We have very nice and stable wild catches of the Orange Bushfish from the Congo in our stock. The bubblenest-building species grows to about 6-8 cm, currently the animals are 3-4 cm long.
The Orange Bushfish is a very interesting species. It becomes already half grown and sexually mature. With increasing age the fish becomes more highbacked. Males and females are best distinguished by the shape of their ventral fins. The ventral fins of the females are considerably shorter. Other fin development is also lower in females, but males of lower social rank can reduce dorsal and anal fin development, which makes them look similar to females and reduce their exposure to attacks by dominant males. However, the ventral fins always betray them.
The colour change ability is phenomenal. Neutrally mooded animals are reddish-brown with a greenish shimmer, dark vertical bandages run over the body. Sometimes the fish show a light longitudinal band along the entire body. With increasing excitement, the basic body colouring becomes brighter and brighter, the vertical bands appear intensively. The light red in the vertical fins is not affected by this colour change and can be seen well in every mood.
The fish are cared for in tanks with a rich structure at temperatures between 20 and 24°C. Only for breeding the temperature should be increased by 2-3°C, then the water should be soft and slightly acidic. Microctenopoma ansorgii is a bubblenest builder, the reproduction is similar to that of paradise fish.
It is important to know that these fish have a high feed requirement. They are not particularly demanding, but frost and live food is preferred.
For our customers: the animals have code 115501 on our stocklist. Please note that we only 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.
Finally we were able to import again Phractolaemus ansorgii. The last importation was years ago. Sadly the fish are sold out already, but we nevertheless want to show you the interesting animals.
Formerly we obtained these fish from Nigeria, this time they originate from the Congo. In our current import obviously two colour morphs appear, a more reddish one and a more blackish one. We didn´t observe such differences in our former importations, the Nigerian ones were uniformly brownish. Sexually active males develop breeding tubercles along the flanks and around the eyes.
These unique fishes are said to be close relatives of the Kneriidae on the one side, but they show also many relations to the bony tongues, and here especially to the butterfly fish, Pantodon buchholzi. Phractolaemus are air breathers. It s said that these fish can attain a maximum length of about 20 cm. The photographed male that clearly shows breeding tubercles – is about 8 cm long. There is almost nothing known on the natural history of these unusual fishes.
Text & photos: Frank Schäfer