January 9, 2015
Good afternoon! The holidays are past and we’ve resumed normal shipping operations. I would like to take a moment to remind you all of our Winter shipping parameters - Overnight lows during transit must be above 20°F at the departure location (here in Portland, Oregon), the destination (where the fish will be delivered), as well as at the UPS hub in Louisville KY (unless the destination is West of the Rocky Mountains, in which case it will be routed locally).
Anthony is not the only fan of catfish amongst this crew and also not the only one that finds their moustaches (technically barbels) absolutely endearing. The Synodontis genus is no exception when it comes to cute moustaches and the intricate spotted patterns seen in many species make the Squeaker Cats a long-standing aquarium staple.
For example, Synodontis ocellifer “Large Spot Syno” or “Ocellated Syno” from West Africa sports a buff to grey body with few distinct black spots. In mature specimens, each of the spots has a pale center. This has brought about their scientific name of ‘ocellifer’, meaning ‘Having little eyes’. These fish are suited for community tanks only when young – when they begin to approach their adult size of nearly eight inches, they will begin to predate smaller fish that will fit in their substantial mouths. This particular species prefers a bit more protein in their diets than other Synos, but is still considered an omnivore.
Synodontis multipunctatus “Cuckoo Catfish” of Lake Tanganyika, on the other hand, has a pale silvery body that fades to white over its belly and a beautiful bronze coloration over its head. It is marked from white-barbeled snout to caudal peduncle with numerous deep black spots. The spotting continues over the base of its other unpaired fins, though its pectorals, dorsal and caudal fins are pitch black and rimmed in brilliant white. S. multipunctatus is a definite schooling fish and, with an adult size of nine inches, will require quite a sizeable tank to house a group.
Finally, Synodontis lucipinnis “Dwarf Petricola” or “False Cuckoo Catfish”, also of Lake Tanganyika, looks almost identical to S. multipunctatus with a slightly bronzer body color and white first dorsal and pectoral rays. However, the Dwarf Petricola will only grow to four inches in length, making it much simpler to house. It is also a social fish, though not a schooler like the Cuckoo Catfish, and may be kept singly or in groups. Given the small adult size, this fish is suitable as a tankmate for all but the smallest fish – any over one inch should be safe – and its broad tolerance for water chemistry allows it to be housed in nearly any community aquaria.
Thank you for reading! January is National Hobby Day and we would like to thank you all for helping us support the home aquarium hobby. Likewise, next Wednesday is “Dress up Your Pet Day” – while it’s a bit tricky to put an outfit on a fish, we’d love to receive pictures of your aquascaping or unique aquarium ornamentation.
January 2, 2015
Happy New Year!
We're finally getting some new fish in; the full list of our acquisitions can be found on our side bar to the right. It's been about a year, but once again we've gotten a treat for all you monster fish enthusiasts - Scleropages leichardtii.
The older official common name for this fish as recognized by the Queensland Fisheries Service is the Spotted Barramundi; a term still used both in fishing and aquarium hobbies. The term 'Barramundi' is the Australian aboriginal term for "large scaled (river) fish" and is applied not only to the two Australian Arowanas,S. leichardtii and S. jardini, but additionally the Queensland Lungfish, Neoceratodus forsteri.
Approximately 30 years ago, the Queensland Fisheries Service officially changed the common name of S. leichardti from the Barramundi to the Southern Saratoga, thought to be derived from a mispronunciation and misapplication of the Lungfish's common name, Ceratodus. Of course, aside from these official monikers, S. leichardtii has plenty of other common names such as Spotted Australian Arowana,Spotted Bonytongue, and Red Pearl Arowana.
So what sets the Southern Saratoga apart from its Northern counterpart, S. jardini? While very similar in body shape and habits, S. leichardti is said to grow slightly smaller than the Jardini arowana and, unlike the peachy red crescents of color at the trailing edge of the Jardini's scales, the Leichardti features a single peachy red spot at the center of each scale. The silver-colored Jardini's cheeks carry a bit of patterning and coloration, while those of the bronze-toned Leichardti are quite plain.
