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.

20130630-212449.jpg

20130630-212509.jpg

20130630-212528.jpg

20130630-212540.jpg

20130630-212550.jpg

20130630-212606.jpg

20130630-212617.jpg

20130630-212626.jpg

20130630-212634.jpg

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!

20130207-204041.jpg

20130207-204057.jpg

20130207-204114.jpg

20130207-204135.jpg

20130207-204154.jpg

20130207-204205.jpg

20130207-204227.jpg

20130207-204252.jpg

Cichlid eggs, gone already? Boo!

So…the eggs disappeared from the leaf after a couple of days and the little cichlids are cruising around the tank again. The smaller always follows the larger and they smile, smile, smile.

The introduction of the 11 new fish has been a positive influence on all the fishies, especially the clown loaches who now swim amongst the rainbows and come to the surface at feeding time, barbels twitching!

I have done two partial water changes this week already, one before I put the newbies in on Sunday and again on Thursday but I will test and do another change tomorrow as there will be a period of adjustment while the good bacteria catches up with the increased bioload. Thanks for advice received!

Newbies Transform the Aquarium

I am pleased to say that I have 11 new fish! They are a Christmas present from my super husband and I couldn’t be more pleased.

We went to Amazon Aquatics (in Leigh, Lancashire) for the second time after buying the very healthy and successful clown loaches before Xmas. They have a great selection and I was happy to be helped by the owner yesterday. I bought the following:

4 x Red Rainbow Glossolepis incisus
2 x Sheephead Acara/Dwarf Flag Cichlid/Smiling Acara (tricky fellows with many aliases!) Laetacara curviceps
5 x Praecox Rainbow Melanotaenia praecox

I wanted more cichlids suitable for the community as I really miss the behaviour of the late Apistogramma borellis, following one another around and swimming in a stop/start fashion. This pair are beauties and have shown a variety of colours. They follow one another around and act as though they are a ‘pair’ (this attracted me to them in the shop) but their markings and fin shapes look like male attributes. Hard to tell I know but maybe they behave that way as they were the last two in the shop, sticking together or maybe I’ve got some peaceful gay fish. Either way, they are smashing and they SMILE!

The Rainbowfish were not a fish I had really considered but I asked for recommendations for my tank and the owner kindly found a book packed with colour photos of the different types and what their colours could or would be. I’m very pleased. The Reds are very brave and follow me if I am near the tank, they shoal with the Scissor tailed Rasboras, with the little Rainbows or on their own. As I write, I’ve noticed one of the Reds has changed to a bright orangey red colour and seems to be asserting its authority. What a huge colour change!

The Praecox are a smaller variety and have been hanging out near the surface adding interest to that neglected area. Their scales shine and look neon blue under the lights (they ARE also known as Neon Rainbows).

The whole tank looks so much more lively and the peaceful interaction is perfect for my community. Hopefully it will stay that way but who’s to say?!

I’ve tried to capture them in the pics, which also show some oldies…and an egg-filled shrimp hanging upside down.

20130113-154350.jpg

20130113-154425.jpg

20130113-154520.jpg

20130113-154555.jpg

20130113-154628.jpg

20130113-154705.jpg

20130113-154750.jpg

20130113-154830.jpg

20130113-154859.jpg

20130113-154954.jpg

Pam and Mr C Are No More. Boo.

I returned from a quite fantastic holiday and found Pam the Platy dead at the surface of the water. I couldn’t see any signs of illness (other than the being dead part) and just her tail had been nibbled. She had a fuzzy coating of mould where one side of her body was exposed to the warm damp air at the top of the tank. Yuk.

The same day we noticed that Mr C the dwarf cichlid was looking pretty awful. He had a white-ish patch which looked like a lump on his head and one of his eyes was protruding. The next day he was dead. There seemed to be a small dent in the white patch on his head. As usual with this fish keeping lark, I will never know what the problem was but perhaps a burst tumour, or conditions such as ‘popeye’ or ‘hole-in-head’ disease? Errr.

