The blog migration is coming along really well. I originally planned to do it over the course of a couple of months. However, I started on it this past Friday and worked on it almost all weekend. I got the new platform installed, got the framework of the new site set up, and got all of the posts imported to the new platform. I expect the new site to come online in the next couple of weeks.
In addition, I just secured another interview that should appear toward the end of the year. I won't give away who it is, but I will say that those of you who are fans of CA cichlids should be pleased. Stay tuned.
This reminds me. If you have any suggestions for interviewees, send them my way. I'm not shy about reaching out to folks, even those I don't know. Of course, there is no guarantee that they will agree to do it, but I'm not afraid to ask. I've been fortunate that the majority of people I've contacted have agreed to do one. In fact, I've only been explicitly turned down one time. I have had many simply not respond to my inquiry, which is rather unfortunate and, frankly, pretty unprofessional. I would hope people would at least have the common courtesy to reply. A simple, "No thank you" is sufficient.
If you've followed the blog for a while, you've noticed some changes along the way. Up until now, all of those have simply been cosmetic in nature. However, that too is going to change shortly. I am in the process of migrating to a new blog platform. While the current platform has served me well, it's not been without its challenges as the site has grown and the content has evolved. I am beginning to run up against some limitations that just can't be overcome on this platform.
As a result, don't be surprised if there is a decrease in the frequency of posts over the next two or three months as I make the migration. The posts won't stop, but more of my time will be dedicated to the migration. However, I can tell you there are some good interviews coming up - one with an expert hobbyist, one with the president of a major product manufacturer, and one with a vendor of cichlid products. If you've been in the cichlid hobby for any length of time, you'll recognize all of them.
I'm excited about the new version of the blog. Not only is the platform going to change, but the appearance is going to change also. Please be patient with me as I embark on this comprehensive makeover. I think you'll be pleased when it's done.
As always, thanks for reading!
Many cichlidophiles will tell you that the "cichlid bug" is easily caught and hard to extinguish. Some call it an addiction rather than a bug. Just ask someone who's experienced it. I have and I assure you it's palpable.
It's no secret that novice cichlidophiles can't just stop at one...or two....or three fish or species. In fact, the more you read about the many species available in the hobby and everyone's experiences with them, the quicker your own addiction will manifest itself. However, after a while, you start to recognize that the first cichlid you bought is probably a species that is readily available - an oscar, convict, frontosa, yellow lab, etc. These are the equivalent of Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, poodles, chihuahuas, and German shepherds of dog breeds. Or you'll simply get bored of keeping the species that you have. I'm neither criticizing or ridiculing those cichlid species above nor the aquarists who keep them. I'm just pointing out that they're really common species, easy to acquire, and, for the most part, easy to keep.
Part of the excitement of keeping species you've never kept is the challenge, especially breeding them. Another exciting element is the chase - trying to acquire cichlids that aren't commonly available. So where do you start when trying to find those less common species?
That's a great question, and there is no simple answer. Much depends on where you live. Larger cities typically have more local fish stores, so these cities may have greater cichlid availability. Also, larger cities typically have cichlid clubs, whose members usually include some seasoned cichlidophiles. Those seasoned members are also often part of a network of hard-core cichlid keepers with an emphasis on the word network. Expert cichlid keepers comprise a pretty small community, and they usually know each other.
I'm not part of that crowd but I'll share my experiences with you. If you want a species that you're having trouble locating, either near where you live or via online cichlid sellers, start making inquiries and get involved. Join a local club, contact a club, join the ACA, or simply find a way to engage. The aforementioned experts can be a pretty tight group. Most of those that are really experienced are friendly but they're also pretty cautious, in my experience. They're not readily forthcoming with where they get all of their fish (hint: they get many of them from each other, they know the importers, or they acquire species themselves by going on collection trips to native habitats). In my experience, these folks will try to ascertain your cichlid knowledge before they decide how much information they share with you. Right or wrong, this sums up my experiences with many of these folks.
