The Firemouth Cichlid

September 2, 2013 by  
Filed under Aquariums, Catch All, Featured Pets, Freshwater fish

Animal-World’s Featured Pet for this week is: The Firemouth Cichlid!

Are you a cichlid person? Some people like these fish so much that all they keep are cichlids. They may even keep several “cichlid tanks” around their home! Given that cichlids are so diverse in color, size, and temperament, this is completely understandable. The Firemouth Cichlid, in particular, is a popular one. Many people like them because of their beautiful colors and how easy they are to keep.

The Firemouth Cichlid Thorichthys meeki, is a great beginner cichlid. It is one of the easiest cichlids to care for and anyone can start out keeping them. A big reason these guys are easy to keep is because they readily adapting to most environments. Their major draw is the bright red coloring, which occurs on their underside and up through their throat area. Other attributes of these attractive fish are being small (for cichlids) and having relatively fun personalities. They often do well in community aquariums as long as they are kept with other Firemouth Cichlids and fish of the same size and temperament as themselves. You only have to worry about them becoming more aggressive than usual during breeding times.

The Firemouth Cichlid

About the Firemouth Cichlid

Central America is the native country of these cichlids. More specifically, they inhabit the countries of Mexico, Honduras, Belize, Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and El Salvador. In the wild, the Firemouth Cichlid thrives in slow moving rivers and ponds. They usually stay closer to the bottom of the water where it is muddy and vegetation is easily accessible.

Feeding these cichlids is easy. They will eat almost any type of food offered to them! This includes, flakes, pellets, live foods, and fresh foods. Offering a variety of foods weekly is a good way to make sure they are receiving optimum nutrition. You will want to give them pellets or flakes every day and then add in some fresh cucumber and spinach as well. Live blood worms and brine shrimp are excellent treats but should be offered more sparingly.

Aquarium Care for the Firemouth Cichlid

Caring for the aquarium is no more difficult than for a typical tropical aquarium. As I mentioned earlier, Firemouth Cichlids are hardy fish and can adapt to wide range of aquarium conditions. However, regular maintenance is still needed to ensure their health! Most importantly, regular water changes are needed. About 20% of the water should be replaced every week. The gravel should also be siphoned out. These two cleaning activities get rid of decomposing organic matter and help limit the build-up of nitrates and phosphates.

A 30 gallon tank is the minimum recommended size for two Firemouth Cichlids. If you want a community cichlid tank though, you will need a much larger aquarium. A general rule is one inch of fish for every gallon of water. Equip the aquarium with a good filter and water movement. Cichlids appreciate plenty of rocks, plants and wood to hide amongst. Fine sand is a good substrate for the bottom because these fish love to burrow! They don’t need any special lighting requirements and the temperature can range from 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Diseases to Watch Out for With the Firemouth Cichlid

A common problem among tropical fish, including the Firemouth Cichlid, is ich. Many fish become infected with ich, usually when feeling stressed. The good thing is that ich can’t tolerate higher temperatures, but these cichlids can! So it can be easier to treat the Firemouth Cichlid for ich by simply increasing the aquarium temperature up to around 86 degrees for a few days. Other tropical fish diseases can also plague these cichlids. These include fungal infections, bacterial infections, and parasitic infections. If your cichlid has a disease check this Aquarium Fish Diseases and Treatments guide for a thorough description of most illnesses and their cures!

Do you keep a community cichlid tank? What is your favorite thing about keeping cichlids?

Jasmine is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.

Animal-World’s Featured Pet of the Week: The Chinese Algae Eater!

The Green-cheeked Conure

Animal-World’s Featured Pet for this week is: The Chinese Algae Eater!

The Chinese Algae Eater may not be at the top of the “perfect” pet list, but they serve a very important function in many people’s home aquariums! Most people at some point in time run into an algae problem with their tanks. And their first thought is usually to go buy a sucker fish! The pet store I worked at had Chinese Algae Eaters being ordered in and departing with customers on a weekly basis. They are one of the most popular fish because of their useful function and therefore one of the most wanted!

The Chinese Algae Eater Gyrinocheilus aymonieri usually does an outstanding job at clearing algae from an aquarium while it is young. This is the primary reason people purchase them. However as they age, they can no longer sustain themselves on algae and plants alone and begin needing additional food sources to keep them healthy. This includes more meat sources. You will want to acquire algae eaters when they are young and small (less than 2 inches) to maximize the benefit you reap from their algae eating capabilities. Do realize that they can reach over 5 inches in length when full grown so make sure to take that into account when purchasing one. They should not be kept in an aquarium smaller than 30 gallons. These algae eaters can come in a variety of colors and have a stripe along their length from the nose to the tail. One of the most popular varieties is the Golden Chinese Algae Eater (check the video for a beautiful example of one). Belonging to the Carp (Cyprinidae) family, their mouth is in the shape of a disk which is used to suck and stick to surfaces. This is perfect for sticking to the sides of an aquarium.

