Another successful move

If you remember back right before Christmas, I posted that I was taking a break due to moving across town. I actually moved right after Christmas, December 27 to be exact. What I didn’t mention is that I moved my fish before I actually moved myself. Due to the timing of everything, I was unable to move my fish out and in on the same day. Instead, I moved them to a relative’s house the 2nd week of December. Rather than net the fish, bucket them, take the tanks down then move the tanks and set them back up, I made a couple of tactical decision. What fish did I move? Mbuna in a 55g and 40g breeder (a single male Pseduotropheus sp. “Elongatus Chailosi”),  Tangs in a 75g, and a few non-cichlids.

First, I bought a new 75g and set it up at the relatives. I then transferred all the fish from the home 75g  tank, along with the filters, to the new 75. Second, I set up two 20g longs that I had and moved the mbuna from the 55g and 40g to those tanks. There were only a total of eight mbuna between the 55 and 40, so I split them evenly between the 20s. Normally, I wouldn’t recommend housing any adult mbuna in a 20g long, but I knew this was temporary.

Today, I retrieved all of the fish from the relative’s and brought them to the new place. I’m not really sure what the total number was, but it was in the neighborhood of 40-50 fish. Thankfully, all but one survived both moves. I lost a single non-cichlid (a tetra), but it wasn’t due to the moves. It was an older fish that died last week, I’m guessing from old age.

Anyway, my plan worked. In a couple of days, I’ll post some do’s and don’ts for moving fish, based on this experience.


New pike cichlid

In this month’s issue of Zootaxa, there is an interesting piece on a new Crenicichla species (pike cichlid), named ploegi after Dutch ichthyologist Alex Ploeg. The new species, a member of the saxtalis group, is characterized by a prominent humeral blotch exhibited in both juveniles and adults.

I reached out to the lead author, Dr. Henrique Varella, over a year ago for an interview. He agreed at the time, and I even sent him some interview questions. However, we weren’t able to get it done. I’ll revisit Dr. Varella and see if I can maybe get some questions in on the new ploegi species.

See Leonard Ho’s post at Advanced Aquarist for nice photo of a male and female.

Redirected aggression

Julidochromis regani. Image from

If you’ve ever watched an episode of the Three Stooges, you’ve witnessed a form of redirected aggression. Curly does something to Moe, then Moe subsequently slaps Larry or physically strikes him in another manner. In social animals, redirected aggression is not that uncommon. In fact, in a recent study by some Japanese researchers, the species Julidochromis regani were studied to investigate the role of such aggression in their social order. The prevailing theories assert that redirected aggression is primarily a conflict management tactic.

Testing several hypothesis, the researchers discovered that the regani in the study do in fact engage in redirected aggression. Furthermore, they concluded that such aggression serves to divert the original aggressors attention to another uninvolved conspecific. However, that finding was dependent upon the duration of the original aggression and the mix of gender involved, suggesting substantial complexity in the behavior.

If you have access to scholarly articles, you can find the study here –

Citation: Ito, M. H., Yamaguchi, M., and Kutsukake, N. (2018), Redirected aggression as a conflict management tactic in the social cichlid fish Julidochromis regani. Proc. R. Soc. B 285, doi:10.1098/rspb.2017.2681

The right cichlid?

What are the right cichlid species for you? If you’re new to these fish, you probably have no idea how to answer that. Even if you’re a seasoned cichlidophile, the answer may not be as straightforward as you think.

How do I answer that question? I do it pragmatically. If you’re like most cichlid keepers (and like me), you don’t have an unlimited budget. That means you have financial limitations on what fish you can keep. If you’re keeping such behemoths as Cichla ocellaris or Parachromis dovii, you’re going to need a really large tank. Large aquariums aren’t cheap nor is the equipment needed to maintain them. As tanks and fish increase in size, so do the filtration needs.

What about physical space for the tank? Don’t forget that the larger the tank the more space needed. The inability to house a large tank also means you shouldn’t keep large fish. Note that I say shouldn’t. Some hobbyists keep really large species in tanks that are way too small for them. In my opinion, they shouldn’t. That little 2″ cichlid that you bought at the LFS may quickly out grow the tank you have. You may be limited by space, which means you may not have anywhere to put a larger tank even if you wanted/needed to.

Also, larger species typically cost more money per fish, on average. By limiting your fish buying options to what your LFS has in stock, you avoid expensive shipping costs. If you want some very specific species that your LFS neither carries nor is willing to special order for you, then your options expand exponentially. However, fish shipping costs can be high depending on the vendor you choose, the amount of fish you order, and the size of the fish you order.

So far, I’ve considered primarily economics in the question. How about preference? Some cichlidophiles prefer dwarf species like me. Some like really aggressive fish, while others prefer more mild mannered cichlids. Some aquarists like cichlids species that are rare and hard to find in the hobby. Some prefer really colorful fish, while others are more interested in behavior.

How much do you know about cichlids? How broad is your species knowledge? Some species are more difficult to keep than others because they require pretty stringent water parameters. Many cichlids simply can not be housed together for a variety of reasons (e.g., different diets, different water parameters, aggression, predation).

Selecting the right cichlid(s) really comes down to what you’re looking for in the species that you want and the limitations that you have. Limitations could be financial (i.e., limited budget), physical (i.e., little physical tank space), intellectual (i.e., your cichlid keeping knowledge), etc.

Think it through. As you consider your options, please review your space, your budget, fish availability, and other factors. Once you identify what you CAN keep, then try to find the cichlid that is right for you.

View on wild caught cichlids

What’s your opinion on the collection and import of wild caught cichlids? These fish have long been part of the hobby. In fact, they may becoming easier to acquire.

