Elaborate filtration systems, complex plumbing, DIY mass air filtration, or popular, mass produced aquarium products. Whatever direction you go for your cichlid tanks, do what lies in your comfort zone. If you aren’t familiar with certain types of products, then use what you know, what you are comfortable with, and what you can afford.
Some hobbyists insist on emulating the natural biotope from which their fish originate – blackwater tanks with lots of leaves, twigs, and such for CA/SA species. Or sandy bottomed tanks loaded with shells stacked on top of each other, like the Neothauma snail shell beds in Lake Tanganyika. Nothing wrong with that.
Then again, some hobbyists use everything in their tanks other than what the fish would naturally encounter in their endemic environment. This includes such items as PVC pipe, ceramic pots, porcelain ornaments shaped like pagodas (shout out to my friend Pam Chin).
Whatever your preference, your fish probably don’t care unless they’re FOs (wild caught). So where am I going with this post?
Several years ago at one of the annual American Cichlid Association (ACA) conventions, I overheard a conversation about some shell dwelling cichlids. Being a dwarf cichlid enthusiast myself, my interest was piqued upon hearing the word “shellies.” I wasn’t eavesdropping but I clearly heard something equivalent to “You should check with Chris Carpenter. He keeps all kinds of shellies.” Like any hobbyist who constantly builds their knowledge base, I filed that name away.
In the years since that convention, I have heard Chris’ name mentioned numerous times. In an effort to ensure that my interviews on the blog cover all corners of cichlid keeping, I needed to get someone to talk about shell dwelling species. Because he is widely regarded as an expert on these fish, I looked him up and sent him a note about doing an interview. He promptly replied and happily agreed.
I post about this every year because I think it’s an event that all cichlid enthusiast should attend, at least once. The annual convention of the American Cichlid Association (ACA) is this weekend in Cromwell, CT. Hosted by the New England Cichlid Association (NECA), the convention actually begins tomorrow (18th).
I have been several times. Not only is it a lot of fun, but you will meet some great people (hobbyists like yourselves) and learn some things as well. The speakers this year, as in year’s past, are outstanding. If you’re nearby and can make it, if for just a day, I highly encourage you to go. Be sure and stop by the vendor room. Lots of great folks there and lots of great deals to be had on everything from fish food to hardware to ceramic caves. The list goes on and on.
So back in April, I posted about more interviews on the way. I try to keep several interviews in the pipeline because I’ve learned to expect that some who commit to do them actually don’t. This is unfortunate, but reality. In a perfect world, everyone who agreed to do an interview would actually follow through.
Back in 2017 I wrote about some mbuna cichlids I had. Specifically, I talked about their propensity to be night time killers. You can read that post here.
This post is about a Tanganyikan version – Telmatochromis sp. “temporalis shell”. If you’ve kept cichlids long enough, you might notice many display their own unique personalities…just like people. By the same token, I believe that certain species have a greater propensity for violence. In my experience, these Telmatochromis are true night stalkers also. They’re even more deserving of the moniker because adults are typically jet black in color (unless stressed, which is a post for another day).
A great place to find information on cichlids, when you feel like you’ve exhausted all other resources, is some of the online fish forums. If you do a Web search and all you seem to get are links to fish forums, don’t ignore them. Go ahead and click on the posts. Often you don’t have to be a member to access the threads.