In situ substrate swap

30g rimless, square tank from Mr. Aqua. Photo courtesy of the author. 

As of yesterday, I had four tanks (75g, 2x 20g long, and a 30g square) that contained aragonite sand substrates. Suffice it to say that I’m not happy with any of them. I have two other tanks that contain pool (silica) sand (75g and 55g).

Over time, I have honestly felt like my fish are more active and look better in the pool sand tanks. The tanks with aragonite are relatively new (~8 months) and I have had more fish problems with them than with pool sand tanks. Maybe it’s a coincidence. Maybe it isn’t.

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A cichlid master or expert

Image from

Have you ever wondered what it takes to be labeled an expert at something? People with terminal academic degrees (e.g., PhD) are typically viewed as experts on their particular subject. On the other hand, people with little to no education who have years of experience working in or on something are also considered experts. What about cichlid keepers?

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Hey, who’s watching the kids, pt. 2

Juvenile Neolamprologus savoryi. Photo from

In 2017, I posted about alloparental care in cooperative breeding cichlids. In that post, I pointed to an article about such behavior in Perissodus microlepis, a small, rather non-descript cichlid species found in Lake Tanganyika. That particular study didn’t use a ‘direct observation’ method, but rather relied solely on a genetic parenting analysis. Studying cichlids in their natural habitat using observation, rather than observing them inside a controlled environment like an aquarium, allows researchers to partially eliminate effects of confinement on their observation results.

Continue reading this post…Hey, who’s watching the kids, pt. 2

When lunch is fatal

Just like many other fish, some cichlids are predators. In fact, many will happily dine on their own kind, even relatives. That is just part of nature. But sometimes lunch becomes fatal. Case in point, this juvenile Telmatochromis temporalis attempted to eat a sibling. It didn’t go well.

Juvenile Telmatochromis sp. “shell dweller” with conspecific fry protruding from mouth. Photo by the author.

I have a breeding pair of T. temporalis in a 20g long, which have spawned two or three times. I leave all the fry and juveniles in the tank until they’re large enough to take to my LFS. So naturally, multiple broods coexisting in the same tank will occasionally lead to encounters like this one, especially with opportunistic omnivores like these Telmats.

The juvenile in the photo above is only about an inch long. I didn’t attempt to extract the fry, but you can tell it was significantly smaller….just not small enough.

Clean that glass

Dirty front glass of aquarium. Photo from

When you do routine maintenance on your show tanks, what components of the tank do you clean? Most cichlidophiles clean the substrate or at least vacuum the bottom if they have a bare bottom tank. Most also clean their filters regularly. How often do you clean the inside glass of your tank?

Regular glass cleaning is as important as maintenance on other components of your set up. Why? I’ll give you three reasons.

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Pam Chin interview (#2)

Pam Chin driving the boat on Lake Tanganyika 2018

Because I keep African cichlids, especially Lake Tanganyikan species, I’ve always been intrigued by the lake itself, including the various habitats and all the lake’s cichlid species. Since I’ve never visited the lake, I have to rely on resources such as photos, videos, articles, and monographs to learn things about it. Now I can add interviews to that list of resources. Not surprisingly, there are dedicated cichlidophiles who make regular trips to the lake where they spend hours videoing, photographing, and discusing these wonderful fish.


A few months ago, one such group comprised of Ad Konings, Mattia Matarrese, Tautvydas Pagonis, Martin Geerts, Ankie Geerts, Brenton Pember, Dave Hale, and Pam Chin spent over two weeks on the lake. I did an interview with Pam back in 2016 but I wanted to catch up with her about this latest trip because she’s so passionate about cichlids. Anyway, during the trip, they followed the coastline south from Kipili, then along the bottom of the lake, and then headed up north, along the west coast, to the Nsumbu National Park.  Once there they continued north as far as Katete. They were told several times, not to venture any further, as the Congo Police would certainly stop them.

Continue reading this post…Pam Chin interview (#2)