Chinese Algae Eaters are found naturally in lakes and rivers in Southeast Asia and southern China. They usually stay in more shallow areas where there is plenty of sun and rocks where biofilm grows. They were first described in 1883 by Tirant. In it’s native countries, these fish are actually part of people’s diets! In 1956 people started exporting these fish to Germany specifically for use in the aquarium trade. They are on the IUCN Red List with their state being marked as Least Concern. This is because the populations have diminished in some areas (especially Thailand), but they have not declined enough in general to warrant mass concern.

As I mentioned earlier, you won’t want to keep one of these algae eaters in anything less than a 30 gallon tank to begin with. Because they grow rather large, you will want to eventually provide them with at least a 55 gallon aquarium. In general, they are easy to care for. The main concerns are to keep their environments clean with well-oxygenated water. Plan on performing regular water changes once or twice a month which replace a quarter to half of the aquariums water. Another fact to keep in mind is that as Chinese Algae Eaters grow into adults, they often become territorial. To keep them from picking on other fish, try to make sure there are at least 5 tank-mates. These tank-mates should ideally be fast swimmers who can hold their own.

Feeding these fish while they are young is generally quite simple. They are herbivorous as youngsters and can thrive off of the plant growth around the tank. You should still provide them with supplemented flake food and algae wafers. As they grow older they become omnivorous and should be fed a variety of flake, frozen, and live foods. These can include blood worms and brine shrimp.

If you are having problems keeping your algae down, or if you just think this happens to be an interesting fish, you should have no problem finding one at a pet store or online. They are very popular and readily available. Read more about the Chinese Algae Eater on Animal-World; including more details on breeding them and common ailments!

Jasmine is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.

A New Arrival on Animal-World: The Vermiculated Angelfish

June 12, 2013 by  
Filed under Aquariums, Catch All, Saltwater Fish

Vermiculated AngelfishVermiculated Angelfish
“I am a Beauty!”

The Vermiculated Angelfish looks strikingly similar to the Butteflyfish!

The Vermiculated Angelfish Chaetodontoplus mesoleucus is a beautiful fish! Its appearance is quite similar to the Butterflyfish. In fact at first glance many people mistake it for a Butterflyfish! It is a smaller fish, reaching about 7 inches (18 cm) in length. It is amazing to look at with extremely blue lips and yellow face. They also have a vertical line on their eyes. Their bodies are two colors; white behind the head which fades into black. This pattern has tiny sprinkles of yellow all through it. The bi-colored body starts out in triangular white patch behind the head fading into a larger black area, accented with a yellow speckled patterning throughout. It kind of appears like there are wavy lines along the body, which is where the “vermiculated” part of their name comes from. Other names this fish is commonly called are the Singapore Angelfish, the Vermiculate Angelfish, and the Red Sea Butterflyfish.

If you are looking for an angelfish of this genus, you won’t have far to look! Being the most common fish available in this genus, you can find it or order it at most saltwater fish stores. There are actually 2 different species that were both thought to be the same species, just with different color tails. The Vermiculated Angelfish was thought to be the yellowtail variation and the other was the graytail variation. In 2009 the graytail variation officially became its own species called Chaetodontoplus poliourus (It has no common name, yet). The Vermiculated Angelfish has also been noted to look like the Indian Yellowtail Angelfish Apolemichthys xanthurus. The main difference between the two is that the Yellowtail Angelfish is smaller (only reaches about 6 inches) and has larger scales on its lateral line.

The Vermiculated Angelfish is a moderately difficult fish to care for. They do make great fish if they adapt to their new environment. Unfortunately, only about 50% of these fish survive in captivity. If they are too stressed out, they will often quit eating and starve themselves to death. A good plan is to keep the aquarium in a quiet room with few visitors to help reduce their stress levels… Read More

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A New Fish on Animal-World: The Blue-girdled Angelfish

May 11, 2013 by  
Filed under Aquariums, Catch All, Saltwater Fish

Blue-girdled AngelfishBlue-girdled Angelfish
“I have a striking and unique coloring, which is different than other angelfish in my genus!”

This Blue-girdled Angelfish is probably the shyest of angelfish, but one of the most

beautiful!

The Blue-girdled Angelfish Pomacanthus navarchus is a stunning specimen. The most unique saltwater angelfish species belong to the Pomacanthus genus. Another name for this species is the Majestic Angelfish, and it is just as exotic as the rest of the species in this genus! When full-grown, these angelfish have quite the color pattern! Their faces and bodies are bright orange and yellow, covered with very deep blues. They have a girdled appearance which includes neon blue outlines, hence where their name came from. They are also called Navarchus Angelfish, a name derived from their scientific description.

