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October 05, 2012

My friends at the Potomac Valley Aquarium Society are sponsoring the All-American Catfish Convention in Herndon, Virginia October 18th-21st. As much as I would love to be there, I will not be able to make it. Instead, I’ll be here at home doing my own talk for the Greater Portland Aquarium Society on the 18th (which is an open invitation to all those who wish to attend. Feel free to find the details on our Facebook page). If you are near Virginia and have nothing planned for that weekend, I really suggest going to check it out. Conventions are always fun and informative!

The world of catfish belongs to the family Silurformes and has intrigued me since I was young. The animals have diversity in shapes and sizes; yet all of them seem to share the same common trait - whiskers! The animals, of course, use these barbels basically as an extension to their nose smelling for food and feeling around their environments. Last week, we received several new cats from Asia that exhibit just how unique every one of them can be, but what’s even better is that all of these catfish stay around 2” in size.

Members of the genus Pseudomystus, commonly known as the bumblebee cats, occur throughout Southeast Asia. Recently Ng described a new species from the Rungan River drainage in Borneo that for much time was thought to be P. heokhuii. In Feb. 2010, he found several differences that would allow enough material to place Pseudomystus funebris “Borneo Hornet Cat” into its own species. This little cat is most likely to grow to 2”, but because it’s still new to the hobby it could outgrow this hypothesis. This small size would definitely be okay for keeping small rasboras like Trigonostigma hengeli “Narrow Wedge Rasbora” or similar sized fish. They also seem to be tolerable to low pH as they are collected in flooded swamp plains where the pH seems to be an average of 5.0!

 Pseudomystus funebris

Often this next little cat is called the “Asian Cory” with its broad shaped head and dorsal fin that stands straight up. It was originally placed under the name Chandramara chandramara, but in 2001 was changed to Rama chandramara “Hovering Cat”. The Hovering Cat is not really a rarity in the hobby, but is seldom imported from the Ganges River of India. Of course, the fish is like most catfish that it accepts a wide range of foods, but it seems to favor tubifex or glassworms the most. The pH should be kept in the 6-7 perimeters to ensure a long life for our quaint friend.

Rama chandramara

Moving on to a personal favorite of mine, I fell in love with Hyalobragus flavus “Malayan Yellow Pygmy Cat” as soon as they arrived in the shop. I was expecting the catfish to be a nocturnal species that I would never see. But to my surprise, I found them schooling with my Puntius rhombocellatus “Rhombo/Snakeskin Barbs” during the daytime and searching for food almost all of the day. They were quite happy in my 20-gallon aquarium that I had set up as an Asian biotope. The fish was originally described as Pelteobagrus ornatus, but a study done by Ng and Kottelat has revealed there are three species within the family Hyalobagrus. Unfortunately, without knowing the collection points they are rather hard to tell apart. They can also be very sensitive to water quality. I would recommend weekly water changes and a pH of kept in the 6-7 range for long term care.

Hyalobagrus flavus

I hope this gave a few of you ideas if you were looking for a catfish to add to your Southeast Asian or community tank but were afraid of getting something that would destroy your beautiful biotope.

As always you’ll find the list under the products link below, or by visiting www.wetspottropicalfish.com. Feel free to contact me or the Potomac Valley Aquarium Society about either upcoming event. Thanks for reading!

Anthony Perry
Sales Manager

September 28, 2012

When I’m not spending countless hours posting and reposting ads on Aquabid.com you’ll find me out taking the pictures for both the website and this newsletter. A lot of time is spent walking up and down the aisles with a camera in one hand and a foot ladder in the other. This not only gives me the shots that I need, but allows me to see how the fish are doing throughout the room. I like to think that all of the Danios and Tetras are happy to see my handsome face again, but in reality they are just hoping to be fed.

I suppose that’s why I find myself so drawn to cichlids. Unlike the Danios and Tetras, cichlids are more comparable to our feathered friends, parrots. They seem to know who you are and what you’re about. They can make homes for themselves out of caves, live for several years, and seem to get to get to know their keepers. Some species, like the one I’m about to feature; even dedicate their entire lives to one mate.