In the wild, the Southern Saratoga is endemic to the Fitzroy River system near the Eastern coast of Australia. These fish have been introduced to other waterways of Queensland as a sport fish - I personally don't fish, however, it is apparently quite a delight to catch and release these fish. They are renowned for their acrobatics and leaping when hooked - of course, they can also jump quite well in an aquarium, so a well-fitting and heavy lid is required on their home. Said lid must be heavy enough to prevent a full grown Saratoga at a potential three feet (though just under two feet is more common in an aquarium) of pure muscle from knocking it off the tank when startled.
These wonderful fish do their best growing while under twelve inches in length - they will grow quite quickly with several feedings a day of varied foods such as earthworms, mealworms, frozen or dried prawn, mussels, and pellets. After twelve inches of length has been attained, the Southern Saratoga's growth rate decreases greatly and feedings should be restricted to once per day. While some owners enjoy providing feeder goldfish to their Barramundi, these fish often carry internal or external parasites (especially ich) and greatly increase the probability of disease introduction.
December 5, 2014
Happy Holidays! I’d like to express how grateful I am for each and every one of you – Whether you’ve been a customer through the years or just started reading our newsletter since the Chicago Aquatic Experience, you are the reason we are here and why I am able to write these articles for you every week. As a small business, every one of you makes an impact on our company. It is wonderful to know that our commitment to healthy, high-quality livestock and one on one customer care has kept many of you returning year after year, as well as bringing those of you who are new around to see what we are all about.
On the note of the holidays, I sincerely apologize for the lack of email and telephone notifications that we were closed for business both on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, as well as working only a half day on the Wednesday before. I thank you all for your understanding and once again apologize. We will be closed Christmas Day but, as of today, I will be in the rest of the holiday week.
Now, on to the fish I’m sure you’ve been waiting to hear about. This week I’ve decided to focus on some of the African Great Lakes of Victoria Basin. Lake Victoria is the second largest lake in the world in terms of surface area (seventh in volume) behind our Lake Superior, though it is significantly less deep than Lake Tanganyika (the second largest lake in the world in terms of volume behind Lake Baikal of Russia, seventh in surface area). The African Great Lakes all occur in the Rift Valley – an area of stretching and uplift caused by plate tectonics and noted for its alkaline water quality. While there are many wonderful genera of cichlids in these lakes, I’ve chosen to focus on some of the fish of questionable taxonomic standing, the “Haplochromis”. Most “Haplochromis” species occur in large schools in the wild with brightly-colored breeding males defending substrate territories – these three species are no exception.
“Haplochromis” burtoni occurs naturally in the swampy margins of Tanganyika but has been introduced to nearby Lake Kivu and the Kagera River. Breeding males grow to five inches in length and will display vertical barring broken by their lateral line, their lighter areas overlain with yellows, reds and blues. A distinct line of yellow egg spots bordered with black mark their anal fin. Their caudal and dorsal fins are cherry red and lips are blue. The coloration of their body will vary from specimen to specimen with some bluer whilst others are more yellow. This species is omnivorous and should be fed a varied diet with a good portion of greens and kept in Tanganyikan conditions – a pH value between 8 and 9 will be perfect.
In contrast, “Haplochromis” sp. “Fire” or “Fire Red Uganda” hails from the rocky areas of northern Lake Victoria and possibly Lake Kyoga. It appears to be one of the larger “Haplochromis” with an adult size of four inches or more for males. Breeding males sport brilliant fire red flanks and tails and sky blue coloration over their dorsal and ventral edges and fins. Some red striping can be seen in these fins, as well as red and black in their ventrals. Their anal fins are marked with an average of three distinct yellow egg spots. Some black barring may be seen, especially in subdominant specimens and over the faces of all fish. The Fire Red Ugandans are insectivores and will eat just about any prepared cichlid or community flake or pellet. House this species in a 7-8 pH for best results.
