M. polyacanthus is a piscivore and must be fed small live fish. If you’re
working a breeding program and looking for a fish to eat culls, an individual
or group of leaf fish would be an excellent choice. Feeder guppies also work,
and most individuals will eat feeder ghost shrimp as well. Dry and frozen
foods are generally not accepted. Breeding begins in cichlid-like fashion,
with the female depositing adhesive eggs on the underside of a leaf, which
are fertilized by the male. After spawning is complete, the male builds a
bubblenest to cover the eggs and then guards them until they hatch in
about five days. Once free-swimming, the fry are large enough to accept
baby brine shrimp and similarly sized live foods. Like the parents, they
must be fed live foods. The fry are highly cannibalistic, so it is important
to separate them according to size on a regular basis.
Nannostomus eques has long been a favorite of advanced hobbyists. It has regularly been available from Brazil, Guyana,
Colombia, and Peru, and it goes by many common names, with the
most common being diptail pencilfish. This is derived from the
color pattern of the caudal fin, in which the upper lobe is clear
and the lower lobe is black, making it look like only the lower part
of the tail is really there. Other common names include auratus
pencilfish (a name it shares with N. unifasciatus), tube-mouth
pencilfish, and true pencilfish.
It is a slow-moving and peaceful species with a very small mouth,
and it is easily overcome at feeding time in most community tanks,
causing it to slowly starve to death under the care of most aquarists.
In a species tank—or when maintained with fish that will not
outcompete it for food—it is an attractive, interesting species that
grows to about 2 inches in length and does best in large groups.
In the past couple of years, a color morph sporting a red
lower-caudal lobe has been exported to the aquarium trade from
Colombia. These fish originate in the areas around the cities of
Inírida and Puerto Gaitán, and are much more strikingly colored
than the regular form. Care is otherwise the same.
The demon eartheater Satanoperca daemon is a large geophagine cichlid that is occasionally available to the aquarium trade
from Brazil and Colombia. Fish shipped out of Brazil tend to be
6 to 10 inches in length, while smaller fish, around 3 to 4 inches
in length, are available from Colombia from November to January.
This species typically inhabits blackwater areas in the wild, but is
quite adaptable in the aquarium and will do well in water that is
soft and acidic or hard and basic. They’ll tolerate temperatures from
the mid-70s to the upper 80s.
Since S. daemon grows to about a foot in length, large tanks are
a necessity for long-term maintenance. One of the real keys to
success with this species is to feed a varied diet of high-quality
foods. Feeding sufficient quantities of food can be a challenge, as
these are voracious eaters that will slowly fade away if underfed.
This heavy feeding means that excellent filtration and regular
partial water changes are very important. Despite its large size, this
is a very peaceful cichlid that can be kept with any fish that won’t fit
into its mouth—although it’s not a very efficient piscivore, a school
of cardinal tetras or other small fish would just be too tempting to
pass up. Angels, discus, Uaru, most catfish, and larger characins
make great tankmates.
This species is not sexually dimorphic and is difficult to spawn
in the aquarium. S. daemon do best when kept in a group, as the
interaction between the individuals is interesting to watch. There
will be a definite hierarchy within the group, but very few displays
of aggression. Occasionally two fish will lock lips and push each
other around the tank. This behavior seems to have more to do
with establishing dominance than anything else, and is the height
of their aggression. It is rare for one individual to chase another,
but those lower on the totem pole will usually stay out of the way
of the more dominant specimens.
This species is an eartheater but doesn’t spend as much time
grubbing through the substrate as members of the genus Geophagus,
though they will do so at feeding time. Fine gravel or sand is the
preferred substrate. They’re usually not too hard on plants but will
occasionally uproot them, consuming some soft, fine-leaved ones. D