During my time around the shop I find myself drawn back to one particular tank. The fish are not really that colorful, but to me, it has more of the rarity factor that keeps me coming back to them. I’ve seen them here once before about four or five years ago. In fact, one of our former employees was among a small handful of people to have been known to spawn Limbochromis robertsi. Originally described as “Nanochromis robertsi” (Audenaerde and Loiselle 1971), now it is the only one within its genus. In fact, they are known only to occur in the Black Krensen Creek in Ghana, Africa.

Limbochromis robertsi

Even more interesting is that within this small space, courting males can claim a territory a couple square meters in diameter. Because of this you will need a large tank to house a pair. I’ve always recommended a tank at least 48” long and about 75 gallons of water. Males can reach about 4” in length while the females seem to stop growing around 3”. Mature males will have pointed fins while the females have a pink color to their fins and the shape is more rounded. Pairs are very aggressive towards conspecifics (members of the same species) and any others should be removed or separated to keep any harm from coming to them.

Limbochromis robertsi

This aggression is usually not aimed toward schooling fish like larger tetras or barbs and it’s a good idea to have something swimming above them to get them to feel more comfortable in the aquarium. A recommendation for this would be either Alestes longipinnis “Alestes Longfin Tetra” or Opsaridium christyi “Copper Nose Barbs”. Both of these larger fish can handle whatever the Limbochromis can dish out, and would bring a little activity to your aquarium.

Alestes longipinnis

Alestes longipinnis

Opsaridium christyi

You could add Synodontis flavitaeniatus “Orange Striped Squeaker Cat” if you want some more activity on the bottom, but be warned they may eat any fry that you raise.

Synodontis flavitaeniatus

The aquarium you choose should have plenty of flow in it and the pH should be about 7.6. The temperature doesn’t need to be very warm so 76°F should be just fine for the Limbochromis. Decorations are very important and should primarily be what you find in their natural habitat. The rocks or wood you choose should be placed in separate parts of the tank with caves placed near them. This will give the Limbochromis somewhere to hide and spawn when ready. For food they should be offered a variety frozen brine shrimp, pellets, and flakes.

Well, I’ve got some more pictures to take, so I’m going to wrap it up here. I hope this enlightened you into one of the coolest cichlids from Africa. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching them grow up and become true beauties. Please feel free to call or email with any requests you have.

See you next week!

Anthony Perry
Sales Manager

September 07, 2012

I’ve been working for The Wet Spot for almost seven years now. I’ve seen all sorts of what some would consider unusual or odd is something that I probably get to see on a daily basis. We receive several orders that usually come in throughout the week. For something to show up in the order that truly gets my attention must certainly be something highly unusual, and more than likely brown…

Up until 1995, the Anabontoids commonly known as “bushfish” were all in the genus Ctenopoma. This changed when Norris described a new species and placed it in the genus Microctenopoma. He had discovered a distinct trait between this fish and the others consisting in the genus – therefore breaking up the some 20 different species once placed in the family. But there is often much confusion among hobbyists as what the term “micro” means. They often believe that it is due to the small adult size of the fish. This is not the case however. Instead, it refers to “micro” structures on the fish.

Bushfish can be found in slow moving oxygen deprived waters of east, west, and central Africa. Here they spend time hiding in plants and sunken wood waiting for small fish or invertebrates to pass by. Setting up an aquarium to mimic these conditions is best for the overall health of the fish. I would, however, recommend planting the aquarium very heavily. This will help bring out the best colors of the species you wish to keep, well making the fish feel more comfortable. Ideally, fish like Congo Tetras (Phenacogrammus interruptus) or similar size are the best choices for tankmates as they occur in nature together.

Much like the Leaf fish of South America, the fish shoot out protrusible jaws with lightning fast speed. Any prey within range quickly becomes a meal. It’s because of this predatory behavior that all bushfish should not be housed with animals that are small enough to fit in their mouths. The diet of bushfish should be well rounded. Meaning they should be offered a variety of frozen or live brine shrimp. Bloodworms will be greedily eaten up by those acclimated into an aquarium. Flake foods will most likely be ignored and should be avoided. Personally, I do not recommend a live fish diet as this can lead to parasite problems, but if you insist on feeding other fish I would recommend you start your own guppy colony. This way you can be assured your feeder fish are problem free.