Whatever your views, see the American Cichlid Association’s official position statement on the issue below (from the ACA website), which was released back in September.

Official Position Statement on Wild Collection of Fish

In light of recent controversies regarding the wild collection of aquarium fish, the American Cichlid Association (ACA) wishes to clarify the position of the organization on this subject.The ACA is an organization comprised of aquarists, scientists, educators, and conservationists. The ACA recognizes the need for both wild collection and aquaculture of fish for the aquarium hobby and research. Wild collection of fish is integral to ensuring genetic diversity in captive populations and promoting the introduction of new species and variants for the aquarium hobby and research.

As an organization dedicated to conservation, the ACA, in line with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), recognizes the conservation and economic necessity of sustainable-use fishery resources. Fishing for aquarium species generates sustainable income for fishers and ensures incentive to conserve habitat required to sustain the fishery.

It is the position of the ACA to support the continuation of sustainable aquarium fisheries worldwide, in addition to aquaculture.

Regardless of your personal or professional position, I believe it is important to consider all parts of the issue. As for me personally, I don’t purchase wild caught fish. However, I recognize and respect the conservation values of those who are proponents.

Formal names coming for pike cichlids

Crenicichla sp. var. Rio Xingu orange. Photo from Segrest Farms.

For the pike cichlid enthusiasts, there is an ongoing research project you might find interesting. With an objective to formally name a variety of undescribed species from the Xingu river (Rio Xingu) of northern Brazil, the iXingu Project

“…will advance understanding of the contribution that large river rapids make to tropical biodiversity and productivity, and will train a wide range aquatic scientists needed for the future study, protection and restoration of these habitats. An on-line, publicly accessible illustrated guide to the identification of LXRR fishes and invertebrates will be created.and is nearing its end.”  – National Science Foundation

Funded by a 5 year, $400,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant, the project is close to naming three currently unnamed Crenicichla species (Xingu 1, 2, and 3).

You can find additional information about the project on the NSF website. Stay informed about the latest findings by joining the iXingu Project Facebook group. In addition, check out my interview with pike cichlid expert Vin Kutty.

Power equipment restarts

Image from

If you’ve ever had a power outage, trusting that your filter(s) or pump(s) will restart once the power returns is important. You typically can’t control when the power returns but you can influence whether your filter equipment restarts. How? Keep the impeller and its housing clean. That means cleaning your filter or pump regularly. Some brands are better than others at restarting, even with some resistance (i.e, restarting with some gunk on the impeller or in the housing). However, the best way to ensure that you don’t have restart issues is to remove any buildup that has had time to accumulate (e.g., detritus).

Nothing is worse than coming home from a long day of work, only to find out your power went out for 10 minutes and your filters/pumps didn’t restart because they’re dirty. If you depend on powerheads or the outflow of your filters for water movement, then you’re depending on them to oxygenate your tank. In that instance, a non-restarting filter can be fatal to your fish long before the beneficial bacteria begin to die off. A ten minute interruption won’t kill your fish but several hours might, especially if your tank is heavily stocked. Your fish will suffocate well before ammonia or nitrites get too high.

Cyphotilapia gibberosa and the nuchal hump

Cyphotilapia gibberosa. Photo by Markus Arnstrand at

So what exactly is a “nuchal hump”? Ever see a cichlid (or other fish) with a pronounced hump on its forehead? That’s a nuchal hump. What’s its purpose? That depends on the species. Research has shown that the hump serves multiple purposes, some of which are specific to the genera or species. For the Lake Tanganyikan keepers out there, findings from a recent study in Ichthyological Research do not contradict prior studies that found that the hump on Cyphotilapia gibberosa helps the species identify conspecifics and their gender. Since both male and female gibberosa possess nuchal humps, this means that the shape and size of the hump actually serve as identification markers within the species.  I find this interesting because most research on Cyphotilapia focuses on the frontosa species. There just isn’t as much out there on gibberosa. In fact, it’s quite new as an identified species, being formally named in 2003. If you’re new to cichlids, it’s probably difficult to distinguish gibberosa from frontosa. As the only two species in the Cyphotilapia genus, they are very similar and often mistaken for each other. For details on the distinguishing characteristics, see the paper by Tetsumi Takahashi and Kazuhiro Nakaya in Copeia (full citation below), the very article where gibberosa was formally described and named.

I’ve only kept one species of cichlid with a nuchal hump, Telmatochromis sp. “temporalis shell,” so I can’t speak about gibberosa or frontosa other than to point out they are larger cichlids and thus require large tanks. As I’ve stated many times, I don’t keep the brutes. I keep cichlids typically categorized as “dwarves.” Needless to say, cichlids with nuchal humps are very visually distinctive from other species. Frontosas are immensely popular in the cichlid hobby and, if they and gibberosa exhibit the same exciting behaviors that my Telmatochromis do, you’re in for a treat.

Citations: Takahashi, T. “Function of nuchal humps of a cichlid fish from Lake Tanganyika: inferences from morphological data.” Ichthyol Res (2018).

Takahashi, T. and Nakaya, K. “New Species of Cyphotilapia (Perciformes: Cichlidae) from Lake Tanganyika, Africa.” Copeia, vol. 2003, no. 4, 2003, pp. 824–832.


Ugh. Tardy again!

I know the last several posts have centered around apologies and explanations. Changing blog platforms and buying a new house aren’t something I would recommend that folks do closely together.  Couple that with the fact that the house move came between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I’ve just been covered up. While this blog is extremely important to me, so are many other things, some more so than the blog.

Lots of good stuff coming. I have a new interview that’s almost complete. I won’t share who it is but you should recognize him if you’ve been a cichlidophile for a while. Also, I expect the frequency of posts to pick up now that I have the two major events out of the way.

Stay tuned!