Finally, “Haplochromis” sp. “Ruby Green” is a bit more of a mystery – they are reported to occur in the plant-filled areas of Lake Kyoga and Lake Nawampassa, but this is unconfirmed. Breeding males, at a maximum size of 4”, will display bright cherry red coloration over their foreheads and most of their dorsal edge, with their ventral half and tail showing deep emerald green coloration. The male’s dorsal fin displays green at the front edge and red at the rear, as does their caudal fin. The Ruby Green is an algae grazer and should be fed a diet heavy in green matter or spirulina flake. A pH value between 7 and 8.5 will keep your Ruby Greens in good condition.
Once again, thank you all for reading and supporting us through the years. I look forward to next week; perhaps we will visit more Victoria Basin cichlids.
December 27, 2014
Happy Holidays once again – I’m looking forward to the New Year’s beginning next week and, with it, some new fish. Unfortunately the Holidays prevent us from receiving new fish, so it’s taken a bit of perusing our aisles to decide what to write about this week. It’s been a little while since I wrote on any of our Tanganyikan cichlids, so let’s talk about some rock dwellers. For a mixed tank with open water and sandy areas, these fish would make excellent options for a rocky territory.
Eretmodus cyanostictus “Karilani” is a full-bodied algae grazer that spends most of its time near the water’s surface. This is one of the lake’s “goby” type cichlids with a poorly functioning swim bladder, creating a rather comical effect of the fish hopping from spot to spot in the tank. Their bodies are fairly dark with vertical gold bars and their dorsal edge and face are marked with iridescent blue dots. This particular variety displays a beautiful red border to their dorsal and caudal fins. These fish are monogamous pair bonders and a single pair will remain together for life – if a pair is desired, it is best to obtain a group and, once a pair forms, remove the remaining specimens. They can be quite territorial so it is best to either keep singly or as a single pair. Adult individuals will grow to just over three inches in size and have plenty of personality for even the most discerning keeper.
Ophthalmotilapia ventralis “Mpimbwe”, a member of the featherfins, is significantly more peaceable than E. cyanostictus, though breeding males will defend their nests against other males of their species. The group of featherfins is so named for their extended ventral fins with enlarged yellow tips. These yellow lobes, technically called lappets, serve the same purpose as egg spots on the anal fins of many other African cichlids, drawing the female’s attention during spawning. The male will establish a nest on a small rock, typically claiming an area two to three meters in diameter in the wild, while groups of the gregarious five inch females and non-breeding males will congregate in groups of up to 500 individuals, swimming together above the nests of the males and feeding upon free-floating plankton and biofilm. Males will grow to six inches in size and, in the case of the strain from Mpimbwe, display dark charcoal grey bellies and iridescent, nearly white coloration over their black, broken by the occasional dark scale patch. These are by far some of the most beautiful of the O. ventralis color forms.
If an even more peaceful species is desired, Neolamprologus marunguensis “Blue Fin” is your fish. These absolutely beautiful Tangs grow to just under three inches in the males and two and a half inches for the females. Their peach-colored bodies are spotted with gold and brown and their reticulated fins are extended and tipped in bright blue-white. Their tails are more deeply forked than those of most other Neolamprologus species, setting them apart from the lyretailed N. brichardi. These cave spawners can be a little territorial when breeding, but their small size makes this manageable with oversized housing and plenty of space.
If you desire an open-water species as a tankmate for any of these species, consider a Cyprichromis, perhaps C. leptosoma “Nkonde”. At maturity, these beautiful fish sport sunny yellow heads, blue bodies, and inky black unpaired fins. The females will be significantly more silver with less pronounced coloration. There’s a lot of debate about the maximum size of Cyprichromis species, though we suspect these to be true C. leptosoma with a maximum size of four inches, as opposed to the five to six inches of the “Jumbo” varieties. A group of six to ten of these fish would make an excellent school of dithers above your rock-dwelling Tanganyikans.
