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March 7, 2014

Laetacara araguaiae “Buckelkopf” has only been in the hobby for a short time compared to many staple hobby fish, but it has quickly become very popular with fans of dwarf cichlids. With a full grown adult size of just under an inch and a half and a reputation for being peaceful with other species of fish, it’s really no surprise. Pairing this with the amazing colors of a nuptial male offers a nearly ideal dwarf cichlid for a small South American community tank. The little Buckelkopf is an oval fish with a rounded snout and caudal fin. Males show an absolutely dazzling coloration – a steel-grey face and dorsal edge fade towards the rear and belly of the fish to bright electric blue. This is overlain by vivid golden stripes and spots along the lateral line and a golden colored eye. Their fins are marked brilliantly with electric blue spots and blotches over gilded yellow with thick black outlines. Females are much paler with significantly less color, but their presence prompts the males to show their loveliest colors.

Laetacara araguaiae

Corydoras kanei would make an excellent addition to a South American community aquarium as well, including one housing Buckelkopf. C. kanei is a fairly average Corydoras at about 2 ¼” and enjoys water temperatures from about 70-77 degrees Fahrenheit. Its unique features are an incredibly stubby, round snout and body shape and a beautiful patterning of miniscule black dots over a pale, creamy white body. As with many Corydoras, a face mask is present – in C. kanei, it is a lovely chocolate brown. Keep these adorable little Cory cats in groups of six or more over fine, sandy substrates.

Corydoras kanei

We’ve just got in some amazing new and unique fish to us: Acestrorhynchus isalineae “Freshwater Red Tail Barracuda”. This species is quite rare in the hobby, more so than its close relation A. falcirostris, and is only officially known from the Rio dos Marmelos in Western Brazil. These torpedo-shaped Characins are a nice golden color with two dark lateral bands and a brilliant, cherry red spot at the upper base of their forked caudal fins. While these are carnivorous, predatory fish, with wicked-looking teeth in their large mouths, they will not predate any fish that is too big to swallow. This would be much more of a concern if the adult size of these unusual fish wasn’t just around four inches – nano fish such as Boraras species and small tetras should be avoided, but anything over an inch in length should be fine, with an inch and a half will guarantee the fish is too large for the Freshwater Barracuda to eat. The quick-swimming A. isalineae should be given plenty of horizontal swimming space and a snug lid to prevent jumping.

Acestrorhynchus isalinae

Platystacus cotylephorus “Whiptail Banjo Cat” won’t fit in a 20 gallon aquarium like the Buckelkopf or Corydoras kanei but would do well in a larger home. As a community aquarium inhabitant, the Whiptail Banjo is rather lacking – it is a largely nocturnal and sedate species that will often hide or just remain still during the day. As a unique and curious specimen for the catfish enthusiast, however, this fish is astounding. Its natural camouflage is some of the best I’ve seen with their entire body shape and coloration dedicated to imitating decaying leaves – their flat, broad head and body, are perfectly shaped as a leaf, wide and somewhat rounded in front and tapering to their tails. Their dorsal surface is marked by raised ridges, notably a thick ridge down the center of the back with a few branching ridges radiating towards their lateral edges, creating a veined texture. The foremost pectoral rays are extended and paler than the rest of the fin, shaped like the seed pods of a maple. These fish feature tiny eyes and a set of six distinct whiskers – a thick, hefty pair above the upper lip and four small whiskers, one at each corner of the mouth and a pair further back from the chin. The Whiptail Banjo Cat’s tail is quite elongate and fairly tubular; their anal fin extends upon the length, much like a knife or spiny eel. Their coloration varies widely between individuals. Some are a dark, chocolate brown with a tan upper surface, others mottled tan and warm cream, and still others nearly black with white blotches. Males, in general, are darker than females by comparison. While spawning these fish has not been completed in the aquarium, occasionally egg-bearing females are found in imports. The bizarre method of caring for these eggs is one of the most unique I’ve seen – females grow cotylephores, a type of fleshy stalk, from their bellies. The eggs are attached to these stalks and this likely supplies them with oxygen and nutrients. It looks as though we have, in fact, received one egg-bearing female! Finally, it is interesting to note how this bizarre catfish gets around – the fish will take in a mouthful of water and push it through their gills to propel themselves forward. Wow!

