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As we prepare for our March speaker Mike Wise, I thought it would be fun to post some apistogramma video's


GCCA Meeting Feb 2013 Speaker Greg Steeves - Overview of Lake Victoria Cichlids {ebevent 49}

This looks like a great product for raising fry and is applicable to more than just angelfish. There are also some good DIY ideas that can come out of this as well.


How long does it take to replace all the water in your fish tank? You may be surprised to find out that doing two, 50% water changes does not replace 100% of the water.

I found a great online calculator that helps illustrate this point:

Go to:

Here's a screen shot:


June 2012

(This month's entry is still under construction.  My first draft is not up to the usual quality crap you may be expecting.  So, some more work is needed, but as a tease, here is the intro, the only part I can tolerate thus far, but just barely.)

“Fish people are weird!”

I heard that sentence a few times over the years from a long-time club member and friend.  I did not think much of it initially, just my friend pointing out the obvious goofy behavior we can see at times.  But, over time, I’ve learned to understand it, embrace it. 

I am weird, and I’m genuinely comfortable with it.

If you are reading this, most of you already realize that, yes, you too, are weird, or have great potential for being weird.  For those of you who haven’t picked up on it yet, or are in denial, and I may be telling you this for the first time, but you are at least a little weird.

What am I saying here? We are all The Different, yet commonly linked to this hobby of keeping cichlids, and other fish.  And when I mean “The Different”, I am referencing both our individual, personal “differences” and our “oddness,” or, our own individual potential for being weird.

Have you ever answered a non-hobbyist’s question about all the cichlids you keep, about how many tanks you have in your fish room, or other aspects of your fishkeeping and, as you are answering, using all sorts of Latin and Greek names, they begin looking at you strangely? Or they respond, “Oh really? Wow!” and then change the subject?  And then you can see the "Weirdo!!" thought bubble over their head....



The Bald Tax Blog April 2012


April…here it is…. the last month of my “cichlid season”, no April foolin’ (!), when the weather starts to “nicen-up” (fyi - I have my own vocabulary) and my attention turns to the outdoors…my golf game…the backyard pool…the sun…a hoppy ale.  Yes….


Did you feel that?  I just felt my blood pressure lower a few points.


Before April ends, the fish in my tanks drop way down the pecking order of my attention. Sure…every few years or so I undertake a pond project, with intentions to extend my cichlid season, but I then succeed in becoming distracted, lazy, unmotivated…the pool…the sun….a cocktail.  Yes….You may know of what I speak?  We’ve been fortunate here in Chicago to enjoy Summer during our Winter, so my distraction is happening as I type.


Mind you, the fish are never the worse for wear…weekly water changes are never missed during “the Summer of my Coma.”  They all eat…they all grow….they all (most) multiply.  Occasional floaters are netted, garbaged.  Losers of territorial disputes are moved to safer, calmer waters.  The winners of territorial disputes are provided new challengers.  Boys are matched up with potential girlfriends, with resulting marriages or homicides (or both).  My fish are not entirely ignored…but they just simply see less of me.


April is about the time I make my plans for the ACA, vowing to register, bring show fish, and begin strategizing those convincing arguments for my wife that, “yes, Indianapolis is a happening summer vacation spot, let’s do it…?”


Then around October… “I’m back, Baby!” My cichlid season begins, and my fish startle me (not really), like I’m seeing them for the first time, they have grown more than I recall…and multiplied. I see things in the fish I’ve missed during my “offseason,” variant colors, maybe their deportment, their reaction to me.


The fish room suddenly becomes cleaner (almost), more organized.  Food and maintenance supplies seemingly are auto-restocked, sponge filters become clean (finally!) (almost!), some changed for new.  Hang-on back filters are discovered, get cleaned out.  Fry discovered within, and saved from, canister filters…and over-excited, jumping juveniles discovered and peeled from the floor. 


October…I begin combing over (insert bald tax guy joke here) my various favorite on-line vendor sale lists for new species…weekly…sometimes daily (hourly).  I start texting, calling guys named Pete, Gage, Snookn21, Dan Ye (actually Dan’s a girl) inquiring about $180 fish, collection points, shipping charges, flight schedules.


October….I get overly excited (not really) and undertake more dedicated efforts in obtaining, breeding uncommon, difficult, dull, brown-colored cichlid species, the fry of which I try to give away but it appears only I want them.  Old World keepers just smile at me, probably wondering to themselves…”What is wrong with this guy…?”


