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August 18, 2011

Welcome to the conclusion of our West/Central Africa 75 gallon aquarium!

The history of the Congo River is as turbulent as the flow itself. The Congo area is known for pygmies, cannibals, mythical beasts, and deadly plagues. The River begins at the base of Lake Tanganyika, one of two rift lakes in eastern Africa. The River enters a section known as the “Gates of Hell”, a 75-mile stretch of deadly white water rapids that eventually level back out into the rainforest of Lualaba, this area is also known as the Upper Congo. After a 60-mile stretch of rapids the River comes to the Stanley Falls. After the falls, the river flows 1000 miles through what is known as the Middle Congo and in some parts is as wide as 9 miles. Here you find the city of Kinsangani, known for its violence since the Belgian colonial days. As the river flows onward it suddenly seems to come to a standstill for nearly 20 miles, this section known as Malebo or Stanley Pool can be as wide as 15 miles. The tranquility of the pool is suddenly disrupted by Livingstone Falls. The falls contain 220 miles of rapids and cataracts of which 32 of those have more power than all the falls and rivers in the U.S. From there, the river makes its last 100-mile journey into the Atlantic Ocean. An interesting fact is when the river starts it has a high alkaline pH, but as it nears its end into the Atlantic Ocean, the pH drops into very acidic waters.

The Pelvicachromis signatus have settled in well. The female is constantly dancing in front of the male in an attempt to breed. The Orange Flash Congo Tetra males are flashing in front of one another, each trying to show off for the females. Those little barbs are getting fat and happy. The nitrogen tests have come out perfect, so let’s add our next batch of fish!

Coming from the fast flowing Cross River in western Cameroon, Gobiocichla ethelwynnae is a unique goby like fish that grows to almost 5”. The fish lives its life hidden among cracks in rocks and small caves that are found along the riverbanks.

 Gobiocichla ethelwynnae

A second species, Gobiocichla wonderi, is very similar to G. ethelwynnae . Both G. ethelwynnae and G.wonderi (also offered this week) live in high pH, but can easily adapt to lower pH levels. These are very similar in appearance, however, what sets the two apart are the breeding colors of G. wonderi. This goby turns a dark grey to black when spawning. They are very sociable in an aquarium and really only show aggression during these spawning times. As the body suggests, G. ethelwynnae and G. wonderi are algae eaters, but will accept any prepared foods. A trio would be perfect to watch their awesome behavior!

 Gobiocichla wonderi

As dusk approaches and the lights are dimmed, an unusual species appears. Gnathonemus petersii “Elephantnose Fish” have an amazing ability. They use an electrical field not only to find their way around, but also to “talk” to one another in search of a mate! A specially adapted muscle tissue near the tail does this. This is extremely useful for a fish that spends its life in almost total darkness! As if seeing in the dark wasn’t enough G. petersii also has a large brain that would be much like a human one in terms of size. All these factors guide the Elephantnose to find its mate in total darkness. Growing to almost 9” in an aquarium, these fish are very shy when it comes to bright lights, so dimming the lights near the end of the day would be a good suggestion. This would be the best time to feed the necessary diet of bloodworms. It will give you a glimpse of these truly unique fish!

As I’m sure many of you have come to know, The Wet Spot prides itself in stocking those rare and unusual items. This week is no different. Benitochromis finleyi “Mungo Blue” may rarely be seen among today’s hobbyists, which is why we jumped on the chance to order these gorgeous Chromidotilapine. Reaching up to 4”, these fish are best fed a variety of small pellets as they are sand sifters by nature. Though more of a subtle beauty, the fish display an amazing color of blue on the shoulders. The body is brown that leads into a pink belly. The mouth has bright yellow lips and the fins shine a beautiful white. These fish are typically peaceful among larger tetras and barbs and other cichlids of similar size. However, during spawning they can become rather aggressive defending their territory and caution is advised for other tank mates.

 Benitochromis finleyi

The tank is looking just a little empty of swimmers. Barbus walkeri “Walker’s Barb” seem very appealing with a wide body. True, it may be just another brown fish, but’s it’s just so cool looking with those three big spots on the side! And the behavior is just phenomenal with its husky size maneuvering around all the décor. It certainly brought the other barbs and the likes out. And with those big lines bordering the scales it totally accents the tank!

One last barb to add for some nice color is Barbus fasciolatus “African Fire Barb”. The male fish turn a bright orange color when extremely happy. Foods like frozen bloodworms will help them not only get their color but keep it as well. B. fasciolatus is often referred to as the “Blue Banded Barb” or “Angola Barb” from where the fish was originally found. Though it is now tank raised in parts of Asia, the African Fire Barb is still rarely imported. These fish form large groups in nature, but they are actually a shoaling fish. They are typically found in bays of shallow lakes and flooded rivers where the water is slow moving, full of vegetation, and high in oxygen. A big group of these would make a terrific addition to your biotope!

 Barbus fasciolatus

Lastly, there is nothing more rewarding than to see a group of shoaling catfish making their way around the tank. Eutropiellus buffei “Three Striped African Glass Cat” (correctly known as Pareutropius buffei) love to swim freely around the tank much like tetras. Growing to around 3”, these fish accept just about anything they can get their mouths on. The Three Striped African Glass Cats are frequently incorrectly imported in as P. debauwi, and have been mislabeled the common name “Debauwi Cat”. There are defining characteristics of P. buffei that easily set it apart from its cousin. P. buffei has three lines down its body where as P. debauwi has only one. The tail fin has two black spots which P. debauwi lacks these altogether. These fish are an excellent choice for the tank, but they are going quickly so you better act fast!

Pareutropius buffei

That finishes out the 75 gallon West/Central African themed aquarium. Now it’s just a matter of time before those cichlids are coaxing around their little fry! As always be sure to check the products link for this week’s price list. Please feel free to call or email me if you have any questions or are looking for a particular item. Until next week, keep that algae clean!

Anthony Perry
Sales Manager