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August 14, 2015

Happy Friday, dear readers. I hope you’re all quite well. We’re visiting West Africa today – I do hope you enjoy!

The Sewa River of Sierra Leone is the most important stream in Sierra Leone for commerce. The shores of its upper reaches and middle basin are exhaustively mined for diamonds while the lower stretch is farmland, producing piassava and swamp-rice. Beneath the surface of the river, however, we find many beautiful aquarium fish – over 90 species of fish occur in this river, including killifish, catfish, mormyrids and knifefish. The Sewa is 150 miles long and travels through both native jungle and cleared farmlands. The natural habitat for most of these fish is that of the jungle areas with massive amounts of overhanging and subsurface vegetation, water stained dark by decaying leaf litter and fallen branches, and a moderate level of hardness.


The variety of cichlids in the Sewa is impressive – Hemichromis species known as the Jewel Cichlids and both Pelvicachromis humilis and P. roloffi are found in the river. One more popular species is found here – Anomalochromis thomasi, the “African Butterfly Cichlid”. These easy to care for, peaceful dwarf cichlids are an excellent choice for new cichlid keepers. With warm water in the mid-70s to 80 Fahrenheit and neutral to slightly acidic pH values, this will prove to be an engaging and beautiful addition to a West African aquarium. While juveniles may appear dull with a simple pattern of vertical dark bands over a beige base, the color of the adults is something to behold. In full breeding coloration, the four inch males show a beautiful pattern of iridescent scale spots over a rose-colored body. Splashes of red accent a black spot at the upper edge of the gill plate and each fin is colored brilliantly in blues and reds. In rest, a moderate banded coloration becomes visible beneath the blue spotting, while stressed individuals will display bold black markings over a grey base. There is little sexual dimorphism and the slightly smaller females are just as beautiful as the males – their black markings, particularly a tear mark beneath their eye, are slightly bolder. Breeding these little cichlids is quite easy – obtain a group of six or so juveniles and allow the maturing fish to form their desired monogamous pair bonds. Flat rocks or broad, flat leaves such as that of Anubias species will serve as spawning sites for the potential parents. The African Butterfly will be a bit territorial while spawning and defend their nest from other fish, but are typically content to merely chase away any trespassers.


Anomalochromis thomasi is a comparatively shy fish; a school or two of dither fish is recommended to give them a sense of security and encourage outgoing behavior. There are plenty of small Characins and Cyprinids native to the Sewa and surrounding areas to choose from, but Ladigesia roloffi “Jelly Bean Tetra” would make an excellent complement to the colorful African Butterfly Cichlid. The Jelly Bean Tetra is unfortunately hard to come by. It is such a beautiful and easily-kept fish with amazing color that this is quite tragic. This lovely one inch tetra can range in lateral line color from golden to chartreuse green. This coloration tints its otherwise transparent body and the fish often shows a blue sheen on the underside of its body. Brilliant splashes of color ranging from pumpkin orange to true red adorn its anal, caudal and dorsal fins and are often rimmed in black. In densely planted and well-maintained aquaria this fish’s color will tend towards the more brilliant green and red and can be accented through use of color-enhancing foods. The Jelly Bean is happy in neutral to slightly acidic warm waters, just as A. thomasi.


An interesting accent fish for this Sewa river aquarium could be Nannocharax macropterus, the “Blotched African Darter Tetra.” While they do not occur in the Sewa proper like their close cousin, Nannocharax fasciatus, they would still enjoy the same aquarium conditions and be a lovely substitute if you are looking for a more unusual fish. These odd little tetras are quite similar to the South American Characidium species, featuring a similar cylindrical body and strong ventral fins. Their method of locomotion is also similar with the fish propping itself on its ventrals and hopping across the substrate as they traverse the aquascaping. Lovely silver bodies with a dark lateral line and vertical, irregularly blotched banding will contrast beautifully against most substrates and any variety of green or red aquatic plants. Unlike Characidium species, N. macropterus is not a shoaling fish by nature and can in fact be fairly territorial to its own kind. Groups of this fish should be provided with plenty of hiding places to allow smaller individuals to avoid bullying. As with A. thomasi and L. roloffi, neutral to slightly acidic waters in the mid to upper 70s are ideal for this curious little Characin.


