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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 www.wetspottropicalfish.com 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

June 07, 2013

 This week we’ve trekked into the Konkoure forest, found in the country of Guinea in Africa, in order to collect a relatively new dwarf cichlid in our hobby. Somewhere out in this jungle is a cichlid packed with vibrant colors, and tons of personality. With any luck we’ll find our prized fish right over there in the river we are overlooking. Did you remember to grab your net? We’ve got fish to collect!

Our target fish was first exported from this country in 2004 by the infamous Oliver Lucanus of Below Water – located in Canada. Originally, they were thought to be a form of Pelvicachromis rollofi and called the “Blue Fin Rollofi”. In 2009, Anton Lamboj would place the enigmatic fish into their own genus due to the lack of “rounded” fins found on the females, and are now known as Enigmatochromis lucanusi “Blue Fin Rollofi” in honor of our Canadian friend. This fish can be distinguished from the other E. rollofi by the blue streak the female’s exhibit in their dorsal fin. Like their West African cousins of the Pelvicachromis genus, they are cave spawning cichlids that will choice a single mate for the entirety of their lives.

 Enigmatochromis lucanusii

Breeding these sensational cichlids can be a bit of a challenge. The fish are “bonding” cichlids that ideally should be housed in tanks measuring at least 24” in length. This will give them enough room to get away from one another when one partner isn’t in “the mood”. The tank should be decorated with various pieces of driftwood and rocks. The fish are cave-spawners and will need to have such if you wish to keep them happy and ready to breed. I usually place a few of them in my tank to offer the future and overly picky moms a few options. I guess she needs to make sure her view is just right. The hole on the cave shouldn’t be any bigger than that of the width of the male. If it’s any larger, the fish may not breed, or, if they do, larger predators may be able to get in. When the female is ready to spawn, her belly will darken. She will usually “dance” in front of him to let him know she is ready. The two will than pick a cave to lay their eggs in. She may disappear in the cave for a few days. Do not be alarmed by this. It’s actually a good sign. She’ll come out a few days later and after 7-8 days a pile (around 20-40) of free swimming children will be guided around by both parents in search of food. Each parent will take turn guarding their kids. One parent will chauffeur the young around while the other keeps watch. The eggs are also pH sensitive. You may encounter getting more males than females, or vice versa, when they become a sex-able age. Adjusting your pH slightly after a couple of batches may help to counter this.

Enigmatochromis lucanusii

While I was busy talking you was too busy collecting the fish. I guess I should stop rambling and help you sort out your catch. We only want to bring back pairs, so the extra fish should be released back into the river. We’ll let them continue to produce more. These ones though are heading straight to the shop to be offered to all of our wonderful customers. What’s that? You wish to bring home a pair or two? Well you can go to www.wetspotropicalfish.com to find them, and a lot of other dwarf cichlids on our list. Seems how you’re looking at the list I would recommend getting a school of Ladigesia rollofi “Jellybean Tetra” to go with them. These petite Characins pack an amazing amount of color, and will make great dither fish above the dwarf cichlids.

Ladigesia roloffi

See you all next week!

Anthony Perry
Sales Manager

May 17, 2013

 Hello over there! I bet you didn’t know that you’d find yourself hiking in Meghalaya, India going across the Thlu Muwi Stone Bridge, now did you? If you’ll hurry to the middle of the bridge I’ll tell you a little more about how this structure came to be. Long ago, the King of Jaintia ordered the construction of this bridge so that he could pass between Nartiang and Jaintianpur during the monsoon seasons. These hewn slabs are made entirely of granite, and are incredibly huge. I can’t imagine what it took to move these large pieces of stone during the time it was built. India really is a fascinating place – which is why we have come back. I know we were just here a few weeks ago, but I’ve been told that there is a rare fish swimming directly under where we are standing…

