August 1, 2014
Happy Friday, folks! It’s shaping up to be a lovely summer this year here in Oregon and I am planning to spend the next several days up in our coastal mountain range, playing with Cutthroat and Steelhead Trout fry in the rivers. Chelsea will be your main contact for the next week and you may also receive some communications from Anthony or Gabe.
I know that these aren’t trout, but we have so many beautiful Tanganyikan Shelldwellers that it seemed like a great idea to talk about them this week. I’ve gotten Anthony to take some beautiful new pictures of our available species as well. The so-called Shellies are some of the easiest Tanganyikans and generally stay small and relatively docile, can be kept in groups in a species tank or as a substrate dweller beneath upper-level Tanganyikans. Within the Shellies there are two genera, ‘Lamprologus’ and Telmatochromis. The ‘Lamprologus’ species shall be my focus this week, but rest assured, we also have some gorgeous Telmatochromis vittatus as well.
‘Lamprologus’ species in general are consumers of zooplankton and invertebrates in the wild. In your home aquarium, however, they will accept many prepared foods including flake, small pellets, and frozen fare. Aquarium décor of a sandy substrate and an assortment of suitably sized empty shells – at least one shell per fish is a good rule. Alkaline pH values between 8.5 and 9.5 and temperatures in the upper 70s suit ‘Lamprologus’ species as well.
For the most part, males reach just under two and a half inches, while females will top out at about one inch shorter. ‘L’. multifasciatus is the exception with an adult size of just under two inches for males and females of an inch and a half maximum. A ten gallon tank is suitable for a single pair of ‘Lamprologus’, whilst a group will need a larger space.
Bonded pairs of ‘Lamprologus’ brevis will share a single shell. Other species prefer to dwell on their own, each in their own shell. ‘Lamprologus’ multifasciatus enjoys communal living and is best kept in a large group with a big pile of shells. The other species prefer widely spaced shells about ten inches apart as they are comparatively territorial. Don’t be surprised to arrive at your tank’s front one day to find a cloud of fry emerging from the shell around their parent!
Well, that’s it for this week. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about our Shellies and Anthony’s gorgeous photographs. I’ll see you back here in two weeks!
July 25, 2014
Happy Friday, dear readers. I know you all are getting antsy for our next batch of Geophagus sp. “Aripuana”, but they’re not quite ready yet. Hopefully, it will just be another two to three weeks on these guys to grow to a safe shipping size. They are truly adorable at their little 0.5” size, but we want them to be safe and sound on their trip to you. Rest assured, I will let you all know as soon as they are ready.
In the meantime, we’re also very proud of our breeding colony of ‘Geophagus’ crassilabris “Panamanian Eartheater” – these absolutely beautiful Red Humps were the first to be described in their complex, known currently as the ‘G.’ steindachneri group of fish. The group is easily distinguished from other Geophaginae by their shallowly sloped foreheads, protrusive yet underslung mouths, sited eyes and large red nuchal humps in mature males.
‘G’ steindachneri is fairly common in the hobby and, in fact, we have both wild and F1 specimens available now. ‘G’ crassilabris, on the other hand, is not often seen. Adults are set apart from their Red hump cousins primarily by their large, fleshy, blue-black lips. If your juveniles look undistinguishable from your young ‘G’ steindachneri, rest assured that they will develop their blue lips with age and we are very careful to send you the correct Red Humps. The overall body color of G. crassilabris is bronze under most lighting: differing light sources and spectra may more strongly reveal red tones or the brilliant blue iridescent scale markings and broken black lateral stripe.
The opercular plates of the male are brilliant red behind bronze-orange cheeks, as is the leading edge of his face. His anal and dorsal fins show bright red coloration and longer lobes than those of the females. The nuchal hump at the crest of his forehead is brilliant bronze and may vary in size based on the presence of other males and females – it appears to be mostly composed of highly elastic blood vessels and connective tissue which could allow it to change size as the fish is motivated to do so. Interestingly, the dominant male of a group will have a negligible hump and the subdominant males will have the largest, most imposing nuchal humps as displays with which to vie against the dominant fish and others muscling for rank within the group. The most subordinate males will often show no hump whatsoever and adopt female coloration in order to avoid the dominance squabbles of the stronger males. On that note, the females are usually uniformly bronze in flank and cheek coloration with brown-colored foreheads and only a hint of a red border to their dorsal fin.