While not found in the Sewa proper, two other small aquarium inhabitants occur sympatrically with the above species. The first, Atya gabonensis, is known as the “Giant Blue Wood Shrimp.” These large filter-feeding shrimp are very full-bodied and can be very beautifully blue. It is thought that harder water encourages a bluer coloration, though an individual can change their coloration repeatedly throughout the year as they grow and molt their exoskeleton. As filter feeders, it is likely to see them perched facing into the current provided by the filter, their fan-like graspers opened to catch food particles from the water. When they’ve caught enough food, they swipe these fan graspers through their mouths to ingest their delectable morsels and re-extend them into the current. If there’s not enough food available to be filtered from the water, these shrimp can be seen perusing the substrate and other aquarium surfaces for leftovers. The Giant Blue Wood Shrimp can potentially be sensitive, as with most other shrimp, and should be added only to mature aquaria. While these guys rarely reach over four inches in the home aquarium, ideal conditions will allow them to grow up to seven inches! Don’t fret, though: these are perfect gentle shrimp and won’t harm any other aquarium occupants or plants. As with other shrimp species, the Giant Blue Wood Shrimp places a remarkably small bioload on the aquarium; one full grown A. gabonensis can be kept per 10 gallons of aquarium space. It is advised to supplement these fish with miniscule foods – spirulina powder or fresh baby brine are good choices for them to catch in their graspers.


Our other sympatric species may not be the best choice to house with the African Butterfly Cichlid due to their diminutive size and shy nature, but would house well with the other mentioned fish. The absolutely beautiful Neolebias ansorgii “Ansorg’s Neolebias” are quiet little inch and a half fish that prefer to be kept in a species aquarium, but will fare decently with other species of similar size. The sides of N. ansorgii are graced with a black lateral line over ruddy coloration. When comfortable, the fish takes on brilliant rust red and green tones with lovely red fins. I cannot recommend this adorable little fish enough. Our specimens are acclimated nicely to a pH value of about 7.5 with temperatures in the upper 70s Fahrenheit, but in nature they are most often found in acidic streams, ponds and marshes with pH values of about 5.0-6.0. A school of these sedate little beauties would look stunning alongside the contrasting Jelly Bean Tetra and Giant Blue Wood Shrimp.

I do hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s venture to West Africa and the Sewa River drainage and we look forward to seeing you here again next week!

Jessica Supalla

August 7, 2015

Happy Friday!  By the time you read this, I will have been out of the office enjoying the summer for a couple days – the weather has turned lovely here, not too hot and not too cold, and it’s the perfect time of year here for stargazing – particularly as the Perseid meteor shower is peaking early next week and we’re lucky enough this year that it coincides almost exactly with the new moon.  If you’ve got relatively dark skies near you, I strongly suggest you head out to gaze on Monday or Tuesday night – bring warm blankets and enjoy!

Anyways, I’m not actually here to inform you of astronomy, but rather of fish, and my goodness but we received some beautiful ones this week.  I’m not sure if you’re all aware of my love of labyrinth fish – around the workplace I’m sometimes referred to as “the Betta girl” – but if you’re not, you’re about to become acquainted.

WS Sphaerichthys acrostoma

It’s been quite a bit since we’ve had Sphaerichthys acrostoma “Sharp Nose Chocolate Gourami” from the Indonesian parts of Borneo.  This is definitely the largest Sphaerichthys species I have personally seen.  They are absolutely beautiful fish – their silhouette is nearly almond-shaped with a fascinating elongate and upwardly pointed mouth.  While their resting color is a pleasant latte brown with a dark band running from their mouth to behind their eyes, their display markings include a dark line along their center, running from just behind their pectoral fins to their caudal peduncle.  This line is bordered along its top by brilliant silver-white, a coloration that also extends to rim their ventral edge.  The dark markings on their face are replaced by bright red spots.  I constantly find myself amazed by these gorgeous fish and wish that I had space at home for a group of them.  A biotope with this species would be a fascinating project – they occur sympatrically at their type locality with Puntius foerschi “Foersch’s Barb” and these two species would make an amazing display.