Thus, my advice is to check around and don't be afraid to ask questions. Don't take it personally if you reach out to someone via e-mail and don't get a reply. Also, don't take it personally if you do get a response and the person doesn't give you much information. It's possible he or she simply doesn't have any information to give or doesn't know much about the species you're after. On the other hand, you may reach someone who knows how to find what you're looking for but they won't tell you. It's not all that uncommon that species with limited availability are highly coveted, and those few who have them simply keep that information to themselves. Also, remember that not every species you read about is readily available in the hobby. In fact, there are numerous species that simply aren't imported/exported for a variety of reasons - politics, cost, location. Be persistent, be patient, and remember simple economics - supply vs demand. Hard to find species in the hobby are generally expensive if you find some available.
I'm not really one to get attached to my fish, like I do my dogs. I don't name my cichlids nor do I tend to have favorites among them. Don't get me wrong, though. I HATE to lose a fish for any reason...due to my fault or anything else, and it upsets me when I do. In fact, I'm highly self-reflective, always asking myself how I might have contributed to every fish's death.
With all of that said, I have to admit I do have one particular little cichlid that I often feel sorry for. She's a Callochromis macrops, and I posted about her earlier this year. Why do I feel sorry for her? Let's back up for just a minute and talk about emotion in fish. Back in July, I posted about ethics in fishkeeping. I mentioned that fish are quite sentient. But do they have "feelings"? The human species is notorious for anthropomorphizing, and I am guilty myself, though I work hard not to. In any case, I often feel sorry for my macrops because I wonder if she is sad.
As I mentioned in the post about her, she resides in a 75g Tanganyikan cichlid community tank with many other species. The tank occupants are pretty heterogenous, not just in species but also in gender and size. She is neither the smallest nor the largest. The smallest honor goes to my single Telmatochromis vittatus at about 3". The largest are either my male Neolamprologus tretocephalus or the "three stooges" - my three male Altolamprologus calvus 'black' - all four of which are 5" plus. Miss macrops is about 3.5". In temperament, she is easily the most docile and laid back cichlid in the tank, a fact that I think works against her.
Sadly, she is pretty much the one cichlid in the tank that seemingly can not find a safe spot to be in for any length of time. If my breeding pair of Telmatochromis sp. "temporalis shell" aren't chasing her off from their end of the tank, my dominant male Neolamprolous leleupi takes out his frustration on her whenever she gets near him. To make matters worse, it seems that everyone else has concluded that she's also a good target whenever she's in the vicinity at feeding time. She's often scrambling to pick up just a small bit of food wherever she finds it. To her credit though, she just seems to roll with the punches. She's always on the go and does her best to blend in, using her large forked caudal fin to dart away when targeted. She's not particularly pretty, sporting a uniform champagne color, a mouth with a slight overbite, and eyes so proportionally large that she appears almost deformed.
Maybe all of the above paints the picture of an underdog. Doesn't everyone pull for the underdog? I do.
If you use canister or HOB filters (or any filter that employs sponge or floss type media), you know that you can purchase additional or replacement sponges and floss from your filter's manufacturer or your LFS. Whether it's a Fluval, Aqueon, Eheim, SunSun, Sicce, Marineland, or another brand, sponges and pre-cut floss pads are often available to replace what is included with your filter purchase.
However, if you're like me, you buy your own sponge and floss in bulk and cut them to fit your various filters. To ensure that I always have these sponge media ready to go, I will often cut multiple copies and store them. To make this process easy, I simply create a template using a piece of cardboard. For canister filters with media trays, I outline a tray on the cardboard, then cut the cardboard template out. I then use the cardboard template on the sponge sheet, etc.
Depending on the filtration you use as well as the number of tanks that you maintain, this can be an economical approach to media replacement. Futhermore, buying your sponge or floss this way gives you greater media flexibility (e.g., thickness, PPI density).
The Cichlid Room Companion
Tropical Fish Hobbyist
American Cichlid Assoc.
African Cichlid Hub