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March 08, 2013

Over the years, my interests in fish have shifted throughout the continents. My love for African cichlids had grown into the fishes of Southeast Asia, and eventually moved to South America where I now concentrate on the eartheater family. I suppose these things happen when you are offered such a wide variety of fish as often as I am. I mention this because my view as a hobbyist is that I prefer to set up “biotopes” versus a tank of misfits spread from all over the world. My reasoning is that, in my personal opinion, the fish do better. It’s almost like they recognize that these tank mates would have come from the same river, swamp, or roadside ditch in some far off country where the bugs are the size of your head.

For example, I would always find my Malayan Yellow Pygmy Cats (Hyalobagrus flavus) schooling with my Snakeskin/Rhombo Barbs (Puntius rhomboocellatus) in my own home aquarium. When we keep them here in the shop the cats often hide if placed with fish from South America. It’s as if they are afraid of the tetras that they are now being housed with. In the past, I have given you some ideas on different biotope aquariums from around the globe. Of course, these have all been replicated based off of my own experiences, or simply a dream tank that I think would look great in my own home. In fact, some of the pictures that I have used have been from my personal collection over the years. Sadly, my days of having a fish room have given way due to various home related moves, but I’m still happy to offer my assistance in biotope tanks.

This week I thought I’d help give you some ideas of setting up an aquarium from South America. There were several new fish that arrived last week that would be perfect candidates for such a tank. My thoughts were one of the new rimless glass tanks that have been out on the market. Recently, we received a tank made by Mr. Aqua that measures 36x18x18. These dimensions make up a body of water that is 46 gallons. It’s an immaculate tank that will make for a sound layout for our new amazon tank. To begin, we will lay down a layer of Amazonia substrate on the sides of the aquarium, leaving the middle and the front to be filled in with sand. I’ve chosen a few pieces of Amano branch wood to place on the sides of the tank, and have taken the liberty to tie some moss onto it. Directly under the wood we’ll place some lace rock that will be surrounded by Lilaeopsis brasiliensis “Micro Sword”. In the back we shall plant one of my favorite plants, Cabomba pulcherrima “Purple Cabomba”, to help push the livestock to the front of the tank. I like to keep things fairly simple in my tanks, but some carefully placed Nymphea rubra “Dwarf Lily’s” will help bring some red out against all of that green. We’ll set up an Ehiem canister filter to power everything. For lighting we’ll use an Aquaticlife T-5 HO fixture to keep our plants growing strong. Now that the tank is planted and cycled, we can start to add some livestock!

One of my most beloved characins is Axelrodia riesei “Ruby Tetra”. There is little to no literature out there on the web or in books on these stupendously colored micro fish. It is such a shame because they are truly one of the best tetras to be exported from the Río Meta in the country of Colombia. Ruby Tetras are a brilliant red color with white tips of the fins, as you can see by the photo. They seem to reach a maximum size of just under an inch, and are a very tranquil fish that is usually found lurking near decorations in an aquarium. Despite their bashfulness, there is a way to combatant this. We’ve found the more you have the more outgoing they become. This is a fairly large tank, so a group of about 40 ought to make for a magical school sifting through the tank.

 Axelrodia riesei

I like to have a “show” fish in my tanks, and after a brief hiatus the majestic Dicrossus maculatus “Spadetail Checkerboard Cichlids” have become of season again from the Río Tapajós in Brazil. Male Spadetail Checkerboard’s have remarkably colored ventral fins that seem to represent another fish from the neotropics - Geophagus altifrons (don’t forget to check the list for the altifrons from the same river!). These paired fins grow to almost the length of the fish and can display all of the colors of the rainbow. Females can be told apart by slightly shorter fins, and lack the blue sheen that can be found in the males. It also seems that they become slightly larger than the boys at a size of 2.5”. These “dwarves” of the Amazon are among the most challenging species to breed in aquaria. This is because they require extremely soft water for the eggs to hatch. This is not needed to house them, but is recommended if you wish to breed the fish. A group of six fish would make a crowning center piece in the tank, and who knows, maybe we might just get a spawning from them!

