Cichlid Tank News..at last!

Hi there, I have been very neglectful of my fish keeping blog but you’ll be pleased to know that I haven’t neglected the fish!

The cichlid tank contains the following:
1 x yellow lab
1 x cuckoo catfish
1 x pleco
1 x yellow peacock
1 x OB peacock
1 x dolphin cichlid
3 x zebras
3 x Taiwan reef
3 x white tailed acei (+6 babies)

This morning I noticed one of the Taiwan Reef fish has had a serious tail attack and the poor thing was quite paled out in colouring and hiding, while the other two were flaunting themselves in full bright colours. Maidenhead Aquatics (at Appley Bridge near Wigan) advised that this may be a lone female being hassled by two males or is perhaps carrying eggs in her mouth so is behaving in a more passive manner and is weaker at the moment. The solution (hopefully) is a new female to join the gang and a long piece of pipe work for the tailless wonder to hide in.

We also bought two others as I couldn’t resist but that’s another tale for another time.

Cross your fish fingers…

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Cichlid Bite, Eggy Mouth & Peaceful Fish

I’ve been doing a partial water change and ‘hoovering’ the fine gravel in my African cichlid tank once or twice a week. They are doing well, always hungry and active and I’ve got two breeding nets hanging on the tank; one has my first baby fish, the other more recent triplets, found when doing a tank clean. I only have a big mopani root and lava rocks in there so I move everything to one side, clean, then do the other side. This is how I discovered and netted the slow moving fish babies.

I have only seen evidence of the blue Acei breeding, the male chasing the females and the larger female with a mouthbrood of eggs. Last night I noticed she has another mouthful! A least she seems to get 3 or 4 weeks between eggs to eat and recover. She is the blue one in the pics with a slightly baggy chin.

The flamboyant male Strawberry Peacock rammed into my arm the last time I was rock moving and nibbled at me. Unfortunately I didn’t have any mark on my arm to show off but really it is a good thing he has such small teeth! I have read online about cichlids attacking human arms in their tanks if they are protecting young or territory. It made me shriek and laugh a lot! A brave fishie.

The original peaceful community tank is doing well. The male Lace gouramis have lovely skirts and seem to be defending territories, the clown loaches pile up together, hide in the tubes and generally mill around. The shrimp are still with us, popping into view occasionally and the rainbows, cory, bristlenose catfish and scissor tailed Rasboras are all living well.

A while back the male bristlenose Stephen was wedged into a smaller ridged tube I had in the tank. I had to cut the tube with scissors to free him which was a bit scary and he suffered nibbled/shredded fins, the poor thing. He took a while to calm down afterwards and has miraculously GROWN BACK his missing fin parts! I can only imagine they are like re grown skin over the structure of his fin bones. Good boy, Stephen.

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New fish! New fish! New fish! Yes, I’m excited…

Em, yes I got FOUR new fish today! We went to Maidenhead Aquatics at Appley Bridge, Wigan with the intention of buying the next Lake Malawi fish for the new tank but I was advised to wait for another couple of weeks. I cycled the water, added the first six fish and watched the Ammonia and Nitrite levels fluctuate. I’ve added beneficial bacteria, done a couple of smallish water changes (not wanting to get rid of the good bacteria) and watched the fish. Not a bad pastime but I’ve been really pleased that the last few tests have shown a ZERO result for Ammonia and Nitrite at last! I tested this morning before fish shopping and the Nitrate was 40-80ppm which was the reason for the delay in adding more fish buddies. I was advised to do a couple of smaller water changes per week to get the Nitrate to about 20ppm. The cichlids seem to be really hardy but the shock of low Nitrate to 40-80ppm would be a shock for them. Good advice.

I have been mulling over the idea of Lace (AKA Pearl) Gouramis for the community tank for some time and they had some fine examples in the shop today so I’ve bought two males and two females. Reading about them, I was interested as they are lovely looking fish of course plus they get to a nice size and are peaceful. They have such a pretty speckled pattern with a dark stripe along the body and over the eyes, the bellies are a stunning orange colour and the barbels are so long. I’ve missed those things after losing Big Boi and Betty so it is great to see them reaching out for me! They also have VERY impressive skirts. Very important I’m sure!

