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Paretroplus dambabe (Sparks 2002)

former names :

Paretroplus sp. Lake Kinkony

Paretroplus petiti sp. dambabe

New photo

A 13 cm male Paretroplus dambabe in my aquarium. Click on the thumbnail for a high resolution photo. Photo by G.J.Reclos /MCH

Another sand shifter from Madagascar. Along with P.damii, P. menarambo and P. maculatus they promise a lot of shifting when they get larger. Photos G.J.Reclos (MCH)

Photos of two juvenile Paretroplus dambabe in my 100 liter raising tanks. Another sand shifter this fish lacks the black dot on the "shoulder" (present in both P.maculatus and P.damii) and has no tint of color (yet !). Photo G.J.Reclos (MCH)

Well, it seems a lot is going on as far as the taxonomy of Madagascan cichlids is concerned. As more and more information is collected in situ by more and more people, it seems the picture is more clear now. Again, this task is better left to the experts. Patrick de Rham, one of the very few who can have a global opinion on this matter, sent us the following information concerning this particular fish.

" Today the Paretroplus sp. coming from Lake Kinkony and other close-by lakes previously called P. petiti by Kiener and Maugé 1966, must now be called Paretroplus dambabe Sparks 2002. John Sparks who described the species was able to prove that the Lake Kinkony fish belonged to a different species from the unique (well preserved) type specimen of Paretroplus petiti Pellegrin. We still don’t know to which present Paretroplus population (species) the true P. petiti belongs to, as the type locality of the species is uncertain. I personally now tend to believe it could be Pe. maculatus, although the type specimen which shows no black mark on the flank, resembles closest to Pe. menarambo. "

No matter what its current scientific name is, this is a really beautiful fish and a nice addition to any large Madagascan cichlid tank. We feel that it should be noted that all Madagascan cichlids are not to be kept in small quarters. They grow fairly large (between 20 and 35 cm in length) most of them prefer to stay in schools (otherwise interspecies aggression may be difficult to handle) and they like to swim. More information about keeping them in captivity will become available in future updates.

Update: Since I lost the only female I had at an early stage, I just wanted to see my lonely male grow a bit. However, when it reached 15 cm TL I decided that keeping it alone would be a shame. The fish is already extinct in the wild so any chance of spawning it should be of a higher priority. Thus, since I would meet Sonia Guinane and Dave Tourle in Vichy, France for the AFC 2004 congress, I asked them if they had any Paretroplus dambabe in their tanks. They didn't but they were expecting four of them to be donated to them in the congress, so I offered them my lonely male. Sonia and Dave accepted the offer so the lonely rider was handed to them in prime shape. I hope that soon they will manage to breed it. If they do, I will be the first one to ask for some fry. Therefore, I can call this decision as "taking a break" ! Needless to say, I already miss this male but I am confident I made the right decision. Being selfish is not the correct way to go in this hobby, especially when dealing with rare or extinct fish. I am sure Sonia will agree to that !

Some further remarks on keeping Paretroplines by Francesco Zezza

A final point I’d like to discuss in brief is the “tank–sharing” with other madagascan cishlids (even if my experience is just three months). Needless to say, no attempts have been made to keep them in smaller tanks.

A short foreword: no problems in a quite long run – until now! – with large/middle sized  Malawi haps (C. Moori, C, borley, F. Rostratus, A. stuartgranti) and some catfishes (Plecos, Ancistrus and Synodontis). Even a small Gambusia is living happily in the small tank!!!

Addition to the main tank, after a short quarantine (BETTER SAFE THAN SORRY!) was made short after the AFC (French Cichlid Association) held in the Vichy (Octorber 2003). I currently have 12 fishes - Paretroplus damii and dambabe (I got these fishes – 4/6 cm in size – from Jean Claude Nourissat in Vichy during the meeting). Things are going on quite happily despite the remarkable difference in size. In the very  beginning that difference gave me (at least from a theoretical point of view at least) some concerns. Any way no “real” territorial fights were detected, no “actual” bullying (also by / against Malawians)... Newcomers have started to gain size at a good rate, happily getting all kinds of food (except one which was placed in a recovery tank and is still kept there). Here are few pics ...

Paretroplus are schooling fishes and seem to mix together (P. damii & P. dambabe). Photo F.Zezza (MCH)

Paretroplus during their wandering activity (always in the 750 lt tank) like to move back and forth among rocks and shift the sand. Photo F.Zezza (MCH)

Those fishes were donated by Jean-Claude Nourissat - to whom special thanks - during our visit to the 2003 AFC Meeting in Vichy. Many thanks are also due to Patrick de Rham for his precious help.

Jean-Claude Nourissat & Patrick de Rham. "Les Cichlides endemiques de Magascar", Editions AFC, 2003 (in French).

Dr. P.V.Loiselle, in "The Cichlid Aquarium", Tetra Press, 1994, pp. 187-201

S. Guinane. The Madagascan cichlid genus Paretroplus. Cichlid News, 2000.

Jean-Claude Nourissat (translated by Mary Mailey). New surprises from Madagascar. Cichlid News, pp. 6-14

The book entitled "The Endemic Cichlids of Madagascar" by Patrick de Rham and Jean - Claude Nourissat is now available in English. Click here to find out how to order and here to read the back cover page of the English edition.

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