Dicrossus maculatus 

Under all of this activity I would recommend keeping a group of 12 Aspidoras spilotus, a member of the Corydoras family. These wonderfully spotted catfish grow to around 2” in length, and would make an excellent bottom feeder. They can be found throughout the coastal rivers of the Ceará State of Brazil. Near the banks of these rivers they can be found grazing through the substrate for microorganisms like insect larvae and freshwater invertebrates. This size of a school should encourage them to want them to swim around the tank, rather than hide under the driftwood.

Aspidoras spilotus

The tank seems to have come along nicely these past few weeks, but it seems that with all of this light we are starting to see some diatom algae (better known as brown algae) starting to form on the glass. What better way to help clean up that unsightly mess than a bushynose pleco? Well, it just so happens that we have an amazing batch of the infamous Ancistrus dolichopterus “Blue Seam Ancistrus” L183 straight from the Río Negro here to take care of your problem for you. These Loricariids grow to about 4” in nature. In an aquarium they’ll probably get a little larger due to regular feedings. They have also been called the “Starlight Ancistrus” in the trade because of the little white dots that cover the body of this fish. When you a gaze upon them it’s almost like you’re staring into some far off galaxy. These have been selling out quickly, so don’t miss your chance!

Ancistrus dolichopterus L183

I’d say with all of these fish and plants that the tank is finally complete. If you want to set up your own South American biotope featuring all of these fish, please email me for information. Like always, I’ll be here to answer all of your questions in aquarium keeping.

Don’t forget to like our Facebook page on the way to our site!

Anthony Perry
Sales Manager

March 01, 2013

I remember shortly after I started working here we received a batch of South American cichlids that I was told would require great attention due to how sensitive they can be. You see back when I was just a guppy here I used to take care of the fish that would come in new. The task was quite challenging, and it did take a little bit of an iron heart to deal with losses when fish first arrive.

So when the I assigned to take of care of something hard to handle I immediately asked the boss what he wanted to do with the Uaru amphiacanthoides “Triangle Cichlid” that had arrived. He explained to me what the best way to care for them would be, and I quickly learned what a “sensitive” fish really was. Though a few of the fish had perished, I still felt rewarded when the group was found schooling around their aquarium a few days after they arrival. Once the fish were all healthy and ready for sale they didn’t last long in the shop. Uaru are really hard to find in most shops after all. This isn’t really because of how rare they are in nature, but because most pet stores can be afraid to carry them. Wild imports are seldom, and tank raised fish are even more scarce. Well, we at The Spot prefer a challenge, so when the opportunity arose for us to order the other known member in the family we were more than eager to order some up….

Uaru fernandezyepezi

The young Uaru fernandezyepezi “Panda Uaru” is quite attractive when juvenile. The body of the fish is covered with little white dots with a dull grey color. Their colors may be subtle as adults, but with the two dark bands near the back half of the body, the black ventral fins, and an eye that is blood red in color they extremely sought after by experienced hobbyists. The breeding form of these fish is quite stunning from what I’ve read, but no literature states what the fish look like. The name “Uaru” derives from the word for “toad” in the native tongue of the peoples South America. These cichlids can grow to almost 8” in nature, and this can easily be obtained in an aquarium if kept in ideal conditions. Panda Uaru are a schooling fish that will need to be kept in a group. Keeping just one will end in a fish that will be extremely shy, and I’ve read reports of the fish starving themselves to death because of this. The diet consists mainly of vegetable matter, so if you were thinking of having them in your planted tank you may take a second to think about that before you find that wonderful lotus you were just about to bloom become the cichlids next snack.

Uaru fernandezyepezi

It’s not our first time with the mythical “Panda Uaru”. These cichlids can be just as hard to keep as the Triangle Cichlid at first, but with a little bit of patience and care are considered to be a hobbyist’s dream boat. There isn’t much written about them, but it is known that they come from the Río Atabapo near the Colombian-Venezuelan border. There aren’t many collectors who venture to the remote location where they are found which is why they are often seen for top dollar prices. It would seem that they prefer more acidic water with a pH around the mid 5’s. The water is often very warm and should be kept never be lower than 82°.

