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June 14, 2013


Good morning, my friend! I trust you got some rest? While the adventure is far from over; our next destination lays about 340 kilometers from here - along the coastline of Guinea. Most of the splendid Enigmatochromis lucanusii “Blue Fin Roloffi” we collected last week is doing great back at home, and are all but sold out in the shop. I heard the store only has one pair left, so don’t go missing your chance on buying the last pair! We have a few mile treks back to the main road, so go get some water in you. It’s off to the Dikiya forest to finish our expedition!

Our journey will hopefully lead us to muster up yet another personal favorite cichlids found in the countries that make up West Africa, Pelvicachromis rubrolabiatus, living right here in the Dikiya Forest. These astonishing fish were first described by Lamboj in 2004, and are part of the P. humilis family. They can be distinguished from the latter by possessing an elongate body that is red to brown in color in the males, while the females are a yellowish color with a violet colored belly. The males of these “dwarf” cichlids can reach almost 6” in length, while the females will stay about an inch smaller. Kind of big for a dwarf fish, don’t you think?

Pelvicachromis rubrolabiatus male

Like Enigmatochromis, from the previous collecting trip, rubrolabiatus are a pair-bonding cave spawner that prefers to have a single mate all of their lives. Unlike the other members found within the Pelvicachromis family, rubrolabiatus are quite mean. Their temperament and size requires that they be kept in larger aquaria. A tank with a footprint of 48x18” is a good idea to house them. You’ll need to make sure to provide plants in the aquarium, plenty of cover (wood or rocks), and offer a variety of caves. This region is rather on the acidic side. Therefore, the aquarium needs to be below seven. It may seem like all you need is a boy and a girl to get them to breed, but often the pair will find that the other is not in the mood. Getting the water parameters right, and offering the right diet will help to encourage the would-be lovers into courtship.

Pelvicachromis rubrolabiatus female

I really should stop talking and start focusing on collecting. Once again, you’ve gathered away some excellent looking specimens while I’ve been rambling away. It’s taking all the fun of it for me. I guess if I can’t keep up with you I can at least recommend some fish to go with them. They may not occur in the same country as these spectacular cichlids, but Arnoldichthys spilopterus “African Red Eye Tetra” from Nigeria would be a terrific choice. The yellow color along the body makes the giant scales stand out against a fish that can get almost 4”. The African Red Eye Tetra often has a rather aggressive look, but is actually rather peaceful for their exceeding size. They like to swim in groups in the mid to upper levels of the tank which would help to bring out our rather coy cichlids. Due to their schooling behavior, I’d recommend a group of ten or more fish to keep them active.

Arnoldichthys spilopterus

If these are a bit out of your price range, or maybe a little too sensitive for you, than the more common Phenacogrammus interruptus “Congo Tetra” would be another great candidate for this aquarium. These well-known Characins have been in the hobby for many years, and we usually have tank raised juveniles on hand at the store. Male Congo Tetras will grow to be about 3” in length, and the males are quite stunning at this size. The body turns a green to blue color with a hint of gold. The dorsal and caudal fins grow filament extensions that trail behind the animal. The females reach about 2.5” and are not nearly as exciting, but keeping a few will keep the boys in top “performing” stance. Congo Tetras naturally occur in the rapids of the Congo River. By adding a small power head, or at least plenty of flow, the fish will truly show off in a tank.

Phenacogrammus interruptus male

All of these animals will eat the same types of foods in an aquarium. Nevertheless, I would avoid feeding bloodworms or black worms to the Pelvicachromis. It’s been my past experience that this often leads to intestinal problems with these fish. My recommendation would be frozen brine shrimp and flake foods with maybe some live baby brine periodically. You may have a hard time getting the cichlids to eat the flakes, but the tetras will love it. I would only feed enough that tetras could eat off of the surface. If there are any leftover foods you could add a catfish (the Synodontis family works perfectly) to grab what the rest of the fish may not get to. The temperature should be kept in the mid to high 70’s (77-81° is a good range). I’ve already mentioned that the tank should be on the acidic side, but this is really only for breeding the fish. If you do not have soft water in your area the fish should do fine, but I would not expect them to breed for you.

At any rate, I’ve had about as much fun as I can in one day. I think it’s time we set up camp for the night before we make our journey back home. Miraculously, I have internet connection out here. You should have a look at the list at before you head off for sleep. You can find all of these animals, plus many more here. You might as well add us to your Facebook page while you’re at it!

I’ll see you next week!

Anthony Perry
Sales Manager