The convict cichlid Amatitlania (formerly Cichlasoma) nigrofasciata is really not a novelty anymore: it has been kept and bred in aquariums since 1939. The first aquarium animals of this very widely distributed fish in Central America came from the lakes Atitlan and Amatitlan in Guatemala. The genus to which the convict cichlid currently belongs was named after the latter.
As early as the 1960s, a uniformly flesh-colored variety appeared in breedings, and since then the “piggies” have also found their enthusiasts. “New” is the marble variety. It originated in 1992 by chance in large-scale breeding of the monochrome animals in Florida and became lokal quite popular. Across the ocean they spilled first to Southeast Asia, where the busy professional breeders are always on the lookout for interesting novelties, from there to Europe and the animals we are currently offering, we got from a Czech breeder.
Apart from the coloration, which is different for each individual, they are typical convict cichlids, which move through the aquarium like a pack of wild pigs, examine every corner for food and are always ready for a fight. You can almost hear them squealing…
For our customers: the animals have code 655922 on our stocklist. Please note that we supply exclusively to wholesalers.
In the past, the genus Cichlasoma included practically all the larger Central and South American cichlids, more than 200 species; currently there are only 16 species in the genus, all were cultivated and valued in the early days of aquarium science as Aequidens portalegrense. It is rarely possible to distinguish the 16 scientifically described Cichlasoma species with certainty, as they form numerous colour and local variants. If – as in the present case – the original location is unknown, one can only roughly indicate to which species the animals are closest.
The very beautiful Cichlasoma, which we can offer as offspring from a German breeder, were discovered by him in a pet shop; these animals were probably already bred. They are obviously the closest to the species Cichlasoma boliviense.
All Cichlasoma species in the narrower sense are comparatively tolerable, calm cichlids; the larger the aquarium, the less important are occasional digging and the very rare tantrums. C. boliviense grows to about 14 cm in length, but is already capable to breed when half grown. The species is temperature tolerant (20-28°C) and can be kept in any water that is suitable for drinking. The animals are open spawners and form a parent family. If a pair leads their offspring, there should be plenty of hiding places available for possible tankmates, because C. boliviense are very good parents who do not allow other fish to eat their cubs…
For our customers: the animals have code 641102 on our stocklist. Please note that we only supply the wholesale trade.
From the many Central American cichlids, that were grouped in the gigantic collective-genus Cichlasoma earlier, most species are cared for only by the experienced “old hares” among the aquarists, who don’t want any more a colorful community aquarium but prefer a preferably big aquarium with few, characterful fishes. The Central American cichlids are perfect for that: character-fish, that don’t make any compromises and show a complex and varied behavior.
But also among these character fish there are some relatively peaceful and comparatively small species, which show the exciting behaviour of their bigger and rougher cousins, but can also be cared for in a well chosen community of other fish, such as catfish, barbs, tetras and livebearers, especially as they treat the plants rather gently.
Among these species is Amatitlania sajica from the Pacific side of Costa Rica. These beautiful cichlids have not been imported for a long time, all specimens present in the hobby are bred ones. They are productive open breeders. It has often been the sight of such a pair cichlids, leading babies, which turned community tank aquarists into breeders…
Amatilania sajica can become in the male sex up to 12 cm, in the female up to 9 cm long and is regarded as one of the smallest species of the genus.
For our customers: the animals have code 660002 (4-6 cm) on our stocklist. Please note that we only supply wholesalers.
In their Central American home countries, the predatory colorful cichlids, that are classified currently in the genus Parachromis – before this, they were placed in Cichlasoma or Nandopsis – are called “Guapotes“. That means “the big pretty ones”. And actually, these species, some of which can reach up to 50 cm in length, are very attractive.
The smallest of them has so far been called Parachromis loisellei. It becomes “only” 25-30 cm long and only the males and in exceptional cases. Usually one can count on sizes up to 20 cm, they become sexually mature with 10 cm.
Particularly P. loisellei is besides regarded as most peaceful species, that in contrast to some other species of the genus. They only becomes “soggy” if the animals feel molested. However, a large aquarium is still a basic prerequisite for fish and aquarists to enjoy each other without restriction.
It was not until 2018, during the follow-up examination of the type specimen of P. friedrichsthalii, a species described as early as 1840, that it turned out that this specimen is actually identical to P. loisellei described as late as 1989. Thus P. loisellei became the synonym of P. friedrichsthalii. The fish that has been common in the hobby as P. friedrichsthalii is another species, which is now called P. multifasciatus. The exact background can be read here:
Morgenstern, R. (2018): Fishes collected by Emanuel Ritter von Friedrichsthal in Central America between 1838-1841. Vertebrate Zoology v. 68 (no. 3): 253-267.
We have the smallest of the “big pretty ones” as German offspring in the stock; until the current naming in the trade and among the hobbyists has prevailed, it will probably still take some time, on our stock list it is to be found until further notice still as Cichlasoma loisellei.
For our customers: the animals have code 652803 on our stocklist. Please note that we only deliver to wholesalers.
Text & photos: Frank Schäfer