Uaru fernandezyepezi

It’s been about three weeks now since we were able to import in these wild caught Panda Uaru from Colombia. I’ve never seen them come in so small, but they are extremely cute with their pale spots covering their pan shaped bodies. The quarantine period is over with, and we are more than 100% confident that a group could go right into your home aquarium. Remember though, it’s always a good idea to have a quarantine tank on hand – especially with sensitive fish.

Don’t forget to look under the “South American Cichlids” section found in our fish list, you’ll find these and several other great looking fish. Like always, be sure to contact me with any questions you may have. Oh, and don’t forget to “like” us on Facebook!

Cheers!

Anthony Perry

Sales Manager

February 08, 2013

Hello once again to all you fishy finantics. I know we had fun catching one of the world’s most sought after Loriicarid, Panaque cochliodon “Blue Eye Pleco”, in Colombia last week. I’ll be heading to San Jose this weekend to give a fish lecture on eartheaters to the Pacific Coast Cichlid Association and will need some time to prepare myself. Unfortunately, there are so many fish included in the family Geophagus that I won’t be able to cover all of it in about an hour. Why not cover some of this right here at home?

The South American cichlids of the family Gymnogeophagus are widespread throughout the countries of Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay. These fish are often collected and exported from the Ríos Paraná, Paraguay, and Uruguay in the Río de la plata Basin with the exception of Gymnogeophagus balzanii, which can be found in the Río Guaporé in the Amazonas Basin of Brazil. These countries are known for their cooler winters and scorching summers. The water temperatures should typically stay between 60-77° in the summer. During the winter months these plateau areas can drop down to as low as 40°! Because of this climate change, it is better to keep these cichlids in unheated aquariums – especially in the summer months. If you are planning on keeping the ‘naked eartheaters of the south’ than you will need to replicate these climate changes as best as you can. Fish that are exposed to warm conditions for longer periods of time often become listless and perish. Basically what this breaks down to is you really don’t need a heater for the aquarium. Setting up the aquarium is about as simple as you’d expect from most cichlid tanks. You really only need a few pieces of drift wood and some slate rocks for the fish to want to spawn on. You may place live plants, but be warned some species may consume them.

The reproduction of these miraculously beautiful cichlids can be broken down into two ways -the mouthbrooders and the substrate spawners. The substrate spawners choose a monogamous partner that bond for the entire length of the breeding process. Once a pair is formed both partners choose a flat and smooth spawning site which is cleaned before the eggs are laid. Then both parents guard their young until the fry are free enough to be on their own. The mouthbrooding gymnos allow for a single male to choose multiple females while guarding his terroitory. The eggs are kept in the mouth of the female, and she will care for the young. Mouthbrooding seems to be more common in Gymnogeophagus and seems to have higher survival rate.

Of the 10 described species, the most popular and well known is Gymnogeophagus balzanii. As mentioned previously, these cichlids can be found throughout Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina, and southern Brazil. G. balzanii have a very tall body that has made them very sought after aquarium pets. They are also very peaceful and won’t uproot any plants that you may be trying to grow. The males typically grow to around 8”, and will display vivid colors during the spawning season. Like many Gymnogeophagus the males present a huge nuchal hump once mature. The females are typically a drab plain color that grows to around 5.5”. G. balzanii is part of the mouthbroodering family, and it is best to keep mulitiple females to every one male in a tank no smaller than 55 gallons.

 Gymnogeophagus balzani

Next, we have of on the most widespread cichlids of the Merín basin of Uruguay, Gymnogeophagus labiatus. Adult males of these dazzling colored cichlids are an array of oranges and blues, a glimmering striped dorsal and caudal fins, and thick lips to catch the eyes of potential females. Each location seems to be unique to each part of the country. Some locations exhibit elongated spots or stripes in the dorsal fin. The caudal fins can display different arrangements for the pattern. This particular batch was raised from the parents of a wild collecting point of the Río Olimar. Like G. balzanii, G. labiatus are mouthbrooding cichlids that should be housed in small groups.

