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Kelberi Peacock Bass
(Cichla kelberi) Easy Aggressive 18" 180 gallons 76-84° F, KH 5-15, pH 5.0-6.5 Carnivore, Piscivore Amazon, Brazil Cichlidae Peacock Bass Cichlid-New-World The Kelberi Peacock Bass (Cichla kelberi) is one of the smaller species of Peacock Bass available within the hobby, with a max size of around 18" in length, but more commonly only reaching about 10" to 12" in length within the aquarium environment. Even the largest Kelberi Peacock Bass is quite reasonable in size compared to many of the other species of Peacock Bass who routinely reach lengths upwards of 28" or more. Cichla kelberi are collected from the Rio Araguaia drainage and the lower Rio Tocantins drainage located within the Brazilian Amazon. These areas tend to be lower flow and with less overall water volume than the main stems of the Amazon River where many of the larger Peacock Bass like Cichla monoculus are collected from. More narrow, slower moving and more highly vegetated water ways has most likely played a large part in the Kelberi Peacock Bass evolving into a smaller Peacock Bass species in order to better ambush prey in their native environment. Cichla kelberi is distinguished from all other species ​of Cichla by presence in adults of small light spots​ on the pelvic and anal fins, and lower lobe of caudal​ fin. Cichla kelberi have similarities to C. monoculus and C. pleiozona in ​that they both have three dark vertical bars on their sides, a pronounced occipital bar in larger specimens, absence of black or ocellated markings laterally on head, and presence of irregular dark blotches on anterior abdominal side and typical absence of bar 4.​ Dominant or breeding males will exhibit yellow or golden coloration on their side, vertical black bars, a greenish head without black spots, white chest, abdomen and ventral aspect of caudal fin base. The yellow coloration on the sides is interspersed with numerous small black spots dorsally. Additionally, they will exhibit prominently a dark grey nuchal hump. Dominant or breeding females tend to exhibit yellowish to golden coloration on their sides and yellow on the cheek and gill covers. Their lower jaw, chest, abdomen and the ventral side of caudal peduncle will be white or light yellow in color. They will generally have light spots along their sides, a light caudal eyespot and spots on anal fin yellow. Kelberi Peacock Bass (Cichla kelberi) is probably the most suitable of all Peacock Bass species for aquarium life due to its smaller size of 12" on average. Their smaller size makes them suitable for more hobbyists as they do not require a massive aquarium like many other Cichla species. Additionally, their smaller size means that they have a smaller mouth and corresponding aggressiveness, which allows them to be kept with a larger variety of tank mates than say a full grown 30" plus Temensis Peacock Bass. Peacock Bass are accustomed to an environment with high quality water with low levels of pollutants and high levels of dissolved oxygen. Kelberi Peacock Bass aquariums need to replicate this environment as much as possible through strong mechanical, chemical and biological filtration along with medium to strong water movement. They are a little less sensitive to lower oxygen levels partly because of the slower flowing tributaries where they originate and partly due to their smaller overall size. While Peacock Bass are large fish that eat equally large meals, they can do well in aquariums with excellent filtration capable of removing the excess food and waste products produced from such a large species. The adult size of the Peacock Bass is also an important factor in choosing the right aquarium to house them, with the size and shape of the aquarium being very important. With adult Kelberi Peacock Bass reaching between 10" to 18" in length, they can be suitably housed as an adult in aquariums of 180 gallons or larger. Smaller specimens can be raised in smaller aquariums if they are moved to larger tanks as they grow, with a general rule of tank being at least 4 times as long and 1 1/2 times as wide as the length of the fish. The aquarium decor should be designed to provide plenty of swimming room, while also providing some areas of cover using driftwood, floating or well rooted plants and rocks with a sandy or gravel substrate. Tank mates are an important consideration when housing adult Peacock Bass with other New World Cichlids due to their large size and aggressive temperament. A good rule of thumb is that anything that can fit in the mouth of the Peacock Bass eventually will. Tank mates should consist of other large aggressive New World Cichlids, large Catfish species and freshwater rays. Kelberi Peacock Bass can be kept as the only Peacock Bass species or mixed with other species of Peacock Bass. They also do well in good sized groups and will work out a dominance structure amongst themselves, which will lower aggression between fish once their social hierarchy is in place. Wild Kelberi Peacock Bass feed on a wide variety of live foods living in their river tributary ecosystem, which include: insects, smaller fish, worms, crustaceans and amphibians. Kelberi Peacock Bass kept within the aquarium environment will readily feed on the same variety of live foods that they feed on in nature, but it is often more desirable to ween them off of live foods. Live foods are typically more expensive, require holding tanks, more frequent trips to the aquarium store, can bring diseases and can create excess pollution in the aquarium water. Hobbyists generally ween their Peacock Bass to commercial food preparations in order to simplify their care and avoid the pitfalls or live foods. However, it is not uncommon for Peacock Bass enthusiasts who have weened their fish to commercial foods to provide the occasional live feeding to enjoy the prey drive and aggressive feeding technique of the Peacock Bass. Suitable commercial foods for Peacock Bass include: worms, pellet foods, food sticks, frozen meaty foods like krill, silver sides or similar fare. Peacock Bass will also consume a variety of dead meaty foods like raw shrimp, raw prawns, raw fish and similar meaty items. Individual specimens will often have their own preferences, with some specimens eating most anything while others will be more picky about their diet.
