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A closer look … in my Amazon tank

by Francesco Zezza

Taking pictures of fishes in a tank is not that easy … furthermore, my digital camera is not performing as it should lately - it looks like its CMOS sensor is getting "old" and pics are – mostly in subdued environments – worse in general (or else the percentage of discarded ones has highly increased!). Since I recently had to remove my fish from the old quarters to the new ones (see the article on Monster 2!) I decided that this was a first class opportunity to shoot some "dry pics" of those fishes. I know that "dry pics" sounds a big oxymoron but I just mean taking photo of the fishes while out of the water.

Once you have a careful look at them some remarkable details may come to your attention … since this is only a pictorial guide, links to other articles (i.e.: fast facts pages) showing more info on them have been added, just in case you want to go into more details.

Since this is a cichlid website (originally meant for Malawians only ) let’s begin with cichlids:

  • Pterophyllum sp. "Peru".

I happen to have two adult specimens (both males, regrettably). They were used to fight in the old tank but in the new quarters which are considerably larger they seem to get along better. What you see in the picture below is the largest specimen which is aged about four years.

  • Geophagus crassilabris.

This fish comes from Panama. I currently have six F1 specimens, which were a kind present by Patrick DeRham. Its scientific name means Eartheater (Geophagus) with fat lips (crassilabris). These fishes have a frustrating slow growth rate. In the picture below (although its quality is not the best you hoped for) you can see one of them and judge its size.

And here comes a photo of the same fish in its tank (a "wet" photo) shot in macro mode. For further info about the odd, "muddy", brownish color of the water you can read the article on "Monster 2" building, "Environmental target" section.

Since this is an Amazon tank it is only natural that at least some catfishes should be present. Let's see some of them.

  • Cochliodon hondae

This fish (identified by our expedition leader in the Amazon) was collected during our stay in the Rio Ososa area.

In the beginning (and for a very long period after his conditioning here in Rome) this beautiful loriicarid had been extremely shy hiding in the darkest possible corner of the tank: behind filters, under bogwoods and so on … now – about three years after – it is not that difficult to spot him resting on the sand or above the bogwoods. This fish hasn’t gained that much in size, which makes me suspect that it was an already adult specimen at the time I collected it. A "Fast Fact Sheet" on this fish is available here.

  • Panaque sp.

This particular fish (along with some other species) was collected near the biological Station of Madre Selva II (Rio Oros, Peru). This fish – despite the odd colors – has been identified as a Panaque by Jon Armbruster. However, a final scientific classification is still pending for this genus, so I was kindly ask not to discuss this matter any further. A "Fast Fact Sheet" for this fish is available here.

This fish is as shy as expected for a member of the loriicarids group and has almost tripled in size till today, measuring about 10 cm. However, its growth rate seem to be consistently slower.

  • Unidentidied loriicarid

The fish pictured below is still unidentified. Based on its markings (which are not well shown in this photo) it could be a Panaque papa L090, but the shape of the head puzzles me a lot. This little creature has also grown up a lot in the past few years (now it has almost stopped gaining size) losing most part of its fear for "lights" and human beings. Of course we should always remember that it is a wild caught nocturnal animal. Any hints on its actual identification are welcomed.

and then, last but not least:

  • Pseudacanthicus sp. (possibly P. leopardus, L114)

This is also a very beautiful, wild caught (and therefore very shy) fish. It originates from Brazil, (Rio Xingù area, I seem to remember) and was not collected by me but obtained (for a cheap price I’ve been asked not to report!) from a distributor in Rome. I like this fish and since I lost three of them in the past (during conditioning) I’m more than happy to have him thriving in my tanks for more than a year. In the very beginning he was so tiny that caused me troubles to feed him. Luckily, he gained size after that..

Of course there are more fishes (such as Corydoras elegans, Rineloricaria sp. and more ) but the ones pictured here are - for some reason - my favorite "Amazonians".

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