I hope that your Holidays were wonderful; we spent quite a bit of time this week cleaning up our office and getting ready for a fresh New Year with you. Thank you for being with us, whether you’ve been reading for a week or several years, and we look forward to continuing our relationship with you in the New Year.
November 28, 2014
I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We all celebrated by feeding our fish feasts as we were home over the holiday – they were quite happy with their massive quantities of live, frozen, flake and pellet foods. I’m looking forward to a belated vegan Thanksgiving meal with my sister – I must say I love a good Celebration Roast just as much as I do a roast turkey.
We have a new-to-us Betta species in this week, tentatively identified as Betta cracens “Blue Spotted Betta”. We are hoping for a conclusive identification soon, but in the meantime we’ll be referring to it as such. These are adorably little right now, ranging from 1.25-1.75” in size. The International Betta Congress suggests at 10 gallon aquarium for a pair or 30 gallons for a group of these paternal mouthbrooders. Slightly acidic to neutral water between 6.0 and 7.0 pH and standard tropical temperatures around 77°F will keep them in good condition. SeriouslyFish suggests an adult size of just over two inches, a bit small for their presumed Pugnax complex status as cited by IBC. I would plan for an adult size between two and three inches total, with females slightly smaller. Adult specimens, from the few photographs available, appear to be ruddy in color with greenish brown cheeks, blue eyes, and iridescent blue fin edges and scale markings. Some red striping is visible on their fins, as well as a dark, nearly black lower edge to the anal fin. These fish are absolutely beautiful and unusual.
If breeding this Betta is not your goal, they could be kept in a community setting above a group of Ambastaia nigrolineata “Laos Linear Loach” or “Mouse Deer Loach”. These beautiful little loaches, very similar in shape to A. sidthimunki “Dwarf Chain Loach”, grow to four inches in length with plump, tubular bodies. Their bellies are white and dorsal sides are bronze with an overlay of two black lines on each of their flanks, one along the lateral line and the other near their dorsal fin. Their care is similar to other loaches – soft, sandy substrates will help protect their delicate barbels and a varied diet of meaty foods including prepared catfish pellets, frozen and live fare, and aquatic snails will keep them rotund and happy. They prefer to be kept in a group and will display more natural behavior if they are with others of their species.
To top off this odd community tank, I’d suggest a new Danio we’ve received – Devario (now ‘Inlecypris’) maetaengensis “Maetang Danio” or “Fire Bar ‘Danio’". This species is endemic to Lake Inle in Myanmar, as indicated by its new genus. The Maetang Danio is full grown at just under two inches in length and enjoys neutral water conditions and slightly cooler temperatures from 75° to 78°F. These pale cream fish have black lateral lines overlain with vertical golden-orange barring. They are absolutely stunning in their holding tank, schooling together in the front and waiting for food. They are currently being housed with Betta smaragdina that also look fabulous and neither species is bothering the other – the danios are very laid back and quite slow-moving – a perfect compliment to the sedate Betta species.
Thank you all for reading and once again I do hope you had a lovely holiday. We’ll see you back in the office on Monday!
December 12, 2014
The Lake Victoria basin is noted for the incredible number of haplochromine cichlids and their explosive and radiative speciation – that is to say, the rapid transition from a mere handful of species to a veritable plethora of different fish. There have been several mass extinctions in the lake followed by repopulations and further speciation. Most recently, the introduction of the Nile Perch as a cultivated food source caused the near or complete extinctions of many hundreds of native cichlids. Commercial fishing utilizes the haplochromines of the lakes as bait for long line fishing, further threatening populations, and decreasing lake transparency due to erosion and excessive plant growth creates conditions wherein unique species cannot see the visual breeding cues of their own strains, opening the door for hybridization. These issues place us hobbyists in the unique position to cultivate the endemic fish of Victoria and potentially preserve the unique species and localized strains of the lake.