WS Ctenops nobilis

Ctenops nobilis “Noble/Fragile Gourami” are even more elongate and pointed than S. acrostoma, with a long, extended snout and lean body.  They have coloration reminiscent of any chocolate gourami, bearing a dull brown coloration at most times and a mottled and banded patterning of deep brown and silvery white when aggressive, breeding, or defensive.  In full breeding dress, males sport a sunny yellow anal fin while the female shows darker, redder coloration.  In the wild, these fish live in temperate climates with air temperatures ranging from 60° to 90°F – a typical water temperature of around 75° should work well, though as long as the temperature is stable it isn’t too critical.  It’s said that higher temperatures may incite heightened aggression in this species or even cause the fish to stop eating, so it’s best to keep their water temperature closer to the median temperature.  As with many other Labyrinth fish, a slow or gentle current is recommended, though clean water is a must – remember your weekly water changes for this species!  While the common name of Fragile Gourami may seem to imply this species is difficult to maintain, it really is not – take care when acclimating your fish to its new neutral to slightly acidic home and they will be as sturdy as can be. Feed a varied diet of small live and frozen foods and, with time, they may be weaned to micropellets or other small prepared foods.

WS Betta brownorum

Moving away from the Gouramis, we have Betta brownorum, known as the “Scorpion Betta” or “Brown’s Betta”.  These are a member of the Coccina complex, known for deep red coloration, green iridescent spots on their sides, and diminutive adult size.  The Scorpion Betta is a perfect example with a deep, wine red coloration with a distinct, large green spot on their flanks just below their dorsal fin – this coloration is common to both males and females.  These spots are clearly bordered and nearly as big as the fish’s body is tall.  Sexing these fish can be tricky and, without the proper equipment to spotlight the fish to look for ovaries, the best method is by the shape of the fins.  The male’s dorsal and anal fins are elongate and pointed on their trailing edge, while the females appear rounded and blunt. These fish can be differentiated by the other members of the complex by distinct features – they sport a very narrow dorsal fin that covers about one sixth of the body length, the distinct green side spot, and white tips to their ventral fins.  In the wild, these fish relish pH values from 3.0-6.0; this can be difficult to attain in the home aquarium and we’ve acclimated our specimens to a pH just over 7.0.  Of course, a lower pH is known to encourage spawning, so it may not be a terrible idea to acclimate them back down to a more natural environment using peat or Indian Almond Leaves.

WS Betta mahachaiensis 1

Finally, the fish I consider our crowning jewel of Betta species at this time – Betta mahachaiensis, the “Mahachai Betta” or “Blue Dream Betta”.  These fish have been known to science for about fifteen years as B. sp. Mahachai, but were only formally described in 2012.  While they are a member of one of the most well-known species complexes, the Splendens complex, these are some of the most unique Bettas you will ever encounter.  Unlike other species, they are the only Bettas to live exclusively in brackish estuary environments.  While they will readily adapt to somewhat hard and alkaline freshwater (pH 7.0-8.5), a small amount of salt is appreciated – natural salt levels in the estuary area vary daily with the tides, so pinning down an exact amount is difficult; as this fish can be kept without salt, a very low salinity may be best.  Areas with dense nipa palm (Nypa fruticans, the only palm species adapted to estuary growth) groves are ideal and males will make use of the plant’s bracts (leaf growth points) as nest sites, protected from the main water way. 