Gymnogeophagus labiatus "Rio Olimar"

 Gymnogeophagus gymnogenys has the largest distribution of all the mouthbrooding eartheaters to the south. Each location has different colors, shapes, and designs. A lot of hobbyists and scientists feel that because of some of these differences can vary greatly, most feel that some of these forms can be potentially un-described members within the family Gymnogeophagus. Our batch was raised from parents of the Río Yerbolito. The males of this spectacular gymno have a black stripe that goes from the forehead and through the eye. The nuchal hump is a wonderful yellow color with a black “hockey stick” stripe right behind this. The fins display stunning red and blue stripes with the rest of the body being a tannish to yellow color.

Gymnogeophagus gymnogenys "Yerbolito"

 

Another tall bodied body gymno from the Río Negro in Uruguay is Gymnogeophagus meridionalis. There is much confusion with this species as it seems to come in under several trade names including G. sp. “Norte” or G. sp. “Blue Neon”. I believe that these are confused with the true G. meridionalis and are actually members of Gymnogeophagus rhabdotus. Adults are easily identified from the other variants by possessing a “high dorsal” that is covered in green and blue dots. The fish are covered with commanding blue and red stripes that run horizontal along the body. G. meridionalis are some of the smaller gymnos that grow to only around 4-5”. They are part of the substrate spawning group and a pair does become very aggressive when spawning. It’s advised if you are going to keep other cichlids with them I would have another aquarium set up to remove the others when this does happen.

Gymnogeophagus meridionalis 

 A lot of you know I pride myself in knowing a thing or two about South American eartheaters. If you live in the bay area you are more than welcome to come to the Pacific Coast Cichlid Association this Saturday night and I would love to enlighten you all about the rest of the family of eartheaters. I want to thank Dr. Ken Davis for the inspiration of this article. I hope to join him this November in Uruguay for our own collection trip.
If you’ve enjoyed this newsletter and want to learn more about the keeping of them, than I suggest going over our pricelist and picking some up for yourself. You can find all of these under the South American cichlid section on our pricelist.

Anthony Perry

Sales Manager

February 22, 2013

For the last ¾ of a decade I have spent my time studying, observing, and pestering my boss about fish. When I tell people what I do for a living I am often met with the eager question of what got me into fish? Usually this is followed up with some sort of saltwater question and that’s when my “freshwater snob” side comes into play. If you like saltwater fish, than I am sorry if I offend you, but it’s just boring to me. Sure, it’s pretty to look at, but in my honest opinion, I like freshwater more. There’s something more appealing about a well planted aquarium with a school of 50 Cardinal Tetras making their way through the plants. Anyway I’m rambling again. Where was I? Oh yes, why I like freshwater fish? Well, I may not be much of a rainbow enthusiast, but these fish will certainly give you a good answer…

I believe it was around this time last year when I last wrote about the native fishes of Australia, New Papua, and New Zealand commonly known as Rainbowfish. I think it’s time we revisited these fish as there has been some species updates, and many of you enjoy the fish. I, for one, like them a lot, but will most likely never be one of those folks who keeps them at home. My love for South American cichlids is too strong and tank space is too few at home.

To begin I should cover what the native homes for Rainbowfish can be like. Often the rivers and lakes are rocky areas with some downed branch wood hanging over the banks. The water column is usually a murky tea color. In Indonesia the locals call these blackwater biotopes “kali kopi”, or “coffee stream”, for the dark colors. The pH can vary considerably from 3.9 all the way to 9.4. We have found that keeping the fish in a neutral pH seems to keep them thriving and happy in an aquarium. I also highly advise offering a variety of foods such as flakes and live foods. We’ve found that baby brine works the best for most them. Rainbowfish would make great additions to community tanks, and they are usually peaceful (aside from disputes for rank among the males). The fish are often brightly colored, and if you really want to see how they act in nature than it’s best to keep them in small groups of their same species as they are a schooling fish. This can be accomplished by keeping 6 or more individuals in an appropriate size aquarium.