Platystacus cotylephorus

Whether you are interested in housing the beautiful Buckelkopf, bizarre Whiptail Banjo Cat, looking for a small predator like the Freshwater Red Tail Barracuda or merely read the articles to glean some interesting information, I do hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s feature. For now, you can always check out our old newsletters on our webpage, view some pictures on Pinterest, or connect with us via Facebook. Thank you for reading and we’ll see you next week!

Jessica Supalla

February 28, 2014

Good day, friends. I am so excited for the new fish we received last week: there are so many unusual species I’ve never seen! Let’s get down to it and set up a nice aquarium for a few of these species: The rare Geophagus proximus, Hemiancistrus snethlageae “L141”, and Corydoras robustus.

Ideally, we’d use a very large tank with a footprint of about 6 feet by two feet for these species as they all enjoy having a bit of substrate space. Because of this, the height of the aquarium isn’t critical, though extra height could be used to house some sizeable tetras or larger hatchetfish that enjoy the same parameters – a neutral to slightly acidic pH value, soft clear water, and a temperature in the range of 75-80° Fahrenheit.

For this trio of fish, a sandy substrate is required, both for the Geophagus’ sand-sifting habits and to provide a soft medium for the Corydoras’ barbels as they search for food. Driftwood and rockwork will be greatly appreciated by all the inhabitants as well: Corydoras enjoy resting in the shadows cast by overhanging hardscaping, Geophagus species use angled flat rocks for spawning surfaces, while Hemiancistrus use driftwood as grazing surfaces. Aquatic plants don’t feature heavily in the habitats of these fish but may be included along the margins if desired.

Corydoras robustus “Robust Cory” is one of the largest species in the genus at up to 3¾” and isn’t seen all that often in the hobby. These fish have a base bronze sheen and are marked over their flanks by myriad small black spots, increasing in density towards their dorsal edge and continuing over the caudal and anal fins. Their dorsal fin is marked by a large black spot that continues onto their back, following the line of their foremost dorsal spine. This forward spine is brilliantly creamy-white, a lovely contrast, and in males will often develop a lovely extension. This lighter color continues over the top of the Robust Cory’s head and down over the gill plate. A typical black mask runs across C. robustus’ eyes and their elongated snout is beautifully chocolate brown. If you are only interested in the Robust Cory, they can handle somewhat cooler water than our other fish, enjoying temperatures down to about 72°F.     

Corydoras robustus            

Hemiancistrus snethlageae “L141” “Ghost Pleco” is very rarely seen in the hobby and little is clear about the species. Even its taxonomic classification is unclear – Some groups classify this fish as a Peckoltia sp., but we prefer the Hemiancistrus genus for this fish. These long and slender plecos are a lovely pale grey with large black spots over their bodies and heads with small black marks continuing along the rays of the dorsal, pectoral and ventral fins. The caudal fin of the fish does not show any black markings; instead, it is edged in brilliant, outstanding white.   These beautiful and rare plecos enjoy an omnivorous diet including algae, veggies, and worms.

Hemiancistrus snethlageae

We all know that Anthony is a big fan of the Eartheaters; I asked him what he thought was particularly amazing about Geophagus proximus. He hasn’t seen wild-caught G. proximus come through our store in three or four years, making it one of the most unusual Eartheaters in the hobby. The unique feature of this Geophagus that always catches his eye is the large spot on the flank – this spot is ovate and significantly larger than that seen on other Geophagus species. On a displaying adult male, this appears as a void in the iridescent scales along his flanks – a beautiful accent to go along with his extended red and blue fins. These are the fish of the trio that require the most space – the other two can be housed in a much smaller aquarium around three or four feet in length. With their eight inches or more of adult size and desire to be kept in a group of five to eight specimens, plenty of floor space is required for these fish. G. proximus should be fed a vegetable-rich diet and can be kept in warmer waters – they are comfortable in temperatures up to 84°F.

Geophagus proximus

Thanks for reading and, if you haven’t checked out our plethora of fish information available on our website, Facebook and Pinterest, consider taking a swim over there to see some of Anthony’s beautiful pictures.

