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February 09, 2012

The largest black water river in the world, the Rio Negro, is located in South America. Though the name means “black river”, the color it resembles is more like tea. This dark complexion is probably caused by the humic acid, which comes from decaying vegetation near the bottom of the stream. The natives of Colombia, where the water sources begin, call it the Rio Guainia. Here in Colombia, the waterways flow along the Rio Orinoco and the magnificent Amazon. This path will cross with the Rio Vaupes (Uaupes) and the Rio Guaviare. The river at one point drops into the Rio Solimões in Venezuela to form the Amazon River South near Manaus, Brazil. From the months of November through March, the water level in most places can be as low as 6 feet, but as the rainy season arrives, the water rises and at certain areas it can be as wide as 19 miles.

In forested streams of black water tributaries throughout the valleys of the Rio Orinoco and the Rio Negro, you will find swarms of Paracheirodon simulans “Green Neon Tetras” swimming in massive schools. In these slow moving areas, the water is stained dark brown and can have a pH value of 3.0! Because the trees create a giant canopy light is very dim here. Their bright blue stripe creates a signal to other Green Neons that allows the group to stay together even in the faintest of light. In an aquarium, I recommend keeping them in a planted tank with some floating plants to make them feel more at home. This will help to bring the petite 1”+ fish out and actively seeking some frozen daphnia or finely crushed flake food. As the Green Neon is a shoaling fish by nature you should keep in them in large groups.

Paracheirodon simulans

Paracheirodon simulans

The family name Gasteropelecidae comes from the Greek word “gaster” for “stomach” and “pelekis” for “axe”. This is an obvious reference to the Rio Negro’s floodplain fish’s body shape known now as Carnegiella marthae “Black-Winged Hatchetfishes”. These 1.5” fish use this body structure, as well as specially adapted muscles in their pectoral fins, to propel themselves out of the water in search of insects or when frightened by a potential predator. Because of this “leaping” behavior, the tank should be well covered. I have seen hatchets escape from even the slightest of cracks. The Black-Winged Hatchetfish does have a special diet. A variety of floating or live foods is certainly preferred over dried flakes. These peaceful fishes just like the Green Neon are found in giant schools in nature, and should be kept as such in an aquarium. There are now two color morphs known. A “dark” form containing 12 oblique lines across the body, and a “light” form that shows diffused dotted lines. It is my belief that these occur together as it seems we were sent such.

Carnegiella marthae

I was unable to determine the river source, or the correct identification, for what is being imported as Farlowella acus “Twig Catfish”. It is likely that our shippers are actually sending Farlowella vittata, as F. acus is now considerably endangered and rare in the hobby. Sadly, this is probably due to overfishing for the aquarium trade. In my research, I found several species of Aguja (as the people of Venezuela know them), but have been unable to properly identify the truly unique “stick” like fish we have. The Twig Cat is a great algae eater that predominately feeds on diatomaceous (brown) algae. Males of this species can reach around 8” while the female probably stays a little smaller. It is essential for the Twig Cat to have pieces of root wood in their aquarium. Without the wood the fish do not do well and seem to perish. Like myself, these fish know how to appreciate fine facial hair and grow a long “mustache” that is known as odontodes and is used to coax a female into breeding. See ladies, even fish know a 'stache is the only way to go ;)

Farlowella acus

Hanging above fallen leaf litter among the roots of trees in the Rio Negro to the Rio Orinoco is Biotodoma wavrini “Orinoco Eartheater”. The original erection of the genus was derived from the Greek words “biotos” for “life” and “domos” for “house” and was the opinion of the original author because he thought these fishes were mouth brooders. Today, we now know that Biotodoma actually lays specialized eggs that will attach themselves onto the substrate with a unique apparatus. This very peaceful cichlid only grows to only about 4” and does not seem to harm even the smallest tank-mates. These elegant cichlids rather spend their time digging in the substrate in search of microorganisms much like their cousins of the Geophagus complex. Despite their unique diet, you should continue to feed frozen bloodworms, daphnia, and small amounts of flake. I always found that they were very fond of Omega One’s Super Cichlid Pellets and highly recommend them for any eartheater.

