can be collected and moved to a grow-out
tank if desired.
disorder may become harder to treat or
prevent from occurring in the first place.
HLLE is generally a rather simple
disorder to treat, but it takes patience
and perseverance, as it does not go away
overnight. Since the vast majority of
outbreaks are environmentally related, the
obvious choice for treatment is to simply
change the environment to one more suitable
to the fish. The reversal of this disorder will
take time; in severe cases, it may not happen
at all, but removing the fish from a poor
environment or correcting their current
environment will, at least, hopefully stop the
progression of the condition.
Of course, be sure that any cichlid that
is suffering from HLLE is fed a varied diet
that always includes plant matter. Some
hobbyists have speculated that the alpha-and beta-carotenes found in green plants
and/or seaweeds assist in the reversal of this
disorder. Assuming that no other ailments
are affecting your fish, refrain from using
medication, even if it claims to cure HLLE.
Medication should never be administered
to fishes unless they are actually suffering
from a pathogen that you can identify with
Hoplarchus are amazingly beautiful and
interesting fish. They are large-growing
cichlids with unique and fascinating habits
and behaviors. The species is not for fainthearted hobbyists, however, as it is a true
tankbuster that needs a lot of space to
thrive in captivity. I am a better aquarist for
having had the privilege of maintaining this
species in my collection for so many years.
The most commonly encountered
outbreaks of HLLE are caused by poor
environmental conditions. I should clarify
that my use of the word “poor” here doesn’t
necessarily point towards the quality of
the water (although that may be the case),
but rather that the environment of that
particular aquarium is not suitable to that
particular fish. And although I speak of
Hoplarchus here, I could just as easily
be speaking of other cichlids, including
Hypselecara, Astronotus, Uaru, Cichla, or
even Parachromis—all such groups are
prone to the disorder.
One of the easiest ways to prevent
HLLE from an outbreak caused by poor
environmental conditions is to study and
apply what you know of the fish’s preferred
environment in nature. For example, we
know that Hoplarchus prefers soft, acidic
backwaters of rivers, lakes, and other
bodies of water. Thus, one should come
to the conclusion that an aquarium with a
high pH and hard water is not really a good
environment for a species like H. psittacus.
More importantly in regard to the
environmental conditions, however, is the
lack of dissolved metabolites in their water.
The Amazon and Orinoco Rivers are by and
large “clean” systems—they do not contain
high levels of nutrients. Therefore, water
that is high in nitrates, for example, may
contribute to the proliferation of HLLE, as
would water high in dissolved wastes in
general. So that being said, make sure that
any aquarium containing Hoplarchus is as
clean and nutrient-free as possible.
To do this, it’s best to start with ultra-clean water, such as that produced by a
reverse osmosis (RO) unit. Strong, efficient
filtration, including a mature biological
filtration bed, will assist in keeping the
aquarium’s water clean and well-balanced.
In addition to a good filter—and even more
important to some—is the performing
of large and frequent water changes.
Essentially, a 50-percent water change each
week is about the minimum recommended
amount, with 50 percent every three or
four days being preferred by most serious
hobbyists wishing to eventually breed their
Hoplarchus. Additionally, if the stress of an
improper environment is coupled with the
stress of an improper diet, then the HLLE
Scott, B. M. 2002. “Cichlid Nutrition and Feeding
Strategies: Herbivores.” Cichlid News Magazine.
Scott, B. M. 2004 (584). “Aquarium Maintenance
of Large Predatory Freshwater Fishes: Part 1.”
Tropical Fish Hobbyist. pp. 52–56.
Scott, B. M. 2004 (585). “Aquarium Maintenance
of Large Predatory Freshwater Fishes: Part 2.”
Tropical Fish Hobbyist. pp. 56–59.
Scott, B. M. 2006 (235). “The True Parrot
Cichlid (Hoplarchus psittacus) in Aquariums.”
Buntbarsche Bulletin. pp. 12–15.
Axelrod, G. S. & B. M. Scott. 2005. Encyclopedia of
Exotic Tropical Fishes for Freshwater Aquariums.
T.F.H. Publications, Neptune City, NJ. 848 pp.
Pronek, N. & B. M. Scott. 2006. Aquarium Care of
Oscars. T.F.H. Publications, Neptune City, NJ.
112 pp. D
Tropical Fish Hobbyist