October….I vow to purchase a swap table (but never have) and bag up all sorts of my uncommon, difficult, dull, brown-colored cichlid species, just to see if I could give them away to unsuspecting strangers.  But I don’t, imagining those strangers just smiling at me, probably wondering to themselves…”What is wrong with this guy…?”


October…I research species during lunch, after work, trying to pronounce collection points and rivers…slowly pronouncing names like “At-a-ba-po”, as if I just awoke from a coma (e.g. 4-5 months of the pool…the sun….cocktails…!)


October…I once again begin believing that I can breed a pike species, only to end up with one pike by December. 


October…I dig out my DVD’s on Lake Nicaragua and Mexico cichlid species and wonder once again out loud how I can get Tomicichla tuba delivered to my door.  I comb through (insert joke here) Aqualog volumes, wondering whether I could just go book a flight to a random Central American country and take a canoe down something called Rio Malaria, or similar, and scoop up wild specimens for my tanks.


October…I once again measure the door dimensions to my fish room and work through the possible steps in getting a 750g acrylic tank down the stairs.


October…I once again regret giving away that mated pair of Amphilophus aggressosorum back during the summer coma, and then I find myself looking for a group of  eight juvenile  Amphilophus pissedoffus.


October…I once again realize that the ACA convention has come and gone and that Indianapolis is not as happening a summer vacation spot as I had thought it could be, and thus, I have missed yet another ACA convention.  I also once again curse the attendees for the lack of pictures posted of my favorite species (not really…maybe). 


So it’s April, and my cichlid season is winding down.  October will be here before I know it.  In the meantime, you can probably rob me blind of fish during the next 6 months.


I’ll blog each month of the offseason, and if they’re bad, well… we can all blame my summer coma.  So send me a topic that you would like me to write about…or else you’ll be reading things way worse then this.




I really don't know why I tried this.

Today, while on a particularly boring conference call, I searched on iTunes using the keyword "cichlid" .

Wouldn't you know it, there is an album called Cichlid by the artist A Riley!

I only previewed one of the songs (they're all marked explicit) and its not really my taste.

There is one song called "Kill Myself" which I sometimes feel like doing when I can't get my fish to breed, but that's a story for another day.

Check out this link if you want to hear it for yourself.

If you work with substrate-spawning cichlids, one thing you'll immediately notice is that fry can be extremely small. It's all too easy to siphon them out accidentally when doing a water change.

I keep newly free-swimming fry from egg layers in tiny 2-gallon Rubbermaid restaurant containers and I use a mini-siphon I made myself to carefully clean the bottom of excess food and debris. Here's how to make one yourself.

You'll need:

  • One 12-14" piece of rigid aquarium airline tubing
  • One small piece of insulated #14 electrical wire 
  • A heat source (I use my gas stove)

Here's what to do . . .

If you've kept fish, no doubt you've also dealt with sick fish. If you have a fishroom full of healthy fish, you need to be careful when bringing in fish from the outside, from pet shops, swap meets and auctions. While quarantining is essential, you also need to be mindful that you don't inadvertently transfer disease from tank to tank when netting fish or changing water.

A few years ago, I visited my good friend Chuck Rambo in San Jose, CA. Chuck took me a large wholesaler in the Bay Area. We first checked out a cart which included a net and a small container of Net Soak. Before using the net in a new tank, you had to dip the net in the Net Soak and shake it out.

Net Soak is usually a solution of Potassium permangenate which is an oxidizer. It helps to prevent the transfer of disease organisms by oxidation. Unlike other oxidizers such as bleach, it is gentle on nets and your hands, and pretty safe to use. Net Soak prevents most bacteria from spreading, but not viruses. 



March 2012

I’m lazy, so here is a 2009 reproduced article I wrote.  Enjoy….

Aquarium Husbandry (and attempts at pronunciation) of

ex-Cichlasoma grammodes

Scott Womack (April 2009)



I can certainly type the name, but damned if I’m sure of its pronunciation.


In the past, I have written a couple of articles on species that I have kept and bred, and for those, I tried to perform as much research as possible so that I can at least pretend to know what I am writing about.  But I have searched high and low for a phonetic spelling of “grammodes” with no luck…and it’s kind of bugging me.  I have asked some of my fish keeping friends about the pronunciation of “that fish” and I have received the following (pardon my own crude phonetic spelling):


Product reviews of hardware and fish related items "

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Tips and Tricks for breeding cichlids
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