WS 1

As one can see from the picture, the fish appears to be living in a small area and some hobbyists and fish purveyors incorrectly cite these images as supporting the proposition that Betta species can and will be comfortable in jars, bowls, vases and other tiny containers.  However, keep in mind that these estuaries are highly affected by oceanic tides and water levels will rise far enough to allow the Betta to travel in and out of his bract home as needed twice daily as well as refreshing the water in the bract, and Betta species are excellent jumpers and easily able to leap from these bracts to the water body below.  In the following image, while a nest can be seen in a bract barely cut off from the surrounding water, one can see the distinct water line on the plant itself indicating a higher level during tides. 

WS 2

Using these images without taking into account the changing tides in the estuary environment is an incomplete comparison – choosing to present some facts, that the male Mahachai lives in these bracts, while ignoring that he can escape at any time and likely does not live his entire life in these protected coves, renders the argument logically unsound.  Just before I get off my soap box, please keep your fish in adequately sized containers, even if bowls are common practice.  Betta mahachaiensis needs ten gallons for one pair or twenty gallons for a group and even your Betta splendens should be housed in as large a home as possible – they need exercise and enrichment as much as a pet dog does.

WS Betta mahachaiensis

Well, sorry to ramble on about housing your Bettas – we at the Wet Spot Tropical Fish pride ourselves on educating hobbyists, but even the majority of hobbyists can’t agree on the point of Betta housing.  I hope you all have a great weekend and I’ll see you back here next week!

Thank you,

Jessica Supalla

July 17, 2015

Happy Friday, dear readers. I hope the day finds you well and ready for the weekend – I know I am. I’ve got an open house at a local carnivorous plant nursery, Sarracenia Northwest, to go to on Saturday and a trip to a nearby pond to play with our indigenous Rough Skinned Newts, Taricha granulosa, on Sunday. I’m going to pet so many newts! It’s interesting to note that our T. granulosa are the most toxic of all Taricha species – they can secrete the neurotoxin Tetrodotoxin, the same toxin found in the pufferfish family. An adult Rough Skinned Newt is able to secrete enough neurotoxin to kill approximately 25,000 mice and will likely kill anything that tries to eat it, with the exception of the common Garter Snake – Locally, these snake populations have evolved a resistance to the toxin and the subsequent increase in toxicity and resistance between the two species have created one highly toxic newt species and one highly resistant snake species. If your stomach is strong, it’s worth watching the video below to see the effect this toxin can have on predators.

Anyways, enough about my upcoming weekend and our local newts; let’s talk about some fish!

We’ve got some absolutely beautiful new acquisitions – Nannacara aureocephalus “Golden Headed Dwarf Cichlid”. These are a larger species of Nannacara with males reaching almost four inches and females at two and a half inches. Males show a peachy base coloration in a neutral mood and flare to a beautiful golden tone when breeding, displaying, or feeling aggressive. The golden coloration is especially prominent on his face and gill plates, interspersed with crimson red spots. Each scale edge is decked in iridescent blue-green and his fins will carry hints of red, blue and gold. Females are much more demure with a gold and black coloration reminiscent of other female dwarf cichlids. When defending her clutch of eggs and fry, the female gains much more black banding and barring, almost presenting a checkered appearance.

WSNannacara aureocephalus

The fish’s fry share their mother’s checkered coloration when hatched, blending well with aquarium sand or fine gravel. After just a few days, the fry will become free-swimming and start to feed on small foods such as artemia and fresh baby brine shrimp. At three weeks, the male is still not allowed near them, but the fry have gained a rounder, less gangly appearance. By six weeks of age, the female will allow the male to approach the fry and they will spend their time with both parents. By six months, the fry will be fully mature.

N. aureocephalus hails from the blackwaters of French Guiana – an acidic blackwater biotope with negligible hardness and a pH of 5-6 will keep these fish in top condition. Décor of root or driftwood, leaf litter, and hardy plants with a sandy substrate will suit these guys, especially if hides and caves are provided as well, or at least “safe” areas are formed by the driftwood or root wood.

