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Opthalmotilapia ventralis "Longola"

Opthalmotilapia ventralis  

Above Opthalmotilapia ventralis "Longola" Male. Photo by Rick Borstein. Video below.

General

Opthalmotilapia ventralis "Longola" is mouthbrooding cichlid from Lake Tanganyika first typed by Boulenger in 1898.

The genus Opthalmotilapia is one the genuses (the others are Cyathopharynx and Cunningtonia and sometimes Aulonocranus) which are commonly referred to as featherfins for their elongated pelvic fins. The pelvic fins act as egg dummies during the mating ceremony.

Opthalmotilapia ventralis is widely distributed in Lake Tanganyika and there is a considerable variation in markings and color between fish collected from various locations. Ad Koning's book Tanganyikan Cichlids in their Natural Habitat includes color photos of twenty-one different locations! Some males, particularly the southern variants are bright blue in coloration. Others are black, or nearly so, and the remainder have various blotches. Note that in the aquarium, the appearance of the fish will vary depending on the mood. When you catch these fish spawning, though, be prepared to be dazzled.

The "Longola" variant of Opthalmotilapia ventralis is readily available in the cichlid hobby at the present time. Longola males have an overall silvery blue base color with a nearly black swath across the chest of the fish. Coloration can be difficult to describe, but the fish is iridescent and can flash blue, gold or yellow depending on the light. Because of the yellow flash this location is sometimes referred to as Opthalmotilapia ventralis "Longola Sunflower". Females are drab by comparison. Males get up to about seven inches or so while females might get to an inch or two smaller.

Habitat

Opthalmotilapia ventralis "Longola" is found in the shallow, surge habitat of Lake Tanganyika, a rocky area that is generally less than three meters in depth.

Care

Opthalmotilapia ventralis "Longola" is probably not the best fish for a beginning cichlid keeper, but they are not difficult per se. This fish requires excellent quality water, so large, partial water changes are critical. Tanganyikans do best at consistent temperatures, too, so make sure you have a reliable heater. Finally, you will need a big tank to help avoid aggression.

Feeding

Opthalmotilapia ventralis "Longola" is an herbivorous fish, but in the aquarium they accept a wide variety of flake and pellet foods. Make sure that your food includes some vegetable and fiber content. I fed Dainichi Veggie Deluxe, NLS Spectrum and Extreme Cichlid pellets with the occasional treat of Repashy Spawn and Grow gel food.

Breeding

I obtained a group of five adult fish from fellow GCCA member Jason Libasci. I placed the group into a six foot, 125-gallon aquarium with a sand substrate. This tank was filtered by a large wet/dry filter and maintained at 78F.

Companions for my fish were a group of six, Sarotherodon carolinae and three Etroplus suratensis. These wildly different species pretty much ignored each other. Despite the fact that the Opthalmotilapia ventralis were quite a bit smaller, they seemed to be the most aggressive fish in the tank. Unfortunately, I lost two of the individuals for unknown reasons, but the remaining trio settled in quite nicely.

Although I witnessed courting behavior, I never saw a female holding. I made two changes in what would ultimately be a successful attempt to spawn this fish. First, I created a pile of stones and some plastic plants on one end of tank and added small stack of quarry tiles adjacent to it. Secondly, I began feeding Repashy Spawn and Grow (a gel food) which is great at conditioning fish. After a week of feeding Repashy food every other day, I did a large partial water change and the fish spawned immediately after.

Female Opthalmotilapia ventralis are not very reliable holders. If you see a female holding, do not feed the tank for a couple of days to get her accustomed to carrying the eggs. Afterwards, only feed the tank crushed flake food. The females will continue to eat while holding and will brood successfully while doing so provided you do not feed anything large like a pellet food. 

Brood sizes are small, but the eggs are very large, among the largest of any mouthbrooding cichlid species. In the spawns I observed, there were between nine and twelve eggs. I stripped the females at two weeks at which point they still had a very large egg sack. I moved the fry to 1-gallon holding tank with a sponge filter and about 10 days later most of the egg sack was gone. At this point, I began feeding a small amount of baby brine shrimp.

Curiously, the fry are not only large, they grow at an astonishing pace. At six weeks, it is not unusual to have fry which are 1.25 inches long! This is one of the few cichlid babies that will eat flake food at only 3 or 4 days old.

