New cichlid book

Book cover for Awesome Aquatics! Handbook Volume 2: Introduction to Cichlids by Laura Main and Sean Foley.

While I don’t know anything about Laura Main (listed as the author on the cover), I do know a little about the book’s co-author, Sean Foley. Sean is one of the administrators of the Cichlid Keepers Facebook group, a huge group with nearly 40,000 members. I’m a member of that group, and Sean is an active administrator.

I haven’t read the book, so I can’t speak to the contents or the quality. It’s free with a Kindle Unlimited subscription but the paperback version will set you back more than $50 (at present). You can find it here at Amazon, where you can also get a sneak peek of the contents.

And watch those pots too!

In the previous post, I talked about rock shapes and how those with jagged or rough edges/ends can present problems for your more rambunctious species. What I didn’t mention was other types of caves and hiding places hobbyists often use – ceramic pots.

Unglazed 6″ ceramic clay pot with part of side cut out. Photo by the author.

Many hobbyists “customize” clay pots for use as breeding caves and for simple shelter. This customization typically involves cutting the pot in some way, usually to create a large opening on the side. Make sure you’re using unglazed pots.

Customization is good and creates additional options depending on how you intend to use the pot. However, unless you’re using a diamond cut bit or blade, you can create very jagged and sharp edges on the ceramic. That’s because it typically breaks.

Fortunately, a little sanding is all that is needed to fix the edges.  I don’t use sandpaper, but rather a Dremel to smooth mine out. See the photo above. The edges have been smoothed out nicely. See one of my earlier posts for the tools I use to break off large pieces.

Watch those rocks!

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Many cichlid enthusiasts, regardless of the species they keep, use various rocks in their tanks. Yes, rocks are typically more common and prevalent in African cichlid set-ups, but rocks can work in any aquarium and nearly any biotope set-up. That’s the good news. The bad news is certain rocks can create problems that other aquarium contents don’t. This post isn’t about rock composition but rather rock shapes.

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I can see you!

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How well do your fish see outside their watery world? Better than you think.

You’ve already heard that cichlids are smart and have their own personalities. What you may not know is they watch you more than you think. Everyone has a story to tell about their fish grouping together and approaching the surface when a human gets within eyeshot of the tank. Or a story about a particular fish whose behavior changes when it see its human. Why? Your fish have learned to associate you (or something your size) with being fed.

However, they know you’re there because they can see you even if you think they can’t. I’ll give you a couple of examples from my own experience.

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Dr. Hans Hofmann interview

Hans Hofmann

In 2016, while looking for a new interviewee for the blog, I ran across the website of a research laboratory at the University of Texas, Austin. I checked out the website, looked at a few of the lab’s publications, and it became quickly obvious to me that the lab’s director, Dr. Hans Hofmann, was someone I needed to interview.

I reached out to Dr. Hofmann, introduced myself, and asked him if he would be interested in doing an interview for the blog. He replied within a couple of days and happily agreed. We began the interview process, but work caught up with him, and we weren’t able to get it completed. So fast forward to the present, and we did a complete reboot of the original interview.

Since receiving his Ph.D. in biology from the University of Leipzig in Germany, Dr. Hofmann has received numerous fellowships and awards for his work at the University of Texas, Stanford University, Harvard University, and the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. In addition to running the Hofmann lab at the University of Texas, he has served as Director of UT’s Center for Computational Biology and Bioinformatics and UT’s Center for Biomedical Research Support. He has given over 130 invited keynote lectures and seminars but has also given numerous public outreach presentations.

Needless to say, getting Dr. Hofmann to take time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions with me was a real bonus. Outstanding stuff ahead. Buckle in!

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Ugh, the writing!

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Hard as I try to avoid grammatical errors and other mistakes, my brain works way faster than my fingers. The result is often the omission of a word (or words) in my posts. Though I do proof read each post, usually more than once, I sometimes still overlook minor errors. I apologize for that.

I will often go back through older posts, sometimes those much older, and re-read them for my own benefit. Revisiting previous posts helps me recall something I said and allows me to reflect on how the writing could have been better.

In any case, if you’re a first time visitor to the blog, I hope that when you spot a writing error it doesn’t discourage you from continuing to visit. I appreciate all of the blog readers, even those who point out errors or disagree with something.