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February 02, 2012

The Rio Tapajós is a 1200 mile long Brazilian river that rises off of the plateau near the town of Diamantino, in the state of Mato Grosso. Near this town, the river splits into several streams to form the Rio Arinos. Together they join the Rio Jurunena, which in turn joins the Rio Teles Pires. Together these bodies of water flow into what is known as the Alto Tapajós where they will eventually meet with the Rio Manoel from the east. As the waters progress, the stream is known as the Tapajós until it reaches the last of the rapids called the Maranhão Grande. For the last 100 miles or so, the river varies from 4-9 miles in width and is considerably deep. On both sides of the valley, there are 300-400 foot bluffs until it finally meets the town of Santarém before ending its journey into the great Amazon River.

In 1875, it is here in these Brazilian waters that Steindachner first described these classy dwarf cichlids known as Dicrossus maculatus “Spade-Tailed Checkerboard Cichlid”. The Rio Tapajós can be rather acidic and it is recommended in order to keep these little Geophaginae happy in their tanks to replicate their natural habitat as close as possible. Therefore, I recommend a pH of around 6-6.5 (or softer), a temperature of 78-82°, and a well-planted environment for their ideal conditions. They also seem to do better on a diet of frozen bloodworms and brine shrimp, but live foods will likely be better if you wish to try and breed them. It will also help the males acquire the 3” size and the females to reach their 2” petite frame. If you keep more than one male in the tank they are sure to quarrel with one another. This is a completely normal behavior that most of the time ends up with a nipped fin and nothing more. I wouldn’t stress out if the fighting does happen as it rarely leads to death. It just goes to show that boys will be boys!

Dicrossus maculatus

Living in the same stream, but not necessarily with each other is another pearl commonly called Hyphessobrycon pulchripinnis “Lemon Tetra”. There is no doubt why in 1937 Ahl named them pulchripinnis. The word “pulcher” is Greek for “lovely” or “beautiful”, and “pinna” for “feather/wing”. With the striking yellow that is shown on the tips of the dorsal and anal fin you’ll soon see why the explorer was quick to call it such. This color against the pale yellow body with the blood red eye is sure to be an attraction for our dwarf cichlid aquarium. These tetras will also provide a peaceful shoal above the cichlids. Their small size of around 1.6” and with an appetite that is easy to please will make them a great addition no matter what your level of expertise is.

Hyphessobrycon pulchripinnis

Now this tank may be dimly lit, but you’re still going to get some algae growing on the glass and the decorations. Maybe it’s time to add an algae eater to help clean up this unsightly, yet natural, mess. Little has been known about this uncommonly imported specimen, but Ancistrus sp. “Tapajós” L309 seems to grow to only around 3.5”. The body is a mottled brown color with light brown spots. As is typical with the genus, these are primarily algae eaters and their diet should consist of such. I recommend feeding algae tabs and zucchini to keep their bellies nice and plump. We have just a couple left so you better act fast!


I would recommend a 20 long or a tank with a 24” long frame for all of these fish that is also well planted. The tank should be dimly lit and can be darkened by adding floating plants to provide a peaceful shadowy biotope. The tetras have been domesticated, so they are more likely to accept a wider range of water chemistry. The dwarf cichlids and the pleco are wild caught. Therefore, I’d be a little more concerned of water parameters – at least for the first few weeks while they adapt into their new homes. Like many of you are aware, we quarantine all of our fish before selling. By doing this you don’t have to worry about parasite or other problems that is often common with wild collected fish.

Another week has come and gone with one more newsletter and many more to come. We had a major Colombia order come in and our tanks are stocked to the rim with new fish that anxiously await placement in a lifestyle fit for a king in your home or office aquarium. Hope to see you all back here next week!

Anthony Perry
Sales Manager