Jewel Cichlid

The Jewel Cichlid, hemichromis bimaculatus, is a beautiful fish that inhabits streams from southern Guinea to Central Liberia. During breeding conditions, the males have intense red colouration which is spectacular to see. These cichlids are territorial and should be housed in a spacious, well planted aquarium with abundant shelters. If there are enough shelters, these fish will be less aggressive as each of them is able to claim a certain territory within in the aquarium. Include several flat-topped rocks to mimic the cichlids natural environment. If a breeding pair is established, the female will spawn on these flat-topped rocks (flat leaves are also possible). The pair will then take turns to vigorously guard to fry. The Jewel Cichlid is omnivorous and will take dried and live foods. Keep these fish well fed or else they will become nasty fin nippers!

Goliath Tigerfish

The Goliath Tigerfish, Hydrocynus goliath, is a ferocious predatory fish native to the Congo River Basin in Africa. It can grow up to 1.5 meters long and has be known to prey on small crocodiles and tearing large catfish into pieces! It occasionally attacks human since it is able to sense low frequency vibration in the water. It prefers to hunt in fast flowing water where smaller fish struggle to swim. Its massive teeth perfectly slide into distinct patches along its jaw. The Goliath Tigerfish is very rarely kept in any sort of aquarium although I did manage to spot a few at the Singapore River Safari the other day! See video below 🙂

Calabar Python

The Calabar Python, Calabaria reinhardtii, is probably one of the most toughest snakes on the planet. Its skin is more than 15 times thicker than an average snake. Scientists believe that this thick layer of skin protects the snake from bites by mother rodents protecting their young. The Calabar Python preys exclusively on young rodents, hence the need to protect itself from protective mothers. Despite the thickness of the skin, it remains flexible. Pharmaceutical companies have shown interest in mimicking the qualities of the snakes skin to develop puncture-resistant medical gloves! The Calabar Python does have some limitations. It cannot swallow large prey like other snakes normally do. This partly explains their preference for small rodents. It also has a very small clutch size for a snake laying an average of 4 eggs per clutch. Other snakes normally lay up to 100 eggs per clutch 😊


Illustration and data retrieved from Mongabay Newsletter “The toughest snake on Earth lives in Central Africa and eats baby rodents”

Leaf-cutter Ant

The famous leaf-cutter ant, Atta, is endemic to Central and South America. They can carry leaves up to 3x their body weight and use the gathered leaves for growing a special fungus that they use as food. Leaf-cutter ant colonies are some of the most complex societies in the animal kingdom with a sophisticated caste system…also their mounds, which go to 9 meters deep and 30 meters accros, have in-built ventilation and waste disposal systems! The queen of the ant colony is massive (3x bigger than anyone else) and can live for as long as 15 years producing 1000 eggs a day! 💪 🐜🐜🐜 Taken in Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica 

Pictus Catfish

The Pictus Catfish, Pimelodus Pictus, is a small species of catfish with extreme long barbels. The barbels can even reach to the caudal fin! Pictus Catfish are active bottom feeders that are usually most active at night. They inhabit the Amazon and Orinoco river basins and are common in the aquarium trade. In captivity they are omnivorous and eat vegetables, blood worms and insects among others. They are relatively peaceful fish and can be kept with other fish of similar size. Larger Pictus Catfish, however, will have a go at smaller fish (small tetra’s for example). Pictus Catfish are non-territorial so a shoal of 5 or more will make this species of catfish feel more at home. Furthermore, it is important to provide plenty of plants, rock, caves and driftwood in soft water. A dimly lit aquarium encourages the fish to be more active.


Pearl Gourami

The Pearl Gourami, Trichopodus leerii, is a beautiful community fish that is easy to take care of. They originate from lowland swamps of Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. Mature males display an impressive bright orange/red near their throat area. Also their anal fins are slightly more elongated than the females. Males can sometimes be aggressive towards each other and chase females when they want to breed, so ensure that there are sufficient hiding places with lots of plant cover. As with all gourami’s, Pearl Gourami’s have a labyrinth organ that breath air, so leave the surface of the tank exposed to fresh air. The mating display of the Pearl Gourami is unusual and very beautiful. Males constructs a large bubble nest among floating plants to impress the female. If the female is impressed, both begin touching each other with their modified ventral fins 🙂

Uara Cichlid

The Uara Cichlid, uaru amphiacanthoides, is a large species of cichlid native to South America in Northern Brazil and parts of Guyana that can grown up to 30 centimeters in length. It inhabits clear water tributaries, particularly around submerged branches and tree roots. Uara Cichlids can be recognized by their large eyes and distinguishing large spot on the body. In the aquarium it is a surprisingly peaceful fish considering its size and the aggressive behavior of most other cichlid species. It can be housed together with tetras, angels and species of characins. Uara Cichlids do need be housed in large tanks of about two meters in length. These fish can be fed frozen foods such as blood worms or brine shrimp, but will also happily eat vegetables such as lettuce, peas and spinach. Dried foods will also be gladly accepted. Juveniles often feed on the slime coat of their parents, similar to what Discus do.

Profitability in Aquaponics

To grow vegetables in water from a fish pond full of nutrients might sound like a brilliant idea, but is it really profitable? A study by reaearchers from the Wageningen Univesity showed that more than half of the 1000 commercial aquaponic farms worldwide make a loss. This was mainly the result of low market value for the produced vegetables and fish that were farmed. Before starting an aquaponics farm it is important to look at the market prospects. A niche in the market needs to be found that could make aquaponics more profitable. Tilapia and catfish usually won’t make it because they sell for far to cheap. Perch, burbot and pike could be interesting alternatives for the European market as their market value is much higher.

Schematic overview of a aquaponic system. Illustration retrieved from Baliga Lab, Institute for Systems Biology

NEW: Purple Pig-nosed Frog


Bhupathy’s purple frog (Nasikabatrachus bhupathi): Photo taken by Jegath Janani

A new species of frog was discovered in the Western Ghats of India by a group of scientists. This species is adapted for life underground. Small eyes, short limbs and a long snout allow it to live almost its entire life underground. This amphibian does not even go to the surface to feed. It uses its long tongue to slurp insects in underground tunnels! Only during the first rainfall of the rainy season does the frog go to the surface to reproduce. The resulting tadpoles have a unique adaptation since they cling to rocks underneath waterfalls with their sucker-mouths to feed on algae. It is one of the few species of frog to do so. For more information, please refer to the article below:

Blackline Penguinfish

The Blackline Penguinfish, Thayeria boehlkei, also known as the hockey-stick tetra is a species of tetra native to the upper Amazon River basin in Peru and Araguaia River in Brazil. It has a distinguishing black line across its body which hooks downwards at its tail. It is highly recommended to cover the aquarium as these small fish have been seen jumping 2 meters out of the aquarium! Keep this fish in schools of at least 6 individuals (preferably more). The blackline penguinfish does not grow very large (max 7 centimeters long), so one does not need a very large aquarium to house a school of these fish. These fish are not too fussy concerning water parameters as long as the tank is cleaned periodically. This is a very peaceful fish excellent for a community tank. Goes well with other species of schooling tetra’s 🙂

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