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    Educating MFK on Africans!

    Discussion in 'African Rift Lake Cichlids' started by Ash, Oct 19, 2005.

    1. Ash

      Ash I dum care =]
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      First off: :p

      Second off: These are Africans of some sort or another I will post basic info on them along with a picture, and I will post however many I feel at a time, I will try to update it at least once a week with new Africnas! [Info obtained from gcca and Cichlid Index
      also Species Summary also pictures are taken from image searchs and a few from Malawi Cichlid Home Pg. along with my own knowledge and photos! =) ] Most of the credit should go to some of these pages and the people who put them together. As for pics I dont take the credit off of them but aol doesnt always let me link to the site they are from which is why I say aol search images.

      Third off: This is for all you people that need more info on Africans, maybe you can learn some basic info on here. Esp. you African haters :D For those of you with questions and need help...... you are best to ask in the forum for quicker response, you are free to ask questions here, just know the response time may be slow. Enjoy.

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      Labidochromis caeruleus

      General:
      Labidochromis caeruleus is a very popular cichlid! The "lemon yellow" variety, shown above, has secured a place in the cichlid hobby because of its bright yellow color. The fish is also available in a blue-white form, but it is rarely seen. Labidochromis caeruleus is a maternal mouthbrooder.

      This fish is attractive, easy to keep and easy to breed. Compared to many mbuna species, it is not very aggressive. These positive traits all add up to a great fish!

      Unlike most Malawian cichlids, both the males and the females are very attractive. The dominant male in the group will generally be a brighter yellow and have a glossier, darker and more prominently-black edged dorsal fin.

      Habitat:

      Labidochromis caeruleus is endemic to Lake Malawi (Africa) and is found in two distinct biotopes; rocky shorelines and in Valisneria (plant) beds. They are found at depths of 6 to 120 feet. In the wild, they have been observed feeding on a variety of invertebrates and snails.

      Care:

      Labidochromis caeruleus likes hard alkaline water around 76-82 degrees, although they will tolerate slightly higher or lower temperatures. I have kept and bred them in Chicago water with no problems at all. Regular partial water changes are essential to the well-being of the fish. Keeping them with other moderately aggressive Malawian cichlids presents no problems. Recommended tank size for five adults would be a 30 gallon-long tank or larger.

      Feeding:

      You can feed Labidochromis caeruleus just about anything. A good quality flake food and cichlid pellets occasionally supplemented by frozen foods will work well. Include a good vegetable flake such as HBH Graze.

      Breeding:

      Labidochromis caeruleus is one of the easiest mouthbrooders to breed. I recommend that you purchase five or six juvenile fish and raise them up. They will breed at six months of age or about 1-1/2 inches in length.

      Breeding occurs in the typical mbuna fashion, so provide a piece of slate or other smooth surface for the "act". After breeding, I remove the female to a well-planted "maternity" tank.

      Females are generally good "holders" and will refuse food for up to four weeks. Because going for food for so long can critically weaken the female, I generally strip the eggs from the fish. At two weeks, the babies will be at the "heads and tails" stage. After three weeks, the babies are nearly fully formed. My preference is to strip 12–14 days and bubble them in a commerical egg tumbler.

      Small females will produce 10 to 15 babies. Larger, fully-grown females will have 25 to 30.

      Info: gcca

      Labidochromis_caereuleus-M.jpg
       
    2. Ash

      Ash I dum care =]
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      Melanochromis Chipokae

      General:

      Melanochromis chipokae is an attractive Malawian mouthbrooder that exhibits clear sexual dimorphism. Males have a dark grey-blue body color with electric blue highlights to the flanks. Females are just as attractive, exhibiting a bright yellow belly, orange tail and alternating tan and brown stripes that extend into the dorsal fin. (See picture of mouthbrooding female at right) First typed by Johnson in 1975, this fish is often sold under the name Pseudotropheus chipokae.
      In the areas where populations exist, it is a common fish indicating evolutionary success.

      Melanochromis chipokae is popular aquarium fish, but may not be the best choice for beginners. While it generally stays pretty small, it is a very aggressive fish. Some sites report that aquarium specimens reach 6 inches in captivity, but I have never seen one this big.

      Females of both species are nearly impossible to tell apart. My guess is that auratus and chipokae would interbreed if given a chance!

      Care:

      Melanochromis chipokae is not a recommended fish for the beginner. Although it is hardy, the aggressive nature of this species makes it challenging to keep. Both males and females are aggressive, even at the juvenile stage. I have seen inch long fry fighting! Alpha males quickly kill off rivals and won't hesitate to beat on any females which "aren't in the mood."

