tank designs since then, with the preferred
maximum depth being 14 to 18 inches, 2 feet
in width, and as long as possible, up to 8 feet
as space permits. They like to roam around
and prefer a long and wide tank over a deep
one. I plopped a pair into their custom tank,
and they promptly spawned, perhaps inspired
by the big water change in their new venue.
Everyone gets lucky once in a while. I stole
the eggs, and some of them hatched.
Lost and Found
After maybe 10 years and four generations
of micros, I had the not uncommon idea
to open a tropical fish shop of my own.
Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on
how you look at it, I had the means to do so
and went ahead with the plan. At around the
same time, I also decided to move to another
house, and the shop offered an easy way for
me to move my fish. I could temporarily put
all of my personal fish in the shop and simply
not offer them for sale while I moved my
tanks to the new house. Afterward, I could
bring my fish home. This transition took
longer than I planned, and many of my fish,
including the micros, languished in the shop
for several months. With the new business
being a priority, I simply did not have the time
I wanted to set up new tanks at home.
One day I noticed that the eight micros
(each about 4 inches long) I was holding were
dark and not eagerly eating, so I brought them
home. I noticed they had stringy white feces
hanging from their vents, and I assumed they
picked up an infection. Whatever infection it
was wore them down, and they all perished.
For a couple of years, there were no micros
in the fish shed. Other collectors brought fish
back, and there were some breeding reports,
but no fry became available. A trip to Copán
was in order!
The flight from Houston to San Pedro Sula,
Honduras was routine, as was renting a car and
driving west. The Río Copán was a medium-sized, fast-flowing stream that showed signs of
erosion. Most of the tropical forest in the area
was gone. There were tobacco farms in the
area, as well as cattle ranches.
It took me two days of throwing a heavy
cast net to catch nine small micros. I never did
see an adult. The tactic that succeeded was to
sneak up on an in-stream boulder and throw
the net over the boulder into the slack water
behind it, where the micros apparently hide,
much like trout do.
The Río Copán, home to Vieja microphthalma, often called the micro.
V. microphthalma is a shy species that should be provided with flowerpots and other places to hide in.
V. microphthalma fry are generally slow growing.
Bringing the Micros Home
Upon returning home from my successful
trip, the nine micros were installed in a
100-gallon tank with some Thorichthys
aureus and a pair of banana gobies Awaous
banana. I lost some along the way—the pair
of large banana gobies apparently killed two
large male micros. I could find no other
explanation; the deaths stopped after the
gobies were removed.
Micros like to move substrate around,
so I recommend having a couple of inches
of sand or aquarium gravel in the tank for
them to play with. And since they are a shy
species, plenty of hiding places in the form
of large rocks, pieces of slate, 4-inch PVC
pipe, and flowerpots should be provided
Tropical Fish Hobbyist www.tfhmagazine.com