The Three-spined Stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) is the most interesting and beautiful native aquarium fish. Its behavior has been intensively studied scientifically and the courtship, nesting and mating behavior of the species are still an integral part of school lessons today. The stickleback is a model organism for instinct research.
Systematically-scientifically, the three-spined stickleback remains poorly understood. Over the centuries, 47 species of threespine stickleback have been described, but only a few of them are valid, the vast majority are seen as synonyms. In terms of behavior, a distinction is made between a stationary freshwater form and a migratory form that spends large portions of the year in the sea and returns to freshwater only to breed; in addition, there are apparently purely marine populations. Anatomically, there have been repeated attempts to use the number of lateral body plates as an identifier for species. For example, Gasterosteus gymnurus was for a long time considered a valid species lacking these plates on the caudal peduncle. However, recent DNA-based studies could not find any differences between G. gymnurus and G. aculeatus.
Three-spined sticklebacks live in practically all of Europe, large parts of northern Asia and North America. Our animals come from German fish farms. Unfortunately, nowadays most students and adults know these animals only from movies and books. Now is a good time to buy these fish for your home aquarium and watch this fantastic animal live.
For our customers: Three-spined sticklebacks have code 884005 on our stock list. Please note that we only supply wholesale.
Only very rarely we obtain the freshwater pipefish Microphis aculeatus from Nigeria. The fish belong to the free swimming members of the family and are very attractive. As in all pipefish the male has to care for the eggs until they hatch. The eggs are deposited in a pouch along the belly. So the male can be easily recognized by the totally different shape of the body. Moreover the up to 15 cm long males (females stay a bit smaller) have a pretty red stripe along the back and a nice pattern on the snout.
For our customers: the fish have code 149204 on our stocklist. Please note that we exclusively supply the wholesale trade.
There are three species of freshwater pipefish known to occur in West Africa. They live in inland waters along the coast and have a very wide distribution. One can find these fishes from the Senegal to Angola (roughly 16°N to 18°S). The term „West Africa“ is not used here in the sense of the UN, but is meant as the whole coastal line of the continent. We obtain our freshwater pipefish from Nigeria.
In our current import of that species we found intermixed some bycatches of the two other known species of pipefish from West Africa. Both belong to the genus Enneacampus. This genus has been established only in 1981 and contains only these two species. In contrast to Microphis Enneacampus live more substrate orientated. Although they swim around from time to time they prefer to rest on the bottom or to crawl in caves or waterplants. The first species is Enneacampus ansorgii, a species that is already known quite well in the hobby. It is even bred from time to time. This species is quite tiny and attains a total length of about 8-14 cm. Males have been found to bear eggs with a length of 7.5 cm already. There is a comparatively large number of publications in the aquarium literature, but most of it has been written prior to 1981 under the synonym of Syngnathus pulchellus. So if one does research on the species in literature the search should include the name Syngnathus pulchellus.
We find the coloration of the second species, Enneacampus kaupi, quite spectacular. Five specimens we could pick from our Micophis import, one is bright yellow, three are brick red and one almost black. We think the these colours are due to the breeding season, because in the scientific literature E. kaupi is described as rather brown with a red belly. This species is somewhat larger than E. ansorgii, sexual activity starts at a length of 8.5-9 cm, while the largest specimen observed so far had a length of 17 cm. Both species of Enneacampus look very similar at the first glimpse, but on a closer look one can clearly see that E. kaupi has a comparatively longer snout.
Regarding keeping pipefish in aquaria: all species are quite demanding fish in respect of feeding. Without a a save source for living food it can not be recommended to try to keep them. Microphis aculeatus and Enneacampus kaupi feed readily on life bloodworm and white moskito larvae. The tiny M. ansorgii cannot swallow such large food items, they prefer small crustaceans, like Cyclops, Daphnia etc. They also accept Artemia nauplii (best: newly hatched, due to the nutrition factor). If one has to feed the pipefish regularly with brine shrimp it is best to add some salt to the water in the aquarium (a tablespoon per 10 litres of waters). This is tolerated by the pipefish and the brineshrimp stay much longer alive.
For our customers: Micophis aculeatus has code 149204 on our stocklist. The few specimens of Enneacampus have been given to a breeder, so we have none for sale. Please note that we exclusively supply the wholesale trade.
Once more we obtained from India (Bengal) wonderful Eyespot Spiny Eels. The fish are of adult size and 12-15 cm long. The only complicated thing in this species is the scientific naming. The Eyespot Spiny Eel attains a maximum length of about 20 cm and ist one of the most colourful species of all spiny eels. One should be very careful during the acclimatisation, as the fish tends to develop a fungus in small wounds, but once the fish is settled it is very hardy and long living.
Formerly it was thought that there is only one species of Macrognathus, namely Macrognathus aculeatus, with an extremely wide distribution over South and Southeast Asia. Nowadays only individuals from Indonesia are thought to belong really to M. aculeatus. The small, striped Eyespot Spiny Eel from Bengal and Bangladesh is still named „Macrognathus aculeatus“ in many books and scientific articles on freshwater fishes of the region, but it´s proper name is – according to the most recent scientific research – Macrognathus aral.
One should keep this beautiful fish in a tank with a well structured equipment – roots, stones, caves, plants – and a soft bottom. Very small fish will be eaten, but against all other fish and conspecifics the Eyespot Spiny Eels are very peaceful. Settled fish will usually accept even granulated dry food, but frozen food items (bloodworm, large Artemia etc.) should be offered, too. Eyespot Spiny Eels spawn often in aquaria; males are smaller and more dainty than the females. Astonishingly these bottom-dwelling fish prefer the roots of swimming plants to spawn in. It is most likely that this hinders the eggs to sink in the deep muddy bottom in the natural habitats of the fish where the eggs would suffer. Spiny eels do not take any further care for their eggs.
For our customers: the fish have code 425155 on our stocklist. Please note that we exclusively supply the wholesale trade.
Text & photos: Frank Schäfer