Get your cast night ready, as we are about to collect an incredible little fish known as Danio jaintianensis “Rose Line Danio”. This little Cyprinid reaches a maximum length of around 1 ¾” of an inch – making it perfect for small aquariums. Before you get all excited you must know that they prefer rather cool water. I’m sure you noticed that this stream is a bit on the cold side. Give me a moment to see just how cold it is. It looks like the thermometer reads about 68° here. I’ve heard the average temperature is only around 73°. This plain gets below freezing in the winter, and I’ve read that the fish will need a “cooling” period during the winter in order to thrive. The pH is coming up around 6.5 according to my test kit. I would guess this fish only like a pH in the range of 6-7. Now that I’ve done all the talking, and you did all the fishing, what did you come up with? I’d say that those bright red stripes in your net are a good sign…

Danio jaintianensis 

There seems to be something else hanging out in the net with our prized fish. What is that long and skinny catfish you’ve got there? That looks like Olyra longicaudata “Indian Fighting Linear Catfish”. I didn’t know that they occurred in these waters, but I guess it seems that we found them. There’s only a few, and I’m sure that we won’t find any more than that in this river. Right now they are only about 2”, but they’ll eventually grow to be about 4”. This small size would be a great addition to hide under our Rose Line Danios. You know that I’ve got some interesting information on these cats, so I might as well tell you it. The name Olyra is Greek for “grain” or “rye”. Most likely references to the body shape and color of these elongated animals. Now as you might have guessed, adults are rather territorial, and will fight with each other if not given enough space.

We found some great stuff out here in the foothills of Jaintia. It looks like we still have some spare time while we are out here, so I think I’ll tell you what kind of tank you should set up for these two fish. The danios do not grow very large at all, but would be best kept in groups. A tank measuring 24” long would probably be best. Of course you can always use a larger aquarium if you feel the urge. As I’ve mentioned before, this river gets rather cool. They appear to do best in an unheated tank. The current is also fairly swift. I would use a canister filter to keep the flow rate up. I would recommend placing small pebbles as your substrate. This could be covered with some fine sand to allow the cats to relax upon. From there the plants or decorations are entirely up to you. Once again, you’ll find our list by visiting www.wetspottropicalfish.com. If you have any other questions about these fish please feel free to contact us.

I had a lot of fun collecting with you today, and I’m sure the folks back at home are going to really dig the fish we found. In fact, I think I’m going to set up my 12 gallon rimless tank to accommodate a school of about 10 of the Rose Line Danios. I’d like to be one of the first to breed them in an aquarium. Well, that is if you don’t beat me to it!

Until we meet again!

Anthony Perry
Sales Manager

May 31, 2013

Good morrow, squire! Where is my sword and shield? I had my servants send it to your homestead last fortnight, and was totally ready to dub you into knighthood. What do you mean why am I dressed like a knight and speaking with an English accent? Didn’t you get the crow I sent you about searching for dragons? Alright, alright I guess I’ve been watching too much Game of Thornes. I’ll stop embarrassing you and put my “normal” clothes back on. Hey now, a cowboy is normal in my book. Alright already stop making fun and let’s get to work. Yes, I know that Thailand is the last place you’d think about searching for dragons, but I can tell you that there is a beast lurking in these waters. No, no, we’re not here to slay this aquatic monster. In fact, it’s not even a reptile…

I wouldn’t even say that Tetraodon palembangensis “Dragon Puffer” is even remotely close to resembling a fire breathing dragon, or any of the reptilian family for that matter. They may not have any scales, but the pattern on the body is beautiful. These predators can be found in small streams and ponds throughout Thailand, Laos, Malaysia, and Indonesia. The Dragon Puffer is a sluggish fish that typically doesn’t move around much, and can be housed in tanks around 40 gallons or so. They seem to prefer a diet of shellfish, and should be offered a diet of snails and unshelled shelled fish (crabs and mussels) in order to keep their beak nice and sharp. Because of their slow demeanor, juvenile fish only need to eat every other day, while adults can go about once a week for their feeding. The fish prefer warm water (75-82°) with a neutral pH (6.8-7.6).  

Tetraodon palembangensis

Now that we’ve had a little education, let’s get over to the water and hunt us some dragons. Huh? Oh right, the helmet. I suppose I really don’t need to keep wearing it. I was wondering why the locals were staring at me? How about you take the left side of the river, and I’ll take the right? Let’s meet up by that bridge ahead. So how did you do?