Mr C was such a handsome chap and I’d definitely get more cichlids in future as their behaviour is fascinating.

The pictures are of the late fishies in life!

20130106-072144.jpg

Hatched or Snacked?

20120519-121911.jpg

Mrs C’s eggs are no longer on the leaf but I don’t know what has happened to them. They have either been eaten or they have hatched and are hiding successfully in the plants. The latter is unlikely but I can always hope. Mrs C the female dwarf Cichlid is still displaying the same colours and spending all her time around the plant where her eggs were laid…

20120519-122522.jpg

20120519-122621.jpg

The fish all seem healthy apart from one of the sparkling gouramis. It has a slightly ragged looking tail and fin and there are tiny white/grey lumps which look cotton-like but they aren’t around its mouth. I set up a small tank we bought years ago with the pump it came with. I floated a plastic drink bottle filled with boiling water as a temporary heater and added the chlorine remover just in case the bottle leaked. After a trip to my fantastic LFS (Clipsley Aquatics), I now have a 25W heater, some fine gravel and some medicine. I started dosing both tanks with Myxazin (recommended by Clipsley), which treats a broad range of bacterial infections. I put all four sparkling gouramis in the small tank although only one is displaying the signs of disease so far. I can give the small tank the full dose but the community tank is having a half dose because the Bristlenoses (and any scaleless fish) and fry (if there are any) are particularly sensitive. The course of treatment is 5 days so I’ll let you know the results.

20120519-123732.jpg
You can just make out the sick fish near the surface to the left and another in front of the rocks.

I found a bag of six of these rocks in the LFS for a bargain £2.99 so I couldn’t resist a non-essential purchase!

I changed some water in the small tank today as I’m worried about the difficulties of keeping good water quality in a small tank. I tested before the change and although some Nitrates were present, there was also a small amount of ammonia. I will probably do a small change every day.

All other fish are happy; Big Boi is chasing Betty (Dwarf Gouramis) and nuzzling around the plants at the surface – is he thinking of bubblenest number 2? Randy is chasing all the Platy ladies, the Scissor Tailed Rasboras are shoaling beautifully, George the Suckermouth is noticeably larger and Nancy and Rene the Bristlenose couple are looking plump and have their places on the bogwood. Ah fish harmony.

20120519-124644.jpg

20120519-124654.jpg

20120519-124703.jpg

20120519-124723.jpg

20120519-124733.jpg

20120519-124746.jpg

Cichlid Egg Surprise!

The bad news… Big Boi’s bubble nest, although mighty impressive to me, did not encourage Betty to produce eggs. It was beautifully tended but the broken pieces of plant matter that he had used for construction were starting to perish. When I had done a couple of water changes, I hadn’t wanted to disturb the tank too much, so the whole environment was looking a little overgrown and mucky. I decided to remove the nest, have a good prune of the plants, scrub the front and sides of the tank, vacuum the gravel surface with the siphon gadget and clean the tubing of the external filter. After this and a 15/20% water change, the tank is looking great. It is clearer, lighter and the fish are happy. Dwarf Gourami Big Boi hasn’t exhibited any negative behaviour and I hope he will attempt a new nest in the future.

Tonight I noticed Mrs C the female Cichlid lurking deep in the java fern growing on rock. It was a surprise to see her hovering over a fat leaf covered in eggs! Having read what I can online, I believe the eggs are adhesive and they are usually deposited in caves or plant pots. The female guards the eggs while the male guards the surrounding territory. After 2-3 days incubation, they should hatch and feed from the egg sacs. After 4-5 days of development, they will be free swimming. The females lay up to 100 eggs and she looks after them by cleaning them and carrying the newly hatched in her mouth. I will keep an eye on her and see if this is all correct information!

It was sad to have to remove the nest but a lovely surprise that new attempts are being made to increase the tank population. Yey, happy fish!

If anyone has advice on how I can care for the young and prevent them all being eaten, please do let me know. Thanks!

Pictures: the little white dots are some of the eggs and the speckled brown area is Mrs C.

20120517-214042.jpg

20120517-214052.jpg