Care of ‘Geophagus’ crassilabris is quite easy – the fact that they are tank-raised means they are quite stable fish. They are perfectly happy in the usual tropical aquarium. A pH value between 7.0 and 7.5, warm 70’s Fahrenheit, and good water quality will keep them in good condition. Feed a varied diet including some meat and plenty of vegetable matter. Too much protein can cause them to bloat or have other digestion issues, so the protein contained in a mixed community or cichlid flake is plenty and it should not be supplemented with worms or other meaty sources.
These fish have been fantastic breeders for us and the temporary pairs formed during spawning will put on quite a show with the male shimmying, shaking, and snapping his lips to encourage the female on. The female broods the eggs and larvae for an average of 17 days until they are ready to swim free, while the male will depart and is perfectly happy to pair with a different female. The young fry can be housed in a sponge filtered grow out tank and fed on Artemia and fresh-hatched baby brine and are best fed several times a day with daily partial water changes to encourage the fastest growth.
That’s all for today; I hope you’ve enjoyed this little write-up on our ‘Geophagus’ crassilabris. If you have any further questions on them or any other fish, please don’t hesitate to email or call us. Once again, thank you for reading and I look forward to writing for you again next week.
July 4, 2014
Happy Fourth of July, folks! We’ll be trying out a couple small changes to the newsletter format and features; please let me know what you think. Now, we’ve received many new fish the past couple weeks and I’ve chosen a few to discuss this week. Remember, if you have any questions about our other recent acquisitions or long-time staples, don’t hesitate to ask!
Astronotus ocellatus “Oscar” is quite common in the hobby, and we’ve been lucky enough to be able to offer both tank raised and wild specimens. At the moment we are really excited to be stocking wild-caught Astronotus crassipinnis “Big Eye Oscar”. This fish is rarely seen in the hobby and really does have large eyes, especially notable as we house them next to our wild A. ocellatus. This fish's rarity means that there isn’t a great amount of information on them. The Big Eye Oscar has reportedly been collected in Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Peru, specifically in the Paraguay drainage and Parana River Basin. The largest specimen caught in the wild was just over nine-ten inches in length. Unfortunately, for those of us who wish the Big Eye Oscar actually stayed this small for the sake of requiring less space, it is unknown if this is the full adult size. Their basic features such as body shape, finnage and coloration are very similar to the common Oscar, but the fish tend to be a bit more dark and olive than A. ocellatus at adulthood. Red coloration around the tail ocellata is just as visible, but little to no red is seen on the rest of the body. Most notable when comparing this fish side by side with its close cousin, however, is its larger eyes. For all intents and purposes, care of this fish should mimic that provided for the more common Oscar – a 55 gallon aquarium for one specimen should be provided, given its uncertain adult size, and water should be neutral to slightly acidic with temperatures in the mid to upper 70s Fahrenheit.
Moving on to the upper Amazon basin in northern Peru, we find a really fantastic Loricariid catfish, Pterosturisoma microps “Antenna Loricaria”. These are very similar to the Sturisoma, Lamontichthys and Farlowella species commonly known as the Twig Cats. Its snout is shorter than most twig cats but its tail is just as long and narrow. The outer rays of both their pectoral and caudal fins are greatly extended with the pectoral filaments already nearly half the size of their elongate bodies. Its armor-like scales are mottled black and dark grey-brown with a bit of light grey marbling – in contrast with the brownish dark patches, this marbling can appear almost blue. While exhibiting a small amount of sexual dimorphism in the markings on their bellies, breeding has never been reported in the home aquarium. These fish will grow to just over six inches in length, excluding their caudal fin and its extensions, and enjoys warm water from 76 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep the pH values neutral for the fish’s comfort and provide plenty of vegetable matter for this fish – blanched peas are said to be especially relished.
Finally, a fish just identified in 2006 in the Congo River Basin: Nanochromis teugelsi, formerly sp. “Kasai” for its type locality in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This absolutely beautiful fish is a golden fish with iridescent green coloration over the cheeks and flanks, pale pink bellies on the males, and red bars above their eyes. Their fins are golden and bordered in black and white or, in the case of the caudal fin, striped in yellow, black, and blue. Zero to three black spots may be evident in the male’s extended dorsal fin. Females are comparatively rotund with the typical iridescent purple belly coloration of their close West African cichlids. A large black spot dominates the dorsal fin. The upper lips of both males and females are colored brilliant orange. This fish has readily bred in the home aquarium. They are pair bonding cave spawners, as typical for their genus, and will care for their brood for from five to seven weeks. While specific water parameters are hard to find for this fish, their collection location is generally described as tropical blackwater conditions with plenty of plants and a sandy substrate. With that in mind, our wild-caught specimens are acclimated to our fairly soft, 7.5 pH water, but may be content in more acidic conditions.