Tetraodon palembangensis

I see you seemed to have caught a few, but what else do you have in that bucket of yours?

That “arrow” shape on the forehead is a sure sign of Tetraodon suvattii “Arrowhead/Pig Nose Puffer”. These little guys must have swum up this calmer pool, as they are usually found in muddy substrates of the main river. This ambush predator likes to bury itself in the substrate and wait for smaller fish to approach. It quickly makes a disturbance in the water as it takes down its prey. The Arrowhead Puffer seems like a little cooler water (72-79°) than its cousin - which is probably why it’s found in the main river. These puffers are highly temperamental in aquariums. Their angry attitude has given the 6” fish a bad reputation among hobbyists, and is something that the beginner really should stray away from. An experienced keeper knows that this fish really needs to be kept alone, or in a species only tank. If this can be met you’ll be happily rewarded with behavior unlike most other fish.

Tetraodon suvattii

You made this collecting trip look easy. I’d say that it’s about time we took away that apprentice title, and give you a proper title. It just so happens I dragged the long sword with me. Hey, don’t run away yet! Where are you going!? Hey, come back!

Ok, ok, I’ll put the sword awayNo, really. I will!

Anthony Perry
Sales Manager

May 10, 2013

Hello, my friend! I had so much fun writing about the Zebra Danio last week that I wanted to cover another fairly common member of the aquarium. This time, I thought I would go a little more in depth with it, and set up a biotope around my “featured” fish. The tank doesn’t need to be anything that can house a small nurse shark, so how about we set up something on the smaller side? I think I know just the tank…

The 20 gallon aquarium is easy to come by, and a lot of households may have one set up in the living room off in some corner that no one pays attention to. I bet you’ve got one in your home, and have been looking at your tank wishing you had more than a few Black Skirt Tetras (Gymnocorymbus ternetzi) that you picked up from some chain store, and that common pleco can no longer even turn around in there. It’s gotten to be a bit of embarrassment when your friends or relatives come over. I have some ideas that will not only improve your tank, but leave your friends’ jaws on the floor.

If you really want this tank to stand out, you’ll need to donate the fish back to your local pet store. Once all of the fish are out, and we can begin by draining down the aquarium. After this is finished we can lay down a fine layer of Amazona soil made by ADA. This can topped off with some fine sand to allow the fish to filter feed from. I would use Amano wood (now available for shipping) in the corners of the tank. Placing a few caves around the aquarium would be a great idea to convince the cichlids to breed at some point. It’s always fun to get fish to breed, and if you’re a member of your local fish club that gives you points for breeding fish it could get you a point on your scorecard. From there the lighting you choose is completely up to you on how much you want to plant the aquarium, but keep in mind that the fish we will be selecting would prefer a more densely planted tank. I would still recommend a small canister filter over one of the hang on the backs. This will certainly help keep your water quality up, but I understand if you’re shopping on a budget for this tank. Just be sure to keep up on your weekly water changes if you are looking to get a smaller filter. Well our tank “makeover” sure looks like it’s ready to add some fish!

Since its introduction in the 1950’s, Pelvicachromis pulcher has made a stable name for itself in the aquarium world - the “Kribensis”. Today you can find a couple of color patterns offered with the “Common Krib” being the most available in most aquarium shops. The Krib grows to a reasonable size for a 20 gallon tank. The males will reach a full grown size of about 4”, while the females stop growing around 3”. These fish can tolerate a rather wide range of pH, ranging from 5-7.5, and temperatures are ideal in the mid 70’s. I wouldn’t recommend adding more than a pair for a tank of this size. Once they pair up and want attempt to breed they may cause harm to other males or females who come within their territory. The “Krib” is a relatively easy fish to get to breed, and make wonderful parents. The fish is a “pair-bonding” cichlid that once it finds a mate will keep them for their entire lives, but divorces have been known occur when one fish decides that it may want to spawn more than the other does. This is why it’s important to offer a few caves so that they can escape their over eager partner. You can find these fish in the wild spread out through much of Cameroon and Nigeria. It’s more than likely that the wild “yellow” form we are offering came from Cameroon waters.

