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!
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 🙂
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.
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 🙂
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.
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 🙂
Predatory fish are awesome in their own right, but are obviously not well-suited for a community tank setup. Here are several distinguishing features that predatory have. None of these features alone would identify a predator, but a combination of them is a worrying sign 😉
Size: Fish that are two or three times bigger than other tank mates might view others as food.
Torpedo body: Long arrow-shaped bodies are designed for sudden bursts of speed to catch prey. Pike and gars are good examples.
Teeth: This may sound obvious, but fish with long obvious teeth designed for grabbing and holding are bound to eat anything that fits in its mouth.
Whiskers: Species of catfish have long elongated whiskers for detecting prey in dark deep waters. Expect them to munch on any type of fish that gets detected with these whiskers.
Camouflage and hiding: Although some peaceful species use camouflage to avoid predation, some use it to hunt! Fish that burry themselves or blend in well with leaves prepare themselves for a surprising attack.
Eye position: Fish with forward facing eyes give them overlapping vision and in-depth perception for ambushing prey.
Pike (Esox lucius)
The Electric Eel, electrophorus electricus, is more closely related to catfish than to an eel. It originates from the Amazon and Orinoco river systems where there is plenty of mud and reeds for it to hide in. It is best known for stunning its prey by producing an electric shock up to 860 volt! The Electric Eel uses this electric shock to hunt its prey and it is very successful in doing so. The electric shock is not life threatening to humans as it is only a quick discharge of electricity. However, it can still cause temporary numbing of a part of your body 😉
In the aquarium, the Electric Eel should only be kept by specialists as this species can easily grow up to two meters. It is not very active so an aquarium 2 to 3 times its body length should be enough. Important is to cover the aquarium as the Electric Eel can easily jump or force its way out. However, do let sufficient air through as the Electric Eel needs oxygen to survive. It will gulp for air every 10 minutes or so. Live or dead feeder fish and worms that are able to fit in its mouth will satisfy the Electric Eel’s dietary requirements.
Dwarf Snakeheads are some of the more colourful snakeheads around and usually grow to a maximum of 20 cm. In order for a pair to breed, the aquarium needs to be bio-tope correct according to the natural requirements of this species.
This species is best bred in a species only aquarium with a breeding pair. Seasons have to be mimicked, so during the winter months the temperature of the aquarium should drop to around 15°C and the fish should be fed only when they beg to be fed (maintain this for at least 10 weeks). Then, gradually raise the temperature with regular 50% water changes to mimic the arrival of the rainy season. Dwarf Snakeheads are not too fussy of the water parameters as long as extremes are avoided. Tap-water should be fine.
In the wild Dwarf Snakeheads breed at the end of their winter period, before the majority of the rain comes. Dwarf Snakeheads will breed when the water temperature is around 24-26°C. After the eggs are released the male will incubate the eggs in its mouth while the female guards the territory. Incubation period is between 5 to 8 days. Once “hatched”, the fry will be fed by the female that squirts out infertile eggs as food for the fry. It is therefore important to feed the female. After about two weeks, the fry can be given flakes.
- At least 90cm/36in tank
- Fine sand
- A fair amount of plants
- Plenty of hiding places like plastic pipes and hollow logs
- Floating plants…MUST! This will give shadow and increase activity of the snakeheads
- Filtration is not necessary as long as you have a substantial amount of plants
Dwarf Snakehead species, Channa Bleheri (picture from MP&C Piednor.Aquapress.com)
The Giant Snakehead, channa micropeltes, is one of the largest snakehead species. Lengths over 1 meter are regularly encountered. They are found throughout South-East Asia and have been introduced elsewhere in the world where they are considered an invasive species. Giants Snakeheads are highly adaptable and have the ability to crawl onto land and breath air in muddy conditions. They possess a primitive lung, located behind the gills, which it uses to gulp air. It can therefore travel short distances over land!
These fish are ferocious predators and will chase down anything that will fit in their mouth. They have very sharp teeth that can rip fish into half. It should therefore only be kept in aquaria with similar sized fish, but even then it is risky. Despite its aggressive nature, it is a very beautiful fish with juveniles having distinctive bright lines across their body. As the fish grows older they develop a pattern comprising a broad, dark longitudinal stripe. Adults will defend their brood at all costs and have occasionally injured humans.