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 be 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

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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!

Happy New Year!!


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Here’s wishing all of you a very happy and prosperous 2018! I also hope all of your aquarist endeavors are successful. May your fish keeping knowledge expand along with your fish room and may all your cichlids thrive.

Thank you for making The Cichlid Stage part of your reading portfolio in 2017, and I hope you will continue to visit in the new year.