An excellent dither fish is hard to find for this species, so looking for species keen on sharing a blackwater habitat is the best route to take – perhaps Hemigrammus rhodostomus, the true “Rummynose Tetra” from Venezuela and Brazil. They are very similar to the more commonly seen H. bleheri, but possess a smaller red patch on their nose, less black striping on their tail, and a partial black lateral line extending forward from their caudal peduncle. They are tricky to tell apart when separate, but when a specimen of each species is compared side by side, they are obviously a different species. A useful graphic and chart defining the differences between the two species, as well as the False Rummynose, Petitella georgiae, can be found at These two inch fish will do well in a blackwater environment, with or without planting, and as a peaceful species should leave your Nannacara alone as long as they are kept in sufficient quantity – a group of twenty specimens would look stunning tightly schooling above your Golden Headed Cichlids.

WSHemigrammus rhodostomus

Finally, I always like to include some sort of catfish, whether plecos, Cories or both, in my South American tanks. While likely not from the same blackwater communities as the above species, our new Ancistrus sp. “Stardust” has caught my eye with its striking black coloration and tiny blue-white dots. They are aptly named, resembling well the starry night sky. We’re a little hazy on the true identification of these fish, so if you have any thoughts, please let us know – we do know they’ll likely reach 5-6”, enjoy slightly acidic water around 6.0 pH, and dine primarily on vegetable matter. Males sport a lovely crown of bristles on their noses, while females have just a small number of these fleshy growths. As juveniles, they sport distinctive white seams on their caudal and dorsal fins, but these appear to fade somewhat with age.

WSAncistrus sp Stardust

Thank you for reading and, if I take some nice newt and plant pictures this weekend, I’ll be sure to share them with you next week!

Jessica Supalla

July 31, 2015

Hello, readers; once again it’s Friday and I’m here to tell you about some fish.  I’m sure a lot of you are fans of Lake Malawi Cichlids, whether it is for their colors, personality, or something else that draws you to the fish.  For you, this week, we’re going to talk a bit about the Metriaclima genus.

Of course, calling it the Metriaclima genus is currently up for debate – these fish were originally included in Pseudotropheus and have since been moved to their own group.  There has been quite a bit of discussion over the past fifteen years as to whether the group should be properly called Metriaclima or Maylandia.  I’m not too clear on the debate itself as I’m no expert on scientific naming conventions, but those preferring Maylandia posit the age of the name – it was erected earlier than the other – while proponents of Metriaclima cite that Maylandia carries no description of its member species and therefore is an “empty name” and invalid.  Our company currently refers to the genus as Metriaclima, however, if a decision is eventually reached that formally renames the group Maylandia, you can be sure we will change our notation.

WS Metriaclima callainos Pearl Zebra

WS Metriaclima estherae Red OB Zebra

In general, Metriaclima are Mbuna – rock-dwelling denizens of Lake Malawi, claiming crevices and outcrops as their territories and feasting upon algae and mostly green matter.  Their home should be clean with a rock or sandy substrate and plenty of rock hardscaping providing caves, gaps and areas for each fish to feel comfortable.  The pH should be kept above 8 and temperature around 80°F. A mixture of community or cichlid flake with spirulina flake will keep them in good condition – avoid overly meaty or protein-rich foods as their specialized digestive tract cannot process much protein and it can lead rapidly to bloat and other health issues.  Good tankmates include other mbuna, Aulonocara hansbaenschi types, and Protomelas type haplochromines.  A selection of some of our Metriaclima species is included in the photographs on this newsletter, though we have quite a few more!

WS Metriaclima lombardoi Kenyi

WS Metriaclima sp. Zebra Albino

Thank you for reading and have a great weekend – we’ll be back in the office Monday to help you!

Jessica Supalla

July 10, 2015

Happy Weekend, my friends!  Once again it’s time for the notes.