In this article I will be covering the genus Pseudomugil and a few of its described species. The group is more commonly known as the Blue Eye Rainbow fish, and these elegant fish usually do not grow larger than 3.5”. You can identify Blue Eye Rainbows by a slender body, two dorsal fins that are separated in the middle, and, of course, the bright blue eye. Blue Eyes were originally in the genus ‘Popondetta’, but this was already being used by another family and was then changed to Popondichthys in the late 80’s. In 1989 a revision would occur and all of the members were changed to the current genus. I am almost certain many of you are familiar with one of the most common, Pseudomugil furcatus “Forktail Blue Eye Rainbow- therefore I will be leaving this one out for the topic.

The first species described was Pseudomugil signifer “Pacficic Blue Eye Rainbow” in 1860. Over the years various name changes had occurred, and eventually the northern (P. signatus) and southern (P. signifer) were separated. Later on the two would be back into the species we know them as today. In 1979, researchers used electrophoretic research from 14 different localities to determine if there were differences among the Pacific Blue Eye Rainbow because there were so many morphological variations. Though there work showed the species was equivalent to each other, today studies show that there is good reason to reconsider them as actually two different fish along the eastern shoreline of Australia. Breeding experiments have demonstrated that interbreeding will not occur between species from the north and south. This suggests that further work should be done to determine if these are indeed two different species or not. Whatever the outcome, the Pacific Blue Eye Rainbow is a highly attractive fish that is typically transparent in the front half of the body. The rear half is an orange hue that extends into the anal and second dorsal. These fins form an incredibly sharp point, and the caudal fin is etched in white. When the males are displaying for one another it’s a sight that would make you want to bring home a group.

Pseudomugil signifer

Pseudomugil signifer female

 

One of the smaller members, Pseudomugil gertrudae “Gertrude’s Rainbow”, is endemic through Australia and New Guinea. There is several color forms that can be found throughout each region and each may have longer fins, fewer spots, larger spots, and even the adult size of the fish may be different. Habitually, the body is silver to blue or even gold in some locales in color that exhibit several black spots along the fish and fins. The caudal fins are brightly colored yellow and the tips of the pectoral fins are etched in white. The habitat is so greatly variable that the pH can range from 3.9 all the way up to 8.2 in some areas. This all depends if the fish came from “blackwater” or not. If my studies are right than the specimens we import originally came from Goanna Lagoon and would be considered a blackwater fish, but seems how these are tank raised they do not need such a low pH to thrive and be successful in your aquarium.

Pseudomugil gertrudae

Pseudomugil gertrudae

P. gertrudae is very similar to Pseudomugil cf. paskai “Irian Red Neon Rainbow”, with the only differences appearing to be the size and shape of the fins. The Irian Red Neon Rainbow, at first, was imported in as “Irian Red Neon” or simply “Red Neon”,and thought to be a hybrid of P. gertrudae, but the fish appears to be found in the Irian mountians of New Guinea. Today they are known as a color form of P. paskai by sharing similarities to this fish, instead of the Gertrudae Rainbow. Male Irian Red Neon Rainbows are an intense red color with a blue sheen. Like the other members of the genus the pectoral and ventral fins are extremely erect and have white tips on the end of them. Much like gertrudae their body is covered with brilliant dark spots on the body and fins. There seems to be little info regarding the full grown size, but my estimation would be somewhere around 1.5".

Pseudomugil cf. paskai

Pseudomugil cf. paskai

In the Timika region of West Papua a newly described rainbow can be found in shallow and narrow streams. The water is generally clear with sparse vegetation; this makes Pseudomugil ivantsoffi “Ivantsoff’s Rainbow” easy to spot along the shoreline. Oginially the fish was identified as P. reticulatus, but after close studies it was revealed that the two are indeed distinctive species. Ivantsoff’s Rainbow is probably my favorite within the genus. The body color is a green to yellow, and the dorsals, anal, and ventral fins are an incredible fiery yellow. The caudal fin is a dark red that is etched in white like P. signifer. This is another small species that grows to around 1.5” or so. I would highly recommend trying to keep them in a planted tank!

