Apistogramma Viejita

October 28th, 2006

apisto viejitaThe apistogramma viejita are my prize pickup from the 2006 Catfish Convention. They were setup in “fish room 2,” which was occupied by a series of tank from a breeder in New Jersey. I was amazed by the size of the fish they had available, with both the male and female being full grown at time of purchase.

Right now, these fish are in a tank by themselves with just a sponge fish, and a few odds and ends as far as plants go. They’ve have been, by far, the most personable fish I’ve kept,

apistogramma viejita

always coming over to the front of the tank whenever I enter the room. Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that they’re used to having people walking around their tank, but I always suspect that they happen to like the blackworms I’ve been feeding them.

As beautiful as these fish are, I hope I’m able to get them to spawn pretty soon.
apisto viejita female

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Apistogramma Panduro

October 27th, 2006

apistogramma panduro

I obtained a breeding pair of apistogramma panduro from another apistogramma aficionado in the Capital Cichlid Association, a local cichlid club. These beautiful fish have a 40G breeder tank to themselves, with a few rummynose tetra as dither fish. Shortly after introducing them to the tank, they colored up, and started protecting eggs.

After the eggs hatched, and the fry became free swimming, I fed the fry infusoria, and had plenty of java moss for them to hide from the tetra.

Apistogramma panduro

Inevitably, a few of the fry were picked off, but I have a decent number of them left, as adults, now. I’ve kept a few different types of apistos, and I think this particular species is one of the most beautiful ones available. The pictures don’t do this fish justice, but the deep purple body, and iridescent orange fins are incredible. The females look pretty much like most female apistos, except them have the same red border on their tail fin.

They seem to be a relatively peaceful apistogramma species, expressing far less aggression than other apistogrmma to the dither fish, even when spawning. Actually, they seem to spook fairly easily, hiding when I first approach the tank.

apistogramma panduro

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Dwarf Crayfish

October 26th, 2006

Last weekend at the Catfish Convention, I picked up two pairs of dwarf crayfish. They weren’t labeled so I don’t know their exact species, but I’m guessing they’re cambarellus shufeldtii. I was told that they’re pretty easy to breed, so I have them in a tank all by themselves with some wood and java moss, so we’ll see what happens. Thus far, they seem to be pretty timid creatures. If I get near the tank, you see a quick flurry of activity while they flee from wherever they were at to their new “hiding place.” Once there, they tend to stay perfectly still until I leave. I had a scare the night that I put them in the tank. I came back about 2 hours later and saw one of them laying sideways, motionless, and dead. It took me a second to see something behind it, chewing on the dead one. Infact, it wasn’t dead at all. It molted!
Dwarf Crayfish

If I do pretty well with these guys, I might try splurging for those fancy orange dwarf crayfish that are going around aquabid these days. Before I do that, I’m going to have to figure out how to sex the ones I have. The guy I bought them from showed that the males have an extra pair of legs under the tail, where the females do not. What seemed quite apparent at the moment, isn’t so obvious when I look at them after getting them home. If anyone has any pointers on this, please comment.

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Melanotaenia Parkinsoni

October 24th, 2006

Melanotaenia Parkinsoni

Melanotaenia parkinsoni might be the most spectacular fish I’ve ever seen in person. Sure, there are some brilliant lake cichlids from Africa and fine looking coral reef fish around the world, but no other fish, as a juenvenille, as stopped me dead in my tracks, dropped jaw and all, in the fish store.
I was in Exotic Aquatics, walking down the aisle, and instantly knew I had to have this fish. As it has grown, the coloration of this fish has only intensified. It is always displaying to the other males in the tank to show its dominance. If you ever have an opportunity to keep this fish, do it.

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Glossolepis Incisus

October 23rd, 2006

I bought this glossolepis incisus as a very small, young fish. As you can see, the Red Rainbow has a number of silver flecks on it’s body. When I bought this fish, its entire body was silver, and its body shape was nowhere near as rounded as it is now. It basically looked like an odd shape minnow. Well, as you can see in this bad picture, the fish is still odd shaped, but now much more brilliant than a normal minnow.

This is the only rainbowfish I have in the glossolepis genus. My other rainbowfish are all melanotaenia, nevertheless, this fish has no trouble displaying and competing with the melanotaenia males to become the dominant fish in the tank. It’s really quite a spectacular thing to watch.

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2006 Catfish Convention – Auction!

October 22nd, 2006

Today was the final day of the 2006 Catfish Convention, and consisted solely of an all-day auction. This auction was made up of 10 lots, plus a dry-goods lot run by Ray “Kingfish” Lucas to help raise money for next year’s convention. The auction started at 10:00am. By 1:00, there were so many items to auction, that they had only gotten through lots 1 and 2, and the dry goods. I didn’t stay until the end because I had blackworms that I needed to get home to the refrigerator, but I imagine it went on for hours after I left.