Jessica Supalla

February 8, 2014

After a long hiatus, I have returned to write The Wet Spot’s newsletter. Exciting changes and developments at the store, required me to be out in the shop catching orders. While it took me away from the desk, I have to admit it was great playing in the tanks again. I’ve been doing this for a few years now, and I’ve missed spending my days catching fish. I’ll be the first to admit that I am probably a better fish catcher than a writer. However, my fingers were starting to miss typing these wonderful newsletters for you fine fish hobbyists, so I hope you enjoy my crazy cat person rant…

Regretfully, they won’t let me keep a feline here (not entirely true, we have our mascot “Olive” who makes her way to the shop somewhat often). Instead, the cats we have here don’t avoid the water, they live in it. One of these whiskered friends is Silurichthys phaiosoma “Featherfin Cat” found in the Greater Sunda Island Rivers from the country of Borneo. These knife-like cats are rather unusual looking compared to other cats. The body has an elongated tail that has an extremely “feather-like” appearance. The head of the fish is rather petite, compared to that of the body. Surprisingly,  the Featherfin Cat grows to a mere 6” in length. I could not find much information regarding their diet, but my best guess is they use their overly sized whiskers to forage in the night for insects and small fish. If you like different cats then this fish is for you!

Silurichthys phaiosomaMoving into India, there are two different riverine cats, hailing from there, on our extensive fish list. I’ll start off with Amblyceps mangois “Crevice/Torrent Cat”. Like most of the genus Amblyceps, the Crevice/Torrent Cat is found in highly oxygenated, fast flowing waters, where the current is strongest. The fish use their powerful elongated bodies to lunge at prey that fits into their mouths. This lifestyle detours them from being kept in stagnant waters with smaller fish. The aquarium should be set up with pebbles or large rocks, and have a good filtration system on it. Using a spray bar to break up the surface will not only oxygenate the water but also provide a more suitable current for these cool cats. An ideal tank-mate would be Barilius shacra “Thousand Spotted Barilius”: these danio relatives will love the current just as much as the Crevice/Torrent Cat and their size makes them too large to be considered a meal!

Amblyceps mangois

Barilius shacraUnlike the name suggests, these next fish are not going to reach speeds in excess of 60 miles per hour. The Erethistoides sicula “Cheetah Cat” won’t reach any speed that is remotely considered to be fast, and prefer a hill-stream type biotope—similar to a pool. This particular intriguing patterned cat comes from the Schutunga River system in India, and will make an excellent addition to almost any community tank. At less than 2” they’re too small to predate on fish of any size and would work well with fish like Laubuca dadiburjori “Orange Hatchetfish” and Microdevario kubotai “Green Rasbora”. They’ll also enjoy a tank setup filled with bogwoods and fine leafed plants where they’ll be able to retire when feeling unease. Though they are not very sensitive to water conditions, it is important to note the Cheetah Cat has a lower tolerance for nitrates. Keeping up on water changes will help eliminate any possibilities of nitrate issues in your aquarium. 

Erethistoides sicula

Laubuca dadiburjori

Microdevario kubotaiI hope you learned a little something today! On that note, I’d like to invite you to visit our webpage,, to view our current selection of fish. I’d also like to encourage you to “like” our Facebook page,, and to check out all of our pictures on Pinterest,  
Hopefully this storm we are experiencing passes quickly and I’ll see you warmly back here!

Anthony Perry
Sales Manager 

February 21, 2014

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

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.

Ladigesia roloffi

An interesting accent fish for this Sewa river aquarium could be Nannocharax fasciatus, the “African Darter Tetra”. 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 and broad lateral line and vertical thick banding will contrast beautifully against most substrates and any variety of green or red aquatic plants. Unlike Characidium species, N. fasciatus 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.

Nannocharax fasciatus

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 gentleshrimp 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.

Atya gabonensis

Atya gabonensis

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 “Ansorge’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.

Neolebias ansorgii

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

January 31, 2014


Semaprochilodus taeniurus

Of all the large characins, Semaprochilodus taeniurus “Flagtail Prochilodus” is one of the most otherworldly and attractive. Their vertically compressed head is fairly broad with a flat, wide mouth, and large eyes. Their deep body is peppered with small black spots over a beautiful silver coloration. The break between head and body is not just defined by the convex slopes from snout to fins but also a bold black rim behind the fish’s gill plate. S. taeniurus’ ventral fins are brilliant cherry red, but it is the Prochilodus’ unpaired fins that are the real show. Both the short swept anal fin and forked caudal fin are horizontally striped with black, overlaying attractive warm tones ranging from yellow to orange and even brilliant fire red, depending on the individual fish, as well as locality. The dorsal fin is triangular and quite pointed with the same coloration, though the neat black striping is lost into a broken jumble of black and brilliant warm tones.