Before we get started, I wanted to make a note about summer vacations.  It’s the perfect time of year to head out for a relaxing weekend or week-long getaway and we know you may be concerned about caring for your fish while you’re gone.  Most fish have slow metabolisms and a short vacation of a weekend should need no feeding or care.  However, if you are going to be away longer, we have a selection of vacation feeder blocks and automatic feeders as well, as seen in our sidebar – check them out if you have a nice vacation planned, or if you would simply prefer to have your feeding done at the same time every day with measured portions.

Now, on to the fish!

There are over 9,000 species of Killifish in the world, found on all continents except Australia (where they are introduced but not native) and Antarctica, with the highest concentrations of ornamental strains originating in Africa and the Mediterranean.  They are popular for their ready breeding, ease of care and gorgeous colors. 

Most species can be kept in aquariums of ten gallons or more, with a 2.5 to 5 gallon aquarium suitable for a breeding tank.  Killis tend to prefer plants and other décor and require a secure lid as they are accomplished jumpers.  Most species like a soft sand or peaty substrate, a neutral to slightly acidic pH, and a heater is mandatory for all tropical species.  There are temperate killis such as the Florida Flag Fish that don’t require heaters in the warmer months, but it is advised to keep one on hand for winter to prevent severe temperature swings.

A small spawning tank for a pair of Killifish need not be complicated – a sponge filter, heater and spawning mop are the only things required.  Plenty of instructions for DIY spawning mops can be found online, and whether the spawning mop is removed for hatching elsewhere or if you prefer to remove the pair before they make a snack of their own eggs is entirely the keeper’s preference.

There are several types of killifish that can be grouped into related genera of similar body types.  One of these, Nothobranchius, is noted for a rather stubby body, broad head and short rounded fins.  Included are N. rachovii and the beautiful Nothobranchius flammicomantis, the “Kisaki Killi”.  Like many Nothobranchius, the Kisaki has a red colored body but each scale, particularly those over their heads, are marked in iridescent, bright blue.  Their dorsal and anal fins are reticulated or striped with red and blue, and their anal fins are fully red.  These are beautiful little fish!


Another group is the Aplocheilichthys lampeyes, a group of schooling Killis including the ever-popular A. normani and our more recent and unusual acquisition, Aplocheilichthys cf. rancureli “Rancurel’s Killi”.  Like most lampeyes, these little fish have a brilliant blue spot at the top of their eye.  Their fins and dorsal edge are yellow-hued and their caudal fins are edged in red and blue.


Finally, somewhere between these species in body shape is Aplocheilus panchax “Panchax Killi” or “Blue Panchax”.  These are torpedo-shaped fish with pointed snouts and colorful finnage set far back on the body.  The Panchax Killi is silver-bodied with oval, white rimmed tails and dorsal fins. Their dorsal fin is marked with a black spot at the base and their anal fins are red-seamed.  A black line runs from the base of their eye across their lower lip and a shining silver spot marks the very top of their heads.


Thank you for reading, my dear readers, and have an excellent weekend!

Jessica Supalla

July 24, 2015

It’s finally Friday, readers! We have a great number of Apistogramma species available – they’re popular with us hobbyists for their stunning colors and interesting behavior. This dwarf cichlid has a fascinating pattern of habitats in nature: the distribution of different species groups (a classification of many species connected by common ancestry) is directly correlatable to the paleogeography of South America. For example, species groups occurring in two disparate river systems in the Amazon basin will display a regional habitat directly related to prehistoric watershed patterns. More information about group classifications can be found on, and on the Paleogeography I speak of can be found on

The Apistogramma genus creates an amazing feature fish in any tank. Apistogramma females are, for the most part, yellow with a bold black stripe running from their eye to the end of their caudal fin. However, don’t let this deter you from ordering pairs – the presence of females will bring out the best display colors in males. These fish swim near the bottom of the tank, so a layered display with calm mid-level swimming and top-level swimming species will provide ideal stocking. Boisterous species such as many danios will upset the Apistogramma species and should be avoided.

