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January 17, 2014

Good morning! It’s another week of the newsletter according to Jess – I know I told everybody that Anthony would be back to writing this week but it appears I was mistaken. At the very least, he’s chosen the subjects of this week’s newsletter. While my writing may lack Anthony’s particular storytelling flair, I do hope you can still enjoy reading about these amazing and somewhat unusual fish.

We have a small group of the rare and beautiful “Striped Silver Dollar”, Metynnis fasciatus. These gorgeous, diamond-shaped silver characins are graced with unique vertical dark grey bars. Each specimen appears to have a unique and variable pattern that grows more complex with age. The bars run from the fish’s slightly ruddy dorsal edge and have variable lengths – some reach nearly to the ventral side of the fish while others stop well before the lateral line. Some stripes grow together and apart, creating a sense of snakelike reticulation. Each fish is marked by a bolder, darker spot behind and above the eye and a slight orange to red coloration in the anal fin. Unlike the more common M. agrenteus, with a length of at least six inches, the Striped Silver Dollar grows to five inches in length and dines upon an omnivorous diet with a preference for vegetable matter. Some specimens are avid plant eaters so, while the fish will enjoy and benefit from a planted aquarium, even hardy plants will need replacing. While most of us here at the Wet Spot prefer live plants, fake plastic or silk plants may be a better option if you happen to house a plant-eating Metynnis specimen. Care of these unusual beauties is considered to be fairly easy and straightforward – A school of five or more fish kept in neutral to slightly acidic water with a water temperature in the high 70s to very low 80s is advised, much like with the more common Silver Dollar.

Metynnis fasciatus

With such a beautiful school of Striped Silver Dollars occupying the upper levels of your aquarium, a compatible centerpiece fish should be likewise unusual and gorgeous. A great option could be the fairly unusual Heros notatus “Spotted Severum”, a beautiful wild type Brazilian cichlid. Unlike the highly line-bred Heros severum color morphs often available in the hobby such as gold or super red, the Spotted Severum features a complex and beautiful natural coloration. A greenish gold body is accented by brilliant red-orange finnage, deeper olive coloration over the forehead and behind the gill plate, and stunning orange to red coloration at the edge of the gill plate. This is all overlain by a bold black stripe at the rear of the body, just before the caudal peduncle followed by a series of short and thick vertical black stripes regularly spaced along the ventral edge of the fish. The entire body of the fish is marked by patterns of black dots – the origin of the species’ common name. Females sport very similar coloration to the males albeit, as usual, slightly less brilliantly. To top all this off with a brilliant cherry red eye is just icing on the beautiful Spotted Severum cake – but please don’t eat your Severum, it isn’t actually cake. Size reports vary; most sources state a maximum length of about eight inches and, in a home aquarium, I think this is likely. With a fondness for driftwood and plants, water temperatures in the high 70s to low 80s Fahrenheit and a neutral to slightly acidic pH value, these peaceful cichlids make a perfect complement to the Striped Silver Dollar. Feeding is quite similar as well – an omnivorous diet with both meaty and vegetable-rich foods is perfect for the Spotted Severum.

Heros notatus

The Venezuelan Leporacanthicus triactis “L91” would make a perfect companion to both M. fasciatus and H. notatus and, as a bonus, is the one of the most gorgeous loricariids I’ve ever seen. This ten inch Pleco is deep black in coloration; its amazing beauty is due to the brilliant poppy orange markings on the leading edges of its dorsal, adipose, and caudal fins. The origin of its common name of “Three Beacon Pleco” is obvious when one observes the brilliant orange markings on three distinct fin edges. This is an omnivorous loricariid and should be provided with a varied diet including such foods as algae wafers, cucumbers or zucchini, bloodworms, krill, and perhaps the occasional mollusk or crustacean as a treat. This beauty is suitable for community aquariums with neutral pH values and high 70s Fahrenheit water temperatures as long as cohabitating bottom dwellers are limited as L. triactis can be somewhat territorial of its floor space.

L91 Leporacanthicus triactis

If, however, you are looking for a smaller sucker mouth cat companion for your fish, Panaqolus albivermis “L204” “Pinstripe Panaque” is a great alternative. A little background on Panaques: The Latin name of Panaque is derived from the local common name for these fish with Panaqolus translating to, essentially, “small Panaque.” Panaques feature spoon shaped teeth and specialized digestive systems developed to scrape and digest wood – this not only demands the presence of bog or root wood in the aquarium, but also leads to another common name of “Canoe Eater” for their tendency to occasionally chew holes in moored wooden canoes. With a tolerance for slightly warmer water up to the mid-80s Fahrenheit and at half the size of L91, this Peruvian loricariid from the Rio Alejandro will put a bit less strain on your bioload if this is a concern. The Pinstripe Panaque was formally described about seven months ago and given the species name of albivermis. The general translation for this is ‘white worm’, referring to the fine pin striping of yellow or cream over the fish’s dark brown to black body. As juveniles, this pattern consists of solid cream stripes wrapped vertically over the fish’s body, continuing gracefully into the fish’s fins. As they age, the stripes retain their boldness but grow even more delicate, occasionally broken into short line segments or spots. Mature specimens grow delicate filaments at the outer rays of the caudal fin. Provide, in addition to driftwood snacks, a diet of greens and veggies.

Panaqolus albivermis L204

I suppose I could have written all this as a fish-catching outing to South America, but I suspect that my ending wherein our canoe is sunk by a ravenous shoal of L204s might have been a little too silly. I will leave the adventures to Anthony. Thank you all for reading – We’ll see you back next week with more fish and new information and, as usual, don’t forget to visit our Facebook, Pinterest, and Google+ pages for pretty pictures, information, and events!

Jessica Supalla