When young, the Blue-girdled Angelfish has coloring more common to other species in the Pomacanthus genus. They have black bodies with blue vertical curved stripes. But this is only for a very short time period. When they reach about 2.5 inches they are already beginning to change to their adult colors. In general, these angelfish grow much more slowly than typical and in captivity rarely reach 10 inches. They should still be provided with a fairly large aquarium, however. They will breed with another angelfish, the Blue-faced Angelfish Pomacanthus xanthometopon, in the wild. This cross breeding will result in larger fish which can grow up to almost 15 inches in length.

Many species belong to the Pomacanthidae family, but this particular angelfish appears to be the most timid of them all. The Blue-girdled Angelfish does best if provided with several hiding places (such as caves) which it can get to quickly. This helps it acclimate and become used to its surroundings with minimal stress. They are sometimes so shy they won’t even come out to eat when first added to a new aquarium. Other species do not seem to have this extreme shyness problem, so they are unique in this aspect as well. If you are considering buying one of these fish, you would probably do best to buy a young one, because the younger they are the better able they’ll be to adapt to new surroundings… Read More

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A New Arrival on Animal-World: The Daffodil Cichlid

March 6, 2013 by  
Filed under Aquariums, Catch All, Freshwater fish

Daffodil CichlidDaffodil Cichlid
“So you need a reliable algae cleaner? Look no further than me! I can get the job done!”

The Daffodil Cichlid is a hardy and awesome looking Tanganyika Cichlids!

The Daffodil Cichlid Neolamprologus pulcher (previously Lamprologus pulcher) has many good qualities that people look for when keeping fish. They are African Cichlids from Lake Tanganyika and are very hardy fish. They are beautiful and graceful looking. Their coloring includes a light tan body and a yellowish fins with blue tips. The tail is lyre shaped and all the fins extend into flowing long filaments. They have blue eyes with two crescent shapes right behind them. Other names this cichlid are known by are the Daffodil Princess, the Daffodil II, and the Princess of Zambia.

The Daffodil Cichlid looks extremely similar to the Fairy Cichlid Neolamprologus brichardi, which is a close relative. The main difference is that the Fairy Cichlid has a black stripe running between its eye and gill with a yellow spot above it. The Fairy Cichlid fins are also more gray than the Daffodil Cichlid. The Daffodil Cichlid has more yellowish fins and has the crescent shapes mentioned above.

These cichlids often swim in schools and it is quite beautiful when you see a school moving through the water. Aside from it’s beautiful appearance, these are great cichlids for both beginners and advanced keepers. They adapt readily to new environments and are somewhat easy to care for. The most important consideration is to make sure they have a large enough aquarium and have appropriate companions. Daffodil cichlids eat many different kinds of foods and aren’t too picky about their water conditions. They do like to hide and so providing plenty of rocks with a sand substrate is a good idea… Read More

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A Saltwater Admiration: The Flame Angelfish

January 30, 2013 by  
Filed under Aquariums, Catch All, Saltwater Fish

Flame AngelFlame Angel
“Oh yeah baby, I have it all: Color is my nickname and flame is my game!”

The Flame Angelfish is the dwarf angelfish for you if you love beauty!

A common dwarf angelfish in the saltwater industry is the beautiful Flame Angelfish Centropyge loricula. It is an extremely colorful pygmy angel and many saltwater enthusiasts plan to have one sooner or later! They are called ‘flame’ because they are colored similarly to fire flames! They are reddish orange with several vertical black lines running down their body. Their dorsal and anal fins have a bright blue color on their tips to top it off! There is a larger Angelfish, the King Angelfish Holacanthus passer which has similar colors while it is a juvenile, but as an adult does not have nearly the coloration.

The Flame Angelfish is often a good fish for casually experienced saltwater fish owners. Their care is moderately easy, however they should be watched closely if you plan to put them in a reef environment. In reefs they will sometimes ruin the corals, sponges and other reef inhabitants. This is true of most pygmy angelfish – they can be little mischief makers sometimes! They can often live peacefully with most invertebrates, but as the Flame Angelfish becomes older there is a higher chance that they will being nipping at any sessile (non-moving) invertebrates. And of course, the larger your aquarium, the less you will have to worry about problems occurring. If your reef is over 100 gallons, there will be more room and the angels won’t feel as territorial and will therefore will do less damage to any other particular specimens. As a general rule you will not want your aquarium to be less than 30 gallons for these fish, but to make sure they thrive you will want to provide at least a 75 gallon aquarium… Read More

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