Pseudomugil ivantsoffi

Pseudomugil ivantsoffi

I think I’ve exhausted my fingers enough for one day. I hope you have enjoyed reading my newsletter this week just as much as I have enjoyed educating myself a little further on rainbows. If you would like to know more about these or any of our other fish, please feel free to call or email me.

Happy fishes!

Anthony Perry
Sales Manager

February 01, 2013

¡Hola amigos! Confío en que el viaje en avión fue sin problemas? Aw, yes, I hope you touched up on your Spanish if we’re going to be in the magnificent country of Colombia. After all, it’s the second most Spanish speaking country in the world. Ok, ok. I’ll admit to not speaking the language either. I had our guide here teach me to say it right before you got off the plane. I would have forgotten it just as quickly as you did. I’m sure my pronunciation was poor as well. It’s a good thing we’ll have him with us on our pilgrimage. What are we waiting for? Let’s get in the truck!

The city of Bogotá is just as majestic as the land that surrounds it. Located in the west of the Savannah of Bogotá, the immense city is actually part of the Andes Mountains on a high plateau. The Rio Bogotá runs through the western side with the Eastern Cordillera boarding the opposite side. Bogotá is extremely rich in culture with several attractions, including the La Santa Maria bullring. Architecture has become a big part of the city’s tourism with buildings like the Torres del Parque and the El Tintal public library. Our trip out sightseeing is a work out all on its own. I say we grab some a good bite to eat and head back to the hotel for a good night’s rest. We’ve got quite a journey ahead of us…

4 am is certainly a bit early to be awake, isn’t it? We have a ways to travel up highway 50 if we are going to get to Honda on time. Our trip will be taking us northward up the Rio Magdalena in search of a rarity that many of you have only dreamed of seeing. In fact, many believe that the real Panaque cochliodon “Blue Eye Pleco” is extinct due to a poison that flooded its natural habitat several years ago. Exporters have been listing this fish for a few years now, and I’d like to know if this is indeed the “true” Blue Eye Panaque.

Panaque cochilodon

The story behind this fish is an interesting tale that dates back to 1944 when Leonard Schultz described a specimen that he would name Panaque suttoni. This fish is strictly restricted to Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela, and named in honor of Dr. and Mrs. Frederick Sutton. Years later, Dr. Issac Isbrùcker pointed out that the Zoological Nomenclature code states that if a species is named after a man it ends in “i”, and if it’s a woman it ends with “ae”. Because the fish was named after a couple it retains the title P. suttonorum. Both the P. suttonorum and P. cochliodon are very similar in appearance with a greyish to black body and, of course, the renowned blue eye.

Panaque cochilodon

After a bit of driving by our guide we’ve finally arrived in the town of Honda, a small fishing and cattle-ranching community located along the Rio Magdalena. From here will be taking a boat up the river until we reach the town of La Dorada. We can make several stops along the way until we can find our “unicorn”. The anticipation of finally seeing one in its natural has got me on the edge of my seat! Our driver spots on the river that he feels will at least be a good starting point for us to experience. The current is flowing nice and slow here, so we shouldn’t have any issues. Did you see that fish jump? I make a bet that was the Osteoglossum ferreirai “Black Arowana”. I know those are in high demand back home. I’d like to be able to grab about 4 of those for the shop if possible. You’ll need to be careful when you get close to them. Arowanas are known to scare easily, and I’ve heard of full grown adults knocking over these boats. I think the trick is to throw the net several feet away from the boat and pull it back into you. There! That’s the trick! Looks like you got a couple.