Geophagus Balzanii
(Gymnogeophagus balzanii) Moderate Peaceful 8" 30 gallons 62-82° F, KH 5-19, pH 6.0-7.8 Omnivore South America: Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina and Uruguay Balitoridae Loaches Community The Geophagus Balzanii or as it is also known as the Argentine Humphead, originates from the Paraná River basin area of the Paraguay drainage area of Brazil and Paraguay; the Paraná drainage in Argentina, and the lower Uruguay drainage in Uruguay and Brazil. They are generally found in groups of individuals with a higher concentration of females to males. They move about the vegetation and tree roots near the banks of the larger tributaries and throughout the flooded forest areas feeding on organic material, small crustaceans and other similar items that they sift from the sandy substrate. Gymnogeophagus are specialized eartheaters who constantly take in mouthfuls of the substrate and sifting it in search of food. They have one of the most southern distributions among cichlids in the Neotropics, which means they are comfortable in temperatures all the way down to the mid 60's° F. Gymnogeophagus eartheaters belong to a subfamily of neotropical Cichlids named Geophaginae. Many aquarium favorites such as pike cichlids and Geophagus and Apistogramma species are frequently taken while collecting Gymnogeophagus species. The temperate habitat in which the Geophagus Balzanii originates is characterized by cool winters and sweltering summers. All of the fish from this region will do best in temperate aquariums with temperatures in the high 60°s to low 70°s F. When kept in heated tropical tanks in the upper 70°s to low 80° F for too long, these cichlids will be listless, lack color and will live significantly shorter lives. However, of all the Gymnogeophagus species collected from the Paraná River basin area, Geophagus Balzanii is by far the most heat-hardy. Geophagus Balzanii do well in aquariums of at least 30 gallons in size, with 75 gallons or more being more suitable for full sized adults. They will appreciate aquarium conditions that at least somewhat replicate their natural habitat. In order to make them feel at home in the aquarium environment hobbyists should provide: good water flow, sand or fine gravel substrate, submerged wood, rocky formations, some plants, areas of filtered or subdued lighting and peaceful to semi-aggressive tank mates. Like many fish who spend much of their time on the aquarium substrate either feeding or resting, they are susceptible to bacteria infections if too much organic waste is allowed to build up on the aquarium substrate. Insufficient water flow, which leads to a lack of mechanical filtration can allow waste to build up on the substrate and between rocks and then decay lowering water quality. This is an all too common occurrence at the aquarium substrate level of many tanks, as many freshwater aquariums lack sufficient water flow to keep solid waste suspended in the water column and removed by aquarium filtration equipment. Despite only reaching around 8" in length for males and 6" for females, Geophagus Balzanii are tall, thick fish when it reaches maturity. Their adult size, need for swimming room and the fact that they will most likely be kept with other fish, means that while they can start life in a smaller aquarium like a 30 gallon, they should ultimately be kept in a 75 gallon or larger aquarium as an adult. As is the case with most fish species, keeping them in too small of an aquarium or in poor water conditions will increase their aggression towards their tank mates, make them more susceptible to disease and decrease their lifespan. They will do well with a variety of tank mates; however, they are best suited to be kept with hardy community fish species or Cichlids with peaceful to moderately aggressive temperaments. When kept in community aquariums they make for an interesting contrast to smaller schooling Barbs and Tetras, adding size diversity to the tank. When kept in Cichlid aquariums a group of Geophagus Balzanii can act somewhat like a dither fish in keeping more aggressive Cichlids from trying to create vast territories within the tank, while also providing useful clean up duties sifting through the aquarium substrate for leftover food items. Geophagus Balzanii are less aggressive that most other Geophagus species, thus don't do well when kept with other larger more aggressive Geophagus species in average sized aquariums. Advanced hobbyists who have a large aquarium with the right mixture of fish and decor can often make it workout to keep Geophagus Balzanii with other Geophagus species; however, this is on a case by case basis and will often require the hobbyist to make adjustments in fish stocking and aquarium aquascaping to make things work out. In nature Geophagus Balzanii feed primarily as a sand sifter grazing along the bottom and sifting out meaty foods and plant matter from the sandy bottom streams and tributaries in which they inhabit. However, they will certainly eat food floating in the water column if the opportunity presents itself. In the aquarium environment, they will feed on flake foods and pellets as the sink through the water column, and then sift through the aquarium substrate looking for any leftover food items. They should be fed a varied diet of high quality flake, pellet, freeze-dried or frozen foods designed for freshwater omnivores. They will also relish blood worms, chopped earth worms or other similar items. Ideally they should be kept in aquariums with a medium to fine substrate to allow them plenty of sand sifting grazing opportunities. Gymnogeophagus Balzanii form monogamous mating pairs and like many South American cichlid species are initially substrate spawner's; however, after spawning the female will pick up the eggs in her mouth in a form of delayed mouth brooding. After identifying a suitable location, the pair will clear out a small pit in the substrate in which to deposit and fertilize their eggs. Both parents will diligently guard the fry after they hatch, at which point the female will closely guard the them while the male stands guard in the general vicinity which he considers his territory. Delayed mouth brooding give the Gymnogeophagus Balzanii a leg up over simple substrate spawning Cichlids, as it greatly enhances the survival rate of the fry. Here the female takes the eggs into her mouth as soon as they are fertilized, or sometimes just before the eggs hatch. This breeding mode allows the male to mate with several females and leave the female to provide parental care alone. The male is thus free to breed with other females and guard his territory. The young fry will take shelter in their parents’ mouths when threatened. The “threatened” signal for the fry to take refuge in the parent’s mouth seems to be a dark visual circle, visible in the parents’ open mouth. Hobbyists who wish to breed this species should separate a mated pair into their own 30 to 40 gallon aquarium where they can both mate and raise their fry.