Biotodoma wavrini

All of these fish stay fairly small. Because of this, you could easily get away with a 40 breeder, or a tank of a similar footprint. I would suggest keeping the tank rather acidic. It doesn’t have to be battery acid, but a good basis would be in the low 6.0’s. I would put a couple of pieces of driftwoods in the corner with maybe a nice piece of slate near the middle to encourage the Biotodoma to spawn. The filter should be oversized, but with minimum flow near the surface as to not to disturb the hatchets too terribly.

One more newsletter is under us and another week has passed. At the end of this week, we will bring more Asian fish to our list, so don’t miss out! If you have any questions or concerns please contact me. Until next week!

Anthony Perry

Sales Manager

February 02, 2012

The Rio Tapajós is a 1200 mile long Brazilian river that rises off of the plateau near the town of Diamantino, in the state of Mato Grosso. Near this town, the river splits into several streams to form the Rio Arinos. Together they join the Rio Jurunena, which in turn joins the Rio Teles Pires. Together these bodies of water flow into what is known as the Alto Tapajós where they will eventually meet with the Rio Manoel from the east. As the waters progress, the stream is known as the Tapajós until it reaches the last of the rapids called the Maranhão Grande. For the last 100 miles or so, the river varies from 4-9 miles in width and is considerably deep. On both sides of the valley, there are 300-400 foot bluffs until it finally meets the town of Santarém before ending its journey into the great Amazon River.

In 1875, it is here in these Brazilian waters that Steindachner first described these classy dwarf cichlids known as Dicrossus maculatus “Spade-Tailed Checkerboard Cichlid”. The Rio Tapajós can be rather acidic and it is recommended in order to keep these little Geophaginae happy in their tanks to replicate their natural habitat as close as possible. Therefore, I recommend a pH of around 6-6.5 (or softer), a temperature of 78-82°, and a well-planted environment for their ideal conditions. They also seem to do better on a diet of frozen bloodworms and brine shrimp, but live foods will likely be better if you wish to try and breed them. It will also help the males acquire the 3” size and the females to reach their 2” petite frame. If you keep more than one male in the tank they are sure to quarrel with one another. This is a completely normal behavior that most of the time ends up with a nipped fin and nothing more. I wouldn’t stress out if the fighting does happen as it rarely leads to death. It just goes to show that boys will be boys!

Dicrossus maculatus

Living in the same stream, but not necessarily with each other is another pearl commonly called Hyphessobrycon pulchripinnis “Lemon Tetra”. There is no doubt why in 1937 Ahl named them pulchripinnis. The word “pulcher” is Greek for “lovely” or “beautiful”, and “pinna” for “feather/wing”. With the striking yellow that is shown on the tips of the dorsal and anal fin you’ll soon see why the explorer was quick to call it such. This color against the pale yellow body with the blood red eye is sure to be an attraction for our dwarf cichlid aquarium. These tetras will also provide a peaceful shoal above the cichlids. Their small size of around 1.6” and with an appetite that is easy to please will make them a great addition no matter what your level of expertise is.

Hyphessobrycon pulchripinnis

Now this tank may be dimly lit, but you’re still going to get some algae growing on the glass and the decorations. Maybe it’s time to add an algae eater to help clean up this unsightly, yet natural, mess. Little has been known about this uncommonly imported specimen, but Ancistrus sp. “Tapajós” L309 seems to grow to only around 3.5”. The body is a mottled brown color with light brown spots. As is typical with the genus, these are primarily algae eaters and their diet should consist of such. I recommend feeding algae tabs and zucchini to keep their bellies nice and plump. We have just a couple left so you better act fast!

 

I would recommend a 20 long or a tank with a 24” long frame for all of these fish that is also well planted. The tank should be dimly lit and can be darkened by adding floating plants to provide a peaceful shadowy biotope. The tetras have been domesticated, so they are more likely to accept a wider range of water chemistry. The dwarf cichlids and the pleco are wild caught. Therefore, I’d be a little more concerned of water parameters – at least for the first few weeks while they adapt into their new homes. Like many of you are aware, we quarantine all of our fish before selling. By doing this you don’t have to worry about parasite or other problems that is often common with wild collected fish.

