Online cichlid retailers

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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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Tragedy strikes…again!

Sigh. Strange how this hobby can one minute be so much fun and uplifting and the next minute be sad and depressing. No sooner do I post about a wonderful little fish than I post about him being deceased. Yeah, that same little gregarious ocellatus that I posted about Sunday passed away overnight.

Not really sure what happened to him. I came down to feed last night, and he was perched on top of a ceramic cave, which itself was sitting on top of a couple of rocks. I knew immediately something was wrong because 1) shell dwellers don’t normally park on top of things like that, 2) he had a shell, which is where he should have been, 3) his color was mottled, and 4) his mouth was agape. If you’re familiar with ocellatus, then you know they’ll turn a mottled color of brown when they’re stressed. He definitely was stressed. I immediately went to net him, and he hardly tried to avoid the net.

Uhh oh.

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A gregarious dwarf

Lamprologus ocellatus guarding shell. Photo by the author.

Because I have an affinity for dwarf cichlids, which includes shellies, I keep a fair number of the species. One of my favorites is Lamprologus ocellatus. In fact, I have them in three tanks. I have a breeding pair in a 20g long, what I think are a breeding pair in a 30g square, and a single male in one of the 75g Tang community tanks. This post is about the single male.

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An unfortunate discovery

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Though I never posted about it, I ordered some fish back in the summer of last year. In that shipment was six juvenile Julidochromis ornatus. I set up a new 75g tank that would become a Tanganyikan community tank. I put the new ornatus in that tank with plans for them to be an “anchor tenant.” Everything had been going beautifully with them and the other inhabitants (compressiceps, ocellatus, signatus, etc.)….until last night.

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A DIY tank stand

Normally, I don’t have time to engage in time consuming DIY projects. Building tank stands is no exception. However, I’m always up for a challenge and I have a need for another stand. I’m running out of isolation tanks…well, at least stands to put them on. I’ve had a rash of cichlid pairings/spawnings lately, and the tanks I typically use for quarantine/separation are occupied. Thus, I decided several weeks ago to set up two new 20g longs to resolve that problem. I would typically just buy a stand but I have something specific in mind that I was confident I couldn’t find somewhere. I shopped around for stand options for dual 20g tanks but didn’t like what I found. Therefore I decided to build one myself.

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A little dive in the sand

I have kept cichlids for a long time and I’ve kept several species of shell dwellers. One of my favorites is Lamprologus ocellatus, a wonderful dwarf cichlid from Lake Tanganyika. If you keep African species and you get the opportunity, invest in a small colony of these little beauties. They are great fun. If you want to learn more about them, Tropical Fish Hobbyist magazine published a great article about this fish in 2014.

Anyway, a long time ago I had several ocellatus and bred them. I never replaced the adults when they passed away. A few months ago after deciding to breed them again, I bought several juveniles from a breeder in New York. Assuming that they were all probably siblings and not wanting to interbreed, about a month ago I picked up another juvenile pair from my LFS, who I know doesn’t get fish from the same breeder. I put this new pair into a 20g long to raise them until I can sex them. The tank has aragonite substrate and several shells.

Lamprologus ocellatus burrowed into the aragonite sand. Photo by the author.

I was doing a water change on that tank this evening when one of ocellatus nose dived into the sand rather than seek shelter in one of the open shells. It burrowed until the only thing I could see was its eyes. In all the years I kept ocellatus, that is one behavior I never witnessed. I must say I was pretty shocked. See the photo above with the little guy circled in orange.

Good days and bad days

Experience will show you that keeping multiple tanks increases exponentially the probability of having a water accident. At the present, I have seven tanks going. I do water changes on five of those tanks every Sunday. Last week was no exception. What is typically a smooth process was anything but that day.

Yep, I had not one water spill but two. First, my vacuum hose came out of the bucket while I was cleaning a filter (see how I do water changes here). That resulted in probably a gallon of water into the carpet. All of my show tanks are on carpet. To make matters worse, the carpet is a darker color, meaning I don’t readily see a spill. But my bare feet feel it. Ugh. Shortly after getting that one cleaned up, I caught my foot on a bucket containing prefilter sponges (five of them, to be exact). When I remove these sponges from the tanks, I put them in a bucket, and yes they’re full of water when I put them in there. So naturally the bucket had water in it. Thankfully, it probably didn’t contain more than a couple of cups worth. I tried to step over it and obviously failed. Anyway, that was just another water spill to have to clean up.

The good news is I didn’t flood my fish room, something I have managed to do twice in the past six months.

Needless to say, last Sunday was not a good day working on the tanks. Oh, and I forgot to mention that I turned over one of the filter baskets from the canister I was working on, causing the loose media to spill out all over my work bench.

Anyway, the point is to be prepared to have days like this when you work on multiple tanks. It WILL happen.