Semaprochilodus taeniurus

This shoaling species grows to a maximum length of one foot and tends to be an active aquarium inhabitant – be sure to allow plenty of swimming space. When housing a group of these fish, it is ideal to observe natural shoaling behaviors; aggression is often a factor with groups of less than six individuals. One specimen will fare well in a community aquarium of other large fish or a group of six or more could do well in a larger aquarium or species setup. Flagtail Prochilodus are often recommended as companion fish to large centerpiece fish, such as freshwater stingrays or arowanas – their generally gentle nature and large size excludes them from becoming food or injuring the display fish in aggressive or territorial displays. Water temperatures in the mid-70’s to mid-80’s Fahrenheit will suit these beautiful fish. Décor need not be particularly strict, however, it is worth noting that while omnivorous the Prochilodus prefer plant matter and will dine on many, if not all, aquatic plants.

Osteoglossum ferreirai

Speaking of large centerpiece fish, a few weeks ago we were lucky enough to get some shipments of the fine-looking Leichardti Arowana. We do still have some specimens remaining, however, just this last week we’ve obtained another special fish: Osteoglossom ferreirai or the “Black Arowana”. These striking knife-shaped predators have come in at 10-12” and will likely triple in size by the time they are full grown. The Black Arowana has a large, armored head with an upturned mouth and flat dorsal edge for swimming comfortably at the surface of the water, large eyes for hunting, and incredibly large, thick steel-colored scales. Their ventral side features a gradual curve with the most depth about one third of the way from snout to caudal fin, just before their long, tapered tails. Their dorsal, anal and caudal fins are notably thin but stunning – each of the Black Arowana’s unpaired fins fade from transparent at the body to deep blue-black and are finally edged in bright orange.

These are obviously specialized surface predators that have not changed much from their development about 150 million years ago – their design is efficient and perfect for their habitat. Their large eyes allow them to target prey visually while the two small barbels at the end of their chin sense disruptions in the water surface – indication that a tasty morsel may have fallen into the water nearby. That upturned, large mouth is ideal for snapping up large prey such as other fish, amphibians, and even small birds and mammals that happen into the arowana’s hunting range. Speaking of, that long and powerful tail is not only excellent for quick strikes within the water but can also be used for jumping – as with other arowanas, O. ferreirai is quite the aerial acrobat. It is known occasionally as the monkey fish due to the amazing leaping ability of this fish – adults can reach heights of up to six feet above the water surface, a talent often used to snatch unsuspecting terrestrial prey from overhanging branches.

With such a massive adult size and matching strength, a very large aquarium is required to house this fish into adulthood. The aquarium length is best set to two and a half to three times the length of the fish, at a minimum, to allow swimming space, and a depth greater than the length of the fish will allow it to turn and navigate comfortably in its home. The height of the aquarium is not as important as the Black Arowana will spend most of its time at the surface of the water, however, significant height will allow a greater volume of water to help disperse the fish’s bioload. A water temperature in the high 70’s Fahrenheit is ideal. While O. ferreirai tends to be found mostly in blackwater conditions, a wide range of pH values are suitable for this fish as long as proper acclimation is observed. Feed a varied diet of protein-rich foods to this obligate carnivore. Live food is definitely appreciated, it is best to avoid feeder goldfish or guppies unless home-raised due to the possibility of parasites. Additionally, live rodent feeders may injure your fish with their claws and/or teeth and should also be avoided. Large feeder crickets and worms, on the other hand, are excellent options to treat your arowana.

Jessica Supalla

February 14, 2014

Good day, folks!

China is not exactly known for its aquarium fish exports – most of the massive country falls into temperate zones and, as tropical fish hobbyists, we tend to get our pets from further south in Southeast Asia and Oceania.   However, there are a few species regularly available from China that are perfect for a hillstream biotope community!