Another week has come and gone with one more newsletter and many more to come. We had a major Colombia order come in and our tanks are stocked to the rim with new fish that anxiously await placement in a lifestyle fit for a king in your home or office aquarium. Hope to see you all back here next week!

Anthony Perry
Sales Manager

January 11, 2012

The Geophagus group of South America is as complex as the Amazon River basin. For many years, it was thought that Geophagus altifrons lived from the Rio Orinoco all the way to the Rio Tocantins and were imported under these different locales as the same fish. Today, these species are now recognized as their own species and are labeled in the trade as members of their own family. Despite science placing these elegant creatures into their collective “boxes”, many exporters fail to identify each species, thus, causing these animals to be exported from their region with an incorrect name. This causes much confusion among hobbyists who are trying to keep the genetic strains of the fish pure.

Over the years as a hobbyist, I have fought these battles myself until I finally came to the realization that the exporters often have problems with their collectors providing this information. I believe this is not because the collectors forget to give out this information, but rather would like to keep their “secret” collection spots a secret. After all, if they hand out these hot spots to everybody they lose their niche.

This week at The Spot, we were able to get a collection point for some very impressive 3.5-4” Geophagus that have now been identified as Geophagus naembi “Rio Tocantins/Aereoes”. Altifrons like to spend their time grazing through soft substrates like sand to filter out the microscopic foods hidden under the surface. They have even been found in Várzea forests, the Portuguese word for “flooded forest”, but are most often found right before rapids in black and clear waters where the pH can very between 4.8-6.6. In an aquarium, they are rather adaptable to a neutral pH but would do better if they can be kept in acidic waters. Geophagus will accept a diet of prepared foods like frozen bloodworms, daphnia, pellets, and even some fruits and vegetables. I always recommend feeding small meals multiple times a day rather than one large meal and in my experience they do need sand to get the beneficial nutrients buried within. This is a much healthier lifestyle for the fish and will promote the growth to their maximum size of nearly 9”.

Despite the robust size of Geophagus altifrons, they can be observed living among even the small characins like Hyphessobrycon sweglesi “Red Phantom Tetra”. The Red Phantom Tetra is known for its spellbinding red body that, under the right conditions, emerges from the aquarium with such intensity it will draw the eye of anyone who happens to pass by. Unlike, its lookalike cousin, Hphessobrycon eques “Serpae Tetra”, it is a very peaceful fish that is much better suited for community tanks. Not only is it peaceful, but at its full grown size of 1.6” a group of these won’t break the tank.

Hyphessobrycon sweglesi

In 1969, Foersch and Handrieder were in Peru and came across a mountain brook along the Rio Lullapichis where they were able to collect Corydoras Panda “Panda Cory” for the first time. The Panda Cory is now one of the most popular Cory’s in the trade. Asian and East European fish farms have now made the fish easily accessible to most and it is rare to see wild forms of this fish come in. Not surprisingly, we were able to receive a batch directly from Peru and they came in looking exceptional. They’re almost full grown at 1.75”, have been treated for any potential parasites, and are now ready to find their home alongside our other showcase fish this week.

Corydoras panda

Now you may find yourself asking what size tank would all of these extravagant fishes go into? Well, just imagine a giant school of brilliant Red Phantom Tetras streaming in front of a group of the rainbow colored Geophagus altifrons. Meanwhile, the little Corydoras Pandas are digging in the substrate looking for any worms that the cichlids may have missed. They all go perfect in a newly purchased 125-gallon aquarium from Aqeuon Products. And what better way to filter this biotope than with Ehiem’s canister filters. Given the large size of the aquarium and the bio-load, I would probably go with one or two of the Pro II series. Be sure to include root-woods and smooth rocks to replicate the feel of the Amazon. It would also be a good idea to plant Nymphea and some Cabamba species, not only to provide some cover for these creatures but to help bring out their colors as well.

