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September 15, 2011

“Keep it simple” is this week’s theme at The Wet Spot Tropical Fish.

There are many species of tetras that occur in South America. Each varies in its own shape and size. From the bright blues and reds of the common Cardinal Tetra (Paracheirodon axelrodi) to the unique mouth of the Flagtail Prochilodus (Semaprochilodus taeniurus). We pride ourselves here at the Wet Spot as having a wide range of those rare and unusual species of fish, this week I decided to discuss some more interesting fish. Once again let’s build another tank around the fish that keep our hobby growing strong.

The first tank that I personally owned was the Aqueon 20 long. This 30x12x12 tank has a great layout for keeping several species of fish greatly happy. With plenty of space for them to be able to swim in a more natural school, it also allows for a nice planted tank to play with. We offer AquaticLife fixtures that are already set up for freshwater tanks. The 30” dual lamp T-5 HO fixture will make an excellent choice for this small set up. Adding a CO2 system will greatly increase your plant growth and overall health if you really want to make it stand out in your home. First lay down some Amazonia soil from ADA. Next you can add various branch woods or rocks for mosses or Java Ferns to grow off of. As this will be a peaceful tank with fish that should not harm plants you can plant various Rotala, Ludwigia, and Cabomba species to add reds and greens to the aquarium. Planting Dwarf Hairgrass (Eleocharis parvula) will create a nice green layer along the bottom of the tank. By adding a few caves you will create a few homes for some of the species that will need it to breed. Now that it all has taken root and the tests have come out fine, it’s time to add the fish.

One of the most unique fish in the family Lebiasinidae, the Nannostomus eques “Brown Tailed Pencilfish” grows to just over an inch and a half. First described by Steindachner in 1876 this beautiful characin is often overlooked in most local pet stores as being just a small brown fish that swims funny. But take a closer look you’ll see a marbled pattern along the back that actually accents the scales. The underside is colored brown that goes from the nose all the way to the base of the tail. The middle of the body has a tan colored line that also runs from the nose to the tail. The name Nannostomus itself translates into “small mouth” and it’s easy to see why the some 20 different species were given the name. Due to this feeding smaller foods like daphnia or Cyclops is highly recommend not only to keep them healthy, but to bring out the colors. These fish are very shy unless kept in larger groups and you won’t be disappointed to see a large swarm of them coming cruising through the aquarium!

Nannostomus eques

First described by Gery in 1963 when the doctor constructed the genus Paracheirodon, the “Green Neon Tetra” Paracheirodon simulans has quickly become a favorite for many hobbyists. It was in 1962 when P. simulans was found in a group of its closely related cousin, the Cardinal Tetra. Dr. Gery had named it Hyphessobrycon simulans for being very similar to the Cardinal Tetra. Eventually in 1977 both fish would be moved into the same genus and have since found to share almost the exact same DNA. The Green Neon is visually amazing with its broad and bright blue-green stripe that runs from its face all the way to the tail. There is a very faint red line that starts about half way through the body. There is no doubt why this fish has become popular among planted tank enthusiasts, it’s just beautiful. It’s very un-picky when it comes to eating. Simple flakes or frozen foods will do the job. However the tank should be well maintained to keep the overall health up. The small size of rarely exceeding an inch, they also make ideal small tanks for other species we’ve introduced!

Paracheirodon simulans

The Araguaia River basin in Brazil proved to be home to one of the more very vibrant colored characins. Discovered by Heiko Bleher in 1986, the Hyphessobrycon amandae “Ember Tetra” would later be described by Bleher, Gery and Uj in 1987 in honor of the explorer’s mother. Though it only grows to just ¾ of an inch the Ember Tetra is a brilliant orange color. Like the previously described species feeding is just the same. The genus name Hyphessobrycon translates into “slightly smaller to bite” and with the small size of this remarkable fish it’s easy to understand why. Therefore smaller foods like frozen daphnia or baby brine shrimp is encouraged. Just adding some of these is sure to set a gem amongst all the vegetation!

Hyphessobrycon amandae

Apistogramma hongsloi was originally imported in from the eastern parts of Colombia and described by Kullander in 1979. Today the domesticated forms have been bred to enhance the reds and yellows that the wild forms lack. The head and the first half of the body are a gorgeous yellow. Under the lateral line is a stunning red well above the lateral is white to grey. The dorsal and anal fin comes to an extension passing beyond the tail fin. Females are a solid yellow to gold color and have a black stripe running through the eye. Apistogramma types are not much for flake foods, so a variety of daphnia and frozen bloodworms would be ideal. These fish grow to just over 2 inches and is best kept in pairs. A. hongsloi is very striking fish that could easily be the show piece for any size aquarium!

Apistogramma hongsloi

Of course you can’t have a South American themed tank without some Corydoras species. Corydoras arcuatus “Skunk Cory” is certainly not an animal that sprays you and runs off. No, no the common name is derived from the pattern on the back that looks much like that of a skunk stripe. Described by Elwin in 1939 the body is a white or grey color that has a black “arch” starting from the eye and leading all the way to the tail. As these are bottom feeders any leftover foods will quickly be cleaned up. Like all cory’s they prefer to be in groups, so pick up six of these today!

Corydoras arcuatus

Lastly, a pleco is always a great idea to add for a South American biotope. As this is only a 20 gallon tank and you’re tired of seeing those oversized common plecos, but a little bored with the basic Ancistrus. You went over our list and found something a little less common. Collected out of the Rio San Alejandro and the surrounding tributaries the Panaqolus sp. “Pinstripe Panaque” L204 feeds on dead wood branches in nature. In an aquarium it will feed regular on a variety of prepared foods from algae tabs to zucchini (remember to warm the sliced zucchini before feeding to the fish) and grows to just over 5”. The body is a black coloration with a number of tans to brown lines. The fins also display this beautiful pattern. Just another reason why to keep freshwater fish!

Panaqolus sp. L204

That concludes one more week with us here at The Wet Spot. I would like to thank you all for your patience these last couple of weeks. As the season turns from our beautiful summer into the even more beautiful reds and yellows of fall, the busy season seems to be approaching us fast. It may take some time to get to your questions or concerns, but I will promptly get to all of them as fast as I can. Be sure to check out the retail list this week. We received a new order from Colombia as well as some Lake Tanganyikans. You’ll also find a wide range of cichlids from both South and Central America. As always feel free to call or email with questions or concerns. Until next week when we discuss some Asian fish!

Anthony Perry
Sales Manager