Osteoglossum ferreirai

I didn’t see any Blue Eyes so we’ll keep heading north past La Dorada. I think when we get past San Pablo we should be far enough northward that we should hopefully start to see these animals. Our guide tells us that we should once again get our nets wet. I’ve seen about a million Silver and Black Arowanas jumping out of the water and it’s been an incredible voyage through the Rio Magdalene. Are you as hopeful as I am that around this next bend we’ll finally be able to collect one? Well what are we waiting for? Let’s get in the water! Actually, we’re going to make our guide do this one as I’m not about to use that raggedy old pump for a respirator. Besides, he knows way more to it than we do on how to proper collect Plecostomus. Our fine gentleman is all hooked up and ready to go, so down he goes. It’s just a waiting game now. Oh me oh my! That fish is enormous! It must be 15”, and look at those filaments on the caudal fin. This fish is truly something to behold. The eye is astonishing, and just like the pictures portray of a remarkable baby blue. What? Guide says he saw a second one is going back down for it? That’s even more incredible!

It looks like we managed to find, not one of these, but two legendary animals on top of a few great looking Black Arowanas that are currently in season. I’d say it was a job well done and a big mission accomplished. I’ll have the list updated so that the fine folks back in the states know we’re bringing some of this home with us. Once again, I’m super glad we made this expedition together.

I’ll see you back on the dock!

Anthony Perry
Sales Manager

February 13, 2013

Hello yet again! Well, my talk didn’t go as smoothly as I had planned. I caught a cold right before I left and that certainly took its toll on me. Regardless of how I think it went, the PCCA members were all very friendly and heartwarming people, and each was more than eager to tell me they had enjoyed it. I would like to say thank you all for enduring my “short” and nasally lecture. If you wish to bring me back I promise to be able to perform with 100% enthusiasm the next time. Either way I had a wonderful time in the bay area and can’t wait for my next visit.

As I am still a bit under the weather we will be staying here at home again this week. My energy is slowly returning to normal, but not quite there yet. Because of this I don’t foresee any jungle adventures through the great amazon until that happens. I’ve been thinking about it for a while now, and I think it’s time that I taught you a little bit about some “gentle giants” that we have hanging around the shop…

Those of you who have been reading for a while know that I am a sucker for two things: catfish and mustaches. I mean are a lot of things I’m a sucker for, but these stand out for sure. While wondering up and down these aisles a certain catfish struck my eye with his magnificent mustache. Hemisynodontis membranaceus just looks like he should floating through the tank with a top hat on and a smoking pipe hanging loosely from his lip. I make a bet If this fish could speak he would have a fine British accent pouring from his mouth as he asks where to get the freshest Cyclopes to feed upon. What? You don’t think with that ‘stache he wasn’t asking his neighbors about a cup of tea in the garden later on? Maybe it’s just me than. Anyway, even though the “Mustache Cat” grows to almost 20”, he is a gentle giant in an aquarium. Yes, at one point you may need to replace your living room with a pond to house him, but on the bright side he won’t harm any of your mid-sized fish. You see they use their fleshy membrane whiskers, aka mustaches, to search for small foods like small brine or even dried flakes.

Hemisynodontis membranaceus

As the Asterophysus batrachus “Gulper Cat” paddles his oversized belly through the tank you wonder what fish would not be ingested by the gaping mouth that is so large that he can’t even close it. Not only does the Gulper Cat have an exceptionally wide mouth, but it can consume animals nearly twice its size with a stomach that stretches. You think anacondas are scary? I’d be worried about my hand getting picked off by this catfish that looks like he was taken directly out of the pages of some sci-fi movie. Luckily the Gulper Cat only grows to around 14”, otherwise he’d be a perfect candidate in a film about fish swallowing you whole. Now that you know this it is highly advisable to keep them either by themselves, or with fish that are at least 3-4” bigger than the Gulper Cat. Basically, if he thinks he can get it in there, he’s going to try.

