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Aulonocara sp. "Yellow Collar"

Aulonocara sp.  

AboveAulonocara sp. "Yellow Collar".  Photo by Ed Borstein. See video below.

General

Aulonocara sp. "Yellow Collar", is a mouthbrooding cichlid from Lake Malawi, Africa. Aulonocara species are commonly called "Peacocks" because of their bright colors.

Aulonocara sp. "Yellow Collar" is not the most colorful peacock, but it is a pretty fish. Dominant males are a dark blue black color with a yellow band immediately behind the gill cover which gives this fish its common name. The dorsal is edged in a band of white and yellow and the caudal and anal fin are striated in orange. Females are drab by comparison. It is worth noting that coloration of males is dependent on mood. When courting, males deepen in coloration, but at other times may appear much lighter.

Males achieve a size of approximately four inches in length with females topping out at about one-half inch smaller.  

Aulonocara sp. "Yellow Collar" is one of the members of the Chitande group of Aulonocara, which may be the least well defined group of Aulonocara. Only one species in the Chitande group has been described (Aulonocara ethelwynnae). 

Habitat

Aulonocara sp. "Yellow Collar"  is found at the Nankumba peninsula in the lake at depths of 20 meters in the intermediate habitat. 

Care

Aulonocara sp. "Yellow Collar" does not present any problems. Peacocks are only moderately aggressive, so do not mix this species with aggressive tankmates such as Mbuna. Other than that, clean, neutral to hard water that is 75-80F is all you need.

Feeding

Aulonocara sp. "Yellow Collar"  is easy to feed. I offered New Life Spectrum cichlid pellets, Dainichi Veggie Deluxe Pellets, Extreme Cichlid PeeWee pellets and Repashy gel foods.

Breeding

I obtained eight juvenile fish from Scott Reiser during a visit to his large and well organized fishroom in January, 2012.  I placed the fish in a 90G tank which had a sand substrate. The tank was filtered by a large Tidepool wet/dry filter. Water temperature was maintained at 78F and were kept in standard Chicago water (pH 7.4, 300ppm hardness).

The fish grew quickly, but I lost most all of the females during a weird water changing accident (don't get me started). I later added three more females and by April 2013 both the males and females were up to their full adult size. To condition the females, I fed Repashy Spawn and Grow and they soon swelled up with eggs. 

Shortly after, I observed the first female holding. I let the female hold for twelve days and stripped her of 21 fry at the heads and tails stage. I moved the fry to a two-gallon tank containing a small sponge filter. Eight days later, the fry were free-swimming and were able to immediately eat newly hatched baby brine shrimp. By six weeks, the fry were a tad over half an inch long.

Retail Price

I would not expect to find Aulonocara sp. "Yellow Collar" at a pet store. On the internet or from cichlid specialists, I would guess that unsexed juveniles are generally in the $8 to $12 range. 

Video

Video by Rick Borstein

Report September 2013 by Rick Borstein

Mylochromis ericotaenia "Itungi"

Mylochromis ericotaenia Male 

Above: Mylochromis ericotaenia Photo by Rick Borstein. Video available below.

General

Mylochromis ericotaenia, is a large, mouthbrooding haplochromine cichlid from Lake Malawi, Africa. This fish was first typed by Regani in 1922. 

Females and juveniles are attractive with four to eight vertical stripes which may be either partial or extend completely down the flank. Males are dramatic looking fish with a large extended, almost sailfin-like dorsal. Males have a rich blue sheen and are covered with red dots throughout the flanks and the dorsal. Konings reports that large males may get a nuchal hump.

This is a large fish. Males may exceed eight inches in length while females stay a couple of inches smaller.

Mylochromis ericotaenia Female

Habitat

Mylochromis ericotaenia  is found in the shallow, sandy habitat throughout Lake Malawi. 

Care

Mylochromis ericotaenia is not overlay aggressive, but the large size of this fish dictates that a four foot or larger tank is required. Tank temperatures of 75-80F and clean, neutral to hard water are ideal.

Feeding

I haven't found much research on the food items for Mylochromis ericotaenia in the lake. My guess is that they are an invertebrate sand picker and might opportunistically eat some small fish. Regardless, this fish is not difficult to feed in the aquarium. I offered Tetra Cichlid Sticks, Exreme Big Fella, Dainichi Veggie Deluxe and the occasional treat of Repashy gel food.

Breeding

I obtained two adult pairs Mylochromis ericotaenia from fellow GCCA member Mike Helford. Mike is a fan of large Malawi haps and always seems to have something interesting in his tanks. Lucky me, he needed tank space!

