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Apistogramma commbrae
Clarias batrachus marbled

Protocheirodon pi10.08.2016

In 1977 the „bible for all characin friends“ was punblished: Jaques Géry´s „Characoids of the world“. Almost at the end of this book a picture of a so far undescribed glass tetra was published that had an extremely unusual air bladder. This animal was described only one year later - in 1979 - by Richard P. Vari  as a new species, Leptagoiniates pi. The specific name refers to the shape of the air bladder that reminds one in the ancient Greek letter pi (π). Due to the transpareny of the animals the air baldder can be seen very good in live specimens. It was not easy for Vari to place the new species in a already described genus, but finally he decided to place it in Leptagoniates due to anatomical reasons.

New techniques bring new ideas. Two independent molecular analysis showed that the two species placed so far in Leptagoniates (namely L. steindachneri and L. pi) are not closely realted at all, but have to be placed even in different subfamilies: L- steindachneri in the Aphyocharacinae, l. pi in the Cheirodontinae. L. pi is a species that is very close to the basal evolutionary branch of the Cheirodontinae. So recently Vari, Bruno F. Melo, and Claudio Oliviera erected a new genus for L. pi, Protocheirodon. This genus is so far monotypical; this means it contains only one known species, Protocheirodon pi. The description of Leptagoniates pi was one of the very first publications of R. Vari. Sadly this publication was one of the last of Richard P. Vari and published posthumous. He died, aged 66, on January 15th, 2016 from cancer.

To the best of our knowledge Lepatagoniates steifachneri has not been imported yet as an ornamental fish. Protocheirodon pi, on the other hand, is available from time to time from Peru. The species has a very wide distribution in South America and can be found in almost all major river systems in the central and western part of Amazonia, including the Solimoes, the Purus, Madeira, and Ucayali. The fish is found unsually over sandy bottoms in quiet waters along the banks of the rivers and in backwaters. There is no sexual dimorphism described, but I feel that the females become bigger than the males. However, this is not proofed by anatomical examination.

Keeping Protocheirodon pi is not complicated at all. I suggest the common name „Crystal Tetra“ for the species. The company of other fish makes P. pi feel safe. This must not necessarily be conspecifics, other peaceful fish can also do that job. P. pi is not a schooling fish in the strict sense of the term. Once the fish have settled in a tank they will inhabit very small territories that will be defended in a harmless way against other Crystal Tetras. One can term P. pi as an absolutely peaceful species. The fish will readily take any usual fishfood that fits in size. Plants are ignored. P. pi attains a maximum lengst of about 5 cm.

For our customers: the fish have code 266003 on our stocklist. Please note that we exclusively supply the wholesale trade.

Text & photos: Frank Schäfer

Thayeria obliqua10.08.2016

Sadly the pretty Penguin tetra, Thayeria obliqua, is only very rarely offered. The species originates from the upper Amazon. Its congener T. boehlkei is always available in the trade. The origin of that species is somewhat mysterious, exclusively bred specimens are traded, but most probably T. boehlkei originates from Peru. And there is a third species known, T. ifati, from Guyana. All these species swim in a head-up position, the angle to the water surface is about 30°. This swimming behaviour, combined with the contrasting black-and-white-pattern, camouflages the typical fish shape and so the tetras are better protected against predators.

All these penguin tetras become about 5-6 cm long and are peaceful schooling fish. We are very glad to be able to offer after so many years again T. obliqua.

For our customers: Thayeria obliqua have code 296704 on our stocklist. Please note that we exclusively supply the wholesale trade.

Text & photos: Frank Schäfer


The very first species of cichlid that was ever kept in private aquaria was the Chanchito. At that time - in the year 1894 - the species was classified as Heros facetum. Later it was transferred to Cichlasoma, nowadays it is placed in the comparatively new genus Australoheros. Initially it was thought that there would be only one, but very variable species, of Chanchito. The current opinion is that all these varieties represent different species. Many of them remain still undescribed, so determination of Chanchitos can be pretty difficult. Currently about 30 different species are accepted.

We have obtained the pretty Australoheros scitulus from a German breeder. This Chanchito orginates from Uruguay and is very insensitve against low water temperatures. The brigt red eyes and the yellow breast make that species very attractive.

A second species - also from a German breeder - is rather close to what was thought to be the „classical“ Chanchito. That fish has very nice orange fins and many blue spots over the body.

For our customers: A. scitulus have code 633472 and A. facetus (which is listet for technical reasons still as Cichlasoma facetum on our stocklist) 645501 on our stocklist. Please note that we exclusvely supply the wholesale trade.

Text & photos: Frank Schäfer

Biotodoma wavrini BRAZIL05.08.2016

There are two accepted species of Biotodoma: B. cupido and B. wavrini. Both differ basically by the position of the lateral blotch, which is positioned above the upper branch of the lateral line in B. cupido and below the upper branch of the lateral line in B. wavrini.

Biotodoma cupido is widely distrubuted in South America and many differently colored populations are known - maybe at least some of them even represent different species. In contrast to that B. wavrini looks very uniformly. That species is distributed in the Orinoco and Rio Negro systems. Most often we obtain B. wavrini from Colombia, but this time the fish originate from Brazil. It is known scientifically that B. wavrini occurs in Brazil; there is even a quite isolated population reported from the Rio Preto da Eva. However, there are no externally observable differences to their Colombian relatives.

Biotodoma wavrini usually attains a maximum size of 8-12 cm and is thus almost a dwarf cichlid. The photographed specimens have a total length (including the caudal fin) of about 8 cm.