Pelvicachromis pulcher "Yellow"

Now it’s time to talk about what to place above these wonderful dwarf cichlids. The Kribs tend to hang out near the bottom, but are often nervous without something swimming above them. We received in a perfect “dither” fish that occur naturally with them. I think a lot of you are probably familiar with Aplocheilichthys Normani “Norman’s Lampeye Killi”, but again, this is something that is often available in your store. You need something that really pops out and isn’t too small that they would eventually become food for something. I’m thinking Procatopus abberans “Bluegreen Lampeye Killi” would make an excellent choice for this tank. These fish also can be found throughout the Cameroon and Nigeria forests. The males too will grow bigger than the females, reaching a little over 2”, with females slightly smaller. The males are also slightly more colorful, and have longer fins than the girls. They are great schooling fish, and should be kept in small numbers. Somewhere around 8 fish would be great for this size tank. They could also make another great breeder project once you’ve mastered the Kribs. Breeding reports suggest that the fish will breed near the surface in crevices of bark. The eggs need to dry out for about 10 minutes, and then reintroduced into a separate aquarium. After about 15 days the fry should hatch out. After about 12 months they should become adult size.

Procatopus abberans

The tank looks amazing now! Just wait until your friends see this thing! You better remember to tell them that not only all of your amazing fish from The Wet Spot Tropical Fish in Portland, Oregon, but all of your supplies. They (and you) can find our list on our website, www.wetspottropicalfish.com. If they are looking for supplies be sure to let them know to inquire further about it through email or phone. I’m extremely glad this worked out for you, and I know next time that you’ll come to us for all of your aquarium needs!

Before you take a look at our extensive list, I’d like to take a moment to invite all of our local readers to next Thursday’s Greater Portland Aquarium Society’s. Our very own Jess Supalla (who happens to be our fish packer for all of our online orders) will be speaking on Nano Aquariums on May 16th. If you have some free time after 7 pm, and want to learn more about nano tanks and fish, than come on out to the address below:

Clackamas Community Center,
15711 SE 90th Avenue
Clackamas Or 97015

I hope all of you can make it out next week!

Anthony Perry
Sales Manager

May 24, 2013

Hello all! Are you as excited about this weekend as much as I am? Wait, you haven’t heard? The NorthWest Killies have brought the American Killifish Association Convention back to Portland once again. Today through Monday you can come learn from the experts on collecting, preservation, and keeping of all sorts of Killifish. It sounds to me like you need a little bit of encouragement to attend…

Pseudepiplatys annulatus male

Where do I begin? Hmmm… let’s see, Killifish contain over 1200 different species within the family Cyprinodontidae. The name, Killifish, is derived from the Dutch word “kilde”, meaning small creek or puddle. The vast majority of the family is found in rivers, streams, and lakes, and will typically live around 2 to 3 years of age. Some family members can be found in temporary ponds or floodplains, and are known as “annuals”. These ephemeral waters will eventually dry up – which shortens the life span of the fish to as little as only a few months. You may think that this would be the end of the species found in this area, but the members of these Killifish have adapted a technique that ensures their survival when the dry season comes. The eggs of Killifish can survive partial dry spells. When the rain comes the following year, the eggs dormancy unveils, and tiny fish will soon start the whole process their parents leftover to them.

Nothobranchius guentheri

What do these fish find to eat? This really depends on the area where they are from. Most of them will feed on insects or insect larvae that they come across. Some, like the South American Killies, will feed on plankton. Others, like the Florida Flagfish (Jordanella floridae), find their food source from the algae growing on the rocks and wood. The genus Cynolebias and Megalebias will feed mainly on small fish. This predatory diet needs to be replicated in an aquarium. Aquarists will often feed frozen bloodworms, or daphnia to their pets.