First, the aquarium needs to be set up to replicate the hillstream habitat. A long tank is far better for this than any standard, taller sizes – a 20 gallon long aquarium would suit a small community, while the four foot 33 gallon long model could house quite a few more or larger fish. While not necessary, a canister filter with excess capacity is ideal – the spray bars included in these type of filters are an excellent way to get a fair unidirectional current. Currents can be further enhanced by the addition of powerheads at the sides of the tank, enhancing the flow from the filter. Most hillstreams are a bit on the cool side – 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit is typically suitable, though check your chosen species to be sure they’re not going to get too chilly in your hillstream habitat.

Aquascaping a hillstream biotope is quite simple – use plenty of smooth, water-worn rocks such as river rocks or tumbled pebbles, perhaps with a bit of sand, if desired. Grade the aquarium’s substrate if you like to provide greater viewing in the front of the aquarium and imitate the slope of a stream towards the bank, though this is not required for the comfort of your fish. This hardscaping is not particularly conducive to plants, however, a piece or two of wood can be used to emulate fallen branches or overhanging roots and, if desired, java ferns or Anubias can be rooted to this to add a bit of greenery.

When a hobbyist thinks of the hillstream, the most common fish to jump to mind is, of course, the hillstream loaches. P. laticeps “Chinese Red Tail Spotted Sucker Loach” has quite a mouthful of a common name but features gorgeous coloration -- the Loach displays beautiful golden tones over their spotted bodies and their dorsal and caudal fins are stunning bright red-orange.   P. laticeps only reaches two inches – if you are thinking of a 20 gallon long aquarium for your hillstream setup, P. laticeps would be a perfect choice in a group of four to five specimens.

Pseudogastromyzon laticeps

While these loaches will suitably habitate the substrate and glass surfaces of the aquarium, dining on awfwuchs and other algaes, another interesting Chinese hillstream bottom dweller is available – Rhinogobius brunneus “Wolf Goby”.  I’ve tried to find information on these fish but with little avail. We can tell you that typical specimens grow up to about two inches with exceptional males reaching three inches in length. While often listed as amphidromous, or migrating from fresh to saltwater and vice versa, adults live their lives in subtropical or temperate lakes and rivers. If these are anything like our other Rhinogobius species, the males will be slightly territorial to other males and show off by opening their mouths and flaring their gill plates. Mind you, this does not mean that specimens must be kept singly – provide enough rockwork to break the lines of sight between the R. brunneus specimens and enough floor space for each male to claim a territory. These lovely little gobies won’t bother your hillstream loaches or schooling fish: you don’t have to choose one or the other! Many other Rhinogobius species are also native to China and good fits for your hillstream tank as well, so choose the Goby that’s right for you!

Rhinogobius brunneus

With all these bottom dwellers, how will we fill the top of the aquarium? Most Danio and Rasbora species are native to Indonesia, Myanmar and India. While these fish are gorgeous and many Danio species a great option, if you don’t want to stick with only Chinese fish there is one beautiful and popular species of schooling hillstream fish native to our biotope habitat – Tanichthys albonubes, the “White Cloud Mountain Minnow”. Easy to care for and hardy, these little schooling fish enjoy swimming against the current of the hillstream habitat in the upper third of the water column. They won’t bother your substrate-dwelling loaches or gobies, though they are ravenous feeders and care should be taken to ensure the gobies get enough protein-rich foods – the White Clouds will show little interest in any green supplements to the loach’s diets. These beautiful golden-silver fish grow to just over an inch and display brilliant white lateral lines bounded below by a thin black pinstripe. Each unpaired fin is cherry red and rimmed in shining white and their snouts as well carry this cherry color. While these fish are beautiful, some folks prefer the fancy color morphs also available – T. albonubes is available in both the leucistic “Gold White Cloud” form as well as a long-finned variety.

Tanichthys albonubes

Tanichthys albonubes "Gold"

Tanichthys albonubes "Long Fin"

A hillstream aquarium can be presented in many different ways depending on the temperature and whether or not the source location for the fish is important – a school of small Danio choprae “Glowlight Danio” or the much larger and beautiful Barilius canarensis “Royal Danio” would look fabulous with shoals of Homaloptera tweediei “Tweedie’s Hillstream Loach” or Sewellia sp. “SEW01” “Spotted Hillstream Loach”, perhaps with a group of coolwater Corys such as Corydoras paleatus “Salt and Pepper Cory”. One could even construct a cool hillstream habitat with Macropodus operculatus “Blue Paradise Fish” as long as currents are kept to a moderate level. Slanted rockwork leaning with the current adds a sense of motion to a long tank absent when only rounded river rock is used. Most important when setting up a hillstream biotope is, of course, to have fun and create a habitat that both you and your fish will enjoy.

