The author and his 150-gallon mixed community aquarium.
Nathan Berman photographs by the author except as noted
The auctioneer raises a bag
of fish high up in the air asking,
“Who will give me a buck for
this trio of red zebras?” I raise
my number. He points at me, “One dollar.”
He then switches his attention to another
man. “Two dollars,” he says.
Then, “Three dollars,” pointing at me
again since my hand never lowered.
“Four dollars,” the other man bid again.
Finally, “Five dollars!” he says, pointing
at me for the third time.
The other guy knows I’m serious, since
my hand is raised high. “Five dollars going
once…going twice…going three times—
sold for five dollars to number 22!”
Number 22 was me, Nathan Berman, a
third grader in Grand Rapids, Michigan last
March at our Grand Valley Aquarium Club
hunt at auctions and a regional shop hop
across the state.
Once I had everything ready in the
new tank, I first added a trio of adult
5-inch Melanochromis cyaneorhabdos (new
mainganos) and six 3-inch Pseudotropheus
red OB zebras (three of them with albino
genes) from the big club semiannual
auction. Then I added a trio of 2- to 3-inch
Pseudotropheus flavus from a mini auction.
I transferred my giant danios from my
20-gallon tank and bought another pair.
Then on the shop hop I added a pair of
2½-inch bumblebee cichlids, two 2½-inch
yellow-dorsal Labidochromis caeruleus, a
pair of Aulonocara nyassae, and a breeding
pair of Pseudotropheus minutus.
I have a 20-gallon aquarium that I have
had for as long as I can remember. It usually
contains tetras, my prized 5-inch red-tail
shark, a 10-inch pleco, and a couple giant
danios. Then about a year ago I saw an ad
for a swap meet for the local aquarium club,
and an interest in learning more about fish
was kindled. I saved up my money to buy
a 150-gallon tank, which I stocked with
Lake Malawi cichlids. After transferring my
shark and pleco, I began my African cichlid
I never thought that I would have any
spawns in my 150-gallon display tank
because of my belief that Malawi cichlids
are extremely aggressive. But boy was I
blown away by what happened next!
Last July I invited my friends Danny and
Dylan over to see my fish and help me clean
the tank. Danny asked inquisitively, “What
type of fish is that?” pointing at a crevice in
a large rock. I exclaimed, “Wow! Babies!”
I ran upstairs shouting “babies!” at mom,
dad, and my little sister. I was dazzled by
the moment, and I felt a motor in my head
generating happiness. I spent the rest of the
day perched in a chair watching the tank.
My first spawn ever! My breeding pair of P.
minutus was in a separate 10-gallon tank,
but I wasn’t having any luck there. I was
so excited I called my relatives across the
country, since so many in my family had
helped me save money for the tank.
Keeping Them Alive
Now I was concerned whether my first
spawn would survive. I didn’t sleep well
because I was worrying about them. The
next day Danny and Dylan came over
early, eager to see if my new fish were