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December 27, 2014

Happy Holidays once again – I’m looking forward to the New Year’s beginning next week and, with it, some new fish. Unfortunately the Holidays prevent us from receiving new fish, so it’s taken a bit of perusing our aisles to decide what to write about this week.   It’s been a little while since I wrote on any of our Tanganyikan cichlids, so let’s talk about some rock dwellers. For a mixed tank with open water and sandy areas, these fish would make excellent options for a rocky territory.

Eretmodus cyanostictus “Karilani” is a full-bodied algae grazer that spends most of its time near the water’s surface. This is one of the lake’s “goby” type cichlids with a poorly functioning swim bladder, creating a rather comical effect of the fish hopping from spot to spot in the tank. Their bodies are fairly dark with vertical gold bars and their dorsal edge and face are marked with iridescent blue dots. This particular variety displays a beautiful red border to their dorsal and caudal fins. These fish are monogamous pair bonders and a single pair will remain together for life – if a pair is desired, it is best to obtain a group and, once a pair forms, remove the remaining specimens. They can be quite territorial so it is best to either keep singly or as a single pair. Adult individuals will grow to just over three inches in size and have plenty of personality for even the most discerning keeper.

EretmoduscyanostictusKarilani

Ophthalmotilapia ventralis “Mpimbwe”, a member of the featherfins, is significantly more peaceable than E. cyanostictus, though breeding males will defend their nests against other males of their species. The group of featherfins is so named for their extended ventral fins with enlarged yellow tips. These yellow lobes, technically called lappets, serve the same purpose as egg spots on the anal fins of many other African cichlids, drawing the female’s attention during spawning. The male will establish a nest on a small rock, typically claiming an area two to three meters in diameter in the wild, while groups of the gregarious five inch females and non-breeding males will congregate in groups of up to 500 individuals, swimming together above the nests of the males and feeding upon free-floating plankton and biofilm. Males will grow to six inches in size and, in the case of the strain from Mpimbwe, display dark charcoal grey bellies and iridescent, nearly white coloration over their black, broken by the occasional dark scale patch. These are by far some of the most beautiful of the O. ventralis color forms.

OphthalmotilapiaventralisMpimbwe

If an even more peaceful species is desired, Neolamprologus marunguensis “Blue Fin” is your fish. These absolutely beautiful Tangs grow to just under three inches in the males and two and a half inches for the females. Their peach-colored bodies are spotted with gold and brown and their reticulated fins are extended and tipped in bright blue-white. Their tails are more deeply forked than those of most other Neolamprologus species, setting them apart from the lyretailed N. brichardi. These cave spawners can be a little territorial when breeding, but their small size makes this manageable with oversized housing and plenty of space.

Neolamprologusmarunguensisbluefin

If you desire an open-water species as a tankmate for any of these species, consider a Cyprichromis, perhaps C. leptosoma “Nkonde”. At maturity, these beautiful fish sport sunny yellow heads, blue bodies, and inky black unpaired fins. The females will be significantly more silver with less pronounced coloration. There’s a lot of debate about the maximum size of Cyprichromis species, though we suspect these to be true C. leptosoma with a maximum size of four inches, as opposed to the five to six inches of the “Jumbo” varieties. A group of six to ten of these fish would make an excellent school of dithers above your rock-dwelling Tanganyikans.

CyprichromisleptosomaNkonde I hope that your Holidays were wonderful; we spent quite a bit of time this week cleaning up our office and getting ready for a fresh New Year with you. Thank you for being with us, whether you’ve been reading for a week or several years, and we look forward to continuing our relationship with you in the New Year.

Jessica