The first species I would like to mention is Microctenopoma ansorgii “Ornate Bushfish”. According to Robert Goldstein, this fish is mistakenly called “Microctenopoma”, but instead belongs in the genus Ctenopoma. This is most likely because of the fish’s 2.5” adult size. Seriouslyfish.com and the literature are found still has them listed as a Microctenopoma species, so that is what we are going to refer to them as. The Ornate Bushfish is un-doubtfully the best looking fish within the family with the strikingly red and black bars the fish possess, but is also one of the shyest. I would recommend a densely planted aquarium with slower moving fish to bring this beauty.

Microctenopoma ansorgii

The other two species we have brought in can be found inhabiting the same rivers and lakes of the Congo rainforest that the Ornate Bushfish can be found. Microctenopoma fasciolatum “Banded Bushfish” and Ctenopoma weeksii “Mottled Bushfish” should be house much like I’ve already mentioned in this article. The Banded Bushfish will reach around 3.5” with males growing slightly larger and exhibiting extensions in the dorsal and caudal fin. The Mottled Bushfish will grow to around 4” and our not easy to tell between the two sexes. Both of these species are seldomly seen in the hobby, so if you’ve been looking to collect as many Ctenopoma that you can get your hands on than I wouldn’t let these sneak past!

Microctenopoma fasciolatum

Ctenopoma weeksii

Once again I would like to thank you for taking the time to read my newsletter. I’ve certainly come a long way these past years, and I hope that I have many more years to come in the hobby. Like always you’ll find our current list under the products link, or by visiting www.wetspottropicalfish.com. Please feel free to email or call me with your questions. Thanks again!

Anthony Perry
Sales Manager

September 14, 2012

When someone says the word ‘Piranha’, some might automatically think of Joe Dante’s 1978 classic film wherein a plague of genetically altered man-eating fish is released upon a summer camp. I guess it depends on how old you are, or in my case, how many R-rated movies I was exposed to when I was a kid. I’ll admit that movies like Jaws and Piranha certainly made swimming a little nerve wrecking at that age. They are, however, just movies and a tropical freshwater fish will certainly not be able to survive the chilly Washington state waters where I grew up. I’m not even going to talk about that “Great White” coming up the pond…

If you have seen the documentaries Planet Earth by the Discovery channel (if you haven’t, I seriously recommend watching them) you probably know there are really only a few species of piranha in very remote locations of South America that may really do any harm to you. Jeremy Wade of River Monsters also proved this when he went in search of the cannibalistic predator in season one. Jeremy found that there was probably only one place deep within Venezuela that you wouldn’t want to dip your toes in. For me, I’d be more worried about that parasitic catfish the locals call Candiru.

While man spends his time avoiding this toothy animal, there are others that actually spend their lives living among them. Metynnis hypsauchen “Silver Dollar” have adopted the same flat, silver body their carnivorous cousins possess. This camouflage allows the fish to “sneak by” where others may end up on the dinner menu. Unlike the Piranha, Silver Dollars are vegetarians that will make short work of almost any plant it comes upon - probably not making it the best candidate for your planted tank. In nature, they are found in large shoals throughout the Amazon basin. I would advise keeping them in groups of at least 5 individuals with plenty of space to be able to reach their 6” maximum size.

Metynnis hypsauchen

Another interesting Silver Dollar type, Myleus schomburgkii “Black Belt Silver Dollar”, is much like its relative, M. hypsauchen, but with a black “stripe” on its side. The red anal fin also grows considerably longer than the common Silver Dollar. Black Belt Silver Dollars spend their time grazing algae and avoiding other predators by swimming in large shoals in Venezuela, Peru, and Brazil. This species will stay a little smaller, reaching just about 5” or so.