Everyone checking out the auction goods before it started
(Everyone checked out the auction goods before it started.) 

I came home with a fair amount of “loot” from this convention. I don’t have any pictures of it now, but I’m sure I’ll post some in the future:

I came home with a fair amount of “loot” from this convention. I don’t have any pictures of it now, but I’m sure I’ll post some in the future:

  • anubias barterii nana “petite”
  • 3 Red Lizard Whiptail Catfish
  • crypt. wentii. (thanks Sean)
  • 2 pairs of Dwarf Crayfish, regular brown variety.
  • 5 juenvenille L-279 Bristlenosed Plecos (Ancistrus sp.”Huacamayo”)
  • 13 young melanotaenia praecox rainbowfish.
  • 1 Pair apistogramma viejitas (This is my favorite pull for the weekend!)
  • 1 potion of Blackworms from Eastern Aquatics.
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2006 Catfish Convention – Day 2

October 21st, 2006

Mark Soberman - Talking about African catfishToday was the second day of the 2006 Catfish Convention. I was able to attend most of the sessions today, and I must say that all were of very high quality. Tomorrow, the convention will wrap up with an all-day auction.

The first session of the day was about African catfish, and was presented by Mark Soberman. Mark gave a brief overview of the 9 families of catfish native to the contient. A few highlights included Austraglanidae, who are an endangered species in South Africa. Of course, he had to mention the Claridae family of catfishes, who are an air-breathing group of catfishes that are now banned in the U.S. after a series of incidents related to Snakeheads. Don’t forget the Malapteruidae, who include a few electric catfish, and the Mochakiadae, who are Africa’s largest family of catfish.

Really, all of these were just leading up to Mark’s favorite group of African catfish, the Synodontus. Synodontis catfsh include many of the fish we are familar with in our LFS’s, such as the upside-down catfish. He describe a number of fishes, but also lamented a little bit, at the current influx of Synodontis hybrid fishes coming out of Singapore fisheries. Mark feels that African catfish species are unique enough in their own right, that the hybridization only confuses hobbiests.

Inbetween sessions, I decided to take a trip down the hall to the Fish Showroom. Fish ShowroomThis room have about 200 tanks in it, stocked full of conference attendee’s best fish from their fishrooms. There were more than just catfish represented in this rooms; there were: catfish, killies, bettas, cichlids, livebearers, danios, pretty much any class of fish you can think of.

After purusing the fish, and admiring more than a handful of beautiful specimens, I headed back to the lecture hall for Ian Fuller’s second talk of the conference about Breeding Corydoras.

Ian covered all aspects of his breeding techniques for Corys. He recommends the following:

– buy fish already at breeding age.

– know how to seperate males from females. For example, males often have an elongated ventral fin. Females usually have broader bodies. Males are usually the more colorful fish.

– Use smaller tanks, such as 10-20 gallons.

– Use RO water, adjusting it to 6.5-7.0 PH, GH 0-3 degrees, mix in 1 part Epson salt, 1 part Marine Salt, and 2 parts chalk.

– Use fine grained salt/gravel. Do NOT use a bare-bottom tank because it’s bad for the Cory’s barbles.

– Setup the tanks with oak leaves, beech twigs, java fern/moss, etc.

– Feed a variety of foods. Brine shrimp, microworms, earth worms, and Tetra tabs are especially good.

– Trigger spawning by doing massive water changes, temperature changes, PH crashes, etc.

– When you see eggs, add Alder cones to the water as a mild anti-fungal treatment. Move the eggs to a hatching container with Java moss.

The last session I attended today was by Dr. Peter Unmack about Austrailian catfishes. I think that Dr. Unmack might have had the most interesting talk of the day, largely because it featured catfish that I had never seen before.

There are only two families of catfish in Austrailia. Many of the species in these families actually spend a portion of their life in saltwater. Many are mouthbrooders (pictured right). Unfortunately, there aren’t many Austrailian catfish that are suitable for aquaria. Furthermore, the ones that are, rarely are seen because their natural habitats are too remote to easily collect and ship. This is a shame because most of these catfish would be relatively easy to keep. For example, they can tolerate a wide range of PH swings because in nature, when streams flood, the solids are diluted, causing the PH to drop. But, when the water recedes, the PH skyrockets. The catfish don’t care. Infact, this fluxation might trigger spawning.

The Plutosidae family is a really interesting family of catfishes. The look like someone took a South American catfish’s head, and put it on the body of a knifefish, or eel.