Thank you for reading and, please, let me know what you think of our newsletter format changes. Additionally, I’d like to let you all know that we have resumed offering Saturday deliveries via UPS Next Day Air.
July 18, 2014
Good day, friends! With nearly 300 species of fish known in the Western Ghats drainage and nearly half of them endemic and found nowhere else in the world, I felt it was prudent to continue our discussion of this amazing hotspot of biodiversity. As though the multitude of fish wasn’t enough, the Western Ghats Mountains are home to over 4,000 different flowering plants, 500 birds, almost 300 species of reptiles and amphibians, and 120 mammals.
Dawkinsia assimilis “Mascara Barb” is a close relative of the Rohan’s Tear Spot Barb mentioned last week. It originates in the same general geographic location and carries similar markings and body shape, as well as also being a riverine species and enjoying similar water parameters. However, the Mascara Barb is about an inch longer than the Rohan’s Tear Spot when full grown and has some marked differences in coloration. While the Rohani’s tail spot continues into the caudal fin proper, a distinct break occurs between the oval spot and the caudal fin in the Mascara Barb. Additionally, the Mascara’s caudal fins are tipped in black and red with the majority of the fin being devoid of color. The dorsal of adult males is bright red with little to no black coloration, though it does feature filamentous extensions. The most notable characteristic of the mascara barb is an oblong black spot over the eye, skewed towards the back of the gill plate. While still carrying iridescent scale edges over the dorsal half of the body, the base color of D. assimilis is much more yellow than that of D. rohani and contains some red scales, particularly along the lateral line. Finally, the ventral half of the body shows many iridescent blue scales.
Pethia setnai “Narayan’s Barb” is a plump two and a half inch schooling fish with a body shape akin to the ever-popular Tiger Barb. Females (as well as sub-adults and younger) are a beautiful cream color with distinct black bars behind the head and just before the caudal fin. A third diffused black bar marking occurs at the rear of the dorsal fin and extends down past the fish’s midline. The dorsal fin is touched with a hint of pumpkin orange and all other finnage is transparent. The slightly smaller and slimmer adult males feature persimmon red coloration over every fin as well as their dorsal edge, as well as brilliant white leading edges to their ventral fins. Like most barbs, Narayan’s Barb is quite peaceful and well-behaved and is suitable for nearly any community aquarium. P. setnai tends to congregate aside hillstreams in pools or slower-flowing deep areas. With a preference for low to mid 70s Fahrenheit, neutral pH and fairly low hardness, this fish epitomizes the mountain drainages it hails from.
Garra flavatra, the “Panda Garra”, is a beautiful addition to any moderately-sized Western Ghats hillstream tank. This sucker-mouthed cyprinid has a beautiful olive-brown coloration with defined dark scale edges, ribbons of yellow across its dorsal edge, and brilliant red unpaired fins. Its underslung mouth is used to scrape algae and awfwuchs from smooth rocks and surfaces, though it also enjoys a treat of meaty foods such as bloodworms and other invertebrates. A maximum length of about three and a half inches makes a small group of this shoaling fish suitable for an aquarium with a three foot footprint. As a shoaling species, the Panda Garra may be territorial with other fish of a similar shape to them, such as Ancistrus, gobies, or loaches. To avoid these squabbles, a group of G. flavatra should be kept, allowing them to establish a pecking order and bicker amongst themselves for territories. A neutral pH and temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit will suit the Panda Garra.
Laubuca dadiburjori “Orange Hatchet” is a schooling Cyprinid that prefers to occupy the upper levels of the aquarium. It has a lovely orange-yellow coloration with an iridescent blue line running laterally from nose to tail. As the line approaches the fish’s head, it becomes broken into a series of spots on many specimens. Its pectoral fins are reminiscent of a true hatchetfish with an upturned angle; however, it is not a true hatchet. It is a unique little fish for any suitable Western Ghats biotope aquarium lacking in upper level excitement. Adults are just over an inch in length when full grown and the species prefers low to mid-70s temperatures and neutral pH values.