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Golden Cobra Snakehead
(Channa aurantimaculata) Easy Aggressive 16" 90 gallons 68-82° F, pH 6.0-7.5, dH 5-20 Carnivore India Channidae Snakeheads Cichlid-New-World The Golden Cobra Snakehead (Channa aurantimaculata) is a species of Channidae originating from India, but now also being bred by commercial fish breeders. The moderate size and brilliant coloration has quickly made this species a popular specimen within the aquarium hobby. In terms of snakeheads, the Golden Cobra Snakehead is more likely to coexist with Cichlids, Bichir or Catfish as their max size and temperament are more manageable than larger more aggressive snakehead species like the Northern Snakehead or Red Snakehead. Golden Cobra Snakeheads have very few aquarium requirements as they are actually very tolerant of a wide variety of water conditions and tank decor. However, like other members of their genus they require access to atmospheric air as they breath through a primitive lung known as the suprabranchial organ. This means that they must have access to the surface in order to breath, and that they would drown if denied this access. Breathing through a lung does mean that the Golden Cobra Snakehead can tolerate low oxygen level environments as they do not utilize oxygen from the water column. In terms of water conditions and aquarium decor Golden Cobra Snakeheads have very few specific requirements. They can live in water temperatures as low as 60 degrees and as warm as 84 degrees, but prefer water temps in the mid 70s. In terms of aquarium they simply need an aquarium large enough to allow them open swimming area and ideally some floating or taller vegetation in which to seek cover if required. Tank mates should only include larger Cichlid species, Bichir or Catfish that are large enough to not be considered a food source. Golden Cobra Snakeheads should be able to handle their own with other aggressive fish species. Hobbyists may from time to time come across a Golden Cobra Snakehead that is too aggressive to be kept with tank mates; however, they are generally able to live in larger aquariums with other large aggressive fish species. The Golden Cobra Snakehead is a carnivorous species that will accept a wide range of meaty foods. Aquarium specimens are typically fed foods like: prawns, lancefish, silver sides, mussels and other similar items. They can also be fed feeder fish like goldfish; however, a diet of goldfish alone does not provide all the nutrition they require to maintain a healthy immune system. Feed an amount of food that the fish will consume within a few minutes and adjust feeding frequency based on the overall girth of the fish and desired growth rate.
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Blue Balloon Ram
2 likes Rams
(Microgeophagus ramirezi) Intermediate to Expert Peaceful 3" 20 gallons 76-82° F, KH 1-8, pH 5.0-6.8 Omnivore Farm raised, selective breeding Cichlidae Rams Cichlid-New-World The Blue Balloon Ram or as it is also called the Blue Angel Ram, is a selective bred variant of the German Blue Ram. Which is a color variant of the original wild Ram. The Blue Balloon Ram is a selectively bred variant which focuses on altering the body of the Ram to be taller, shorter and more stout the otherwise more stream lined standard Ram body. Since Rams have a relatively short natural life span of a little over 2 years, they mature from juveniles to adults rather quickly. The short lifespan of this species is also a factor when selecting individuals for purchase as the larger more colorful specimens tend to be older individuals. Older specimens also go through a form of menopause where they no will no longer spawn, thus hobbyists looking to breed need to select young specimens. Blue Balloon Rams are generally considered to be an expert level only fish species due to their rather specific water parameter requirements. Rams require soft acidic water with very stable pH and water temperatures. However, with more and more Rams being farm raised and selectively bred in aquarium conditions, they are slowly becoming more tolerant of a wider range of water parameters. While their small size makes them suitable for smaller aquariums (20 gallons), it is generally easier to maintain more consistent water parameters in larger aquariums. Blue Balloon Rams also do better in groups of 5 to 10 individual Rams than as a single specimen or a pair, thus they will need a reasonably sized aquarium (30 gallon plus) to properly support the group. Rams require excellent water quality with a low TDS (total dissolved solids), along with solid biological, mechanical and chemical filtration. This is usually achieved by using a canister filter that is sized for the next larger aquarium than the one being used to house the Rams. Weekly partial water changes are also good at keeping TDS low and overall water quality high. Keeping them in heavily planted aquariums is also an effective, as plants readily remove ammonia and nitrate from the aquarium as they use it as a food source. Rams are best housed in groups of 5 or more individuals, as they would live in social groups in the wild. While they are peaceful towards other tank mates, they fight amongst themselves to establish a group hierarchy. Larger groups of fish help to spread out their in-fighting, which makes it easier on the group as a whole. They prefer aquariums with a sand, gravel or mixed substrate, plenty of plants and driftwood. Rocks, live plants and driftwood also work to create territory within the aquarium so that individuals can establish their own space within the tank. As the Blue Balloon Ram is a selectively bred farm raised species, thus they are very used to consuming commercially processed flake and pellet foods. They are generally considered aggressive feeders, who will eagerly swim to the aquarium glass as the hobbyist approaches in anticipation of being fed. As with most fish species, it is best to feed them a variety of food items in order to provide the necessary vitamins and minerals to support a healthy immune system. Meaty flakes, mini-pellets, freeze-dried worms and frozen brine and mysis shrimp are ideal. They should be fed a couple times per day and amount that they will consume within five minutes.