While not currently threatened as evaluated by the IUCN, Pundamilia nyererei of Lake Victoria is noted as a species to monitor due to the potential for hybridization and overfishing as bait. Males have cherry red dorsal edges and blue ventral edges with bright yellow over their flanks. Their flanks are marked by vertical black barring, along with some black face masking and black ventral fins. Each of their unpaired fins is colored with oranges, reds and blues. These males will grow to just about three inches in length, with their yellow and grey female counterparts slightly smaller.
Astatotilapia nubila, the “Blue Victorian Mouthbrooder”, is another species prone to hybridization in murky waters. Unlike P. nyererei, however, A. nubila is classified as Vulnerable, only one step from endangered status. Males are a deep black with a blue overlay and brilliant cherry red fins. They will reach up to four inches in peak condition, with the sunny yellow females slightly smaller at 3-3.5 inches.
The “Dwarf Victorian Mouthbrooder” or “Philander”, Pseudocrenilabrus multicolor victoriae, thankfully has no identified threats and is well distributed through the entire Lake Victoria Basin, making its home over the muddy substrate. Males are renowned for their beautiful golden color, blue lips, and red fin edges. With a maximum size of only three and a half inches, these little fish are suitable for fairly small species tanks with few males and several of the mouthbrooding, shimmering silver females.
Paralabidochromis sp. “Red Fin Piebald” is a bit bigger at up to five inches, native to Lake Kyoga and Lake Nawampassa. These are a truly unique fish with mottled black spots over a blue base in the case of males, and over orange in the females. Males sport brilliant orange edges to their dorsal and caudal fins and orange anal fins with faint egg spots. Females, on the other hand, have mostly clear fins with only faint splashes of orange coloration. There is an unfortunate dearth of information on this particular species of Victorian cichlid.
Thank you all for reading and I look forward to my next two newsletters – the last for the year. It’s been a good one here at the Wet Spot and we’re looking forward to an even better one next year. Stay tuned for a special announcement in your email on Sunday from this address!
November 21, 2014
In my humble opinion, no South American aquarium is complete without aCorydoras hanging out near the bottom of the tank. Corydoras are considered “facultative air breathers”: facultative refers to the fact that they do not need to breathe air from the surface of the water to survive, but are able to do so if the oxygen content in their water, for any reason, is too low for them to obtain the oxygen they need from their gills. Their method for atmospheric respiration is via a modified intestinal structure featuring extraordinarily high vascularization to allow gaseous exchange. Neat!
While on the subject of these fascinating bottom-dwelling catfish, Corydoras rabauti is a gorgeous, rust red toned cat with a deep black line running from the crest of their head to the lower part of their caudal peduncle. Their stunning ruddy coloration is most brilliant over their head and gill plates. In the right lighting, the black line will flash with a beautiful blue-green sheen. These 2.2” Corydoras are found in the Rio Negro and Rio Solimões drainages and enjoy décor of branches, overhanging rocks, and leaf litter.
Corydoras sp. "New Panda", also known as the C-number CW051 appears to be relatively 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.
I wanted to share with you one last bottom-feeding fish today, specifically, our brand new batch of Corydoras concolor “Blue Cory” or “Slate Cory”. Rarely does one see the grey-blue coloration of this fish, particularly not paired with its warm sepia-toned fins, and especially not in a Corydoras species. This wonderful, special Cory sports one other unique feature – the dorsal fin of the males is extended, sometimes growing to nearly twice the length of that of the females. While our specimens are not old enough to display these extended dorsals, once they reach their adult size of just under two and a half inches, they are sure to be quite the lookers.
Thank you for reading! As you are all probably aware, Thanksgiving is upon us this next weekend. We’re very grateful to be a part of your lives, even if it’s just our weekly newsletter.
We will be closed Thursday, 11/27/2014 and Friday, 11/28/2014 for the holiday, but we’ll be back Monday, December 1st!