Thank you for reading once again!

Jessica Supalla

January 24, 2014

Good morning, friends! Another week has gone by and it’s time for our newsletter once more. We’re planning on changing the layout – if you have any suggestions on what you would like to see, please drop us a line. In the meantime, let’s talk about some of our gorgeous new loricariids and a very interesting species of characin as well.

Last week our canoe was sunk by a fleet of L204 Panaqolus albivermis. This week, we are sinking into the upper Amazon basin waters thanks to some hungry Panaque schaeferi L203 “Volkswagen Pleco”. Once again we’re featuring a canoe eater – this one, however, is one of the biggest plecos kept in the hobby with a maximum length of nearly two feet! This huge wood-eating Loricariid is a beautiful mottled brown color with a body shape akin to other Panaque species – a large head and upper body with a petite and short tail region – and a lovely translucent white band across the base of the caudal fin. At maturity, this species will develop lovely filamentous extensions from the outlying caudal rays. Another common name for the species is the “Titanic Pleco” – I presume that this and the Volkswagen epithet are an allusion to the fact that this Pleco, in terms of loricariids, is as big as a cruise liner (or at least a VW Bug). While L203 occurs in Brazil and Ecuador, the majority of its habitat is in Peru at the very upper reaches of the Amazon watershed. Keep your L203 in cooler water – from the low to mid-upper 70s Fahrenheit – and with a natural habitat residing amongst sunken trees and wood snags, L203 may appreciate a blackwater habitat.

Panaque schaeferi L203

Pseudacanthicus cf. leopardus L114 “Red Fin Sternella”, a carnivorous pleco, occurs further down in the middle Amazon basin in Brazil. They won’t chew holes in our canoes, nor will they eat your fish as they prefer bloodworms, blackworms, and chopped mussels or prawns. Of course, while not predatory, L114 is quite territorial. Without enough floor space for two specimens to establish their own territories, it is best kept as the only substrate-dwelling fish in the aquarium. Also known as the Leopard Cactus Pleco, these lovely loricariids are covered nearly head to tail in beautiful, nested black spots on a yellow-brown base. Fin coloration varies between individuals and ages: regions of brilliant orange to red can dominate the vast majority of the dorsal and caudal fins or be restricted to only the forward and outer ray regions, respectively. Adults have short extensions from the outer rays of their caudal fin, creating a lovely lyre shaped tail. With an adult size of less than ten inches, this carnivorous Pleco enjoys temperatures in the high 70s to low 80s Fahrenheit and hails from blackwater habitats – while our specimens are acclimated to a neutral pH, a slow acclimation to tannin-stained, slightly acidic waters with a pH between 5.6 and 7 may bring out the best coloration in this gorgeous pleco.

Pseudacanthicus leopardus L114

Further east in the lower Amazon, we find an amazing characin known as Copella arnoldi “Splash Tetra”. These slender, torpedo-shaped tetras have beautifully extended ventral and dorsal fins and deeply forked caudal fins. Males feature brilliant red finnage, particularly in the caudal, anal and downward-facing pectoral fins, a vivid white spot topped with a black smudge at the base of the dorsal fin, and iridescent blue-green scales along their flanks. In nuptial condition, the male displays a bold black stripe from snout to caudal peduncle over their lateral line. Females are somewhat less colorful with shorter dorsal fins – some red coloration still persists in their unpaired fins but it is comparatively minimal. What makes these two inch tetras so uniquely fascinating is their bizarre spawning method – also the source of their common name. After the male picks a location, both male and female will leap from the water to land on some overhanging vegetation and spawn there, leaving fertilized eggs attached a few inches above the water surface. After spawning the female departs, leaving the male to care for the eggs – splashing them with water every hour or so with a flick of his caudal fin – until they hatch in three days. The fry drop into the water and off they go. Neat! The preferred habitat of this fish, therefore, includes plenty of overhanging vegetation and the accompanying blackwater conditions from fallen and decaying leaf litter. These fish have small mouths, so a diet of minute invertebrates and insect larvae is advised – frozen foods will suit these fish just fine. Consider a school of these Splash Tetras over your showcase L114 – stunning!

Copella arnoldi

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Jessica Supalla