That’s it for this week’s notes. You may want to make sure you click on the products link below for our current price list where you’ll find a new wild batch of Heros notatus “Spotted Severum”. We have much that came in earlier this week and all have been quarantined, medicated, and are ready for your home or office tanks. I’ll see you all back here next week!

Heros notatus

Anthony Perry
Sales ManagerThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

January 26, 2012

The Democratic Republic of the Congo receives the highest amount of precipitation in the world with up to 80 inches of rainfall annually in some areas. This tropical climate is home to the ninth longest river in the world, the Congo River. The river and its tributaries occupy nearly all of the country by covering almost 390,000 sq. mi, and were formed 1.5-2 million years ago during the Pleistocene era. It is here many animals call home, including the great apes like the Western Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla) and the Common Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes).

Setting up an African biotope can be fairly easy once you’ve figured out what species you’d like to keep. For my set up, I’ve chosen a 75 gallon from Aqueon Aquarium Products. With a footprint of 48x20x21, the aquarium will give the Characins enough swimming space while providing adequate space for the Mormyrid and the cichlids to grow. The Congo River is very dimly lit in most places and covered with a lot of rocks. I’ve stacked several large smooth stones to near the top of the tank and placed Anubias plants in between the crevices and added a few branches of wood to simulate the river habitat. I decided to go with a simple AquaticLife dual lamp T-5 fixture just to help keep the Water Lettuce at the surface strong and healthy while allowing the other plants a sufficient amount of light. Now the water flow is rather swift in the Congo so it would be a good idea to over filter this aquarium with an Ehiem Professional 3 series. I’ve also added a power head in the opposite corner to help keep the current strong. The water has checked out with the appropriate water chemistry and we’re ready to add some fish, so let’s get to it!

Boulenger first described Phenacogrammus interruptus “Congo Tetra” in 1899 coming from slightly acidic and murky waters of the upper Congo Basin. This fish has been available in the aquarium trade for many years now and most of what is found in the hobby today is commercially bred from farmers out of Asia and Eastern Europe. These fish are often over looked in an aquarium shop for having a drab silver body color, but as the males mature to their 3” size, they develop long white fin extensions and a blue/green tinted body that “flashes” against a dimly lit tank. Females are less attractive and slightly smaller at 2.5” and keep their drab silver appearance. Congo Tetras are shoaling fish that can be very skittish if not kept in larger numbers. They are not picky when it comes to their flake food, but feeding brine shrimp (live or frozen) as a treat would keep that sparkle ever so bright in the tank.

 Phenacogrammus interruptus

In the streams and rivers of nearby Nigeria, you’ll find the Arnoldichthys spilopterus “African Red Eye Tetra”. These 3” plus sized fish require plenty of swimming space near the top of the tank. With the tannins leaching out of the wood, these vigorous Characins have started to show their beautiful brown and gold color on their body. The dorsal and anal fins have taken that striking yellow and black hues to make the fish truly stand out against their large black edged scales. Like its cousin, the Congo Tetra, they are rather unfussy when it comes to their diet, but should be fed a varied diet to keep the fish in good health. They are rather adaptable to pH and can be kept in values of 6-7.8. They too like to be kept as a school - so make sure to get a good group!

Arnoldichthys spilopterus 

In the fast flowing streams and pockets of the lower Congo, the Steatocranus casuarius “Buffalohead Cichlid” is found resting near caves and tunnels. For what the fish lacks in colors of a gaudy nature, they make up for with an abundance of character. With a reduced swim-bladder, the Buffalohead is often observed “bouncing” from rock to rock in search of food and a possible mate. They’ll eat just about anything, but providing the nutrients of bloodworms and brine shrimp will get those males to grow their almost 5” size. This diet will also be what the gals need to reach their 3” stature. Though the male Buffalohead’s may look intimidating with that large “hump”, they are actually a relatively peaceful fish that can be housed in a community tank with fish of similar size.

