DIY tank divider/separator


PVC, light diffuser divider installed on a 20g long tank. Photo by author.

If you’ve ever had to isolate fish, for any reason, you know there are several ways to do so. The best method to use depends on why you need to isolate the fish. Below are a few options:

  • You can move a fish to its own tank.
  • You can put a fish in a breeder box (either a hang-on or submerged). Or you can make your own custom isolation box, like the one I posted about here.
  • You can put a divider in the tank where the fish already resides.
  • You can put a divider in a hospital tank to treat multiple fish simultaneously while keeping them separated.

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A great mom!

Julidochromis marlieri (bottom), Neolamprologus leleupi (just above marlieri), Neolamprologus tretocephalus (above the cave). Photo by author.

I haven’t posted any photos recently from any of my tanks, so I thought I would today. Specifically, I was able to get a shot of my female Julidochromis marlieri out in the open, along with a couple of her tankmates (two N. leleupi and a N. tretocephalus). In the very back of the tank, you can partially see my Eretmodus cyanostictus (to the left of the black skirt tetra). I had just finished a water change and had moved a couple of things around when I took the photo. The fish are naturally inquisitive, so were moving around a bit to check things out.

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Dave Schumacher interview

Dave Schumacher

About a year ago, I was looking for some cichlids that were proving to be difficult to find. I began thinking to myself “Who might have these fish?” I remembered hearing about a guy in Texas who often has some of the more difficult to find species, so I went to his site – Dave’s Rare Aquarium Fish. The owner, Dave Schumacher, didn’t have what I was looking for, but I thought “Why not ask him to do an interview?” I did, and he agreed.

As a kid, Dave was always into reptiles and amphibians. He got his first job in high school at a fish store in Houston that focused on cichlids but the store owner was wanting to carry reptiles. The owner didn’t know how to care for them and didn’t want to handle them. It was at that store that he became fascinated with cichlids.

After high school, he moved to San Marcos for college at Texas State University, and while there, got a job at Armke’s Rare Aquarium Fish. He worked there for a couple years, then bought the business in 2006. Not long after, he moved everything a short drive south to San Antonio. Currently, his shop houses more than 200 cichlid species.

Dave’s been an active member of the Hill Country Cichlid Club, alongside Greg Steeves (who I interviewed back in 2017), where he’s been on the board and even served as secretary of the American Cichlid Association. He travels a few times each year speaking to clubs about Mbuna, Lamprologines, building his shop, and basic cichlid genetics/nomenclature.

Let’s get this started!

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Shell alternative

Lamprologus ornatipinnis “Zambia” and PVC elbows. Photo by Ryan Garland. 

If you keep shell dwellers and you’re having trouble getting shells or getting your shellies to use them, an alternative is PVC. Use small elbows with caps. One advantage to using PVC elbows as a shell substitute is that it is more difficult for the occupant to get “lodged” in the elbow and not get out. Another advantage is that you can remove the cap on the end of the elbow to extract the PVC, the fish, or fish’s eggs separately if you need to for some reason.

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Trade those fry!

Supplies acquired on trade from LFS. Photo by author.

If you’ve had luck breeding cichlids and you’re having trouble getting rid of the fry, trade them at your local fish store (LFS). If you have a community fish store that you like, see if they will take your fry and give you a store credit. Not everyone in the hobby has an LFS, which I distinguish from the U.S. big box stores like PetSmart, Petco, etc.

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Another new eartheater!

Adult male Gymnogeophagus jaryi. Photo from journal PLOS ONE.

If you’re a fan of the eartheater cichlids from South America, then you’ll be happy to know a new species was recently described. Gymnogeophagus jaryi is found in the southern tributaries of the Middle Paraná basin of Argentina (on the border with Paraguay). The standard lengths (SL) for the male holotype and female paratype are 113.1 mm (4.5″) and 73.3 mm (2.9″), respectively.

This is a beautiful little fish with a nice nuchal hump and light blue coloration on the adult males. You can find a more thorough description, including multiple photos, in the PLOS One journal article where it was described. A shout out to Amazonas Magazine, which has a nice, short write up about the fish.