Pseudocrenilabrus nicholsi Video

September 25th, 2010

At the last CCA meeting, I purchased a bag of Pseudocrenilabrus nicholsi dwarf cichlids from West Africa. This morning, while in my fish room, I noticed the dominant male showing fantastic coloration, and policing the middle of his tank. He was chasing away the other males, while gyrating his body near some plants, presumably to lure the females over to spawn there.

The video quality isn’t fantastic, but hopefully you can still see how entertaining and beautiful these little fish are…

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33G – Aquascaping Update

September 20th, 2010

It’s been two weeks since my last update on this aquascape, so I wanted to post a nearly finalized version to see what everyone thinks. I finally replaced the Myriophyllum mattogrossense on the right side with more Blyxa japonica. I think this really improves the overall look of the aquascape. Do you agree?

33G Aquascape - 09/20/2010

The Ranalisma rostrata is continuing to fill in nicely, with a few strands of Echinodorus tenellus var. ‘micro’ mixing in, which is actually a good thing. The E. tenellus provides a slightly longer leaf than the Ranalisma which creates a nice transition between that and the longer leaved Blyxa.


Otherwise, I’ve had to start dosing this aquarium to prevent algae from creeping in too much. I guess the ADA Aquasoil has started to deplete, but that’s to be expected after a few months. Comments/critiques welcome!

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CCA September 2010 – Chuck Rambo

September 12th, 2010

On Saturday I attended the Capital Cichlid Association’s September meeting, featuring Chuck Rambo, who spoke about dwarf cichlids. I’ve always been fascinated with cichlids, but due to my even larger obsession with planted aquariums, I’ve been limited to keeping smaller dwarf cichlids, with a few exceptions like Angelfish. Nevertheless, I had marked Chuck’s presentation on my calendar all summer long, hoping to learn about a few more species out there; he didn’t disappoint!

P. sacrimontis

Chuck began his presentation by showing a few African shellies before going through the Pelvicachromis genus, since many hobbyists keep Kribs as their first dwarf cichlid. Interestingly enough, the fish that intrigued me the most was the non-dwarf, Pelvicachromis sacrimontis. These fish sometimes get mixed in with regular Krib shipments, but as they grow, they turn into 6″+ beasts. The way to differentiate them from their smaller cousins is that P. sacrimonits always have blue patches on their cheeks.

P. humilis

One of the other striking fish he showed from the same genus was Pelvicachromis humilis, but unfortunately these are extremely aggressive fish who need a minimum of 40G per pair to keep peacefully.

N. dimidatus

Next, Chuck began walking through several fish in the Nanochromis genus, including Nanochromis dimidiatus shown above. One of the tricks to keeping Nanachromis is that they are actually algae eaters, who scrape algae from rock surfaces like Mbuna do. Therefore, a varied diet high in spirulina or similar algae tablets are recommended.

D. maculatus

There was a lot of time spent discussing various types of Rams, but the next group of fish that really interested me as a planted tank guy were the checkerboard cichlids, or Dicrossus. Chuck mentioned that Dicrossus maculatus are newly available in the hobby, and actually easier to keep than the more familiar Dicrossus filamentosus. Both species prefer soft acid water, and often spawn on leaves. It’s important to consider your aquarium temperature when spawning these fish, as temperatures above 80 degrees tend to produce more males, while lower temperatures yield more females.

Teleocichla sp.

Dwarf pikes became the next topic of discussion, where Chuck quickly pointed out that few pikes are actually dwarf varieties, as they will grow quite large if given the proper conditions. One exception to this are the Teleocichla species, who do stay quite small. Unfortunately, they are also one of the least colorful varieties of pikes you can find.

Cleithracara maronii

An old stand-by cichlid for planted aquariums are the keyhole cichlids, or Cleithracara maronii. These are peaceful, elegant, cichlids who are easy to spawn when in soft water. They get their name from the distinctive keyhole pattern on their bodies, but due to significant line-breeding, this pattern may not be as distinctive in some strains as in the wild-caught fish.

L. dorsigeras

One of the next dwarf cichlids I would like to get my hands on are Laetacara dorsigera, who are small shy, but brightly colored dwarf cichlids from South America. I think they could be fantastic little fish for my 33G rimless aquarium.

Hemichromis cristatus

Chuck only recommended a single species of jewel cichlids, Hemichromis cristatus, as they are a bit easier to keep and slightly more tolerant than some of the other species in the genus. I really enjoyed keeping the jewels I collected in Florida previously, but you definitely only want to keep a them alone in a tank to avoid dead fish.

