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Friday, January 11, 2019

The Sardine Cichlid by Chris Carpenter

My goal as hobbyist is to breed every fish that I keep. This often leads to many “species only” aquariums in my fish room, meaning I keep only one species of fish in an aquarium to maximize spawning success, and fry survival. There are some fish that can be kept together in a community style setup and both/all species will spawn. Finding the right combination and balance is key. The fish of Lake Tanganyika can pose a challenge when it comes to setting up a successful community aquarium. There’s an abundance of fish from the lake that claim territory at the bottom of the tank in small caves, empty shells, or right out in the open where they create a pit in the substrate. There are very few fish from Tanganyika that like swimming in the upper portion of the water column. This can lead to a community tank that appears somewhat empty. One fish that does prefer the top of the tank is Cyprichromis leptosoma, often called the “sardine cichlid”. Males of this species will vary in color and size based on collection point. There’s the standard size at approximately 3”, and Jumbo’s that reach around 4.5”. Yellow and blue tail males can be found at the same collection point. Females of all varieties are rather drab. In the wild these fish form massive schools that can number over 10,000. In the aquarium its best to keep them in schools as well. Starting with a group of 10 or more is best, preferably with more females than males. Males can be quite territorial with rival males. Females are left to swim about freely. Males stake out a three-dimensional territory in open water. Its almost as if there’s an imaginary line in the water that competing males are not allowed to cross. Opposing males will often meet at this line and flare at one another.
Cyprichromis leptosoma is a maternal mouthbrooder, meaning the female will hold the eggs in her mouth as a way of protecting the eggs until they are fully developed. Males are constantly flashing and vibrating trying to attract females to breed with. Watching C. leptosoma breed is a unique experience. The spawning all takes place in open water. Once a male entices a female to spawn, she will release an egg, scoot backward, then quickly swim forward, and scoop the egg into her mouth. Brood sizes are typically around 8-15 and fry are quite large when released.
I’ve kept C. leptosoma numerous times, but my most successful and rewarding experience is a setup I’ve been running for several years now. It’s a 6ft 100 gallon, these fish do need some room to roam, and I’ve seen Cyprichromis waste away when not given enough space. A large group of exLamrologus similis a Tanganyika shell dweller resides at the bottom of this aquarium, and a growing school of Cyprichromis leptosoma ‘Mpulungu’ add a ton of activity up top. Both fishes breed regularly, and neither fish predates on their own, or others fry. In this setup holding Cyprichromis females can release their fry naturally, which is ideal because they are a somewhat delicate and sensitive fish, and stripping them adds a great deal of stress.
If you’re setting up a Tanganyika community tank, C. leptosoma are the ideal fish to take up that empty space up top, add a splash of color and a lot of movement. As an added bonus they’re always in demand by Tanganyika cichlid fans, so fry should sell quickly. Cyprichromis leptosoma is one of many fish from Lake Tanganyika that I absolutely love, and I’m sure you will as well.

The Spawning Mop by Jeremy DeRoos

By far, one of the most effective tools; for which could be utilized by Aquarist. When implemented appropriately, these 100% Acrylic Spawning Mops are absolutely amazing! Let's take a look at a few of the ways; for which these can be utilized within home Aquaria.

Substrate Spawner (Egg Depositing)
Many specimens of live stock are opportunistic with regard to disposition of eggs, during the spawning and fertilization process. When utilizing a suspended and or non-suspended spawning mop; this provides the spawners a safe haven and place to deposit eggs; during the external fertilization process.

Livebearer (Non-Egg Depositor)
As indicated in the aforementioned (Substrate Spawner) spawning mops work amazing with the livebearers. Providing a safe haven for juvenile offspring and parents. Also, inhibits and promotes breeding rituals.

These work amazing for the safe haven and transferring of shrimp, crayfish, snails etc. Dwarf Shrimp Families i.e., Neocaridina and or Caridina, provides an ease for transferring juvenile offspring from one ecosystem to the other. By utilizing a cup and or fine net (brine shrimp equivalent net) and slowly placing under the spawning mop(s) and raising up out of water; ensuring you do NOT squeeze; if utilizing a net, then transfer to the rearing and or grow-out tank. Crayfish, rather that be Procambarus alleni and or Procambarus fallax (Self Clone Crayfish) these work wonders. Simply place several suspended and non-suspended through-out the system; for which they're being housed. This provides great safe havens for the offspring and parents.

For many non-annual and or semi-annual Killifish, these mops work amazing!These specimens often times will deposit eggs at the very uppermost point of the spawning mops; not just scattered in opensight. For many specimens (knowing what it is you are working with) the eggs have an adhesive bonding; whereas the contact of egg(s) to Acrylic adhere. Now, with other specimens such as Barbs, Danios, Tetras etc. the adhesive bonding is minimal and won't work as effective when suspended in the water column. Again, knowing about the specific specimen; for which you are attempting to work with and how the eggs adhere, is very important to the appropriate utilization of these spawning mops.

Bio-film and Bacterium
These also contain trace elements of bacteria and or bio-film; which is a great surface area for living organisms, such as offspring. Many specimens constantly graze and eat from the Spawning Mops; therefore providing a food source.

How To Make
Obtain 100% Acrylic Yarn (preferably Forest Green color). Use a book or equivalent hard surface about 1/2”-3/4” thick, 5”-8” wide and 12”-15” tall. Start by placing the end of yarn in contact with surface being utilized and make two full wraps around (maintaining in vertical fashion). Now, continue wrapping 50 times and this will complete the build.

Take a zip tie and utilize at uppermost part, secure tightly. Now, the remaining yarn (still connected to main spool) cut even at the bottom, with the same length as the rest.

Utilize a bobber at the top and this will maintain the mop for suspended use and or remove/not use bobber and this will allow to sink (takes a few days with new mops).

Provided herein is a glimpse of the possibilities; for which one could use in conjunction with their Aquarist related tools. When implemented appropriately, Spawning Mops are amazing!

I've literally made hundreds and supplied several to others. I do NOT boil personally, just simply rinse off and use immediately. In over a decade of utilizing these, I've never had any issues. If you are going to “sanitize” before use, I recommend a quick rinse of white distilled vinegar, rinse good and use!

Photo of Banded Kilifish by Ken Zeedyk

Banded Kilifish, native fish to Michigan.
Photo by Ken Zeedyk