Myleus schomburgkii

Silver Dollars may be primarily vegetarians in nature, but they will also love the occasional bloodworm or brine shrimp treat. As mentioned above, they are an avid plant eater. You can try fabric or silk plants, but these are even often confused for real food and picked at by our greedy pets. I would recommend keeping the pH value between 6-7 and the temperature in the upper 70’s. They can be rather skittish so keeping the tank dimly lit would be a good idea. Pieces of bogwood or large rocks would help to make them feel right at home.

That’s it for this week. Like always you can find our retail list under the products link, or by visiting www.wetspottropicalfish.com. If you have any questions about Silver Dollars, or any other of fish, please feel free to email or call me.

Until next week!

Anthony Perry
Sales Manager

August 29, 2012

Last week I enlightened you all with the history of the aquarium hobby. I figured many of you were probably bored by the time you got to the second paragraph and I better get back to talking about fish. This week some really exciting stuff came in, and will be ready for your tanks by the time you read this. With the lift of the ban that Brazil had put on some 700 species of fish finally released we’re starting to see more and more fish available that we haven’t seen in years. For some us in the shop (including yours truly) this is the first time even seeing them in the hobby.

In the early 1990’s, Crenicichla cametana were imported frequently from the Rio Tocantins in Brazil. Regrettably the ban in Brazil would keep this remarkably excellent hunter in the Amazon, and out of our aquariums. This pike is an excellent hunter as I mentioned before. They are well known for their uncanny ability to dart to the surface, grab the food with almost precise accuracy and then retreating right back to its hiding place- pretty impressive for a fish that grows 8-10”. All of the reports I read said that it’s best to keep several caves or hiding places for the fish to minimize conspecific aggression. One author notes that other larger cichlids are left alone. Males of this species are generally a black or grey coloration; well females in breeding coloration exhibit a brilliantly colored red belly. This week we are proud to be the one of the first in the country to offer a very small handful. Be the first among the country to own some!

One of my favorite Loricariidids, Peckoltia compta “Leopard Frog Pleco” L134, comes from the Rio Tapájos and the Rio Jamanxim in Brazil. Here in these moderately fast flowing waters the fish spend much of their time searching for food, but they are not really algae eaters. Instead, the fish are probably feeding on crustaceans or insect larvae hidden among the rocky bottom. In the aquarium you should provide a well staple diet of frozen bloodworms, pellets, and algae wafers. This should prevent well fed individuals from eating up that gorgeous planted aquarium you’ve worked so hard on. Their 4 ½” size and attractive pattern make it almost ideal for just about any community aquarium.

Peckoltia compta L134

Parancistrus aurantiacus “Chubby Pleco” L56 is a very extraordinary Loricariid that you can find throughout the Rio Tocantins and Marañón in Brazil, and the Rio Ucayali in Peru. What makes it extraordinary you ask? This fish has the ability to change from a dull grey color to a striking gold coloration apparently at the fishes will. Most of the records I read said that these fish are not very aggressive despite reaching up to 10”. Like most of the fancy plecos they should be fed a varied diet like bloodworms, brineshrimp, pellets, and algae wafers. If you’re looking for an oddity among the loricariids then this is certainly a fish for you!

I’m pretty sure that I’ve written about Corydoras schwartzi before, but I LOVE this catfish. I mean, what’s not to like about a catfish that is very peaceful, relatively easy to maintain, and is a classic among aquarium fish? I’ve had a group of 15 specimens in a 120 gallon display tank for about 2 years now. The fish haven’t really grown much (should reach around 3”, but are still about 2”.).The group is often observed hanging out in small schools in front of the tank digging in the substrate for food. Of course Cory cats are not scavengers. They should be fed a varied diet of food like all aquarium animals. I plan on adding a group to my own home aquarium very soon!

Corydoras schwartzi

That’s it for this week folks. Remember to click on the products link below, or visit our website, www.wetspottropicalfish.com, for this week’s pricelist. If there are certain fish you’ve been looking for please don’t hesitate to ask!

Until next week!

Anthony Perry

 

Sales Manager

September 21, 2012

 Good news, everyone! 

Anthony is taking the week off from writing this week, so once again you get to enjoy the Wet Spot Tropical Fish weekly newsletter according to Jess.