Apistogramma agassizii

Finally, the presentation concluded with a long section on Apistogramma, one of the most widely known and diverse group of dwarf cichlids. Incredibly, scientists now believe that this genus may consist of over 500 species in the wild. Chuck relayed a fascinating study by Uwe Romer who discovered that Apistogramma may be partly dispersed from one area to another by feeding Kingfish birds. Uwe left a pool outside in South America under a Kingfisher nest, and monitored what fish ended up in the pool. Apparently, Kingfisher young will refuse to eat dead fish, so if the parents bring back a deceased meal, the young will spit them out. Romer hypothesized that some Apistogramma may actually play dead in order to avoid becoming a meal. In his experiment, he actually found quite a number of live Apistogramma in his pool from the birds. Incredible!

Apistogramma sp. 'Rotpunkt'

I really enjoyed Chuck’s presentation on dwarf cichlids, learning quite a few things. This writeup is really just a small subset of what he covered, so I highly recommend inviting him out to your club to do a similar presentation. He’s actually part of the ACA’s speaker program, which can help subsidize part of the cost of flying their speakers to your club meeting. Take advantage of it! Comments welcome!

Note: All photos, except for the last one, in this post were taken during Chuck’s presentation. Photo credit belongs to the original photographers.

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33G: A Few Adjustments…

September 8th, 2010

I made a few adjustments to my 33G aquascape since the last post. For starters, I still haven’t removed the Myriophyllum mattogrossense from the right side, as my other tanks are currently full of other plants that I don’t want to get overrun by the fast-growing Myrio. I really think you could see this stuff grow if you sat and watched it! I’ve had differing opinions from folks as to whether or not they like the Myrio. Please let me know what you think in the comments.

33G Rimless Aquarium

Otherwise, I did remove the rock that was in the front-right, directly in front of the large rock. I felt that the previous one was too big and detracted from the large rock. What do you think of the smaller rock there? I also raised one of the rocks in the back, just left of center, so that it would be slightly more visible, rather than being buried by the Blyxa japonica.

33G Rimless Aquarium

One of the reasons I love this porous mossy rock is that many pieces have small caves in them. The large rock, for example, has two caves, one directly on its peak, with the other on the backside of the rock. In previous scapes, I’ve had both Apistogramma and Ancistrus spawn inside of these tunnels.

33G Rimless Aquarium

I’m really amazed by how quickly this aquascape is shaping up, and filling in. I guess fresh aquasoil, combined with good lights and lots of CO2 are a winning combination. The only problem I’ve had so far is some diatom algae, which was easily gobbled up overnight (literally) by four baby bristlenosed plecos I added from another tank. While they grow to about 6″ in size, right now these plecos are about 1.5″ inches, or similar in size to Otocinclus, so they were the perfect remedy. Comments/critiques welcome!

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Blue Tiger Shrimp & More…

September 6th, 2010

I wanted to share a few pictures that I took this afternoon in my fish room. I was experimenting with a new macro lens and flash that I got a couple months ago, which is why a few of the shots are obviously unrealistic. In any case, the blue tiger shrimp are one of my new favorites, with their black bodies and bright orange eyes.

Blue Tiger Shrimp

Of course, when you’re breeding these shrimp, you’re never going to get 100% solid black bodies. Some of them will come out as “blondes,” or shrimp with transparent bodies with the signature tiger stripes.

Blue Tiger Shrimp

Otherwise, these don’t seem to be too difficult to keep. They’re slightly smaller than cherry red shrimp, but similar in size to crystal reds.

Blue Tiger Shrimp

Mine are all housed in my 12G GLA bookshelf aquarium, where they graze on a little bit of beard algae that’s snuck into that aquarium.

Blue Tiger Shrimp

They also love to hide in the short Eleocharis sp. ‘Japan’ hairgrass that makes up the foreground in this tank, picking at whatever tiny goodies they can find.

Blue Tiger Shrimp

In my 50G aquarium, I have a breeding colony of bristlenosed plecos. Their are several generations cohabiting the aquarium, which are constantly working the driftwood and glass.


I caught one such pleco hanging out on the front glass. I like to think that I keep my glass pretty clean, but I guess she’s finding something of value there.


Finally, I snapped a quick shot of one of my beautiful angelfish, which really are the most personable fish I’m keeping right now. When they’re hungry, they follow me from end-to-end of the tank, begging me to drop in some tasty morsels for them to devour.


I hope you’ve enjoyed looking at my latest shots. Feel free to leave a comment if you’ve enjoyed these same creatures for yourself…

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Scape Fu – Planted Aquarium Podcast

September 3rd, 2010

I just discovered a new planted aquarium website today, Scape Fu, which aims to provide podcasts relating to the planted aquarium hobby. The latest podcast featured former GWAPA president and blogger from Kryptokoryne, Ghazanfar Ghori. I’m really looking forward to see what new topics and guests will be featured in the feature. Check it out!

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