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Focused exclusively on African Rift Lake cichlids - I

Stefanos Fluntzis and Nathan Makris

Introduction by G.J.Reclos / MCH Stefanos Fluntzis and Nathan Makris are two Greek hobbyists whom I met “electronically”, before meeting them in person. What stroke me from the beginning was that they never pretended to be the “all around experts” – something too common in our hobby. On the contrary, they were clear cut and very specific. “All we know is keeping and breeding African Rift Lake cichlids” they said “and we are focused on this part of the hobby”. Well, indeed they are. Greece is definitely not USA or Germany, far from it. Here, owning one 60 liter – almost neglected tank – makes you a «hobbyist» or so you think. Owning two of them makes you a serious hobbyist. However, Stefanos and Nathan don’t own two such tanks. They own more than 45 tanks, plus 3 display ones and (as you can see) they are as far from “neglected” as they can be. They currently keep and breed a great number of Malawi and Tanganyika cichlids and they are about to get their first fry from a Victoria Lake cichlid. I believe that the presentation of their tanks and their work (in a series of articles starting in this update) may show the way to a great number of hobbyists.

840 liter Tanganyika cichlid tank

Owned by Stefanos Fluntzis

It is almost impossible to explain to you the kind of troubles I had with my wife in order to get this tank (George knows very well what I am talking about) but surely the final result justifies the means. This particular tank was purchased in October 2002 in order to house seven Cyphotilapia frontosa. I followed the advice of more experienced hobbyists and acquired all my fish as juveniles so they will grow up together. I have been raising those C.frontosa since August 2001. In this particular tank, apart from the C.frontosa I keep five Neolamprologus leleupi, five Altolamprologus calvus, five Tropheus moorii sp. “Kachese” and one pleco. I am sure that some of you will comment on the addition of Tropheus in this setup based on their different feeding needs. I would like to ensure you that all the fish thrive and with an extra effort during feeding time I have managed to avoid the dreadful Malawi bloat – up to now.

Up to now, everything is on order and aggression is kept at bay. This is mostly attributed to the set up of this tank. There are many stones forming caves while there is a large cave at the back of the tank able to house two adult C.frontosa. I would like to note that some of my stones form natural small caves as you can see in the picture, thus increasing the number of hiding spots in my tank. I was really happy when I discovered those stones but I had to carry them for 500 meters (on foot) and then travel 520 Km  more with my car (and take two boats) to bring them to my tank. Apart from the stones I have added some corals for two reasons 1) they are creating a lot of small caves which will be very useful when the first fry arrive and 2) I like their appearance. Substrate is – again – prewashed sand from a nearby beach collected by myself. I use the same substrate for all 45 tanks we own with Nathan for three years now and there have been absolutely no problems. The dimensions of this tank are 108 x 108 x 72 and the filtration is taken care by an external EHEIM 2260 while the water is heated by two Rena Excel 200 W heaters. The temperature is controlled by a digital thermometer by Hagen and is constantly 25.8oC. Water changes (15% at most) are performed every 10-12 days. During water changes the temperature always fluctuates between 25.7-25.9oC - never higher or lower. My pH fluctuates between 8.6 and 8.9  -  I guess the stones collected from the sea contribute to that. Light is provided by two 90 cm Gro Lux fluorescent tubes by Sylvania and a Rena 300 air pump adds fresh air in the tank.

Overall view of the main Tanganyika display tank

Neolamprologus leleupi

Some of the juvenile Cyphotilapia frontosa. The larger fish decided not to get our of their hiding spots

Continued in next page

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