Electric Blue Balloon Ram
1 like Rams
(Microgeophagus ramirezi) Intermediate to Expert Peaceful 3" 20 gallons 76-82° F, KH 1-8, pH 5.0-6.8 Omnivore Farm raised, selective breeding Cichlidae Rams Cichlid-New-World The Electric Blue Balloon Ram or as it is also called the Electric Blue Angel Ram, is a selective bred variant of the Electric Blue Ram. Which is a color variant that has become very popular within the hobby, even though it is slightly more difficult to keep than its wild-type cousin. The Electric Blue Balloon Ram is a selectively bred variant which focuses on altering the body of the Ram to be taller, shorter and more stout the otherwise more stream lined standard Ram body. Since Rams have a relatively short natural life span of a little over 2 years, they mature from juveniles to adults rather quickly. The short lifespan of this species is also a factor when selecting individuals for purchase as the larger more colorful specimens tend to be older individuals. Older specimens also go through a form of menopause where they no will no longer spawn, thus hobbyists looking to breed need to select young specimens. Electric Blue Balloon Rams are generally considered to be an expert level only fish species due to their rather specific water parameter requirements. Rams require soft acidic water with very stable pH and water temperatures. However, with more and more Rams being farm raised and selectively bred in aquarium conditions, they are slowly becoming more tolerant of a wider range of water parameters. While their small size makes them suitable for smaller aquariums (20 gallons), it is generally easier to maintain more consistent water parameters in larger aquariums. Electric Blue Balloon Rams also do better in groups of 5 to 10 individual Rams than as a single specimen or a pair, thus they will need a reasonably sized aquarium (30 gallon plus) to properly support the group. Rams require excellent water quality with a low TDS (total dissolved solids), along with solid biological, mechanical and chemical filtration. This is usually achieved by using a canister filter that is sized for the next larger aquarium than the one being used to house the Rams. Weekly partial water changes are also good at keeping TDS low and overall water quality high. Keeping them in heavily planted aquariums is also an effective, as plants readily remove ammonia and nitrate from the aquarium as they use it as a food source. Rams are best housed in groups of 5 or more individuals, as they would live in social groups in the wild. While they are peaceful towards other tank mates, they fight amongst themselves to establish a group hierarchy. Larger groups of fish help to spread out their in-fighting, which makes it easier on the group as a whole. They prefer aquariums with a sand, gravel or mixed substrate, plenty of plants and driftwood. Rocks, live plants and driftwood also work to create territory within the aquarium so that individuals can establish their own space within the tank. As the Electric Blue Balloon Ram is a selectively bred farm raised species, thus they are very used to consuming commercially processed flake and pellet foods. They are generally considered aggressive feeders, who will eagerly swim to the aquarium glass as the hobbyist approaches in anticipation of being fed. As with most fish species, it is best to feed them a variety of food items in order to provide the necessary vitamins and minerals to support a healthy immune system. Meaty flakes, mini-pellets, freeze-dried worms and frozen brine and mysis shrimp are ideal. They should be fed a couple times per day and amount that they will consume within five minutes.
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German Gold Ram
3 likes Rams
(Microgeophagus ramirezi) Expert Peaceful 3" 20 Gallons 76-84° F, KH 1-8, pH 5.0-6.8 Omnivore Farm raised, selective breeding Cichlidae Rams New World Cichlid Aquarium The German Gold Ram is a selectively bred variant of the common Wild Ram, in which breeders have accentuated the natural gold coloration. While Wild Rams (Mikrogeophagus ramirezi) are endemic to the Orinoco River basin, in the savannas of Venezuela and Colombia in South America, the selectively bred German Gold Ram is raised in fish farms in Germany, Southeast Asia, Israel and North America. Their natural habitat is warm (25.5-29.5 °C, 78-85 °F), acidic (pH 4.5-6.8) with slow flowing waters, containing very few dissolved minerals, and ranging in color from clear to darkly stained with tannins. Wild Rams are typically found where cover from the heavily vegetated shoreline or fallen or submerged trees and tree roots provide them with shelter from larger predatory species, while offering plenty of feeding opportunities with micro-crustaceans and insect larvae. Juvenile specimens tend to be a little bit dull or transparent in color, but will quickly "color up" as they mature into adults. Since Rams have a relatively short natural life span of about 2 years, they mature from juveniles to adults rather quickly. The short lifespan of this species is also a factor when selecting individuals for purchase as the larger more colorful specimens tend to be older individuals. Older specimens also go through a form of menopause where they no will no longer spawn, thus hobbyists looking to breed need to select young specimens. German Gold Rams are generally considered to be an expert level only fish species due to their rather specific water parameter requirements. Wild Rams require soft acidic water with very stable pH and water temperatures; however, selectively bred farm raised species like the German Gold Ram are more flexible on water parameters. While farmed raised specimens are more tolerant of water parameters, they do require excellent water conditions. While their small size makes them suitable for smaller aquariums (20 gallons), it is generally easier to maintain more consistent water parameters in larger aquariums. They do best in groups of 5 to 10 individuals as opposed to a single specimen or a pair; however, an established or mated pair will also do well together. Keeping a group of Rams requires a reasonably sized aquarium (30 gallon plus) to properly support the group. Rams require excellent water quality with a low TDS (total dissolved solids), along with solid biological, mechanical and chemical filtration. High quality water conditions are usually achieved by using a canister filter, sump filter or high-end power filter that is sized for the next larger aquarium than the one being used to house the Rams. Weekly partial water changes are also good at keeping TDS low and overall water quality high. Rams are best housed in groups of 5 or more individuals, as they would live in social groups in the wild. While they are peaceful towards other tank mates, they fight amongst themselves to establish a group hierarchy. Larger groups of fish help to spread out their in-fighting, which makes it easier on the group as a whole. They prefer aquariums with a sand, gravel or mixed substrate, plenty of plants and driftwood. Rocks, live plants and driftwood also work to create territory within the aquarium so that individuals