The Swamp tank, two years after.
by Francesco Zezza
It is always interesting (and sometimes amusing) to spend some time in evaluating the changes that have taken place during the "life" of any of your tanks. This is much easier if you happen to have pictures taken during previous "stages" or even when you first set it up.
That’s what I did with the Swamp Tank after almost two years of running, and yes, things have really changed in many ways as you will see below:
Let’s begin with things which have been removed (for whatever reason). Many of the plants have changed: the Bromeliads is ho longer here, the same if true for Ivy (both kinds of it) while the Ficus repens has remained – almost – at the same (minimal) size. Among fishes the Xenoophorus captivus "Illescas" (an extinct species among wild Mexican goodeids) are – despite the fact they’ve bred – gone too …
Well, this is enough with the bad news. Let’s see what has changed for the better - to a better shape, some elements have even be improving consistently during those two years! Let’s begin with a general overview of the tank as it looks in March 2004 (you can see how the tank looked two years ago here).
Quite some thing has changed, isn’t it? The Sindapsus sp. (pothos along the back wall is grown but not as expected, because it was repeatedly burned by the lamp), the Anubias have been consistently increasing in size, while some Crypotocorine sp. are still living quite close to the left – front – corner. Now, let’s go into more details … I think there are some interesting points..
To start with, the Anubia plants have reached a size (related to water level) which allowed them to develop aerial leaves which have a slightly different shape and colour than the submerged ones.
Some changes have taken place among fishes, too. The livebearers (Xiphophorus nezahualcoyoti, collected in Rio Panuco system, Mexico) have gained size, colour, and have also bred several times …
The latest addition (just a few days before these notes were written) has been a pair of dwarf cichlids whose correct name should be (I’m not that good in "New World" Cichlid taxonomy) Mikrogeophagus ramirezi (and previously was – possibly! – Papiliochromis altispinosa and – in the very beginning – Apistogramma ramirezi: what a mess …)
On this particular issue (keeping this pair) I have to admit (some) of my faults:
1. Their water chemistry is NOT 100% compatible with the needs of the Xiphophorus so a "secong best" target (suitable for both) is now my aim. Livebearers prefer alkaline environment while the cichlids thrive in slightly acidic water so I decided to go for something in the middle with absolutely "neutral", pH around 7.0. I think this should/could work … I’ll keep you tuned.
2. I know very little about dwarf cichlids (my only experience is keeping the A. agassizi collected in Peru, for about three years) and the search for more information is on the go!
Well nobody is perfect! Any way the fish swim (apparently happily) and feed (apparently normally) in the tank; even some "shy" courting behaviour could be seen (or "imagined"). So far so good!
A "fast fact sheet" on these little fellows is scheduled as soon as possible …