Apistogramma agassizi “Fire Red” is a beautiful color morph of the lean, torpedo-shaped A. agassizi species – males present a lovely purplish color on the dorsal edge of their bodies and dorsal fin. Their ventral sides and dorsal, anal and ventral fins are brilliant yellow-orange. With a distinct red and black edging and tipping to their unpaired fins. The bulk of their flanks are pale pink with an overlay of blue iridescent scales. The Fire Red’s spade-shaped caudal fin is brilliant red with a striking white edge. Iridescent blue spots adorn their face, concentrated on the gill plate. With maturity, their ventral and dorsal fins grow gorgeous filament extensions.

Apistogramma agassizi Fire Red

If you are looking for coloration closer to that found in nature, Apistogramma agassizi “Red” is another beauty and our specimens are large and healthy. Their foreheads and ventral edges are golden brown with brilliant blue iridescent scales over their flanks and dark lateral lines. Each fin is orange and rimmed in black, with the caudal fin highly pointed and red in color. The Red’s faces are mottled with the blue iridescence typical of their species.

WS Apistogramma agassizi Red

Apistogramma cacatuoides “Super Red” has long been a staple for the Apisto keeper looking for color. These stout-bodied fish have relatively plain, bronze bodies with bold lateral lines, tear marks and a bit of black scale edges below the lateral line. The true appeal of these fish is their fins - each unpaired fin is marbled in brilliant persimmon red and pitch black, givng them their alternate name of “Triple Red”. Their caudal fins are a beautiful lyre-shape with striking filamentous extensions from the top and bottom rays and their dorsals are truly astounding – they are nearly the height of the fish’s body, excluding the three extended rays at the leading edge and the long filamentous extension at the rear of the fin. In good condition, this finnage is truly striking and an amazing centerpiece for your well-chosen community aquarium.

WS Apistogramma cacatuoides Super Red

Finally, Apistogramma hongsloi is even more stout-bodied than the Super Red Cacatuoides. While it does feature some extension in the trailing edges of the anal and dorsal fin, for the most part their fins are short and proportional to their body. Their caudal fin is rounded and, as with their face and cheeks, a beautiful sunflower yellow. Their bellies are marked with cherry red scales, as are their chins, and their flanks are striking white. The dorsal and anal fins are both striped with blue-white and cherry red, culminating in one strikingly beautiful fish. Our specimens are young, but they will gain this gorgeous coloration as they grow.

WS Apistgramma hongsloi

Thank you for reading my little article on the beautiful Apistogramma genus, short as it is. Let me know if you have any requests; otherwise, we’ll see you back here next week!

Jessica Supalla

July 3, 2015

Happy Fourth of July weekend, friends! 

After a long month of long newsletters, we’re going to go short and sweet today and talk about some longstanding and eternally popular aquarium inhabitants – the domestic livebearers, Xiphophorus maculatus “Platies” and X. hellerii “Swordtails”.


These are, of course, very similar fish.  Both are native to Central America (in particular, Mexico, Guatemala and Belize with Swordtails additionally in Honduras and Platies in Nicaragua), with full grown females around three inches in size.  Platy males are said to be smaller than Swordtails, topping out around two inches with Swordtail males growing to two and a half, excluding their sword.


Therein lies the largest physical difference between the two species – male Swordtails have a long, colorful extension of the bottom rays of their caudal fin, giving rise to their name.  Otherwise these are both stout-bodied fish featuring squared fins and bright body color.  Males of both species possess a gonopodium, a modified anal fin used for internal fertilization. 


These popular and easy fish have been bred for color for many years and are available in a wide array of special forms, including the wild Green form on the Swordtail, as well as Koi, Marigold, Black and Red Lyretail and Red Velvet Swordtails.  Platy varieties include Sunset, Golden Leopard, Panda, and Red Wag, to name a few.






That really is it for this week, dear readers – a nice break from the walls of text you’ve been receiving for the past few weeks.  I do hope you’ve enjoyed our pictures and this short read.

Thank you,

Jessica Supalla