      In a mixed tank, these fish will quickly take over the lead position in the tank. Despite their small size, they can cause a lot of stress and damage to other fish. Beware!

      Despite these dire warnings, by employing the right strategy, this fish can be easily kept and bred. Provide plenty of cover for sub-dominant individuals and females. The tank for these fish should be full of caves, slates, flower pots, plastic plants and anything else you can find to disturb the sight lines of the alpha male and provide cover. Extend the rockwork vertically at least halfway up the tank. Provide a PVC anchored near the water line for stressed individuals.

      Feeding:

      Melanochromis chipokae is easy to feed. In the lake it is a true omnivore. Reports have found filmentous algae, zooplankton and cichlid fry in the stomachs of wild caught individuals. Provide a good quality cichlid flake and spirulina flake.

      Breeding:

      Melanochromis chipokae isn't hard to breed, but you must provide shelter for the female. Provide a flat slate near the preferred "home" of the alpha male in the tank. When the female is ripe and ready, she will approach the male. After spawning, if your tank is stuffed with enough rock, she will retreat and hold onto the eggs for about 14 days.

      Young females tend not to be reliable holders, mostly due to male aggression. After a couple of spawns, the females get smarter about hiding and become good holders in my opinion. I have netted out brooding females, bagged them, and delivered them with no loss of eggs.

      Brood sizes are relatively small-- about 12-18 eggs. I have stripped females both early (after two days) and later (after 10 days) with good success. I fed the fry on freshly hatched baby brine shrimp and transitioned them at two weeks to flake food with no problems. The fry grow fast and at 3 to 4 weeks take on the coloration of the adult female.

      Info: gcca

      Melanochromis_chipokae-M.jpg
       
    3. Ash

      Ash I dum care =]
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      Oreochromis mossambicus "the mozambique mouthbrooder"

      General:

      Oreochromis mossambicus does make a fine aquarium fish. It's easy to care for, grows quickly and is interesting to breed. The wild type is a dull greenish fish, but a number of interesting color varieties such as the gold, orange and red are available to liven up your tank.
      If you've ever had Tilapia at your favorite seafood restaurant, Oreochromis mossambicus is the fish you ate! Interestingly, many of the color varieties were bred specifically to make them more palatable to consumers! Apparently, an orange fish makes folks think of Red Snapper. Go figure!

      Many of the characteristics that make this a good farm fish, make it a terrible nuisance when populations become feral. Please do not release aquarium specimens in the wild!

      Why does Oreochromis mossambicus so easily beat out native fish? Here's why:

      It eats just about anything including algae and detritus thus exploiting a food resource not used by most native fishes. Oreochromis mossambicus will happily switch from vegetable to animal sources. It's not picky!
      It can live just about anywhere including ponds, reservoirs, drainage ditches, riverine environments, even brackish water.
      It's tough! Oreochromis mossambicus can tolerate a wide range of water temperatures from 40F to 104F, low oxygen levels, poor water quality and pollution.
      It's a prolific mouthbrooder! Broods can be in the hundreds and females can carry several broods a year.
      It will breed even in poor conditions. Even when food is low or nearly unavailable, this fish will continue to breed.
      It gets big (1.5 lbs and may exceed 15 inches long) but breeds young at only two inches.
      Care:

      Oreochromis mossambicus is easy to keep . . . when young. You can abuse it, frankly, and it will survive. That said, it is a messy eater, so frequent water changes are necessary if you want optimal growth.

      And grow they will! This is a fast-growing fish.

      However, when this fish gets bigger, it can get increasingly aggressive.


      Feeding:

      This fish will eat anything. Flake, pellets, zucchini, algae wafers . . . you name it! They are greedy, too. They will fill up their buccal cavities (males and females) and carry around any food they can't eat right away.


      Breeding:

      Like most African cichlids, Oreochromis mossambicus is a maternal mouthbrooder. This fish is easy to breed. It's the 'convict' of the mouthbrooder set. It is hard to tell the males from the females, but the fish seem to figure it out on their own.

      This fish pretty much breeds itself. Put five to six fish in a forty gallon or larger tank and leave them alone. They will breed at eight to nine months.

      Females drop eggs in a nest constructed by the male. Interestingly, in contrast to most Haps, the eggs are fertilized by the male before the female takes them up in her mouth. The eggs are incubated for 3 to 5 days. Young fry remain in the female’s mouth for another ten to fourteen days.