With the end of today, Lia will move on to greater things in her life. Her position as our Sales Associate and Phone Representative has passed to Chelsea and I do hope you will give her a warm welcome. With the help of Chelsea and our new Floor Associate, Gabe, Anthony and I can continue to supply you with the best quality freshwater fish in the country.
If you have any comments or constructive criticism on our test newsletter format, please do let me know. Thank you for reading and I’ll see you back here next week!
June 27, 2014
Good day, folks! It may finally be summer, but here in Portland we’ve been having rainstorms all week. While not good for walking about, these rainy days can be useful for fish hobbyists – the resulting drop in barometric pressure at the beginning of a storm, or even the smaller dip that occurs approximately every two days in our area, can be combined with a well-timed water change using cooler water. This simulation of a monsoon encourages many fish to flirt and breed in the home aquarium.
Speaking of monsoons, the rainy season has come to South America and with it we’ve lost access to many fish. Despite being out of season, though, we’ve gotten a fair number of Hatchetfish coming in these past few weeks, including some species we don’t see very often. They’re limited in stock, but it’s been so long since we’ve had any of these species that I felt it prudent to mention them.
The popular hatchetfish are members of the only family of fish known to use powered flight - achieved by beating its pectoral fins like a bird's wings. The hatchet's incredibly strong pectoral muscles account for approximately 25% of its body weight, allowing a fish as small as the Marble Hatchet Fish (topping out at only an inch and a half) to fly for several yards before reentering the water. In general, these fish prefer a temperature of 75°F to 82°F, a pH between 5.0 and 7.5, and a minimal hardness of between 0 and 10 degrees.
We typically only see Carnegiella marthae "Marthae Hatchet Fish" once or twice a year, and this year has thus far been no exception. These little hatchets grow to barely over an inch and show very intricate patterns of black over their translucent silver bodies. The fish’s ventral edge, from just behind their gill plate to the end of their caudal peduncle, is rimmed in a thin black line. Concentric broken black stripes follow the curve of the gill plate, echoing across the keep of the fish to the back of its body. The fish’s lateral line is colored with thin black and silver stripes and its face is adorned with rippling black stripes. Finally, lending to its common name of the Black Winged Hatchetfish, its pectoral fins are bisected by deep black stripes.
Gasteropelecus maculatus “Black Spotted Hatchet Fish” is seen even less often. This hatchet is much larger, often arriving at two or more inches in length and growing to nearly four inches as an adult. It has a deep silver body, again rimmed at the ventral edge in black, though not to the same extent as the Marthae, and shows a dark lateral line with bold black spotting above and below. Their faces are marked with black, especially around the lips and below the eye. The base of their dorsal fin is as well bordered in black. These big, beautiful fish are sure to make an impact in any moderate to large sized aquarium.
That’s all for this week; now it is time for us to don our rain coats and head home for the weekend. I’ll see you back here next week!
July 11, 2014
Good day! I’ve recently been studying the Western Ghats mountain drainages of India. These drainages are so diverse in piscine life that I could write for hours without running out of fish we stock from these habitats. Of course, I don’t want to bore you all with too many fish (is there such a thing?), so I will leave out some of these fish, such as Barilius canarensis, Dawkinsia assimilis and Garra flavatra. If you would like me to write on these three and more next week to round out the region’s overview, please let me know and I would be more than happy to oblige! Now, we shall proceed to my selections from the fish of the Western Ghats.
What write-up of the Ghats would be complete without the absolutely stunning Puntius denisoni “Roseline Shark” or “Red Line Torpedo Barb”? This species has long been a favorite in the aquarium hobby due to is amazing coloration and peaceful nature. The body shape of P. denisoni is elongate and tapered to a very pointed snout and narrow tail; a base color similar to driftwood is accented with a thick black lateral line running from mouth to caudal peduncle. From the snout to mid-body, this black line is decorated above by a stunning cherry red stripe, the color of which is reiterated in the leading edge of the fish’s dorsal fin. Their two lobed tails are marked at the ends with bright sunflower yellow, black, and tips of white. The Roseline Shark is more at home in reasonable current. While torrential water speeds are not required, pristine water, and high levels of oxygenation are strongly advised. This beautiful fish is happy in water with temperatures anywhere between 60 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit, neutral pH and low to moderate hardness. As a schooling species, these fish are best kept in groups of five or more – smaller groups may result in conspecific aggression.
