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July 12, 2013

 

Hello once again and welcome to this week’s newsletter. Over the last few weeks I have had several requests about some of the cichlids that occur in Central America. I, not really being into the brown overgrown and rather aggressive cichlids that inhabit these lands, have managed to evade this topic long enough, and I guess now is better than any to jump right on in the world of “brown” fish.

I’m sure most of you are familiar or at least the common Amatitlania nigrofascitaus “Convict Cichlid”. This black and grey striped cichlid was originally described by Albert Günther in 1867 when Frederick DuCane Godman and Osbert Salvin collected the fish for the first time. These small growing cichlids range all across eastern coast from Guatemala to Costa Rica, and the western parts of Honduras to Panama. The color varies across its natural range, because of this some species have been given their own scientific names based on this coloration, habitat, and breeding preferences. Convicts are usually recommended for beginners who either wish to get into the hobby, or to learn the basics of fish husbandry. The fish can become sexually active at just 16 weeks old! Once a monogamous pair forms the fish will chose a cave or crevice to start their family in or near. After the eggs are laid it takes about 72 hours for the eggs to hatch. 72 hours after they become hatchlings the fry will become free swimming. Both parents will guard their young and are often great parents. This is probably why they have established such a reputation in the hobby. Eventually these fish will reach a maximum size of about 6” for the males with the females topping out about 4” or so.

Amatitlania nigrafasciata

We all know the Convict Cichlids and what they are about, but did you know of a distant relative that is found in Honduras? An electrifying blue colored fish known as Amatitlania sp. “Honduran Red Point” is found in south Honduran into Costa Rica. It was Rusty Wessel who discovered this fish in the bodies of water in Honduras only a few short years ago. Since then, the “Blue Convict” has gained popularity in the hobby over the last few years. Many have believed that this fish is a mere variant of A. nigrafasciatus, but major differences between the two are keeping scientists from identifying it. The males of these fish will reach a total length of about 4", while the females will only grow to be about 2-3”. The spawns of these fish are only 40-50 eggs compared to over 200 in the common Convict. It appears that the Red Point likes to pick through the substrate in order to find food, whereas the Convict is less picky on this method. The barring is also completely different in both fish. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Blue Convict gets its own species name in the near future.

Amatitlania sp. "Honduran Red Point"

Amatitlania sp. "Honduran Red Point"

The last species that I would like to discuss with you is Archocentrus chetumalensis that starts its distribution in Quintana Roo, Mexico and can be found as far south as Guatemalan Peten. This fish is even newer to science than the Honduran Red Point by being described by Schmitter-Soto in 2007. This fish was originally thought to be a form of A. spilurus, but is now known as its own fish. Like most of the genus, males are typically larger than the females (4” males, 3” females) and have longer fins, but it’s the females that tend to have a stronger red color. The females will also retain a bit more red color in the dorsal fin. A. chetumalensis is another easy to breed cave spawner that produces between 50-200 eggs per spawn.

Archocentrus chetumalensis

Any of these fish are easy to care for, moderately sized cichlids that are a real joy to watch. They make excellent parents, have wonderful colors, and will not outgrow your 20 gallon aquarium. Oh, and are not a big brown fish that will eat everything. You can keep them with swordtails or platys in their aquarium to really add some color. You’ll find all of these fish on our current list, www.wetspottropicalfish.com. If there are any questions that you may have concerning these, or any other fish, please feel free to contact me. Don’t forget to “like” our Facebook page, follow us on Pinterest, and sign up for our monthly mailer!

Until next week!

Anthony Perry

Sales Manager