Asterophysus batrachus

The face of the Auchenoglanis sp. “Volta Giraffe Cat” pokes his chubby cheeks out from under a piece of driftwood, and immediately I’m thinking of my friend’s mastiff hound, Fred. Even though Fred was 180 pounds he always thought he was a lap dog, and the Giraffe Cat completely reminds me of him when they come tumbling through the tank. They’re robust frames can be observed clumsily working their way over the other fish without a care in the world. Regrettably the Giraffe Cats from Volta are still new to the hobby and it’s still unknown how large they grow. The other 8 described species within the family Auchenoglanis all can grow anywhere from 10” to an incredible 32”. Now one might think with a fish of that magnitude it would gulp up anything it could fine. Unlike other catfish, Giraffe Cat mouths are more specialized for digging in the substrate in search of crustaceans or other items it may come upon. I’ve seen 12” long specimens being housed with larger gouramis and tetras without any problems.

Auchenoglanis sp. "Volta Giraffe Cat"

Hey, I think we found a few gentle giants hanging about the shop, didn’t we? I guess it’s time you set up that monster 500 gallon and buy a few? Come to think about it I am starting to feel better. I think we may have to take some where next week. I wouldn’t go wandering too far from my bags if I was you.

See you abroad!

Anthony Perry
Sales Manager

January 25, 2013

Welcome! Yes, welcome to our marvelous store where all the magic happens!

I’m so glad you could finally visit us here in the shop. I know we’ve spent a lot of time out and about in the field that we’ve never had a chance for you to actually experience the place where we’ve been sending all of these fantastically rare fish. I decided instead of taking you to some remote area of the world braving mosquitos the size of your head that we’d keep things simple and here at home. While, my home at least. Let us tour the store of a thousand windows…

It was almost 13 years ago that our founder made a decision to open these doors to be a different kind of pet store here in Portland. He only had one goal in mind when this happened – to offer an unparalleled world of fish to a hobbyist of every skill level. His mission was not only to offer higher quality common fish like Neon Tetras (Paracheirodon innesi) and Guppies (Poecilia reticulata), but rare items that other pet stores would never dream of carrying. He knew that having this larger selection of fish would not be enough, and quickly set out to educate his employees so that the hobbyist would know how to properly care for their new pets. With his knowledge and hard work the store was an instant success, and now has over 20 employees.

The store is divided into what the employees like to call the “new side” and “old side” of the shop. This isn’t because the fish are divided from the “new world” and “old world”, but because the original store was half of what it is now. For those of you who might recall, shopping the store on a weekend was rather chaotic because of how small the store was. A few years after we opened the book store next door was relocating. At that time the owner once again jumped on the idea and expanded his business by knocking down parts of the wall that divided the two businesses. This allowed for room carrying more aquariums to sell, a full betta “bar” (not really a bar), and, of course, even more fish!

I remember walking the isles of the “old side” before I ever started working for the company. It was a trip that I made almost every Thursday to stock my 20 gallon aquarium I had acquired from another pet store (yes I didn’t buy my tank from the store). When I was just starting out I wanted to keep everything from Rusty Cichlids (Iodotropheus sprengerae) to Threadfin Rainbows (Iriatherina werneri) together in my small aquarium. The employees knew far better than to allow me to keep these two species together and all of them would tell me almost every week that I couldn’t do it. I had become addicted. This would lead to countless hours at the shop, and I inquired about a job with almost every visit until I finally got my chance.

We all have our different roles to do around the shop. For some of us our duties include cleaning aquariums in between helping customers who visit our unique shop. Others get to head out of the store to care for some of our maintenance accounts that we added to our business a few years back. My job, for instance, allows me to “travel” with you to various parts of the world. It’s something that I truly enjoy, and hope that we get to have our journey together for many more years to come. No matter what our job is here in the store we all consider each other a family. Though the years have passed, and our business keeps growing, our founder’s ideas have not changed. It is our mission to continue to educate hobbyists to ensure that this hobby continues to thrive.

The store has indeed become my second home, and I’ll never forget what a former manager had told me about the store. Where else do you get to work in job with a thousand windows? Each of these aquariums is indeed a view to another world. I hope you enjoyed visiting us as much as we enjoyed having you here.

I can’t wait for next week!

Anthony Perry
Sales Manager