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November 30, 2012

  

Last week, I took you with you me on a snorkeling adventure along the banks of Lake Inle. Here we introduced ourselves to one of my favorite loaches, Yunnanilus brevis “Lake Inle Red Tail Loach”. Well, this week we continue on our journey eastbound into Vietnam.

 

Vietnam is a fascinating place that has undergone many changes over the last decade. Now home to almost 88 million people, it is the thirteenth largest populated country in the world. The country itself is considered among one of 25 countries that is considered to be rich in biodiversity. Among the hundreds of animals, and over 15,000 species of flowers that inhabit the hilltops and forest lands that make up the majority of Vietnam, you can find almost 800 different types of freshwater fish. Many of these fish are exported for the aquarium trade, and today’s newsletter will be completely based on a couple of these fish that we were able to bring in for your home aquarium.

 

To begin, we’ll travel to north central Vietnam and put on our diving gear to dip into the Ben Hai River drainage. It’s here where we will be able to collect Tanichthys micagemmae “Vietnam White Cloud”. The much loved Tanichthys albonubes “White Cloud Mountain Minnow” was for years believed to the be only type specimen for the species until 2001 when this wonderfully attractive fish was discovered. As White Cloud Mountain Minnows are an aquarium favorite, I thought it would be a great idea to get out our cameras for a moment to experience these 1” cool water fishes for ourselves. Here we can observe the males quarrelling amongst themselves in full display in hopes of attracting a ripened female or two.

Tanichthys micagemmae

 

Finally, let us take a dive near the southern mountains of Vietnam to find another Yunnanilus species, Yunnanilus cruciatus “Pygmy Multi-Stripe Loach”. These inch and a half loaches can only be found along the mountainous coastline near Hue, Vietnam. It’s in these flooded forest swamps and streams that Pygmy Multi-Stripe Loaches are collected and observed in nature. Most Yunnanilus have a very interesting way of swimming. Much of their time is spent hovering at a 45° angle scouring the substrate in search of micro orgasms to feed upon. This unique behavior not only sets them apart from the rest of the animal kingdom, but from other loaches. This is because unlike most other loaches that spends their time hiding away until nightfall; the Pygmy Multi-Stripe Loach is often seen hanging out in the open with other schooling fish. The quaint little guys like being in larger groups, so be sure to pick them up in a school!

Yunnanilus cruciatus

 

It looks like our travels through Vietnam have come to end, but fear not, these wonderful escapades are far from over. The boat engine is still running, and I’ve got a surprise in store for you all next week. Until then be sure to visit the products link below, or visit www.wetspottropicalfish.com for our current price list.

 

See you all on board next week!

 

Anthony Perry
Sales Manager

November 23, 2012

  

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

I hope each and every one of you had a wonderful day spent with family and friends. There are many things I am thankful for about my job. One of these would have to be the large selection of fish I get to enjoy on a daily basis. I’ve been looking around the shop and noticed a handful of my favorite fish that all come from one particular place. This week, I think we’ll travel to the wonderful land of Myanmar (originally known as Burma).

In the aquarium hobby, it is most known for the beautiful Lake Inle. Of the forty-five square miles the lake encompasses, it is surprisingly shallow with an average depth of only seven feet! Even at its deepest point it is still only twelve feet. This, of course, can change during the rainy season with water levels rising up to almost five feet. Lake Inle is home to nine endemic species of fish, including the infamous Danio margaritatus “Celestial Pearl Danio”.

As most of you are familiar with this species, I would much rather enlighten you with some other fish you may not be familiar with. First, let’s talk about some basic water chemistry that is important when keeping fish from Myanmar. Most of the small country’s water is fairly alkaline, and in my experience, have found that these fish will do better in a pH above 7.0. It seems that if the pH falls below this you run into more problems with their health.

To begin with, I would love to talk about one of my favorite “micro” fish, Microdevario kubotai “Green Rasbora”. After many years of believing this fish came from Myanmar it now looks like it may be native to Thailand. However, one report by seriouslyfish.com mentions they can be found in the Suriya River basin. This river is a headwater to the Salween system, which flows from Myanmar into Thailand. It’s quite possible the distribution is much larger than expected. Originally described as Rasbora kubotai, this petite animal now belongs to the family of Danios. The Green Rasbora is a very small animal which usually does not exceed past ¾”. Because of this small size, you want to be sure and choose its tank-mates with care.