We’ve gotten in a whole host of new Corydoras species and a lovely new killifish this week and they are positively gorgeous. I’m quite excited to write on our new additions and learn a bit more about them in the process.

Our first new Cory cat is Corydoras ortegai, a comparatively thin-bodied Corydoras.   These grey –toned fish feature black masks and a dark, somewhat circular blotch beneath their adipose fins. These markings are very similar to the ever popular Corydoras panda, but they are set apart from their relatives by a generally slimmer body and some additional markings and the absence of a dark coloration of the dorsal fin. Their armor-like scales are rimmed in black and their tails feature four or more broken vertical black stripes. C. ortegai reach an average length of 1.6”, somewhat small for their genus, and prefer an average tropical temperature around 77°F. Possibly the most interesting thing about C. ortegai is a small feature. In all other Corydoras species, the inner barbels of the fish are separated into two unique barbels from their origin at their chin; in C. ortegai the barbels are connected as one   Overall they are a striking fish and quite unique anatomically amongst Corydoras.

Corydoras ortegai

In my first newsletter on subtropical aquaria, I mentioned many species of Corydoras that prefer cooler water temperatures. One of our new additions, Corydoras loxozonus, likewise prefers their water in the 70-75°F range. These little fish feature a fascinating black stripe beginning along the front edge of their dorsal fin and taking a sharp angle to continue along their body just below their dorsal edge and extends along the bottom edge of their caudal fin. This line is punctuated by several parallel dotted lines beneath these stripes on their sides. Like with many other Corydoras species, loxozonus features a black mask across its eyes. These little subtropical Corydoras from the Rio Orinoco in Venezuela reach about 2.2” full grown.

Corydoras loxozonus

Corydoras loxozonus

The last of our new species of Corydoras is Corydoras sp. “New Panda”, also known as the C-number CW051. This fish appears to be quite new to the hobby with most references only reaching back to 2010. These cute little fish reach approximately 2” (males) to 2.25” (females) and enjoy water in the standard 77°F range. Their exact origin is unknown at this time, however, they are exported from a location near the borders of Brazil, Colombia and Peru. These pale, somewhat peachy-beige Corydoras feature only the typical black mask and a very large rounded black blotch beneath their dorsal fin. These are definitely my personal favorite of our new Corydoras species and I’m considering a small fleet for my home aquaria.

Corydoras sp. CW051

Corydoras sp. CW051

Finally, we’ve reached the point in the article that I return to that new killifish I mentioned, Aphanius mento, “Orient killifish”. These little fish, reaching a length of about 2”, originate in various countries of western Asia (including Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Israel and Lebanon) in temperate to subtropical waters. Their temperature range lies between the extremes of 50°F and 77°F, though they can tolerate temperatures down to 36°F and up to 86°F. It is advised to allow these fish a cool winter period to extend their lifespans. Their typical environment includes streams originating from areas of karst topography – a geologic region wherein the bedrock is composed of limestone and moderate levels of precipitation dissolve the bedrock into networks of caves and sinkholes (karsts), resulting in a high carbonate content in the groundwater. In the case of the Orient killifish, between 10 and 30 degrees of general hardness and a pH of 7.5-9 is preferred. Acidic water (below pH 7) should be avoided as the fish will not likely survive. What makes these fish so amazing, in my opinion, is their coloration. The males are a dark greenish-brown color, nearly black in fact, and are peppered with brilliant blue spots along their bodies and stripes across their fins. They remind me very much of starry nights in the Oregon coast range and are astoundingly beautiful.

All four of these fish enjoy dense planting and remember to provide your Corydoras species with soft sand substrate to protect their delicate barbels.

Thank you for reading and have a great week!

