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Haplochromis thereuterion

 Haplochromis thereuterion

AboveHaplochromis thereuterion Male Photo by Rick Borstein. See video below.

General

Haplochromis thereuterion, is a mouthbrooding cichlid from Lake Victoria, Africa. As most cichlid hobbyists know, Lake Victoria cichlid fauna experienced profound declines when the Nile Perch was introduced in the 1980s. Many cichlid species were thought to be lost forever and the subject of this article, Haplochromis thereuterion, was considered to be one of them. This fish was observed in the lake in 1996. Some internet sources label this fish as 'Haplochromis' (note single quote) indicating that perhaps this fish deserves to be placed in a new genus.

Haplochromis thereuterion is one of the most interesting and likable Victoria Haps you could find for a variety of reasons.

  1. It is not very aggressive in comparison with the majority of Victorian cichlids 
  2. It may be kept in relatively small tanks
  3. It may be housed with livebearers and other types of fish
  4. More than one male will color up in the same tank
  5. It is interestingly shaped and has decent color

On that last point, Haplochromis thereuterion, is a slender, sword-like silver and black cichlid. A common name for this fish is the "Silver Katana" since it is shaped and colored a bit like a Japanese Katana sword

Males have black or smokey paired fins, a silver to green sheen, a large egg spot and, when courting, a red tail. Females are nicely silver with a dark stripe running down the lateral line with a thinner, parallel line just below the top of the fish. Males get up to abotu 3-3.5 inches and females stay about an inch smaller.

Haplochromis thereuterion Female

Habitat

Haplochromis thereuterion  is found among rocky outcroppings in the Mwanza Gulf in Lake Victoria.  

Care

Haplochromis thereuterion is easy to keep. All it needs is clean, hard water that is 75-80F and a two foot or longer tank.

Feeding

Haplochromis thereuterion readily accepts prepared foods such as New Life Spectrum cichlid pellets, Dainichi Veggie Deluxe Pellets, Extreme Cichlid PeeWee pellets, Repashy gel foods and most flake food. In the wild, this fish feeds predominantly on insects.

Breeding

I obtained a dozen Haplochromis thereuterion fry in February 2012 from a west coast breeder who kept a dozen adult Haplochromis thereuterion in a 30 gallon long tank. I was captivated by this fish's unique shape and mild temperament. I had to have them! Soon enough, the Silver Katanas were bagged up and stuffed into my suitcase for the flight home to Chicago.

Initially, I raised up the babies in a 10G tank, but as soon as they were up to an inch, I moved the group into a 40B. This tank had a sand substrate and was filtered by 6-inch Swiss Tropicals Poret foam filter. My automatic water changing system turned over about 40% of the water weekly. I maintained the tank at 77F. Tankmates for the cichlids included about eight wild swords and mollies which were completely ignored by the Katanas.

In August, I observed the first female holding. My son Sam stripped a small female of just six fry. Later, I observed other females with distended buchal cavities after spawning. I let these females hold the eggs for 12 days holding and then stripped them of 16 and 20 fry respectively at the heads and tails stage. I placed the "belly whompers" in a two-gallon acrylic tank to which I added 90% clean water and a small sponge filter. A week later, the fry are free swimming and ready to eat live baby brine shrimp. I should note that the fry are quite thin and small, but they grow remarkably quickly if you feed them a couple of times a day. I fed live or frozen baby brine shrimp the first ten days and gradually weened them onto Cyclops-eeze and then flake food.

Interestingly, I got a batch of swordtail fry (Wild Guentheri-Helleri from Golden Stream, Belize, if you have to know) at the same time. So, I decided to raise the baby cichlid and swords together in a 10G tank. This works amazingly well. The swordtail babies take to flake food very quickly and I feel that cichlids adapt to flake food faster when there is another fish to "teach" them.

Retail Price

You are not going to find Haplochromis thereuterion at a pet store. It is relatively new in the hobby, but it is just now starting to show up on the internet. I suspect that unsexed juveniles would go for $6-8 per fish. 