Microdevario kubotai

I can easily recommend Hara minuscula “Burmese Mini Moth Cat” if you want to keep a catfish without worrying about them gobbling up your little rasboras. Similar to the Green Rasbora, the Burmese Mini Moth Cat was placed in the wrong family. For many years, it was believed to belong to the Erethistid family. Researchers have now concluded that anterior edging on the pectoral spines place the fish among the genus Hara. I could not find any information regarding the maximum size of the Burmese Mini Moth Cat, but I believe it is about 1.8” or so. They will accept a variety of foods, but seem to favor bloodworms and brine shrimp the most. I would suggest using sand substrates as it appears these little cats like to bury themselves.

Hara miniscula

Finally we come to one of my favorite loaches, Yunnanilus brevis “Lake Inle Red Tail Loach”. These are a very fascinating creature that can only be found in Lake Inle, mostly on the western side of the lake. I think what really makes this fish one of my favorites is that it is one of the few loaches you can distinguish between the sexes. Females of the Lake Inle Red Tail Loach are generally larger and have spots covering their body. The males are usually a centimeter or two smaller and have a black line following the length of the body. Their mouths are very small, so I recommend foods like baby brine shrimp and crushed flakes. I would also suggest keeping them in small groups as it will help to bring the animals out and about in your aquarium.

Yunnanilus brevis MaleMale

Yunnanilus brevis FemaleFemale

Thank you again for all your continued support to our store, and once again, I hope you all had a terrific Holiday. You will find our updated retail list under the products link, or by visiting www.wetspottropicalfish.com. I look forward to hearing from you!

Anthony Perry
Sales Manager

November 02, 2012

 

Previously, I spoke about the Utaka cichlids of Lake Malawi (known better to us as Peacock cichlids), and as I had mentioned, I will be talking about one of the other inhabitants of the lake in this week’s edition.

I remember one of my first introductions to our boss. I had been told by other employees that if I wanted to know anything about Malawi cichlids that he would be the man to speak to. So, when I saw him come into the shop, I walked right up to him and said, “I want to learn about Malawi cichlids”. He gave me a stunned looked and I quickly realized what I had said was pretty blunt. Quickly, I counter acted and told him “Well, not right now but whenever you have time”. And so within the week he was introducing me to the basics of what I would need to know. So, now I wish to pass on some of the knowledge I have gained over the years…

The word “Mbuna” (pronounced mboo-na) translates into the Tonga word for “rockfish” by people that are native to Malawi in Africa. Many of these species are found nestled in and or around large piles of rocks that are referred to as “reefs” in the lake. These biotopes depending on depth are usually rich in life, which may contain dozens of species. Each of these reefs could have hundreds of fish from several genus’s all coexisting in one ecosystem.

Most Mbuna cichlids are found in the shallower regions of the lake. The reason is Mbuna are very dependent on algae for their food. The deeper sections of the lake are often absent of this due to the lack of light. It’s very important to offer an alga-based diet when keeping these cichlids. Feeding protein-based foods often causes what is known as “Malawi Bloat”. Treating for internal parasites can sometimes cure this but you may lose a few fish in the process. The best ways to avoid this is by feeding sparingly on the “red” flakes, and offer more of a “green” diet such as spirulina.

The other problem many hobbyists run into is aggression. It’s very common when starting out with Mbuna cichlids that aquariasts are afraid of “overcrowding”. Well, unlike your common community tank it is actually best to pack as many of them as you can into an aquarium. The reason being is these fish are highly territorial, especially among males. Malawi cichlids will establish a clear hierarchy among themselves. By overcrowding the aquarium, a single male cannot “target” just one fish at a time. Instead, he would have to defend his territory from many other males making it difficult to kill an unwanted visitor.

Like last week, I will only point out a few Mbuna I think are among the most attractive from the lake.

Cynotilapia sp. “Elongatus Chitimba”

Cynotilapia sp. "Elongatus Chitimba"

Metriaclima sp. “Zebra Chilumba”

Metriaclima sp. "Zebra Chilumba"

Pseudotropheus pulpican “Kingsizei” “Likoma”

Pseudotropheus kingsizei

Metriaclima aurora “Likoma”

Metriaclima aurora

It’s been a few years since I tore down my Mbuna tank. I miss being able to keep such interesting cichlids, but unfortunately you can’t have everything living in an apartment. Maybe one day I’ll be able to set up a bigger and better Malawi display. Until then, I'll just keep wandering the isles of our very own miniature version of Lake Malawi here at the store.