can establish their own space within the tank. As the German Gold Ram is a selectively bred farm raised species, they are very used to consuming commercially processed flake and pellet foods. They are generally considered aggressive feeders, who will eagerly swim to the aquarium glass as the hobbyist approaches in anticipation of being fed. As with most fish species, it is best to feed them a variety of food items in order to provide the necessary vitamins and minerals to support a healthy immune system. Meaty flakes, mini-pellets, freeze-dried worms and frozen brine and mysis shrimp are ideal for German Blue Rams. They should be fed a couple times per day and amount that they will consume within five minutes. German Gold Rams once they are sexually mature will form monogamous pairs prior to any spawning activity. Generally the first signs of spawning activity is that the male Ram will aggressively keep any other male Rams away from his female and their preferred spawning location. In general the mated pair will become very intolerant of other Rams or similarly sized and shaped fish species in their desired spawning location. Typically Rams will spawn on flat rock surfaces, smooth flat wood surfaces or in small depressions that they will dig in the substrate. Like many Cichlids, Ram Cichlids practice bi-parental brood care, with both the male and the female playing roles in caring for the eggs and defending their spawning territory. They will typically produce a clutch of between 125 to 325 eggs, though larger clutches have been reported. The parents will watch over the eggs, defend against fish trying to eat the eggs and fan the eggs with their fins if they determine there is insufficient water flow or improper temperature near the nest. After about 40 to 48 hours, the eggs will hatch into larvae, who will not be free-swimming for approximately 5 days. After which the parents will escort the dense school of babies to areas of the aquarium to forage on micro fauna, insect larvae or other micro foods.
Spotted Severum
2 likes Severum
(Heros notatus) Easy Semi-aggressive 12" 50 gallons 72-84° F, KH 4-10, pH 5.5-7.0 Omnivore Amazon Basin, Rio Negro, Brazil Cichlidae Severum Cichlid-New-World Spotted Severum (Heros notatus) are native to the blackwater streams and tributaries of Rio Negro basin and surrounding areas of northern Brazil. Their native river habitat is considered a blackwater biotope, as the aquatic environment in these areas has water that is stained brown from tree root and decaying leaf matter, along with filtered lighting due to the sun being heavily blocked by the thick jungle canopy. While the rivers and larger tributaries often have fast flowing waters, Spotted Severum are usually found living on marginal areas of the water ways in and amongst submerged tree root and dense aquatic vegetation. The Spotted Severum can be considered a community Cichlid species, as the combination of their mild temperament and larger size allows them to be kept with a wide variety of Cichlid species and even larger community fish species such as barbs, larger characins and larger sharks and loaches. They can also hold their own with semi-aggressive to aggressive Cichlid species like Oscars, Jack Dempsey, Pike Cichlids and other similar larger predators. Keep in mind that the Spotted Severum despite having a good temperament, will eat smaller fish that they can fit in their mouth and will be seen as food themselves by very large predators like large Snakehead, Arapaima or even very large Peacock Bass. An aquarium of around 50 gallons should be considered a minimum size aquarium for Spotted Severum, with a pair of Severum needing an aquarium closer to 75 gallons, or if multiple tank mates are added. They ideally prefer a fine sand or small smooth gravel substrate as they will scoop sand with their mouths looking for food items. They will also greatly prefer a tank with plenty of structures for shelter, like driftwood, rocky piles, rock formations, cave-like structures and either live or fake plants. Live plants are greatly appreciated, but do not always last long unless a prolific species is used (Anacharis, Cabomba, Hornwort); although omnivorous they have a sweet tooth for live plants and vegetables. High quality biological, chemical, and mechanical filtration is recommended, as they are Cichlids who with thick bodies and larger food consumption, will put out a fair amount of waste products into the water. They prefer water that is slightly acidic and soft, with a pH of 5.5 to 7.0 and a hardness of up to 10°H. Lighting intensity is not an issue; however, to best replicate their native environment some areas of shade or diffused lighting will be appreciated. This can be achieved through floating plants, thick vegetation or larger rocky cave structures. Spotted Severum are omnivorous, who eat a variety of foods including: insects, small crustaceans and vegetable matter present in their natural habitat. They have a tendency to prefer a lot of vegetable matter and will accept peas, lettuce, chopped zucchini, and chopped cucumber; they should also be supplemented with a variety of meaty and vitamin enriched foods such as live, frozen or freeze-dried ghost shrimp, bloodworms, mealworms, earthworms, crickets, and nutritional cichlid and algae (Spirulina) based pellets. They will also do very well with quality stable pellet or stick foods designed for Cichlids and omnivores. It is best to feed between one to three times daily an amount of food they will consume within a few minutes. As the Spotted Severum is not seen for sale nearly as much other Severum species, it is believed that they are not being successfully bred in large numbers with commercial fish breeders. Most specimens commonly found within the trade are imported wild caught specimens or juvenile specimens from boutique or hobbyist breeders. Hobbyists looking to breed Spotted Severum (Heros notatus) will most likely find the most difficult aspect being the acquisition of a group of individuals, from which over time a mating pair can emerge. Beyond establishing a mating pair, providing a proper habitat and maintaining water conditions conducive to stimulating breeding, other aspects of breeding should be fairly common to other Severum species. In general breeding Severum is not overly difficult, but they can often take quite a while to pair up. The parents will look for a cave or a flat rock surface or section of driftwood and the female will lay between 200-800 eggs; the male will fertilize them and then the female will tend to the eggs while the male patrols the perimeter. The eggs will hatch in 3-5 days and the fry will be relocated to a pre-dugout pit area in the substrate. The fry will be free-swimming within a week and then able to accept finely crushed flake food and baby brine shrimp. As with other Severum species, it may take a while for the breeding pair to get it right and it is common for the parents to eat the fry at various stages for the first dozen or so attempts. They will eventually sort things out and get it right, but the fry could also be removed and raised if continuous failed attempts are excessive.