Retail Price

Opthalmotilapia ventralis "Longola" is not a fish you are likely to find at a pet shop unless the specialize in cichlids or have connections with local breeders. However, you can usually find  1.5 inch fish for $15 to $20 each on the internet. One source is Dave's Rare Fish.

Opthalmotilapia ventralis

Video

 

Report January 2015 by Rick Borstein

Apistogrammoides pucallpaensis

Apistogrammoides pucallpaensis

Above Apistogrammoides pucallpaensis Male. Photo by Mario Toromanovic. Video below.

General

Apistogrammoides pucallpaensis is the lone species in the Apistogrammoides genus and is closely related to genus Apistogramma. Apistogrammoides pucallpaensis was first described by Meinken in 1965.

In 1986 Kullander offered remarks on Meinken's work and both scientists agreed that there are four main differences that separate the Apistogrammoides and Apistogramma genuses. Among four differences, the most important is number of spines in the anal fin. Apistogrammoides has eight spines while Apistogramma typically have only three.

Apistogrammoides pucallpaensis is often called the T-bar cichlid in older aquarium literature. The common name comes from the dark lateral line forming a perpendicular with a vertical line at the caudal peduncle.

Etimology: Apisto = irregular or unreliable + gramma = line, means the lateral line which is often reduced. I suspect that the lateral line is formed weakly or irregularly + oides = similar, shall refer to the close relationship. pucallpaensis = after the locality, a stream in the surroundings of the city of Pucaullpa in Peru.

Habitat

Apistogrammoides pucallpaensis is fround near the the town of Pucallpa in Peru. It is also found along the Rio Ucayali and the Rio Amazonas to Leticia, Colombia. Habitats vary from small streams, to stagnant water, and the fish are usually found under cover of submersed plants and dead leaves.

Care

Prior to receiving new, wild caught specimens of Apistogrammoides pucallpaensis, I prepared my tanks to mimic water from their natural habitat. Unlike many Apistogramma species, Apistogrammoides pucallpaensis doesn’t need “extremely soft” water. Most of the water in their natural habitat is from Soft to Neutral range pH 7.0. With this in mind, I mixed prepared a mix of 50% regular tap water and 50% RO (reverse osmosis) water for the tank. Water parameters were pH 6.8, TDS between 70 to 150 ppm (parts per million), which is consider soft and I maintained temperature in the tank at around 79°F.

Feeding

Getting wild caught fish to eat is always a concern. I was very lucky that my wild caught Apistogrammoides pucallpaensis were already transitioned and readily accepted prepared food, such as flakes and pellets. They loved frozen food such as daphnia and brine shrimp. I also enjoyed watching them purse live black worms and small baby brine shrimp in the tank.

Breeding

I obtained two wild caught pairs of Apistogrammoides pucallpaensis from Ted Judy at TedsFishroom.com. Ted had imported many rare and hard to find fish from Peru at that time, and I was so happy to obtain new Apistogramma species. I placed both pairs in ten gallon heavily planted tank which contained numerous caves and hiding spaces. At first, I was not impressed with the fish. The fish exhibited no color, and all four of them were hid most of the time. After about two months, I noticed that my female had turned yellow and black. A male colored up as well and began chasing away the two other fish. At this point, I moved newly formed pair to five gallon tank with similar furnishings and water parameters.

About two weeks later, the pair of Apistogrammoides pucallpaensis spawned. The female selected a secluded spot under a piece of driftwood and deposited 60-70 eggs. The female guarded the eggs for three days, and then once they hatched, moved the wigglers to nearby cave. Four days hence, I observed a batch of tiny fry near the entrance to the cave, closely guarded by the female. Although the male stayed at least two inches from the brood, he was still protective, chasing away Endler’s livebearers which I employ as dither fish.

I began feeding the fry with New Life Spectrum Small Fry food which is a finely powdered food for very small fry. I also introduced newly hatched baby brine shrimp and a few days later completely transitioned the fry to baby brine. The parents kept the fry in a tight group for about four weeks before they allowed the fry to venture out on their own. I was very impressed with parental care exhibited by both parents.

Retail Price

Apistogrammoides pucallpaensis is not a striking fish, but the parental care of this dwarf cichlid means this fish has a charm on its own. I don’t think you will find these fish in pet shops, and you will not even find it easily on the internet. If you do find it, expect to pay $25 to $30 for pairs or $7 to $10 for juveniles. I would recommend this fish for more experienced breeders, especially those with experience working with Apistos.

Video

 

Report April 2015 by Mario Toromanovic

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