Steatocranus casuarius

There isn’t much information available on the Mormyrids of Africa. Through my research on these “Elephantnose” fishes of the continent, I could not determine what the correct river system is for Petrocephalus simus “Round Nosed Mormyrid”. One article mentioned it was limited to the entirety of the Ogooué River in the Lower Guinea province. Another suggested it was recorded from the Luongo River in Zambia. It appears this is one of the smallest within its family by reaching a maximum length of less than 5”. There has been one very uncommon observation that all of us have noticed from these unusual creatures – they not only come out during the day, but they school together! I watch them in the tank with their cichlid companions and constantly watch them swim together around the tank. This is very uncommon because most of the Mormyrids are nocturnal and don’t get along with one another. So, I may not have been able to determine the origin, but I sure found an “elephant” that I’ll be able to house!

 

We’ve come to end of the great Congo River and another newsletter. Like always, be sure to check out the products link for our updated price list. You’ll find a few more Mormyrids and West African fishes there. Don’t forget to keep up on your regular water changes, and I’ll see you back here next week…

Anthony Perry
Sales Manager

January 05, 2012

There are often fish that are believed to be false, or misidentified in the trade. Many of these are often close in appearance to another species when young, but as they grow they change into their own beauties of the aquatic world. Some of these creatures are even believed to be made by man himself, but are they really? This week, I would like to bring up some of the imposters…

In the 1970’s, an aesthetically pleasing Cyprinid was introduced into the hobby. It was often mentioned as a hybrid or having been artificially dyed in European articles from P. conchonius “Rosy Barb”, P. ticto, and P. cumingii. It wouldn’t be until 2008 for it to be described by science, thanks to the help of Ralf Britz’s 2003 discovery of wild collected specimens, Puntius padamya “Odessa Barb”. Finally, it was recognized as a true fish of nature. In northern Myanmar (Burma), the Odessa Barb is known only to come from a man-made pond and the Chindwin River where the water flows over limestone having a pH of 11.0! In the aquarium, Odessa Barbs are happy in a wide range of waters and will happily feed on prepared foods thanks to Asian and European fish farms.

Puntius padamya

In Indonesia, there are two barbs that look very similar in appearance. Both of these fish are colored a tan or gold hue and possess black lateral stripes running all the way across the body. There are two distinguishing characteristics that separate Puntius lineatus “Lined Barb” from Puntius johorensis “Striped Barb”. The first is when the Lined Barb is young the body displays not only lateral bars, but vertical ones, which they are known for. The second characteristic is not as easy to see by the untrained eye. The lower lip is fleshier than its stouter cousin. To me, this is not the best way to identify the two fish. I prefer to go by the body shape. The Lined Barb appears to be a thinner bodied fish with a much more pointed nose. Though, I cannot speak for the Lined Barb, my Striped Barbs are very peaceful in their 55 gallon home. I love how they are the first to greet me when I come home and are every excited to bring out the rest of my fish for their nightly feeding. Although, the Lined Barb is probably a better suited aquarium pet with their 2” size. The Striped Barbs can reach over 5”.

Puntius lineatus

Hidden off of the Mekong River’s main channel, the Xe Pian River is home to one of the most rare loaches in the hobby, Yasuhikotakia splendida “Jaguar Loach”. Here in southern Laos, the 4” fish spends its time living among a handful of rocky habitats and is limited to this region by the Tad Saepha waterfall. The Jaguar Loach is similar in appearance to Y. caudipunctata, Y. longridorsalis, and Y. morteli, but can be differentiated from the others by the dark marking that forms an unbroken ring around the caudal fin and their more intensely colored fins. The Jaguar loach also lacks the black stripe running across the back. Despite their aggressive looking profile, this remarkable creature does well with more active fishes such as Cyprinids, and, if the tank is adequate enough, other Botia types such as Botia kubotai “Burmese Border Loach” (another imposter!).

Yasuhikotakiya splendida

Whether it’s trying to blend in with Piranhas (Metynnis hypsauchen “Silver Dollar”) or an un-suspecting leaf (Monocirrhus polyacanthicus “South American Leaf Fish”) there are many “imitators” in the world of water trying to survive.

Remember to check the products link below for our current list. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns. Until next week, I wouldn’t let that stick (Farlowella acus “Twig Cat”) on the wood fool you!