Video

Video by Rick Borstein

Report October 2013 by Rick Borstein

 

Ptychochromis oligacanthus "Nosy Be"

Ptychochromis oligacanthus

Above: Ptychochromis oligacanthus with fry.Photo by Mario Toromanovic. See video below.

General

Ptychochromis oligacanthus, also known as the Nosy Be Cichlid, gets its common name from the collection point of Nosy Be island on the island of Madagascar (also Nossi-bé in Malagasy language).  The fish was first described in 1868 by Bleeker as Tilapia oligacanthus nossibeensis. The species was later revised as Ptychochromis oligacanthus by Stiassny & Sparks in 2006.                  

Males Nosy Be’s are larger than females. Males can get up to 10 inches while females stay a couple of inches smaller.                                                                                                                                   

Ptychochromis oligacanthus is not the best looking fish. They are grey to dark grey with black blotches extending thru the body. Males may have a longer anal and dorsal fins which turn red while he is courting the female. Males also have a blue upper lip and a more robust head profile. Both males and females take on a black breeding dress when courting.

Etymology

  • Ptychochromisptyx = fold + chromis = a fish, perhaps a perch
  • oligacanthus =  oligo = reduced + acanthus = spines ( Latin )  = reduced; in reference to the number of dorsal-fin spines.

Habitat

Restricted to freshwater habitats of northwestern Madagascar, from the Sambirano River northward to the Mananjeba drainage (Andranomaloto River), and including the crater lakes of Nosy Be island. 

Care

Ptychochromis oligacanthus does not present many difficulties (outside of being an aggressive fish). The waters in which they are found include a wide range of water parameters, with pH between 6.5 and 7.5 and temperature between 75º and 82ºF. My pair did just fine in our Lake Michigan water at the temperature of 80º F and pH 7.6. 

Feeding

Ptychochromis oligacanthus are omnivorous. In the wild, they feed on insects and crustaceans and in my tank they did fine on the diet of flake and pellet food, frozen Mysis and brine shrimp, with the occasional treat of live black worms. 

Breeding

I purchased eight juvenile fish at the American Cichlid Association Convention held in Indianapolis in July 2012.  At the time I bought the fish, they were probably about 5 -6 months old and approaching two inches in length. Over the next eight months, I moved the fish from tank to tank but due to the aggressive nature of this fish the group was became just two fish. Fortunately, the two remaining fish were a pair, finally settling in twenty gallon tall tank. At this point, I noticed that bigger male fish  was aggressively beating on the smaller one, so I separated tank with plastic egg crate louver. I modified the egg crate to include hole out fashioned from PVC pipe which just big enough to allow the female to pass through to the male’s side of the tank. The separation strategy worked perfectly. The female stayed on her side, and moved to male’s side, when he was calm. A few weeks later, after heavy feeding and large water changes (50% every 3-4 days) I noticed both fish turn very dark, a not uncommon color change in Central American species.

I knew these fish were substrate spawners, so I placed few terracotta flower pot saucers in the tank and the next day they spawned. Both the male and a female guarded the eggs. The eggs hatched three days later and then the parents moved the wrigglers immediately to a pleco cave nearby. Interestingly, the parents moved the babies several times before night day post hatch when the fry were free swimming.  I immediately introduced the fry to their first food, live baby brine shrimp. Ptychochromis oligacanthus are excellent parents, even fierce parents. In fact, the male jumped out of the tank trying to grab my hand, while I was feeding them!

Ptychochromis oligacanthus

Retail Price

Ptychochromis oligacanthus is not a fish you would find at your local pet shop. They are pretty aggressive and they are not very colorful,so they are kept by only a few dedicated cichlid hobbyists. They are not bred commercially, but juveniles are available from hobbyists in the $8-$10 range.

Video

Video by Mario Toromanovic

Report December 2013 by Mario Toromanovic

 

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