Like always you can find our pricelist through our website, www.wetspottropicalfish.com, or by selecting the products link below. I know that were broken after our update, but they’re fixed now. If you have any questions please feel free to ask.

Until next week!

Anthony Perry
Sales Manager

November 16, 2012

 In the last few weeks, I’ve covered a few of the inhabitants of Lake Malawi. Looking back over the last two years, it seems I have managed to avoid the other Rift Lake, Lake Tanganyika. Well, that changes right here and now.

Lake Tanganyika is the world’s longest freshwater lake, and is the second largest in volume - next to Lake Baikal in Siberia. There are over 250 species of cichlids and 150 non-cichlids most of which are found within the first 600 feet. What is most interesting about the great Lake is how close its creatures resemble those you would only find in saltwater. You can find various freshwater species of crabs, shrimps, jellyfish, and even sponges. This is most likely due to how close the water parameters are to saltwater. Unfortunately, none of these animals are exported from the lake. I’m unsure as to why, but I would imagine it has to do with the fact that no one has figured out how to keep these unusual freshwater fish alive outside of the Lake for long periods of time. The pH ranges from 8.6-9.2 throughout the Lake. Because of this, it is essential that in the aquarium the pH must not fall below 8.0. I have personally seen Tanganyikan cichlids start to die at a pH of 7.5!

Now that we have covered some basics of a Tanganyika aquarium, I’d like to talk to you about some of my mustached friends endemic to the lake. For those of you whom I have had the privilege to meet know that a mustache is held highly in my opinion. One of my favorite species of catfish is a perfect example of an animal with a great mustache - Phyllonemus typus “Mustache Cat”. These 4” catfish can be found hidden among rocks in depths of less than 4”, but can also live all the way down to 65 feet below the water’s surface. It’s most likely they are feeding on invertebrates and small fish. In the aquarium, the Mustache Cat is not picky and will consume just about anything you feed them. They are also social animals and because of this it is best to keep them in groups of three or more in larger aquaria. If you have a smaller tank, I would probably only recommend one so there is no aggression. With its “spatula”-like barbels it is easy to see why the fish is commonly known as the Mustache Cat. While the cat certainly has a great ‘stache, it is not what makes this fish stand out; it is its breeding behavior. Unlike most other catfish, the Mustache Cat is a mouth brooding animal in which both the males and females divide, carry, and guard their fry. When the young are large enough to defend themselves (about ¼”) they are released.

Phyllonemus typus

The mustache of Lophiobagrus cyclurus “Tanganyika Black Cat” may be short in stature, but it’s perfect for a “dwarf” catfish. These 4” fish are also found in the shallower regions of Lake Tanganyika. During the day, these fish are hidden under rocks but as dusk approaches these animals come out of hiding in search of foods such as crustaceans, beetle larvae, and smaller fish. Like most catfish, they will not cause a fuss about their next meal. There has been a long running rumor that the Tanganyika Black Cat can resituate mucus on their body, which can kill the other inhabitants inside an aquarium. This has not been proven or disproven, and is something I have never witnessed. Like the Mustache Cat, the Tanganyika Black Cat prefers to be in small groups. I would recommend three or more individuals in a tank no less than 40 gallons.

Lophiobagrus cyclurus

With all this being said, I would advise that a Lake Tanganyika might not be the best aquarium for the beginning hobbyist. However, if you want to step up on your skills, than I would suggest starting a tank with the “Princess of Burundi”, Neolamprologus brichardi. These beautiful cichlids are found on almost every shoreline in the Lake. Some of these locations are now species of their own, but are part of one large family known as the “brichardi” complex. I found them to be a relatively easy species to keep, breed, and maintain while I learned the basics of keeping Tanganyika cichlids.

Once again we have come to an end of the week, and the close of this week’s newsletter. If you have any questions, concerns, or my personal favorite, special requests, please feel free to call or email me. You can find the price list under the products link, or by visiting the best website around for freshwater tropical fish, www.wetspottropicalfish.com!

Thanks for reading!

Anthony Perry
Sales Manager

October 26, 2012

Our store has been around for over 13 years and we’ve been known for having one of the largest selections of freshwater fish on the West Coast. I remember walking into the store some eight or nine years ago before they had added the “new” side of the store. Changes often come with the growth of businesses, and with this expansion came new fish that the store had never carried before.