Dawkinsia rohani “Rohan’s Tear Spot Barb” is a stunning barb – it has a beautifully almond-shaped body with large eyes and a large black teardrop shaped marking along its tail. This spreads along the interior edge of the caudal fin, creating something of a Y-shaped pattern. The rest of the caudal fin, in adult specimens, is a beautiful cherry red, as is the anal fin. The dorsal fin of the male grows long filamentous extensions as he ages, each ray colored black with hints of cherry red between. Perhaps the most remarkable feature of this fish’s coloration is, despite having a rosy body color, the presence of iridescent scale edges. The adult Rohani flashes with greens, blues and yellows as it swims with its fellow barbs through a nicely planted aquarium. When the male courts a female of his choice, his cheeks and chin will flush rosy pink. These gorgeous barbs are riverine fish, preferring significant current and water between 65 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit. While the Rohan’s Tear Spot Barb can grow to nearly four inches in length, it is a perfect gentleman in a community aquarium, though very small fish should be avoided – tank mates of two inches or larger are recommended. While a school of these fish may look striking with other Dawkinsia species, there is speculation that the Dawkinsia genus can interbreed, so this is probably best avoided.
An even larger cyprinid from the area is Barilius bakeri “Royal Spotted Hill Trout”. These are gorgeous, amazingly colored five to six inch riverine fish. Their silvery blue body flashes with yellow and red tones as they swim and is marked along their lateral line with vertically elongate blue spots. Their fins transition from translucent at the edge of the body to a deep black and are tipped in brilliant white. The Royal Spotted Hill Trout should be maintained in groups of five or more as they are a shoaling species and, like P. denisoni, small groups can lead to aggression. Like the Roseline Shark, B. bakeri enjoys cool water between 65 and 78 degrees with a relatively neutral pH.
Mesonoemacheilus triangularis “Batik Loach” is a gorgeous little bottom dweller. This loach reaches two and a half inches maximum size and has the most amazing patterning – a dark brown body is marked with lighter spots bordered in fine black. The similarity of this pattern to wax-resistant dyed fabric, a technique known as batik, is the source of this loach’s common name. Its fins, head, and caudal edge are overlaid with red tones. The Batik Loach can be slightly territorial so be sure to provide plenty of hiding places with caves, driftwood and overhanging rocks. As a hillstream species, M. triangularis prefers higher currents, coarse sand or gravel substrates, and temperatures from 68 to 79 degrees Fahrenheit and neutral pH. This beautiful loach, provided feeding is done with care, would make an excellent companion to any of the above cyprinids.
It is my regret to inform you that Lia Woolf, our Sales Associate and eBay specialist for the past many months, is leaving us next week. It’s been wonderful to work with her for this time and we’re going to miss her wholeheartedly. I hope you’ll join us in wishing her a fond farewell and excellent fortune in her future.
Thank you all for reading and, as usual, comments and constructive criticism are always welcome. We’re working on a new newsletter layout to be implemented soon.
June 20, 2014
Good day, folks! This week our newsletter is going to be short and sweet, and all about our beautiful Metynnis roosevelti “Spotted Silver Dollar”.
The Spotted Silver Dollar has been described by science for over 100 years and has, along with its plain Silver Dollar cousins, been exceedingly popular due to its shining appearance and peaceful nature. The members of the Metynnis genus which are popular in the hobby range in length from five to seven inches. The Spotted Silver Dollar is a smaller sized Metynnis species, growing to just over five inches from snout to caudal peduncle, and shows diffuse dark grey spotting over its silver flanks.
As with all Silver Dollars, this is a schooling fish and prefers to be kept in a group of six or more – for a happy school of this size, a four to five foot long tank should be employed, allowing them ample swimming room. While plant and driftwood décor will suit the fish’s preferences, keep in mind that these are herbivores and they will eat just about any aquatic plant – plastic or silk plants are a good alternative.
Speaking of being plant-eaters, these fish need quite a bit of greenery in their diets – be sure to provide such food as spirulina flake, algae wafers, or blanched cucumber, peas or zucchini. M. roosevelti will definitely appreciate the occasional treat of bloodworms or brine shrimp as well. The Spotted Silver Dollar is a tolerant species as far as water parameters go – temperatures from the low 70s to about 80 degrees Fahrenheit will suit the fish, as will slightly acidic to neutral pH values, generally between 6 and 7.5 or so.
Thank you for reading and we’ll see you next week!