Red Texas Cichlid
(Herichthys sp.) Moderate Aggressive 12" 75 gallons 68-84° F, KH 5-15, pH 6.0-7.6 Omnivore Selective breeding, Asian fish farms Cichlidae Texas Cichlids Cichlid-New-World The Red Texas Cichlid is a hybrid fish that was developed by the cross breeding of Flowerhorn Cichlid (Cichlasoma sp.) and Texas Cichlid (Herichthys cyanoguttatus), thus does not exist in the wild. In a sense the Red Texas Cichlid is a second generation hybrid, as the Flowerhorn Cichlid with which it is cross bred is already a hybrid produced by cross breeding the Trimac Cichlid with other various Central American Cichlids. As Flowerhorn cross breeding began in the mid 80s, they have since been bred with multiple other species and line bred for coloration and pattern, which has made them almost indistinguishable from their wild origins. While Flowerhorn Cichlids are well established with various strains of reproducible colors and patterns, the Red Texas Cichlid is in a much earlier stage of its development. Because of this the overall quality of each fish varies widely between individual specimens, which means only a few specimens grow to exhibit the brilliant red and black colorations that are so highly sought after. The rarity of species with the brilliant red show coloration and the scarcity of their availability in the aquarium hobby has meant that their price is often quite expensive and can vary wildly between various aquarium stores. While high quality show specimens are a rare find, aquarium stores will often have fry or juvenile Red Texas Cichlid which while a gamble, may turn out to be an attractive fish. While most fish will never develop the brilliant full body red coloration, and will instead have a large number of black spots on their body making them more black than red. However, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and many of the red, black and pearl fleck specimens while not show quality turn out to be very attractive and rewarding fish. Red Texas Cichlid should be housed in a aquarium of at least 75 gallons, with 125 gallons or larger being recommended for multiple specimens. Their environment should have a sand or fine gravel substrate, should contain an adequate amount of rock caves or pieces of driftwood to hide among and use as territory. If live plants are used, make sure they are either secured to driftwood, rock, or planted in pots below the substrate as they will either be shredded or relocated. Light intensity is not an issue, although the species prefers to have the option for shade it its disposal. Red Texas Cichlids are hardy in nature, but are messy eaters and can be sensitive to high levels of nitrates; they should be provided with strong and efficient biological, mechanical, and chemical filtration in order to ensure clean water conditions and keep nitrate levels down. When keeping large Cichlids like these, hobbyists will generally need to perform regular water changes even when using a good filtration system. Aggression is a serious consideration when keeping Red Texas Cichlids as they are considerable more aggressive than other Texas Cichlids (Herichthys cyanoguttatus). When planning tank mates for this species, it is best to think of the Red Texas Cichlid as a Flowerhorn Cichlid rather than as Texas Cichlid. They should only be kept with other large robust semi-aggressive to aggressive fish species in a suitably large aquarium. Keeping Red Texas Cichlid in a community of large Cichlid will mean that a 6 to 8 foot long tank is a minimum with something along the lines of an 8 foot 240 gallon to 300 gallon being recommended. While they require a large aquarium if you are going to house them with other Cichlids, they can be kept alone in tanks as small as 75 gallons. Aggression varies by individual (as with most Cichlids) and until they grow to be larger (at least 6 inches), they unlikely to display much aggression towards other tank mates. However, as they grow they will attempt to control territory within the aquarium unless there is already a dominant fish within the aquarium or the tank is over crowded preventing any one fish from dominating. Compatible tank mates are usually other aggressive Cichlids such as Oscars, Jaguar Cichlids, and Jack Dempsey, large Catfish, large dither fish species and Robust Plecostomus variants are also a good choice as they are naturally armored and not usually perceived as a threat. The Red Texas Cichlid is an omnivore and naturally eats worms, insects, small invertebrates, and plant matter in the wild. However, they are not picky eaters and will easily adjust to a wide variety of commercial fish foods. It is best to provide a varied diet of commercial foods with live foods being reserved as a treat or supplemental feeding, this will ensure good health and contribute to coloration intensity. Suitable commercial foods include: live, frozen, or freeze-dried krill, ghost shrimp, crickets, worms, as well as vitamin-enriched, omnivore oriented flake, pellet and stick food items. Feed one or twice daily an amount the fish will consume within a few minutes. Young fish should be fed more often in order to support their natural growth cycle, adult fish will do well to be fed once or twice a day. Always keep an eye on the overall girth of the fish and adjust feeding accordingly if it appears to be too thin or appears overweight.
