Plastic plants are fine, but….

Base of large plastic plant. Notice the holes and general shape where detritus and waste can accumulate. Photo by the author.
Base of small plastic plant. Notice how there is little area for waste to accumulate. Photo by the author.


I’m increasingly seeing a lot of new or inexperienced cichlid keepers asking about adding live plants to their tank. Live plants work for many cichlids but not all. Why? Some species dig them up and others simply eat them. For Lake Tanganyika tanks, I did a post a few years ago about plants species you might look at if you’re considering a biotope set-up. So what about plastic plants you ask?

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Support your LFS!

Small business support appreciation sign. Image from

I just wanted to post about the importance of supporting your local small businesses, including your small, local fish stores (LFS). This is always true but even more so right now. The big box stores have the capital to survive reduced business during pandemics and other types of large scale economic slow downs. Your mom & pop businesses often survive month to month. Many of them are struggling right now and, in fact, many of them have already closed up for good. 

I’m not encouraging you to stop buying products online or from large retailers, but I am encouraging you to give some of the smaller shops your business. They depend on it to stay open and compete with the larger stores. I recognize that right now everyone is trying to save a little money, and shopping at the larger retailers often helps achieve that goal. However, if you can, please consider spending an extra couple of dollars and buy from your smaller shops. Losing these neighborhood jewels can be mitigated with a little help from everyone. 

Mike Tuccinardi interview

Mike (left) on a fish collecting expedition with two lifelong aquarium fishermen outside Iquitos, Peru. Photo by Mike Tuccinardi.

As a subscriber to several aquarium magazines, I’ve become familiar with some of the great folks who bring outstanding tropical fish content to hobbyists. One of these people is Mike Tuccinardi.

With a background spanning retail, wholesale, and aquarium fish imports and exports, Mike is well versed in the tropical fish industry. He began working at a local fish store in his early teens and has been following the fish ever since. Mike went on to work for a major importer and tropical fish farm in Florida. Since then, he has traveled through much of Asia and South America visiting aquarium fish exporters, collectors, and fishing communities. He has also worked with aquarium-fish specific conservation organizations like Project Piaba and the IUCN’s Home Aquarium Fish Sub-Group (HAFSG), and has written extensively on wild capture fisheries for both hobbyist and general public media outlets. 

Mike resides in Boulder, CO where he operates an aquarium fish import business and currently serves a Senior Editor and Associate Publisher for the English language AMAZONAS Magazine. I contacted AMAZONAS several months ago to reach Mike and he got in touch with me within a couple of days. I am quite grateful that Mike took some time out of his busy schedule to do the interview. Let’s get going!

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OASE releases larger canister filter

OASE BioMaster 850 external canister filter (cut-away view). Image from

For the canister enthusiasts among you, OASE North America has released a new, larger external canister filter as part of their BioMaster line. I did a review of the BioMaster Thermo 350 back in January of this year. At that time, the largest filter in the BioMaster line was the 600, rated for aquariums up to 160 gallons. OASE recently released the 850, suitable for 250 gallons. 

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You are not a scientist!

Science word cloud. Image from

I’m going to guess if you are reading this, it’s because you either keep cichlids or you want to for the enjoyment. Neither of those makes you a hobbyist, necessarily. For a lot of us, however, cichlid keeping is a hobby. If your collection of tanks and cichlid species seems to grow, your thoughts are often consumed with cichlids and aquariums, and you spend a lot of your free time maintaining or watching your fish, you can consider yourself a hobbyist. As such, your fish keeping journey should be something to be enjoyed. But it is also a responsibility. 

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Serials (magazines) that cover cichlids

Magazines that cover cichlids. Image by the author.

Looking for some good magazine or journal resources on cichlids? Although there isn’t a wide array of publications that include or focus on cichlid content, there are a few. Below are the English-speaking ones I’m aware of. I’ve done posts on some of these, which you can find using the search box. Formats vary from both digital and print to only print or only digital. All are US based unless otherwise noted. Also note that some of these are general fish publications and don’t focus exclusively on cichlids. 

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