Well, as you may have noticed, we have been making changes and updates to our current website, www.wetspottropicalfish.com. About 4 years or so ago, we saw potential in selling fish to the online community because fish stores were selling fewer and fewer uncommon items, we felt we should not deprive the rest of the country with what Portlanders and the rest of the Pacific Northwest were offered. And so, with our experienced staff we set off into the world of Aquabid.com. This would be so successful that we’ve started to work on our own online store that will soon be found on our website.

Aulonocara baenschi

It’s been almost seven years now that I’ve started working for the company, and I would say that I too have under gone many changes over the years. I started out liking “monster” fish and wanting to keep every Arowana I could find. I then moved over to the community tanks and wanted nothing to do with the giants. But, I would have to say, that some of my most memorable experiences of being a hobbyist would be when I kept the fishes of the Rift Lakes, commonly known as African Cichlids. Last week, we were finally able to import over a 1000 fish from Malawi, and now that they’ve settled in I thought I would take the time to point out some of my favorites for those of you who have long awaited their arrival.

Aulonocara sp. "Maisoni"

I think the most well-known cichlids of the lake would have to belong to the genus Aulonocara, more commonly known as “Peacocks”. These wonderfully colored cichlids occur in almost every lagoon or reef in the lake. Though each location has its own color morph, body shape, and habitat preference - they all share one thing in common. Peacocks have the ability to use a “sonar” sense to find their food. This is done by enlarged sensory pores that partially surround the eye. Because there are so many animals found in the lake, many animals that are prey burry themselves under the lake floor. Peacocks have found that by using their “sonar”, the fish can wait for invertebrates, such as snails, to move under the substrate. Once the fish “locks on” to the unknown prey he quickly snatches up a mouthful of sand or mud, and separates his meal from the sediment. In an aquarium, this practice is rarely seen due to the fact that we offer prepared foods on a regular basis.

Aulonocara stuartgranti "Ngara"

I’m not going to go into great detail concerning each species or locale, but would rather like to mention some that are in great condition:

  • Aulonocara kandeense “Kande Island”
  • Aulonocara baenschi “Sunshine Peacock”
  • Aulonocara sp. “Maisoni” “Chitimba Bay”
  • Aulonocara stuartgranti “Ngara/Mdoka”
  • Aulonocara sp. “Usisya/Flavescent”

Thanks for reading once again. Next week, I will continue with the Mbuna that are found in the rocky habitats of Malawi. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact or email me. Like always you’ll find these cichlids plus many more fish through our website or by clicking the products link below.

Aulonocara sp. "Usisya"

Until next time!

Anthony Perry
Sales Manager

November 09, 2012

Two weeks ago, I introduced you to the Mbuna fishes of Lake Malawi. We learned the best way to keep them was by overcrowding the tank and to avoid protein rich foods in their diet. The following week, we learned the Utaka (Peacocks) find their food by using a sonar sense. There is, of course, a third “flock” of fishes known as the “Haps” of the lake. As much as I would love to talk about these other very beautiful and large growing fishes, I will leave them for another time. Today, I will talk about some other animals that are rarely seen in the hobby.

I’m sure many of you are like me and are in love with catfish, but can never seem to get your hands on the only species of Synodontis that occurs in Lake Malawi. Because this fish is never seen, we are forced to purchase the two cats from neighboring Lake Tanganyika that are available - Synodontis multipunctatus and Synodontis lucipinnis. To that, I say your endless search has finally come to an end here at our store. Once again, The Wet Spot Tropical Fish has set itself apart from other pet stores by acquiring a small group of the indeed very elusive catfishes of Lake Malawi - the Synodontis njassae “Malawi Squeaker Cat”. It would appear there are two forms of this exceptionally spotted cat. The northern form has small spots, while the fish of the south exhibits large spots. At this time, it’s unclear whether or not these two fish are a separate species or just variations of each other. In the lake, most specimens are found to reach about 8”. In the aquarium, I hypothesize they’ll probably grow closer to 10” given that they will be offered a more regular diet. The Malawi Squeaker Cats are fairly peaceful towards each other and other catfish. I would recommend you keep more than two if you wish to see them. In my experience, as the numbers dwindle so does the behavior of the catfish. Small fish should be avoided as the catfish are nocturnal predators and will consume small animals if given the chance.