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Azul Peacock Bass
(Cichla piquiti) Moderate Aggressive 29" 350 gallons 76-84° F, KH 5-15, pH 5.0-7.5 Carnivore Native to South America, Colombia, Venezuela, Guianas & Brazil Cichlidae Peacock Bass Cichlid-New-World Azul Peacock Bass (Cichla piquiti) are native to the rivers and tributaries of northern South America in Colombia, Venezuela, Guianas & Brazil. They have also been introduced to areas outside of their native habitat including: Florida, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Singapore. Key characteristics to look for to positively ID Cichla piquiti include: grayish brown body color, bluish coloration on fins, vertical dark bars throughout the length of the body and yellow dots along with a eye-spot on their tail fin. Cichla piquiti are very fast growers, who will grow quickly to about 16 to 18 inches in length and then over time depending on food source, water condition and tank size, reach an eventual adult length of upwards of 29 inches. They are a very fast swimming and boisterous species that will hit prey items (even pellet foods) with amazing force that can startle other tank mates and their human owners alike. Despite the aggression they show towards their prey, they are not considered to be that aggressive towards other suitably sized tank mates. The reason size is so critical is that tank mates that are not at least half as large as the Azul Peacock Bass will usually be reguarded as prey. So despite not being too aggressive towards tank mates, their shear size and fast, burst ambush style feeding behavior make Azul Peacocks a poor choice to keep with timid fish species, who may find aquarium life with an Azul difficult. Azul Peacock Bass are ambush hunters who navigate their native river and tributary waters in search of prey both above and below the waters surface. Their native waters are very warm year round with temperatures reaching upwards of 86° when the sun is at its peak, and with nighttime temperatures still hovering around the 76° to 80° mark. The water conditions of their natural habitat are acidic with a pH range of 5.0 to 6.5 and a water hardness between 5 to 15 dH; as well as, moderate flow and a large volume of water passing down river daily. Cichla have evolved perfectly for their environment with color patterns enabling them to blend into their environment, long sleek bodies and powerful pectoral and anal fins, which they use to maintain ambush positions in flowing river waters and ambush prey. Azul Peacock Bass are available within the aquarium hobby despite the Brazilian government banning their export from many locations; however, their size, pattern, coloration and aggressive feeding habits have made them highly sought after with aquarium hobbyists interested in keeping larger New World Cichlid species. As the popularity of Peacock Bass in general has grown within the aquarium hobby, breeders have been busy with propagating Cichla to fill the demand. Unfortunately most breeders do not attempt to maintain the pureness of each species and instead cross breed multiple species of Peacock Bass which has led to an abundance of hybrids being sold to aquarium hobbyists. When keeping Azul Peacock Bass in an aquarium environment, it is important to account for their large size, feeding habits and aggressive nature. Azul Peacock Bass come from river ways that have a constant flow of fresh water which keeps oxygen levels high and nutrient levels low. Peacock Bass have become accustomed to an environment with high quality water with low levels of pollutants and high levels of oxygen. Peacock Bass aquariums need to replicate this environment through strong mechanical, chemical and biological filtration along with medium water movement. Peacock Bass are large fish that eat equally large meals, thus excellent filtration is required to remove the excess food and waste products produced from such a large species. The adult size of the Azul Peacock Bass is also an important factor in choosing the right aquarium to house them, with the size and shape of the aquarium being very important. Adult sizes range from around 26 to 28 inches in length, thus it is important to provide an aquarium that is long enough and wide enough from front to back to allow the Peacock Bass to swim and turn around comfortably. An aquarium of 6 to 8 feet in length and 3 feet from front to back should be considered as minimum aquarium size for an adult specimen, while smaller specimens can be raised in smaller aquariums if they are moved to larger tanks as they grow. The aquarium decor should be designed to provide plenty of swimming room, while also providing some areas of cover using driftwood, floating or well rooted plants and rocks with a sandy or gravel substrate. Tank mates are an important consideration when housing adult Peacock Bass with other New World Cichlids due to their large size and aggressive temperament. A good rule of thumb is that anything that can fit in the mouth of the Peacock Bass eventually will. Tank mates should consist of other large aggressive New World Cichlids, large Catfish species and freshwater rays. Safe tank mates should be roughly at least half the size of the Azul Peacock Bass to be sure that they will not be seen as a food source. Azul Peacock Bass can be kept as the only Peacock Bass species or mixed with other species of Peacock Bass. When kept in a suitably large aquarium, they will do well in good sized groups and will work out a dominance structure among themselves, which will lower aggression between fish once their social hierarchy is in place. Wild Peacock Bass feed on a wide variety of live foods living in their river ecosystem, which include: insects, smaller fish, worms, crustaceans and amphibians. Azul Peacock Bass kept within the aquarium environment will readily feed on the same variety of live foods that they feed on in nature, but it is often more desirable to ween them off of live foods. Live foods are typically more expensive, require holding facilities, more frequent trips to the aquarium store, can bring diseases and can create excess pollution in the aquarium water. Hobbyists generally ween their Peacock Bass to commercial food preparations in order to simplify their care and avoid the pitfalls or live foods. However, it is not uncommon for Peacock Bass enthusiasts who have weened their fish to commercial foods to provide the occasional live feeding to enjoy the prey drive and aggressive feeding technique of the Peacock Bass. Suitable commercial foods for Peacock Bass include: blood worms, pellet foods, food sticks, frozen meaty foods like krill, silver sides or similar fare. Peacock Bass will also consume a variety of dead meaty foods like raw shrimp, raw fish and other meaty items. Individual specimens will often have their own preferences, with some specimens eating most anything while others will be more picky about their diet.