Jessica Supalla

August 24, 2012

Many of you probably believe the history of aquarium keeping started during the 1800’s. When, in fact, man has been keeping fish for 1000’s of years. I’m sure our ancient ancestors were as crazy as I am about fish. Only they were less spoiled with the variety of species I’m offered thanks to air cargo and the technology of electricity. The hobby has certainly advanced greatly since the introduction of using plastic bags in the 1950’s, and silicone sealed tanks in the 60’s. Today I wanted to give you a little education in the history of the aquaria…

About 4,500 years ago, the Sumerians kept fishes in large artificial ponds- making them the earliest known to keep fish. The Chinese raised carp for a food source around 2000 BC. This knowledge was then passed over to the Japanese who are now known for their world famous Koi. The Romans around 50 BC introduced glass panes. This allowed them to replace a single wall of marble to view their aquatic friends. They were also the first to house marine animals by building large ponds that they supplied with fresh saltwater from the ocean. One noteworthy Roman, by the name of Hirrius, loved his pet Moray Eel so much that he decorated it with jewelry. When the fish perished he mourned it like he had lost his child.

The English had been housing goldfish in glass containers since the 1700’s, but the aquarium hobby did not really become popular until the mid-1800’s when Dr. Nathaniel Ward decided that he would house aquatic animals inside of his terrariums known as Wardian Cases. He managed to house aquatic plants successfully in 1842, and added fish to this shortly after when he had discovered that both aquatic plants and fish counterbalance themselves. This, of course, is done by the photosynthesis process by which the fish produce carbon dioxide and the plants absorb this gas. In 1846, Anne Thynne would be credited for the first balanced marine aquarium when she kept stoney corals and seaweed for almost three years. Around the same time, Robert Warington housed goldfish, Vallsinera, and snails inside of a 13-gallon aquarium. In 1850 he published his experience in Chemical Society’s journal.

Some of the first modern aquariums coming out of the Victorian era were made of a glass front that was held together by wood sides. The tops were usually an ornamental fish that screwed into the top of the bracket. The brackets that held the pieces together were very ornamental and extremely heavy. The bottoms were made of steel or slate and an open flame was place under it to heat the aquarium. Later more advanced systems would be produced using four pieces of glass panels that was attached with metal frames and held together with putty. These tanks were offered all the way up until the 1960’s when the modern silicone tank was made by Martin Horowitz out of Los Angeles, CA.

In 1908 the first mechanical aquarium air pump was invented, but it was not powered by electricity like one might think. Instead, it was powered by running water from a water line that you plugged into a nearby sink. By World War I electricity allowed for artificial lighting, aeration, and proper filtration of the aquarium.

There are reports that Alexander the Great may have founded the first public zoo in 330 BC. The Mogul Emperor of India, Akbar, also allowed public access to his personal collection in the 1500’s. The London Zoo would open in 1826 to “members and their guests”. In 1853 the zoo would build its first public aquarium inside of Regent’s Park. Gosse would lend a great hand in the first aquarium, but it was Lloyd with his idea of adding air bubbles to circulate the water that would become a great success with the building of the Paris public aquarium. Sadly, these zoos would not stay true to preservation of animals. Many of them turned into circus-like shows that featured parachuting monkeys and performing bears on tightropes. Europe would soon try to change this with the introduction of the Naples Aquarium in 1874 and the Plymouth Laboratory in 1888. America would not be far behind when it opened the first educational aquarium in New York sometime in 1896. Today, most public aquariums offer outreach programs to schools, educational classes and research, and the conversation of aquatic animals.

A study done in 1996 showed that aquarium keeping is the second largest hobby in the United States, with 40 percent of aquarists maintaining more than two tanks at time. In mid-2005 the APPMA National Pet Owners Survey reports that Americans keep roughly 140 million freshwater fish at home, and almost 10 million saltwater animals. If you ask me this just shows that freshwater is that much better!

I would like to thank Chuck Rambo for the inspiration of this article. Last week we had the privilege of his company and a personal talk to our store on the history of the aquarium hobby. I also need to thank Robin Whittall for the article on cichlidae.com. Without that I would never have found most of the information I needed to complete this.

I would like to invite you all to our website, www.wetspottropicalfish.com, to view our current pricelist. Or you may simply click the products link below this email to access the site. Once again thank you to all who have showed their support to our store and this newsletter.

I’ll see you all back her next week!

Anthony Perry
Sales Manager