Neosilurus hyrtlii

One of the most widely distributed fishes from this family is the Neosilurus hyrtlii (left). As you can see, they don’t have distinct caudral or dorsal fins. Peter also described the Neosiluroides cooperensis, which he thinks is one of the most bizarre catfish in Austrailia. This fish is found in Cooper Creek, has unusually good eyesight, and is an adept predator of other fish and shrimp. They lay huge eggs, and are rarely caught under 6″ in size. In his experience, it will kill anything it see’s.

Peter wrapped up his talk with a slideshow of other Austrailian fish, including rainbowfish and gobies.

After this session, I decided that I couldn’t risk not buying a few fish/crayfish that were on sale out of one of the hotel rooms, so I promptly bought more than I needed, and headed home to put my new fish in their tanks.

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Melanotaenia Splendida Australis

October 21st, 2006

Melanotaenia splendida australis is a beautiful, but fairly common, rainbowfish. I think this was the cheapest rainbowfish that I have in my 54G, rainbowfish, tank. I believe I paid $1.99 for the juenvenille, drab-looking, fish. Despite it’s youthful appearance, as an adult, I think it might be the most prolific fish, both in spirit and color, that I own. I’d recommend to anyone who wants to try rainbowfish.

I was fortunate to catch it displaying to another male rainbowfish in the tank (below). These fish truly are a marvel to watch, especially in the morning, when they’re especially spirited.

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Catfish Convention 2006 – Day 1

October 20th, 2006

Andrew Blumhagen and Ian Fuller kicking off the conventionToday was the first day of the All Aquarium 2006 Catfish Convention put on by the Potomac Valley Aquarium Society,Ian Fuller a large local aquarium club. The program director is Andrew Blumhagen (left), who opened the convention by introducing to us hobbiest, and corydora expert, Ian Fuller (right), all the way from Great Britain.

Ian’s first, of two, presentations at this convention was largely about identifying corydoradine catfish. He presented a number of well drawn slides, such as the one below, showing in detail the growing number of problems in the

classification system of these fish. Basically, he demonstrated how two entirely different species can look too similar to differentiate when put side-by-side. His claim, is that you must know the exact locality to correctly identify the fish. Toward the end of his talk, he mentioned that the situation is only being exacerbated by human factors, such as deforestation, pollution, and dam construction. These factors are causing species to migrate out of their normal habitat, entering new environment. The changes in their environment are causing the fish to develop different color morphs, further complicating identification.

Lee FinleyThe second speaker at the convention was Lee Finley, who gave a presentation focusing solely on how to feed your catfish the kind of food they would normally eat in the wild. Basically, catfish don’t just eat algae and detritus when in the wild. Depending on the species, they’ll eat wood, bark, algae,Vampire Pleco detritus, veggie matter, fish, insects, larvae, worms, the list goes on. His slide of the commonly known Vampire Pleco, or Rabbit Tooth Pleco, illustrated how specialized some of these catfish have become. These Plecos used their “two front teeth” to chisel away at wood, searching for inserts; much like a Lee Finley - Time for Dinner?wood pecker would do in a forest. Unfortunately, Lee had to rush through his talk in order for everyone to make it to the much anticipated Italian dinner.

Finally, the last topic I was able to hear for the day was put on by Dinyar and Rusty Lalkaka. This father and son duo gave us a quick tour a number of interesting Asian catfishes. Even though Asian Catfish are only second to South American fish in terms of the diversification of both species and genus, few hobbiest know or keep them. One of the lone exceptions is probably the glass catfish, which are at every LFS in the world.
The last two topics were titled “Catfishes in the Classroom” and “Breeding Loricariids.” Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to stick around for those two, but I’m sure they were quite interesting. Stay tuned for more convention coverage from Day 2, tomorrow!

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54G – New aquascape

October 20th, 2006

A few weekends ago, I emptied everything out of this tank, except for the SeaChem Oynx sand substrate. Previously, I also had a “wall of wood” with anubias and java fern plants attached to them. Unfortunately, I had that scape in place for about 2 years, and most of the plants had overgrown themselves into places that were no longer aesthetically pleasing. So, I basically wanted to keep a similar scape, with just a few adjustments that would open up more free space for the rainbowfish, who had grown quite large since I introduced them to the tank.
54G - 10/18/2006
(54G Tank – 10/18/2006)

The foreground itself is quite bare right now. I have a few varieties of crypts planted there that, in time, should fill out the foreground quite nicely. I want to remind you that this is the tank that I don’t do anything to except for bi-weekly water changes. I have phyllanthus fluitans floating on the surface to soak up any extra nitrates. I rarely dose the tank, and I don’t supplement any CO2. I have a JBJ Formosa fixture on top that sports 2x65W PC lights and some NOISY fans. All in all, so long as the powerhead and filter keep a fairly high amount of circulation going in this tank, I have zero problems. I’d welcome any low-light recommendations for the foreground.

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