I placed the adult fish in a 90G tank which had a sand substrate which was filtered by Marineland Tidepool II filter. The tank was decorated with several large flower pots and flat slates. In addition, I added one of my "Cichlid Condos", a glued-up stack of 2" PVC pipes. Tankmates for the fish were three, four-inch Etroplus suratensis

The tank had a well defined pecking order of dominant male, sub-dominant male, dominant female and sub-dominant female. Male Mylochromis ericotaenia will give chase to females, although they seldom do any damage. Interestingly, females will occasionally spar and lip lock, again without damage.

I have found that large, Malawi hap females often need to be brought into condition to breed. To do so, I  fed Repashy Spawn and Grow three times a week and soon both females fattened up quickly over the course of a month or so. After the conditioning period, I observed the dominant female holding. I allowed this female to hold for twelve days after which I stripped her of 46 very large fry at the heads and tails stage. I moved the fry in to a clean 2 gallon container which I maintained at 80F. Eight days hence , the fry were free-swimming and I immediately began feeding live baby brine shrimp.

The babies are very large and are voracious feeders. I was able to feed flake food on the third day free-swimming, which was a surprise to me! A few days later, I moved the babies to a 5-gallon tank for grow out. The babies are really cute with their prominent stripes. 

Retail Price

Mylochromis ericotaenia is not a fish you will find at an ordinary pet shop. On the web, you may be able to find wild caught adults for about $50-80 each. F1 fry, if you could find them, would be $5-8 each. 

Video

 

Report November 2013 by Rick Borstein

Tropheops sp. "Olive Tiger"

Tropheops sp.

Above: Tropheops sp. "Olive Tiger" Photo by Rick Borstein. Video available below.

General

Tropheops sp. "Olive Tiger", also just known as Tropheops sp. "Olive" , is a mouthbrooding cichlid native to Lake Malawi in Africa.

Females and juveniles, have an overall silver to grey base color with an interesting tiger-like pattern of very dark stripes. Males are a golden green color with dark edges to the fins. Overall, both males and females are very nice looking fish. A large male might get up to about four inches and females stay slightly smaller.

Tropheops sp. "Olive Tiger"  is an active fish and make for an entertaining and colorful display.

Tropheops sp Olive Tiger Female

Habitat

Tropheops sp. "Olive Tiger"  is found in the shallow, turbulent and rocky habitat of the lake.

Care

Tropheops sp. "Olive Tiger" is a somewhat aggressive cichlid, so it is recommended to create a heavily landscaped tank with numerous rocky hiding places for females and sub-dominant individuals. As far as tank temperature, aquarists should take a clue from the normal temperature of Lake Malawi which is between 74°F and 79°F with high hardness. I had no trouble keeping this fish in Chicago water at 78F. I performed regular partial water changes each week of about 25% of the tank volume.

Feeding

In the wild, Tropheops sp. "Olive Tiger"  is an algal garden tender. Males and females stake out an area about a meter in diameter and scrapes and tear filamentous algae for their meals. For this reason,  offer a diet high in veggie matter. I fed Dainichi Veggie Deluxe Pellets, Repashy Community Gel Food, Repashy Soylent Green Gel Food and Extreme cichlid pellets.

Breeding

Stacked PVC Cichlid CondosI obtained a group of nine, adult Tropheops sp. "Olive Tiger" from fellow GCCA member Jason Libasci. I am a big fan of yellow fish, so I was excited to get this group into an open 90G, four-foot aquarium. This tank had a sand substrate and was filtered by a Tidepool II wet/dry filter. I did take special care to landscape the tank with several cichlid condos (PVC pipe structures, see picture) which I stacked to create a multi-level structure.

As mentioned previously, this is a moderately aggressive fish. Both males and females will make runs at each other, sometimes spinning about in impressive displays (see video). Fortuntely, the cover I provided for the fish and prevented any serious damage between individuals. 

I was lucky in that within a week or two after obtaining the group,  courting began. The bright yellow males would extend their fins and display to females hoping to lure the girl to an empty spot in the sand or within a piece of PVC to breed. Shortly after seeing courting behavior, I observed females holding fry. I allowed the females to hold about twelve days at which time I stripped them of about twenty large-ish fry. The fry were immediately able to eat frozen, baby brine shrimp. The babies grow quickly if provided with multiple feedings a day, clean water and ample quarters.

Retail Price

Tropheops sp. "Olive Tiger" has recently been more popular on the internet, but it is not likely you will see this fish at your local pet store. Expect to pay about $6 to $8 for 1.5-inch juveniles and about $15 to $20 for adult, tank-raised fish.

Video

 

Report March 2014 by Rick Borstein

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