Farlowella acus

Anthony Perry
Sales Manager

January 19, 2012

There are so many tributaries in Brazil that it is hard to distinguish the source for one of the major rivers in the country, the Rio Araguaia. The Araras mountain range, in the state of Mato Grosso, and the Divisões, in Goiás, are both believed to be the start of the 3000-mile journey through the Amazon. Other sources, however, state that the “river of macaws” actually comes from the Caiapó range at the borders of Goiás and Mato Grosso. Somewhere near the middle of the great river, the Araguaia splits into two forks and creates the Rio Javaés, which takes an eastern path; the western fork keeps the name of Araguaia. These two bodies of water will reunite later to create the world’s largest river island, the 217 mile long IIha do Bananal. Where the two waters meet, they create a 100,000-hectare of igapó (swamp forests), Cantão (oxbow lakes), and blackwater rivers. From there the mighty flow of the river moves northeast where it eventually comes to a junction with the Rio Tocantins.

The area where the Araguaia meets with the Javaés is one of the richest in biodiversity with over 700 species of birds and 300 species of fish. Among all of these lives this rarely imported cichlid, Laetacara araguaiae “Buckelkopf”. The German word “buckelkopf” translates into “humphead”, given for the male’s small little hump they grow as they mature to their 3” size. Females reach to a little over 2.5” and typically have smaller fins. Here, in the Araguaia, the dwarf cichlids spend their time searching for food, but now in your tank it will be a little easier for them to find food such as frozen bloodworms and flakes to keep that purple and yellow coloration on the body. Like most Laetacara types they are rather peaceful for a cichlid and can live with smaller fish like…

Laetacara araguaiae

Hyphessobrycon amandae “Ember Tetra”, a relatively new characin that was discovered in the Rio Araguaia over 15 years ago for the aquarium trade. It was named in honor of the explorer Heiko Bleher’s mother, Amanda Bleher. Here, in the peaceful tributaries, the bright orange tetras gather under floating aquatic plants in the blackwaters. Ember Tetras are one of the smallest in their family, not even growing to an inch in length. These tiny creatures will accept just about anything for food, but be sure to give higher protein foods like brine shrimp to keep their color glowing in your tank.

Hyphessobrycon amandae

Underneath these marvelous animals you’ll find the lovely little armored catfish known as Aspidoras spilotus. Aspidoras are closely related to relatives of the family Corydoras and the name derives from Greek for “shield skin”. These interesting specimens, however, take on a different nature by trying to shoal with their tank-mates. Aspidoras like to feed on frozen worms or pellets but will accept dried flakes, if any happen to make it past the Ember Tetras! All of these foods along with regular water changes will help to keep the bottom dwellers happy, and will also let them grow to their 1.5” size. Be sure to keep a group of them for your 20 long!

Aspidoras spilotus

That concludes our rafting adventure down the majestic “River of Macaws”, the Rio Araguaia! Until next week everyone!

Anthony Perry
Sales Manager

December 27, 2011

 Happy New Year from all of us here at The Wet Spot!

I would like to take this opportunity to express a very warm and heartfelt ‘Thank You’ for your continued support during this past year. It is because of your love and enthusiasm for fish that we continue to grow. We never thought we’d be selling fish online, and I certainly never thought I would be in charge of the online store. It took some time to adjust getting used to the idea. After all, I’m a fish guy and the thought of sitting behind a computer was too weird for me. Thus, this past year, I went from posting the ads and catching your orders to requiring an assistant with the whole project. So, without you I wouldn’t be here. Thank you all once again and let’s get 2012 started off right by talking about why wild caught fish are okay to be in your tank.

My first fish doesn’t need an introduction. It is easily the most recognizable and probably one of the most controversial still to date. My feelings on Paracheirodon axelrodi “Cardinal Tetras” stands on the banks of Barcelos along the Rio Negro with the thousands of workers who make their living not only by collecting, but by conserving the habitats of these scintillating 1.25” colored fish. Cardinal Tetras make up almost 80% of the freshwater tropical fish exported out of South America on a yearly basis. If the collection of these fish decline than the natives may have no other option than to turn to agriculture. What does this mean? The answer is quite simple – the beginning of the deforestation of the Amazon to make way for farming. Cardinals are also considered annual fish and only live for about a year in nature. In the aquarium, they are known to live for several years. So, by keeping them at home you are prolonging their lives. I say keep the forest by purchasing wild caught specimens of one of the best tetras, the Cardinal!