For our customers: the fish have code 634224 on our stocklist. Please note that we exclusively supply the wholesale trade. Available in very limited numbers only!

Text & photos: Frank Schäfer

A new algae-eater from Burma: Garra vittatula03.08.2016

We abtained for the first time ever this species of Garra. In this genus it is currently impossible to guarantee the exact determination of the species, for a hughe number of species is described and most of them look extremely similar to each other. Our fish at least are very close to G. vittatula.

All species of Garra are good algae eaters and are usually kept rather for that purpose than due to the coloration. However, well established G. vittatula look quite attractive, maybe because they often show a reddish caudal fin. There is one very obvious behaviour in G. vittatula: it is extremely social. The specimens regulary search for conspecifics. So this species should be kept in small schools composed of at least 5 specimens. Maximum size reported for Garra vittatula in scientific literature is about 6-8 cm, so our specimens are probably fully grown already.

For our customers: the fish have code 416433 on our stocklist. Please note that we exclusively supply the wholesale trade.

Text & photos: Frank Schäfer

Shell dwelling cichlids from Lake Malawi: Maylandia cf. elegans LIKOMA03.08.2016

A good number of shell dwelling cichlids - this means that the fish use empty shells of freshwater snails for hiding and breeding - is known from Lake Tanganyka. Here mosty species related to Lamprologus  have chosen that way oft life. This is not astonishing, for all these cichlids are cave-brooders. So empty shells of freshwater snails are a highly appreciated addition of breeding sites, which are always rare and fiercly contested in the wild.

However, things are completely different in Lake Malawi. The cichlids living there belong to the Haplochromis relationship and are agamous (this means that they never form stable pairs) maternal mouthbrooders. Consequently there is no species of cichlid known from Lake Malawi that uses empty shell for breeding purposes.

Nevertheless shell dwelling cichlids are known from Lake Malawi. They belong to a small complex of closely related species that are not easy to distinguish from each other. We have one of them, Maylandia cf. elegans LIKOMA, currently in stock. Another name for that species in the hobby is Maylandia s. „Livingstonii Likoma“. This is a clear hint to the close relationship between these two species. And of course all species of Maylandia are occassionally placed in Metriaclima; both generic names are synonymous to each other.

The shell dwelling cichlids from Lake Malawi use the empty shells exclusively as hiding places. In the natural habitat of the fish - mostly sandy areas - hiding places are scarce. If Maylandia cf. elegans LIKOMA is kept like „normal“ Mbuna cichlids in an aquarium with stones and other hoding places, they will not use empty snail shells. But in the wild they do not have an opportunity. So the adaption to a new resource enables Maylandia cf. elegans LIKOMA and its close relatives the improvement of a habitat that would offer no chance to survive for Mbuna cichlids otherwise. We can observe here a case of the process called „evolution“ by scientists happening right before our eyes. Isn´t that fascinating?

For our customers: the fish have code 568352 on our stocklist. Please note that we exclusively supply the wholesale trade.

Text & photos: Frank Schäfer

Nannostomus eques and N. unifasciatus: two odd birds29.07.2016

Among the pencil fishes, two species are very conspicuous due to their oblique swimming style: Nannostomus eques and N. unifasciatus. The two species often appear intermixed in the wild. As a result they are often found as bycatch in importations of the other species.

These „hockeysticks“ are very nice fishes. Like all other pecilfishes they should be kept only in community of comparatively gentle species. Due to the very small mouth of Nannostomus the keepers has to pay some atttention on the feeding. In fact, both Nannostomus won´t refuse any type of usual fishfood, but the particles have to be rather small. Successful breeders of these fishes favour freshly hatched Artemia nauplii for these species - for the adults! So, if possible, one should offer that type of food at least twice a week.

Males and females can be distinguished in all species of pencilfish best by the anal fin. That fin has a different shape in malles of all species and often also a different colour.

For our customers: the fish have code 271803 (N. eques) and 274206 (N. unifasciatus) on our stocklist. Please note that we exclusively supply the wholesale trade.

Text & photos: Frank Schäfer

Hemiloricaria bycatches25.07.2016

The past days were dominated by whiptail catfish. Along with our first importation of Pseudoloricaria sp. (see came as bycatch not less than four different species of Hemiloricaria! This is extremely unusual, for all these species have a very similar way of life and so they stand in direct competetion to each other. The four species are Hemiloricaria fallax, H. teffeana, H. castroi, and H. sp. Barcelos.

May this be as it is: we also obtained - from the very same area - even a fifth species, namely Hemilorcaria sp. Weißdorn, also known under the name H. sp. Amazonia. Raphael Covain, a French scientist that works a lot with Rineloricaria, informed us - based on his research on the genus - that the latter species is identical with Rineloricaria platyura.

The generic names Hemiloricaria and Rineloricaria have both been established in 1862 by P. Bleeker. The validity of Hemiloricaria is reason for a debate among scientists. There are two basic opinions, the one is that both genera are valid, the other (i.a. the one of Covain) that Hemiloricaria is a synonym od Rineloricaria.

We are not specialized in this group of fish and simply follow the opinion that is most commonly shared in the German speaking area. This is that Hemiloricaria is a valid genus. In any case we thank Raphael Covain sincerely for his help. Many thanks also to Ingo Seidel who helped us to identify the bycatches of Pseudoloricaria.

For our customers: we currently have the following species that were mentioned above in stock: H. sp. Weißdorn/H. platyura  (code 288965), H. fallax (code 287804) and one specimen of H. cf. castroi (code 287655). Please note that we exclusively supply the wholesale trade.

Text & photos: Frank Schäfer

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