Lighting and changing behavior of cichlids

Aqueon 33g long tank with tank light only.

Tank lighting can and does affect cichlid behavior. I have posted before about how some fish become killers at night whereas sometimes everything is calm and peaceful. See Lights on or lights off?, Lights off equals calm, When the lights are off, it’s not always tranquil. My show tanks are all individually lighted. My larger tanks, which are community tanks, also contain considerable cover (e.g., caves, rock work). The lights on those tanks are only on for a couple of hours each day. However, those same tanks are also exposed to ambient lighting (e.g., window light or room lights) about 14 hours day, leaving them in complete darkness for the remainder.

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Solid fish keeping tips for all fish hobbyists

Cover of August 2020 issue of Practical Fishkeeping. Image from https://www.practicalfishkeeping.co.uk/.

Because I want this blog to inform all levels of fish keepers, I purposely don’t focus the posts on any one level of fish keeping experience. This means I don’t specifically cater my content to experts nor to beginners. I try to provide a mix of content for everyone.

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Appearance affects aggression

Geophagus brasiliensis. Photo from https://www.inaturalist.org/.

There are lots of variables that affect a cichlid’s aggression. Did you know that physical body colors is one of them? Some recent research using Pearl cichlids (Geophagus brasiliensis) as a model investigated how body coloring might affect territorial aggression levels.

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Good looking fish but not for beginners

Adult male Altolamprologus calvus. Photo by author.

A long time ago, one of my “must have” species was Altolamprologus calvus. A physically unique cichlid from Lake Tanganyika, calvus are laterally compressed so they can get into rock crevices to both feed and breed. They also possess special flank scales that serve as a type of body armor. These fish will turn broadside where they are most protected to absorb attacks by predators and even conspecifics. These flank scale edges are quite sharp and can inflict damage on their own.

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Ask an expert!

Image from https://www.lawlogix.com/.

How many times have you had a specific question about your fish or fishkeeping, searched online for the answer, and got nothing but conflicting information in return? Or even worse, you join an online forum or a Facebook group, ask the question there, and World War III breaks out? It’s frustrating. So what do you do?

I might be able to help. I’m considering adding a component to the blog where I take questions from you, the reader, and get an expert on the subject of your question to answer it. I’ll reach out to the expert, post your question, and their answer. Sort of a “Ask the expert?” component. What do you think?

I have a pretty wide network of friends, acquaintances, experts, and such to draw from. I can’t imagine any question for which I wouldn’t know someone who could answer it…correctly….unless it’s maybe something specific to a piece of equipment, which the manufacturer would need to answer.

Drop me a note or comment directly below if this has any appeal to you. There are some logistics I would have to work out to make this work but I am willing to do so if there is sufficient interest.

Dr. Scott Juntti interview

Dr. Scott Juntti.
Just before COVID-19 reared its ugly head here in the states, I came across a university lab doing some fascinating cichlid research on breeding behavior. Using Astatotilapia burtoni, a maternal mouthbrooder from Lake Tanganyika in Africa, as the model fish for the research, Dr. Scott Juntti’s lab is attempting to unlock some of the mysteries surrounding A. burtoni breeding behavior.

Dr. Juntti became interested in neuroscience as an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin, where he fell in love with life in the lab. After completing his undergraduate work, including stops at labs in Germany and San Diego, he began his graduate work at the University of California, San Francisco. There he began working in Dr. Nirao Shah’s lab, where he studied social behavior using molecular genetic approaches in mice.

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Online cichlid retailers

Image from https://marketingland.com/.

Interested in ordering cichlids online? I have posted a couple of times about online purchasing – a post about what to consider when doing so and issues with ordering online. I’ve even posted about some of the online sources I’ve used in the past. While I encourage you to patronize your local fish stores (LFS), they may not always have the most comprehensive selection or the best price. Give them your business but also know there are other options.

Below I’ve compiled a list of online cichlid retailers that I know of. While the list isn’t exhaustive, it’s pretty comprehensive. Unless otherwise noted, these are all based in the United States. Cichlid species from Africa, Central America, South America, etc. can be found within various stock lists of these retailers.

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