Be a Buntbarsche Bulletin contributor

Cover of the July 2020 Buntbarsche Bulletin. Photo from the American Cichlid Association –


Never heard of the Buntbarsche Bulletin (BB)? Go to the BB website or see my previous post about it for a full description. What I wanted to mention in this post is that the publication needs contributors. They need folks to submit articles for publication. You don’t have to be a cichlid expert and you don’t have to be a great writer. Daryl Hutchins, the editor, is a really nice guy and he’ll help you with editing. Btw, I did an interview with Daryl way back in 2016 (which reminds me I should do another one with him soon).

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Facebook cichlid group etiquette

Facebook Group image from

Here’s the scenario: You wake up one morning, your fish tank just doesn’t look so great. You’re tired of the filter(s) on it anyway and want to try something different. So you start looking at new filters and filter media. You pull up your favorite fish group on Facebook (FB), post a photo of your tank and filter, and start asking questions. Next thing you know, you’ve received 40 replies telling you to buy this and use that…or worse, don’t use this or that. Then all hell breaks loose because someone notices you’re keeping a hap with an mbuna or, heaven forbid, South American and African cichlids together. World War III starts on FB over a simple question about filters and media.

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Solid fish keeping tips for all fish hobbyists

Cover of August 2020 issue of Practical Fishkeeping. Image from

Because I want this blog to inform all levels of fish keepers, I purposely don’t focus the posts on any one level of fish keeping experience. This means I don’t specifically cater my content to experts nor to beginners. I try to provide a mix of content for everyone.

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Appearance affects aggression

Geophagus brasiliensis. Photo from

There are lots of variables that affect a cichlid’s aggression. Did you know that physical body colors is one of them? Some recent research using Pearl cichlids (Geophagus brasiliensis) as a model investigated how body coloring might affect territorial aggression levels.

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Good looking fish but not for beginners

Adult male Altolamprologus calvus. Photo by author.

A long time ago, one of my “must have” species was Altolamprologus calvus. A physically unique cichlid from Lake Tanganyika, calvus are laterally compressed so they can get into rock crevices to both feed and breed. They also possess special flank scales that serve as a type of body armor. These fish will turn broadside where they are most protected to absorb attacks by predators and even conspecifics. These flank scale edges are quite sharp and can inflict damage on their own.

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Annual ACA convention cancelled for 2020

This may come as old news or no surprise to many of you, but the annual ACA convention, which takes place in July, has been canceled for 2020. Originally scheduled to be held in Sacramento, CA July 16-19, there will be no convention this year according to Alan De Angelo, Editor of ACA News. Next year’s convention is still planned but, according to Alan, it won’t be in Sacramento. No location has been announced for 2021.

Interestingly, as of this post, the ACA Convention webpage did not mention the cancellation.


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.

It doesn’t have to be crystal clear

Underwater video of Lake Malawi (note the particulate matter in the water).
Video from

Have you ever seen video of the natural environment from which your cichlids originate? If so, how similar does the water in that environment appear compared to the water in the tank that your cichlids are in?

With what seems to be a preoccupation with crystal clear tank water, take a look at underwater videos of the lakes and rivers where cichlids reside. Sure, sometimes the water is very clear, but look closer. You’ll typically still see particulate matter and sometimes lots of it. So the question is, who are you making the tank so clear for – you, your guests, or your fish?

A crystal clear tank full of colorful fish is indeed a beautiful sight. In fact, if your objective is to have a tank full of water that you can’t see, nothing wrong with that. However, the notion that your cichlids are suffering if the tank water isn’t crystal clear is a myth.

Good, healthy aquarium water doesn’t have to look like your fish are floating in air, and a little particulate matter isn’t necessarily indicative of poor tank conditions. Little bits and particles in the water from wood, sand, mud, and plants can be perfectly normal…and the fish do just fine.