Here’s wishing all of you a very happy and prosperous 2018! I also hope all of your aquarist endeavors are successful. May your fish keeping knowledge expand along with your fish room and may all your cichlids thrive.
Thank you for making The Cichlid Stage part of your reading portfolio in 2017, and I hope you will continue to visit in the new year.
Sorry for the lack of posts lately. I’m on a brief hiatus because I’m moving. The blog isn’t going anywhere, but I’m physically moving across town. Due to the move and the holidays, I’ve been too busy to post anything.
We’ll resume our regular programming some time prior to the new year. In the meantime, here’s wishing you a very Merry Christmas or a wonderful time for whatever you celebrate!
When I got started in this hobby many years ago, I joined numerous online fish forums and message boards. I knew I would find there some highly experienced and very knowledgeable aquarists. In fact, I came to rely on advice from some of the administrators and moderators, the folks who both manage those sites and provide solid fish keeping information. Today’s interviewee was one of those moderators, and one that it didn’t take me long to recognize as quite knowledgeable.
Ted Judy has over 35 years of fish keeping experience. Though a ‘generalist’ in the hobby, he has a penchant for West African cichlids, especially dwarf species. As a prolific speaker at cichlid clubs and regular cichlid events, Ted is no stranger to cichlidophiles. In fact, he gave a talk on West African cichlids at this year’s ACA convention in Detroit, which was quite fascinating. I caught up with him right after his talk at the convention and invited him to give an interview. He accepted and, though his availability has been sparse for the past several months, we got it done!
The Cichlid Stage: As a prolific speaker at various aquarium clubs and the ACA, what are some secrets for giving a good presentation?
At some point in your journey as an aquarist, odds are great you’ll experience this parasite. It won’t be pleasant, and you’ll likely lose at least one fish (if not more). Called ick, ich, or white spot disease, it’s a common pathogen and it’s deadly, but it’s not difficult to treat.
I’ve been there. Fortunately, I received great advice on how to treat it and I succeeded without losing any fish. My outbreak resulted from new fish that I did not quarantine.
So how do you prevent it and how do you treat it? Most experienced aquarists won’t find anything new on this post, but if you aren’t familiar with ick, see this article from Tropical Fish Hobbyist a few years ago.
Anyone who’s kept Rift Lake cichlids, especially mbuna, knows they can be rough on each other. This is especially true when your gender ratios are wrong, your species mix is wrong, your tank size is wrong, etc. In fact, cichlid behavior of most genera is often predicated on these errors. Regardless of how “perfect” your set up is, cichlids can be rough. However, they’re tougher than you think. Sure, a weaker or subordinate specimen can get dispatched pretty quick without you every noticing it, but don’t undersell their toughness.
Though this post isn’t specific to cichlids, many cichlidophiles should find the information at least marginally useful, especially if you’re new to the hobby. Segrest Farms should be no secret to any long time tropical fish keeper. In fact, if you’ve been in the hobby for as many years as I have, you’ve undoubtedly purchased fish at your LFS that came from Segrest Farms. Segrest is wholesale only, meaning you can’t buy directly from them. However, that’s a good thing. They help keep your LFS in business.
Anyway, Segrest recently released a downloadable PDF that is crammed full of fish keeping information. Before you think, “Oh this is just a pamphlet with some general information about fishkeeping,” you might want to check it out. It’s actually a downloadable book titled Segrest Farms Aquarium Fundamentals…and it’s free. Though ONLY 57 pages, I’m certain you will find some good information in it.
If you keep multiple tanks, nothing is more valuable than a mature/active nitrifying bacteria colony. Good quality bacteria is like gold. The type of filter doesn’t matter that much, the type of heater doesn’t matter that much, the lighting doesn’t matter than much. What matters are solid and growing colonies of bacteria. Like your fish, these organisms don’t care whether your filter is a sponge, a canister, a sump, etc. They also don’t care what kind of lighting you’re using nor what brand of heater. Ammonia and nitrite will kill your fish just as easily and quickly as anything else. Nothing will more efficiently and effectively control ammonia and nitrite as the nitrifying bacteria that should be thriving in your tank.
If you don’t have a quarantine/hospital tank set up and you need to medically treat your show tank, you could lose your colony. Medication will often kill the good bacteria as well as the stuff you’re trying to kill.
If you need to set up a new tank real quick, having some mature bacteria to seed the new set-up will save you loads of time and headache.
If your sole bacteria colony is not mature, you can kill it or cripple it easier than you think.
Regardless of your level of involvement in the hobby, it’s a good idea to stay informed about it. There are lots of activities taking place from policy perspectives that have the potential to change the hobby landscape, including cichlid keeping. Policies surrounding the collection and transportation of wild fauna around the world are consistently contested. These policy debates don’t always lead to anything substantive…but sometimes they do.
For a small view into one of the latest battles that could eventually have repercussions in the cichlid community, check out this post at Reef2Rainforest.
Where do you go when you need to purchase products for your aquarium? If you’re like many hobbyists, you frequent your local fish store or chain pet store. If you don’t have a store nearby, you probably purchase online. Though there are numerous online retailers for cichlid hobbyists, there aren’t many like Super Cichlids of Dover, Delaware. The business began with fish, specifically breeding and selling African cichlids, something they still do today. They have built a considerable online presence where they offer some of the best deals, especially with their large selection of premium cichlid foods.
If you attend cichlid conventions, shows, expos and other such events, then you have seen Super Cichlids. You can’t miss their booth in the vendor area. It’s always one of the largest and certainly liveliest booths you’ll visit. They don’t sell fish at their booth (yet), but they provide a huge selection of other products that will interest any cichlidophile. Don’t miss their raffles, by the way!
I met owners Lisa and Martin Hoeber a couple of years ago, and they are honestly two of the friendliest people you will ever meet. At this year’s ACA convention in Detroit, I asked them if they’d be interested in doing an interview for the blog. Thankfully, they didn’t hesitate to say yes, and Lisa graciously answered a few questions.
To me, one of the most vexing problems with fish keeping is knowing when to euthanize a fish and how best to do it humanely. Euthanasia can be conducted in a variety of ways – physically (e.g., a blow to the head, decapitation), chemically (e.g., clove oil, Benzocaine, Tricaine Methanesulfonate), and naturally (e.g., freezing). Killing a fish humanely is quite subjective because not everyone agrees on what “humane” means. Ultimately, the decision comes down to you and whether your fish’s discomfort matters to you or not.
There have been multiple studies conducted on euthanasia in animals, especially for scientific research. In fact, there have been many studies on fish euthanasia. So what do the scientists say? Well, as you might expect, they don’t all agree.