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April 17, 2015

Happy Friday!  It’s a landmark day in the life of Jessica – as this arrives in your email, I’ll be signing a lease at my new home. I’m not sure what their restrictions on aquariums will be, so wish me luck – I’m hoping they’ll allow me to bring my aquaria with me.  If they don’t, I’m sure they’ll be kept in excellent condition by my family.  However, with a new home come new dreams and plans! Plans, which include an empty 33 gallon long-style tank that I have that is just begging for a hillstream habitat.

I’ve already got an overpowered Eheim 2215 canister, but I’d probably add a powerhead or two to increase the current even more, as well as the aeration of the water.  My Cobalt NeoTherm heater is fully adjustable so I can maintain the cooler, 72°F water temperature preferred by so many hillstream fish.  Right now I have black sand and Amano branch wood – I think I’ll keep my moss-covered wood and add enough rounded black river rock sloping against the back wall to make the aquascape resemble the meeting of sand and rock in a pooling stream.  My Cryptocoryne jungle will need to be moved to a new tank, which may cause the notorious “Crypt Melt”, but I know they recover just fine once they’ve adjusted to their new habitat.  They would likely do alright in this hillstream setup, but it’s not in my aquascape dream – I may keep a few in the back as faux riparian vegetation, though.   I’ll also be netting out my plethora of floating Salvinia. 

I’ve wanted to keep hillstream loaches for years now, but this tank had been occupied by a few fish I’d brought home years ago – donations to our storefront.  With the years and my moving around the city, the fish have been retired to a smaller, more easily resituated 16 gallon bowfront, leaving my beloved 33 Long to lay fallow, crying out for life. 

When I met our new Sewellia, I’ve got to say, I instantly fell in love with their blue eyes.  These are undescribed Sewellia sp. “Fireworks”, an absolutely beautiful and unique species.  I’ve never seen a Sewellia, or any hillstream loach for that matter, with blue eyes!  A few moments ago we brought the overhead light down from the tank and directed it straight into the tank to reflect off the dorsal sides of the loaches plastered to the back of the aquarium.  Each of their golden spots, surrounded by chocolate brown, shines with a brilliant metallic sheen under the light – especially at the base of each fin.  This surely creates their namesake – the bright spot at the base of their pectoral and ventral fins are surrounded by tiny black and gold ticks radiating outward along their fin rays.  Just before the edge of the fin, a black band outlines their fins and is in turn surrounded by a halo of white.  These fish are truly, truly jaw-dropping.  There is little information on them out there, but a safe bet is to treat them just as you would the more common Sewellia lineolata “Reticulated Hillstream Loach” - high current, cool and clean water, and a diet of algae and awfwuchs should keep these stunning Fireworks in perfect condition.

Sewellia sp FireWorks

Of course, these new Fireworks aren’t our only hillstream loach –not by any stretch of the imagination.  I’ve also considered another recent acquisition – our Hemimyzon nanensis “Royal Butterfly Loach” from Thailand.  These are much more elongate loaches than the Sewellias with rounder fins and a flatter nose.  They sport mottling of brown and cream over their flanks and faces and brown saddles outlined in pale cream over their dorsal edge.  They’ve been measured at just about two inches in the wild, but one of our specimens is pushing two and a half inches total length!  These pretty little fish will likewise graze on algae and diatoms, so I’ll have to be sure to allow some growth in my 33-Long before I add either species of hillstream loach.

Hemimyzon nanensis

Finally, I should have some sort of fish that isn’t stuck to glass, rocks or woodwork all day, and a Cypriniform is the perfect choice for a hillstream tank.  They may be common, but I think a great fish would be Celestichthys choprae, the “Glowlight Danio”.  This is a small schooling fish that reaches just over one inch in length.  Overall they are a yellow-orange, somewhat squash-like, color.  Their dorsal half is laterally striped in bright orange and iridescent blue.  The orange coloring fades into that squash color over the lower half of their body, which is vertically striped with blue.  As though their little bodies weren’t colorful enough, their fins are almost more splendid!  While mainly transparent, the upper and lower edges of the caudal fin and outer edges of the dorsal and anal fins are striped with brilliant orange, black and iridescent blue.  Seeing this fish school is a sumptuous aesthetic experience and I think they’ll be an excellent contrast no matter which hillstream loach I choose.

Danio choprae

Well, thank you for reading and wish me luck in moving!  Next week, I’ll be out of the office from Friday through Tuesday – Quinn and Chelsea can help you with your orders as usual.

Jessica Supalla