Paracheirodon axelrodi

I know many of you are afraid of wild caught fish because a lot of them come in unhealthy. Well, here at The Spot, we quarantine and condition all of our fish by medicating properly and feeding them high quality foods before we sell them. Our Cardinals are one of the best in the business because we get them directly from South America. This means they are untouched by any other distributor and not exposed to any medications or possible illnesses - just one more reason why The Wet Spot Tropical Fish is THE store to buy from!

In my opinion, the Corydoras concolor “Slate Cory” is often over looked in the trade. The head of these exquisite fish changes from blue to a rustic red color toward the rear half of the body and fins. A faint “bandit” stripe can be seen crossing over the eyes from time to time. In some individuals, the dorsal fin grows into a large “sail” that is absolutely impressive to the eye. Like all “cory’s” they prefer to spend their time in large groups and should be kept as such in the aquarium. Cory’s are often referred to as “bottom cleaners”, but this is actually a very bad practice for these fishes. They should be fed algae tabs or sinking foods just like the rest of your fish. Because cory’s spend much of their time on the bottom, the substrate should be a fine sand and well maintained. If the aquarium gets too filthy, they could become ill. I always recommend proper water changes every couple of weeks or so. Don’t let these 2.5” Callichthyidae swim any further up the Orinoco!

Corydoras concolor

In the lower Orinoco basin, you’ll find a vividly colored Loricariidae known asHemiancistrus subviridis “Green Phantom Pleco” L200, but as you venture further north on the same river the color of this fish starts to darken. Eventually a bright blue version of the impressive “Green Phantom” starts to appear as Hemiancistrus sp. “Blue Phantom Pleco” L128. Because these two fish share the same water ways, it is believed they are indeed the same species. However, until scientists examine them further, they are categorized as two different fish. Both the bodies of the fish are either blue or green and the fish are covered with spots that start at the head and, depending on locality, will cover the body all the way to the tail. “Phantom Plecos” are specialized Aufwuchs-feeders and should be fed a predominantly vegetable based diet. If they are not given the proper foods needed, they will turn to eating those beautiful plants you’ve spent months growing. With their 7” adult size even the tough Anubias plants are consumed!

Hemiancistrus sp. L128

Even though it’s robust adult size of 6” may seem a little more intimidating, Laetacara thayeri, is actually a shy fish that spends most of its time in nature hidden inside of forest streams and pools. L. thayeri prefers smaller tetras like Cardinals or similar sized fish for its tank-mates. They will accept a variety of prepared foods like pellets or flakes (I highly recommend Omega One’s Super Cichlid Pellets), but like most South American cichlids they’ll eat treats like bloodworms or live brine shrimp. This will keep the filaments on the dorsal a nice orange color. You can easily house a small group of these in a 55 gallon aquarium along side all of the other fish I mentioned in my notes today.

Laetacara thayeriIn conclusion, I’ve spent many lunch breaks reading through magazines or surfing seriouslyfish.com to continue my education of the aquarium hobby. Having said that, I greatly encourage everyone to continue his or her education and support his or her local fish store. Without fish nerds like us to continue to support the hobby, the trade will fade further and further from local stores. I know they may be our competitors, but without other vendors, our hobby will see less and less fish out there. And I do not want to see my passion fade to online sales only, but to continue to grow strong and thrive everywhere.

Thank you all for continuing to read my notes. I wish the New Year brings you much happiness, good health, and most of all, more fishy friends! I would like to thank my employers for the many years they have given me here. They know I ask a lot of questions and pester them to bring in fish that only I would want (and I love them so much for doing it!), So, thank you both for everything, and here’s to many more years to come.

If your store is not carrying the fish you’ve spent years looking for, you’ll find in the current list under the products link. Happy New Year everyone!

Anthony Perry
Sales Manager