Eels are often another fascination of mine. I’ve kept a few of them over the years, and each one has been a rewarding experience in its own. Unfortunately, most grow to large sizes and housing them became problematic and I was forced to find new homes for my beloved pets. For over the past year, we have kept an eel that most have only dreamed of seeing, Aethiomastacembelus sp. “Rosette”. First observed and photographed by our friend Ad Konings, on the Mbenji Islands, this remarkably patterned eel has now been observed in other localities, including on the Mozambique side of the great Rift Lake. Because of the considerable variants of the fish, it is unclear wither or not A. sp. “Rosette” is just a subspecies of the already described A. shiranus, or if the Rosette Eel is indeed an un-described African mastacembelid. I’ve read reports that the Rosette Eel only grows to around a foot in the lake. I’m not sure if I agree with these statements, but at this time I have no other information. I would suggest if you wish to keep one of these eels, you should have a large aquarium in case they exceed this estimated growth length. Also, because of their particular diet, it is probably best to house the animals by themselves. This will ensure they are fed properly. It is my strong suggestion if you do wish to house these animals with other Malawi cichlids that you do not keep them with the Mbuna species. The Peacock and Haps would be a much better choice for this aquarium.

Aethiomastacembelus sp. “Rosette”

Aethiomastacembelus sp. "Rosette"

That’s it for this week’s newsletter. I would like to thank you all again for continuing to read these and for all of your support. You can find the new pricelist under the products link, or by clicking www.wetspotropicalfish.com. If you have any questions about these fish or items from the list please feel free to ask.

Happy fishes!

Anthony Perry
Sales Manager

October 12, 2012

Last week, I covered some catfish that could potentially coexist in your community tank. This time around I thought I would flip things around and cover some catfish that may eat you out of house and home. I doubt you’ll find any of these behemoths at the All-American Catfish Convention but The Wet Spot Tropical Fish, like always, is happy to offer you a little more when it comes to those hard-to-find fish.

My featured fish is better known for its large size over its whiskers. Phalacronotus apogon “Blue Neon Sheath Fish” is often collected as a food source more than it is imported for the aquarium trade. It can be found in the great Mekong River all the way to the small island of Borneo. Because P. apogon nears 28” in size, it’s easy to see why most aquarists won’t be able to handle such a large species. Add to that a wide mouth and you won’t have any fish left once the lights go out! The name apogon (pronounced air paw gone) translates from the Greek word A – meaning without, and pogon – meaning beard. With close examination you get a quick idea of why scientists would dub this fish ‘without a beard’. They have very small whiskers! I’m sure by now you get an idea that these gentle giants should be housed alone or in large schools of each other.

Phalacronotus apogon

Keeping with the theme of “giants” we move more inland towards India, Thailand, and Myanmar. Here in these waters lives a catfish known to cause a great deal of pain if you were to be stabbed by one of the pectoral fins. I learned this all to well a couple of weeks ago when I was fishing out one of the Heteropneutes fossilis “Asian Stinging Cats” from the net. I knew the fish contained a toxin in their fins, but did not think it would sting me by merely picking it up out of a net. The fin managed to get deep enough in where blood was drawn, and it hurt for a couple of hours afterwards. Luckily for me, the fish was only 4”. I couldn’t imagine what it would feel like if it was one of the 20” adults.

Heteropneutes fossilis

Finally, we head into the cool waters of China where you’ll find Tachysurus fulvidraco “Tawny Dragon Cat”. The genus Tachyurus is still under argument to be a valid, but until records are found otherwise, I shall refer to it as such. This exceptionally patterned catfish was frequently available in the UK trade during the 80’s, but today is rarely offered for sale- yet alone anywhere in America. The Tawny Dragon Cat reaches a maximum size of about 14” and should be housed with anything that it does not think can become a meal when the night approaches. I suggest larger cichlids such as those that can be found in Central America or the Arowanas of South America.

Tachysurus fulvidraco

Like I’ve already mentioned, all of these catfish require very large aquariums. The Asian Stinging Cat and the Tawny Dragon Cat could probably live in an aquarium 125 gallons for a while, but these tank busters would probably do better off if they had an even larger environment. I would only recommend the Blue Neon Sheath Fish to tanks over 250 gallons. All three of these species should accept prepared foods like pellets just fine, but offering live earthworms would be a real treat to any of them.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s newsletter. If you have any questions or concerns please feel to contact me. Like always you’ll find the retail list under the products link, or by visiting www.wetspottropicalfish.com.

Until next week!

Anthony Perry
Sales Manager