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Evolutionary traits helped with mass extinction

Evolutionary traits

Lipochromis sp. “Matumbi hunter”. Photo by Greg Steeves

Normally evolutionary traits help species survive in their environments. Drastic changes in a species’ habitat can cause certain traits to become useless. In the case of Lake Victoria cichlids, the introduction of a new predator by humans caused the mass extinction of hundreds of species. The Nile perch is a fast growing and hungry predator quickly eliminated competition and preyed on any fish in the lake.

A new study points to certain evolutionary traits in cichlids that helped them before the introduction of the Nile perch, but quickly became a liability once this new competitor arrived. Cichlids developed jaws that allowed them to eat a variety of foods. According to the study, these same jaws were not suited to compete with the large mouth or the Nile perch. Unfortunately the publication is behind a paywall, but a summary can be found on the National Geographic website.

Chuco intermedium and Paratheraps melanurus video

A pair of Central American cichlids, Chuco intermedium and Paratheraps melanurus, face off in this short video.

Both of these species are quite beautiful and can reach sizes of 10 inches or larger. Just a single pair is stunning but looking at the video you can see this tank is full of these large fish. Chuco intermedium normally make their home in rivers but can be found in calmer lagoons. C. intermedium is not particularly aggressive but will defend its offspring and territory. On the other hand, Paratheraps melanurus lives in calmer waters of slow moving rivers or lakes. P. melanurus is a more aggressive species and care needs to be taken in selecting tankmates and providing adequate hiding areas. For discussion on both of these species visit the Central American Species forum.

Chuco intermedium

Chuco intermedium (left) and Paratheraps melanurus (right). Screen capture from nijlpaard63 video

You can check out other great videos by nijlpaard63 on Youtube.

Labrochromis ishmaeli from Lake Victoria

Labrochromis ishmaeli

Labrochromis ishmaeli. Photo by Greg Steeves

This rare snail-eating cichlid from Lake Victoria is not only rare in the hobby, but thought to be extinct in the wild. Often confused with Haplochromis sp. 44, Labrochromis ishmaeli is believed to have originally inhabited the sandy-bottom waters of Mwanza Gulf in southern Lake Victoria.

Due to the often muted colors of the males and the always plain females, this species never gained much popularity in the hobby. Anyone interested in keeping a rare cichlid that is probably extinct in the wild, Labrochromis ishmaeli is a must-get fish if the opportunity arises. This cichlids can reach almost 6 inches and is peaceful when not spawning. Keeping L. ishmaeli in a tank by themselves is recommended, especially if you hope to breed them. For more information about this species visit the Labrochromis ishmaeli article by Greg Steeves. Discussion can be done in the Lake Victoria Basin forum.

Neolamprologus signatus article

Neolamprologus signatus

Neolamprologus signatus. Photo by Dave Hansen

Packed with the personality of a whale, Neolamprologus signatus is a small shelldwelling cichlid from Lake Tanganyika. Shelldwellers make their home in empty Neothauma tanganyicense shells which they horde and bury for protection and to spawn. N. signatus males reach about 2.5 inches in length with the females half and inch shorter. Males have black barring on their flanks. Females lack the barring but display a pinkish spot over their abdomen.

A new Neolamprologus signatus article has been added to the library section of the site. In it you will find a brief description of this species along with some great photos. To discuss N. signatus, visit the Lake Tanganyika species forum. Additional shelldweller articles can be found in the Shelldweller Corner.

Fish health monitor at Blue Planet Aquarium

fish health monitor

Fish Health Monitor trial is being held at Blue Planet Aquarium

A new fish health monitor developed by Dr Lynne Sneddon at the University of Liverpool is being tested at the Blue Planet Aquarium in England. The system has been in place for two months monitoring fish movement to determine the overall health of the tanks inhabitants. Using cameras, the system monitors the aquarium’s inhabitants. Healthy fish movement has be programmed into the system and when it detects unhealthy movement, the staff is notified. Initially developed for use in the laboratory, this system has applications in large public aquariums. Maybe one day the fish health monitor will be available for home use with nothing more than a camera and home computer to monitor and alert us to possible health issues in our tanks. To read more about the monitor, visit PHYS.ORG.

Metriaclima sp. “mbweca” from Lake Malawi

Metriaclima sp

Metriaclima sp. “mbweca”. Photo by Dave Hansen

Originally belonging to the genus Cynotilapia, Metriaclima sp. “mbweca” was commonly found on price lists as “afra mbweca” or “green afra”. Like other Malawi mbuna, male M. sp. “mbweca” can be territorial and does best in groups of one male and multiple females. While dominant males can be aggressive toward conspecific males, they are not known for being as aggressive as other mbuna. M. sp. “mbweca” can be kept with a variety of other cichlid species. However, care should be taken to ensure that females of other species are not similar to M. sp. “mbweca” females. A short article on Metriaclima sp. “mbweca” by Nick Andreola can be found in the Library.

Aquascaping competition winners

A short video on the winners of the largest aquascaping competition.

Every year hobbyists from around the world create breathtaking aquascapes for the International Aquatic Plants Layout Contest. After watching the video, visit the Aqua Design Amano website to see pictures of the top 27 entries for 2015. This contest takes place every year and participants from around the world show off their best creations for this aquascaping competition. Winning entries for the last 15 years can also be found on the IAPLC website. To discuss aquascaping, check out the Aquarium Decoration forum.

aquascaping competition

International Aquatic Plants Layout Contest logo.

Chizumulu Island, Lake Malawi video

A great hour-long dive video in the waters off of Chizumulu Island in Lake Malawi.

For Malawi cichlid fans, the name Chizumulu should ring a bell. There are many species in the hobby today that were originally collected from around Chizumulu Island including mbuna, peacocks and haps. While many species of cichlids can be seen in this video, the vast majority are mbuna. If you are a fan of in the wild videos or mbuna, this video by Marc Boulton of African Cichlid Hub is fantastic. To discuss the many species around Chizumulu Island in Lake Malawi, visit the Lake Malawi Species forum.

Chizumulu Island

Labidochromis flavigulis. Chizumulu Island. Photo by Ad Konings

Test subjects up for adoption

test subjects

Photo by Chris Bowling; The Daily Nebraskan.

This article about cichlid test subjects up for adoption is about 10 days old, but there still might be some left. The Central American predatory cichlids were used to see how their presence would affect the development of platyfish. Once the study was over, about 70 cichlids were up for adoption at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. When the article was published on October 23rd, about half were still available. If you live in the area and are looking for some cichlids, you can inquire if some are still available by emailing basolo@unl.edu.

For more information on the study which used cichlids test subjects visit The Daily Nebraskan website.

Julidochromis dickfeldi “midnight blue” article

Julidochromis dickfeldi

Julidochromis dickfeldi “midnight blue”. Photo by Dave Hansen

What appears to be a random mutation led to a uniquely colored Julidochromis dickfeldi. Known in the hobby by a variety of names, but most commonly as “midnight blue”, this strain of J. dickfeldi appeared at least 10 years ago. It is said that the first generation of the fish came from a spawn of normal J. dickfeldi. All subsequent offspring from “midnight blue” pairs yielded the same mutation.

Just added to the library is a short species profile of my own experiences with Julidochromis dickfeldi “midnight blue”. If you’ve ever kept J. dickfeldi or Julidochromis in general, the “midnight blue” strain isn’t any different. A breeding pair forms and together both parents raise repeated generations of offspring. Bonds between Julidochromis are usually lifelong. Check out the species article titled Julidochromis dickfeldi “midnight blue” in the library. Discussion can be done in the Lake Tanganyika forum.

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