeding process entails the female enticing her potential mate by coaxing him on his underside, when she is ready to spawn. The pair will dance around each other while the female lays her eggs. The male will fertilize them while she is laying her eggs on the sand. Once the eggs are seeded she quickly picks it up into her mouth. This process is complete when she has lain between 20-60 eggs; this number depends on the species and the size of the female. At this point, the care of the fry is done solely by the female, and the male is left to find another suitor. She’ll guard her fry in her mouth for about 20-30 days. After that period of time, they are released into the wild to care for themselves.

 

Metriaclima mbenjii male

With so many fish that look alike in the lake (sometimes up to 70 species one locale!) a common question is how can each fish be sure that they’ve chosen the right mate? The answer is no one really knows for certain, yet cross-breeding does not seem to take place often in the lake. There are theories that not only are the females selective on who they choose for a mate, but the males seem to be as well. Some people believe that each fish uses colors and color patterns for identification. Maybe they use pheromones to figure out who is who along the reef? Only more research may help us to determine the answer.

Metriaclima sp Chilumba Zebra

 

Now, getting back to the feeding behaviors of these cichlids, each of them may consume food in a different manner, but all of them are opportunistic in nature. For instance, if mosquito larvae are in full bloom, even the rock dwelling mbuna may choose to snack on some. If a piece of algae happens to float by a peacock he’ll probably take the time for a quick snack. So what does this mean for fish being kept in your aquarium? Basically, it means that a varied diet is best to be provided. Now, I’m not saying dump a giant cube of frozen bloodworms in with your mbuna, but rather offer some protein occasionally to their diet. I always suggest very small amounts mixed in with spirulina flakes. This will provide the nutrition that all cichlids need to thrive, while keeping their appetite up.

 

Protomelas taeniolatus Namalenje PAIR

I’ve taken the liberty to include pictures of several species that are now here at our facility. All of the fish shown as well as many others are now available for sale. I strongly encourage you to have a look or ask any questions you may have. Don’t forget to go like us on Facebook, www.facebook.com/pages/The-Wet-Spot-Tropical-Fish/266545364839, and follow us on Pinterest, http://www.pinterest.com/thewetspotstore/.

Tropheops romandi PAIR

 

Hope everyone takes advantage of the great fish we are able to provide! Now, I’ve got some more fish to sell and place in good homes, so I’ll see you all back here next week!

Anthony Perry
Sales Manager