Foerschichthys flavipinnis

How big will Killifish get? The laws of nature usually imply that if the bigger fish is eating the smaller fish than they’ll grow larger. The bigger members of the family will max out less than 6”, while typically most fish are only an inch or two like the brightly colored and very popular males of the genus Nothobranchius. For instance, Nothobranchius guentheri occurs in the country of Africa, and are typically found on the west side of the continent. Their behavior is a bit on the territorial side, and usually do not make the best community members. Most of this genus is an annual fish, which is another reason to be concerned with housing them with your tetras. A resident that I would highly recommend for nano-tanks is Epiplatys annulatus “Clown Killi”. Their name may fool you into thinking it’s an annual fish, but annulus actually means rings, in reference to the bold stripes on the body. I know that I just mentioned Procatopus abberrans “Blue Green Killi” a few weeks ago, but these another mid-sized Killi that would make a wonderful addition to your aquarium. You could keep always try your luck at the dainty Foershichthys flavipinnis “Amber Finned Lampeye” if you’re feeling a little on the experienced side.

Procatopus abberans

The world of Killifish indeed is an intriguing place to venture, if you’d like to learn more about them than please join us this weekend. You can find all the information for registration, speakers, and banquets at www.aka.org/convention/2013/. For those of you who can’t make it, but still want to order some fish, please have a look at our list at www.wetspottropicalfish.com. This week we brought in some great looking Killies just for the convention. As always, be sure to inquire about other items you may be interested in!

See you all at the convention!

Anthony Perry
Sales Manager

May 03, 2013

Hello, my friend! I have something a little special this week to talk to you about. This week’s topic is about a fish that has been around the hobby since the early 1820’s. It’s a fish that beginners are often pointed towards, and even experienced hobbyists use them to cycle their aquarium due to its hardiness. Yes, Danio rerio “Zebra Danio” has found its way into the hearts of us all, but just what is it about this well-known community fish that keeps its place in this hobby?

To begin, Zebra Danios are known to be extremely hardy when it comes time to start cycling your aquarium, but why is this? What makes them able to withstand high levels of ammonia, or when the pH crashes in your tank? The answer may astonish you to learn that the Zebra Danio has the ability to regenerate not only its skin and fins, but the heart can heal itself as well! Even more surprising is when this fish is in its larval stage it can regenerate parts of the brain if it becomes damaged. The retinas in the eye are so advanced that they can see a broad spectrum of colors because of ultraviolet-sensitive cells. In 2007, a study done by the University College London used the stem cells they grew from these fish in infected eyes of rodents. The team concluded with positive results from this and is studying a way to use these stem cells for human eyes.

As I have already stated, the Zebra Danio has been around since the 1820’s. They were originally collected in the Kosi River of northern India. Collectors had thought for many years that the natural range was throughout the country of India following all the way into Myanmar, however, many of these specimens were not truly D. rerio. Unfortunately these misidentifications have been occurring for a very long time. Today, studies have been done to find that many of these localities are no longer considered habitats of the Zebra Danio.  The similar-looking local fish are completely different species and are now described as such. It’s believed that the full range is limited to the country of India. The fish is incredibly easy to breed; because of this wild caught specimens are almost unheard of in the trade.  However, we have obtained some wild specimens recently; a rare find!

Danio rerio WILDDanio rerio wild specimen

Something that I found interesting about the Zebra Danio when I was researching these fish is that the natural habitat is actually slow-moving water, versus the swift streams that I had thought they would be found in. The substrate usually consisted of silt or rocky habitats with overhanging vegetation where the fish were usually found in more abundant numbers. This natural behavior defines them as a schooling species so these fish should be kept in groups.  Wild caught specimens were often observed as micro-predators, feeding on crustaceans and insect larvae. They’ll grow to be about an inch and a half, which makes them another ideal fish for people who wish to keep them in smaller tanks.

Zebra Danios truly are an amazing little animal, and I think it’s time we give them a little credit where credit is due! I’m sure none of you were expecting to be reading about them this week. I’ve gone through so many rare or beautiful fish with this newsletter, but I really feel that sometimes you just need to get back to the root of things. These fish certainly have earned their place in the hobby. I hope you learned at least one thing new about them, and can appreciate them at least a little more. If you have any questions, or are looking for a particular items please feel free to contact me.

Oh, and one last thing. These would make great dither fish for the Etroplus canarensis “Pearl Chromide” you can find on our list! See you all next week!

Etroplus canarensis

Anthony Perry
Sales Manager