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Cockatoo Dwarf Cichlid
(Apistogramma cacatuoides) Moderate Semi-aggressive 3" 30 gallons 64-78° F, KH 2-15, pH 5.0-7.0 Carnivore Peru, Colombia, Brazil, Asian Farm Raised Cichlidae Apistogramma Cichlid-New-World Originally collected from clear water streams throughout Peru, Colombia and Brazil, the Cockatoo Dwarf Cichlid (Apistogramma cacatuoides) is now due to its popularity with the aquarium hobby mostly raised in Asian fish farms. Unlike many South American Cichlid species that originate from blackwater, low pH habitats, the Cockatoo Dwarf Cichlid originates from small white water and clear water streams and shallow lakes that form during the rainy season. Their natural habitat consists of shallow waters that are much more susceptible to both pH and water temperature fluctuations, than the larger rivers and flood plains that many Cichlids come from. This tolerance for a range of pH and water temperature parameters helps to make Apistogramma cacatuoides excellent candidates for aquarium life. However, as with most all tropical fish species, changes in water parameters should occur gradually and not subject the fish to extreme shifts in water conditions. While Cockatoo Dwarf Cichlids are popular within the hobby due to their ease of care and willingness to adapt to aquarium life, most hobbyists choose to keep them for their unique engaging personalities and brilliant finnage coloration. The popularity of the Cockatoo Dwarf Cichlid has led to them being primarily raised in fish farms as opposed to being collected in the wild. This was done primarily to supply the demand for the species, but has also led to line-breeding of the fish in order to accentuate the bright red and orange of their dorsal fins. The end result of this is that the Cockatoo Dwarf Cichlids now found within the hobby have much more brightly colored finnage (especially the dorsal fin) than their wild cousins. A displaying male specimen will undoubtedly catch the eye of even the most selective of hobbyist. Ideally, hobbyists should keep Cockatoo Dwarf Cichlids in environments that are similar to their native habitats and provide the fish with a sense of security. In the case of Apistogramma Cichlids, who live primarily in the lower regions of the aquarium, they will appreciate an aquarium that has a larger footprint or breeder style tank. Suitable substrates include sand, gravel or a mix of the two, with areas of rocky caves or crevices, driftwood or wood root and a mix of plants that include some mid-ground to foreground plants like Anubias or Java Fern. Despite most Cockatoo Dwarf Cichlid specimens now being farm raised these days, they do come from waters that have dense vegetation and constant flow which keep nutrient levels and nitrate at a minimum. Thus it is best to provide good nutrient export either via live plants, partial water changes or ideally both. It is this constant water flow and dense vegetation of their native habitat that has shaped the social structure of this species, with dense populations of fish living in a relatively small area. Apistogramma cacatuoides kept in larger groups will coexist well with one other; however, large groups of fish, even 3 inch long fish, require a fairly large aquarium (75 gallons or more) to do well and thrive. The benefit to keeping large groups of Dwarf Cichlids is that they will exhibit little to no aggression towards each other, as no single individual will be able to establish its own territory. However, they are more commonly kept in small groups along with other fish species in planted or community aquariums. In this case it is best to keep a single male and a group of females in order to not have aggression problems between a dominant male and the sub-dominant males specimens. This aggression with sub-dominant Apistogramma is similar to the aggression that other Cichlid species exhibit towards one another when kept in small groups. Water flow and dissolved oxygen are also important factors when keeping Apistogramma Cichlids, as their native river habitats have good amounts of water flow and high levels of dissolved oxygen. Hobbyists will want to have a good amount of water flow within the aquarium, either via a canister filter return, spray bar or a dedicated powerhead positioned to agitate the surface of the water and create higher levels of dissolved oxygen. The Cockatoo Dwarf Cichlid like other Apistogramma Cichlids is carnivore that feed primarily on insects, insect larvae, small crustaceans and small worms in their native environment. They are not picky eaters and will accept a wide variety of foods, but they do best in the aquarium environment when fed a variety of frozen and freeze-dried commercial foods like blood worms, brine shrimp, krill, tubifex worms and other similar meaty items. They can also be offered high quality carnivore flakes and mini pellets intended for freshwater carnivores. It is not recommended to feed only flake or pellet foods as this will typically lead to more a more faded coloration and will often lack all the nutrients and minerals required to maintain a healthy immune system. It is best to feed smaller meals 2 to 3 times per day. Apistogramma cacatuoides will also readily consume live foods like small worms, brine shrimp, daphnia and other similar items. Apistogramma cacatuoides are egg layers, with the female typically finding a suitable rocky cave or crevice in which to deposit her eggs. However, specimens in the aquarium environment will also utilize clay pots and even PVC tubes as a place to deposit their eggs. Hobbyists wanting to breed the Cockatoo Dwarf Cichlid should either pair up a male specimen with a small group of females or keep a group of males and females together and wait for one of the males to establish dominance over the others, then removing the sub-dominant males in order to avoid them being beaten up or killed. The aquarium housing the dominant male and his harem of females should contain enough caves or cave like structures so that each female has her own. The cave openings should not face one another, and should be staggered around the aquarium enough to break up the line of sight and give each female some privacy from the others. Ideally other aquarium decor like driftwood and/or plants should be used as well to prevent infighting within the harem. The male will court the females though a dance like motion during which he will display brilliant coloration and erect, brightly colored finnage. After successfully catching the attention of one of the females, the male will follow the female to her chosen cave where she will lay her eggs on the cave wall or ceiling and the male will fertilize the eggs. In larger aquariums, 40 to 75 gallons males will breed with multiple females; however, in smaller 15 to 20 gallon aquariums it is usually best to remove the other specimens. The female will guard the fry constantly until they are free swimming juveniles and for several weeks thereafter. She will generally move them about the tank in an effort to sheppard them towards potential food sources like tiny crustaceans and insect larvae. Hobbyists will want to provide meaty items like newly hatched baby brine shrimp, finely crushed flake food or similar items. Java moss, sponge material or similar aquarium decor is an ideal place for young Apistogramma to pick at and graze on tiny foodstuffs.
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