I’ve had another bout of hair algae in this tank so have cleaned and pruned plants and added the last dose of treatment I had. I had added a Phosphate remover to the filter a long while ago but this must be saturated with the stuff now so it was time for a replacement. I did a small water change and added the remover to the filter today before adding the new fish. There is a second bag of the Phosphate remover which I will add to the African Cichlid tank but I just have to steal a ‘pop sock’ from my mum’s underwear drawer when I next visit – well, the one bag in the box looks just like the foot of a pair of tights!! (Sorry Mum in anticipation of your frantic search for that missing garment).

Lastly, as well as the hair algae, I have been a little frustrated with the harder dots of green algae on the glass which doesn’t want to budge when I use my sponge. Eureka! I bought a JBL Blanki – a wire wool pad on a hinged stick to scrub it away….it really works! You can still see some algae in the photos but my excuse is that I wanted to get a move on to add the new fishies!

Mmmmmm fish! Oh and the Acei Cichlid is STILL mouthbrooding….

Happy Sunday everyone😀

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Mouthbrooding Mbuna?!

I think one of my Mbunas is mouthbrooding! I noticed an unusually baggy chin on one of the Acei and when I fed them this morning, she (I am now assuming it is a female!) didn’t eat anything. Before now they have all been keen on food.

As a reminder, this tank contains: Pseudotropheus sp. “Acei” or Ngara White Tail and 3 x Labidochromis caeruleus or Yellow Lab.

From reading numerous sites I understand that the females are mouthbrooders, holding the eggs in the ‘buchal pouch’ until all the yolk sacs have been consumed. This is usually about 3 weeks, then the fry are released to fend for themselves. If the mother feels her fry are threatened, she may take them back into her mouth for temporary shelter.

Do let me know if you have better information than this from your experience. I have taken a couple of pictures showing the chinny lady, along with a photo of the other two Acei together so you can see an obvious difference in their profiles. The water hasn’t stabilised yet so I not sure if that would kill any fry anyway or whether the other fish would be likely to eat them.

“It’s all part of life’s rich tapestry!”
Says my Dad!

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Eggs, death and a bulbous belly

Yes, we have a third batch of cichlid eggs being watched over constantly. Some look white, some clear and I’m sure they all look tasty to the other tank residents!

One of my two apple snails died a couple of days ago. It had retracted into its shell much more than usual and on closer inspection, the shell like ‘door’ had been nibbled. The foul smell was not as long lived in my nostrils as last time so I must have netted it out just in time. Phew.

The last thing to note is the unusually round belly on a small upside down catfish. It is swimming normally but hanging around the big one more than usual (the boss of the white rock, seen at the top of the photo). I’ve read that they are very unlikely to breed in a home aquarium but I’ve also seen a YouTube clip of one with bloat and mine is nowhere near that swollen. Can it be an eggy belly? I hope so as I don’t want a sick fish. On the bright side, the other day we noticed threeupside downies; I thought there were only two left of the original four so that’s a result!

Thanks for reading and if anyone has suggestions about my catfish then please do let me know. I’ll keep you posted.

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Clicking Clowns and Eggless Wonders

I’m afraid the cichlid eggs vanished (into fishes mouths?!) a couple of days ago. The smilers are happily swimming together, flaring their fins and looking fine so I’m sure they’ll conjure up some more eggs in the future.

The top-dog red rainbow is still a beautiful sparkling red and asserting his authority. Nancy is still the most skittish fish I’ve ever seen. Any slight movement from us non-fish folk and she is zooming under her bogwood. I was pleased to creep up on her today and get a picture….before she swam off at top speed.

For the first time, I heard the clowns ‘clicking’ at one another while competing over a food pellet like a couple of snuffling piglets. Hooray, my fish can talk!

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Cichlid Eggs – The New Batch

I’ve found it tricky to take a clearer picture than those below but I hope you can make out the pale, white-ish eggs clustered on a leaf. The larger smiling cichlid is constantly hovering over them and there are a lot more than last time. They’ve also chosen a different plant, a little more hidden away. The recent chin wound I was concerned about on one of them has healedwhich I am very pleased about (no medication or remedy used) and so it is (breeding) business as usual. I’ll keep you posted!

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