      Realizing that I wanted to breed this fish before it got too big, I stripped a young female's second brood shortly after the eggs were laid. This litle two inch fish had over sixty small 3/32" diameter eggs. I placed these eggs in a commercial egg tumbler with some Acriflavine Plus (anti-fungal) at 80F and performed daily 50% water changes replacing the anti-fungal as necessary. Eleven days later I had over 30 babies left which was plenty!

      The young fry are able to eat newly hatched baby brine shrimp immediately. After one week, I switched them to crushed flake food and they grew rapidly.

      Info: gcca

      Oreochromis_mossambicus.jpg
       
    4. Ash

      Ash I dum care =]
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      Aulonocara walteri
      General:

      Aulonocara walteri is a moutbrooding, Malawian cichlid first typed by Konings in 1990. Technically, this fish does not have full nomenclature yet, so I probably should call it Aulonocara sp. "walteri".

      Aulonocara walteri is typical of other Malawian peacocks. Brightly colored males with a lot of blue and drab, barred females. The common name, "Blue Face Peacock", is appropriate as males have the greatest concentration of color on the head. In preparation for breeding, males become a deeper blue and the color extends further down the body. Some male Aulocara walteri also exhibit yellow or tan coloration on their upper flanks.

      Males grow to over 4 inches. Females top out at slightly over 3 inches.

      Habitat:

      Aulonocara walteri is found near Likoma Island in Lake Malawi. Although most of the jacobfreibergei group are rock dwellers found at 15M and below, this fish has been found in as little as 3 meters of water. They are usually found at the intersection of sandy and rocky habitats.

      Care:

      Aulonocara walteri is easy to keep. Provide a sand or soft gravel substrate and rockwork simulating caves.

      As always, regular water changes are important. I suggest at least a 30% water change every other week. In my case, I do about 50% weekly.

      Males can be aggressive to each to other, so an aquarium of four feet or longer is recommended if you have a large group of fish.

      Aulonocara should not be kept with more aggressive mbuna such as Pseudotropheus or Metriaclima species. Of course, only one Aulonocara species per tank . . . they will interbreed!

      I have successfully kept Aulonocara with a mildly-disposed Tanganyikans such as the Brichardi types.

      Feeding:

      Aulonocara walteri is easy to feed and accepts a wide variety of foods. I fed spirulina flakes, earthworm flakes, cichlid flakes and frozen mysis shrimp. I believe offering a variety of foods is of benefit to these fish.

      In the wild, Aulonocara hover over the sand and make use of sensory pits located on the lower snouth to detect invertebrates moving in the sand. Once they detect movement, a fast plunge into the sand rewards this fish with a tasty snack. In the aquarium, you can observe this behavior if you provide a sand substrate.

      Breeding:

      Aulonocara walteri is easy to breed. For best results, I suggest a species tank. Supply one male and several females. In my case, I had one male and four females. Provide a flat piece of stone (slate is good) for the breeding site.

      I should admit that I broke the "species" rule due to lack of tank space. I kept adult Aulonocara walteri in a 90-gallon tank with some juvenile Metriaclima hajormaylandia. The Aulonocara walteri were quite a bit bigger, so it wasn't a problem.

      Males will display to females and draw them to the breeding site where breeding ensues in typical Aulonocara fashion. Brood sizes are in the 20-30 range.

      In my experience, females are very good holders, successfully holding the fry to term. I stripped fry at 18 days and they had just a bit of a yolk sack remaining. The babies will take freshly hatched baby brine shrimp immediately.

      The fry grow fast and have the drab coloration of the females until about four months of age.

      gcca

      Aulonocara_walteri_M2.jpg
       
    5. IoStrisciare

      IoStrisciare MFK Members

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      Good info!

      A very good guide for the novice african cichlid hobbyist.

      Thanks :clap :clap :clap
       
    6. Peanut_Power

      Peanut_Power Running From The Hammer...
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      So how much of this is cut and paste? Either way its rather organized....probably would be a good read if i could find the effort to keep my attention span directed towards it too.....but alas.....I lost interest quickly! Good job though Ash! Impressive indeedy! Too bad there aren't any african pike cichlids eh? *sigh*
       
    7. IoStrisciare

      IoStrisciare MFK Members

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      well... its the thought tt counts... finding good info requires effort too... :grinyes:
       
    8. Ash

      Ash I dum care =]
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      I'll get to them, there are alot of Africans to go through and I am getting sleepie!
       
    9. IoStrisciare

      IoStrisciare MFK Members

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      coffee quick.... coffee!! :grinyes:
       
    10. Ash

      Ash I dum care =]
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      haha yah right I got some mid terms to study for, classes to attend, them some work.. more like SLEEP then coffee!!
       

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