Eretmodus cyanostictus in the home aquarium of Sergey Anikstein. Photo by Sergey Anikstein.
Some months have passed, before I managed at last to achieve spawning Eretmodus cyanostictus. This is not an easy task, but I feel triumphant with the results, and I am now raising up the fry. This is one of the most interesting representatives of the family Cichlidae found in Lake Tanganyika.
Here is a little history: Eretmodus cyanostictus was described by Boulenger in 1898 on the basis of specimens caught around Mpulungu, which was then known as Kinyamkolo. (A. Konings) There are three representatives of so-called "goby cichlids," named for being similar to marine fishes (goby a manner of movement by jumps). It is one of the oldest species in the lake according to its DNA (Verheyen, 1996). All Eretmodus live in the surf of the lake and love the oxygen rich water. For the most part the Eretmodus that are exported are caught near the shores in Burundi. (A. Konings)
My Eretmodus cyanostictus were no the exception and on the price list from MalTaVi it was legibly listed as Eretmodus cyanostictus (Burundi). All 6 fish were about 7-8 cm, and almost adults; they had a rather bright coloring and looked "wild."
One of the males, with a large abrupt head occupied a choice territory that contains a flat stone about 40 cm by 40 cm and has courageously protected it from encroachments of other fish. I have them housed in a 400-liter aquarium, where the Eretmodus share their living space with Paracyprichromis nigripinnis and they are constantly competing over the flat stone, which seems to attract all the fish. With variable success, the stone would transfer "from hands to hands" between the Eretmodus and the large male Paracyprichromis. Among each other the Eretmodus cyanostictus too frequently have clashed, but with plenty of area on the bottom of the tank and various shelters have helped to avoid fatal cases. Seeing such opposition, I have put in an additional vertical and flat horizontal stones, and also some brick with holes that the Eretmodus have found quite pleasing.
Eretmodus cyanostictus female carrying eggs in the home aquarium of Sergey Anikstein. Photo by Sergey Anikstein.
The new inhabitants love to eat and have eagerly accepted both dry spirulina and zooplankton, they look ridiculous trying to catch it and appear like they are bowing down to it. All the water parameters are standard for cichlids of Lake Tanganyika. The only special attention I have given to this tank is oxygenation of the water. I have modified my Fluval 403, so that the in coming water is about 10 cm above the water level.
Now 2 - 3 months have passed since my first spawning. For the first time I have seen my male with swollen cheeks, and I didn't understand. I again re-read all the Konings' papers about the spawning behaviors of Eretmodus. Nowhere did it mention about the male incubating the eggs. After 5 weeks and no fry I decided to shake the male in hope to see fry, but alas, no fry appeared and all the eggs were gone.
I continued to watch the fishes and saw two Eretmodus spawning, one of which was the male with the abrupt head. I decided to keep an eye on them so I could figure out how the exactly spawned. After about an hour I figured it out, the fish with the abrupt head was a FEMALE!!!! This time I could not wait, and decided to strip her even though only a few hours have passed. As I separated the "grains from shells" (Russian proverb) and I had 12 eggs and put them in an incubator.
The eggs of Eretmodus cyanostictus are the size and color that is similar to eggs of Paracyprichromis. In a couple of weeks the fry have started to escape from the incubator, and had to be moved a couple of times. After approximately four weeks of incubation there were 6 medium-sized (7-8 mm) fry of miscellaneous color. I had two forms of fry, one literally black, and the rest were a gentle cream color. Now as they are older they have gained a light-grey coloring. I assume that at this stage, the males differ from the females.
The fry are willing to eat freshly hatched baby brine shrimp and gradually became accustomed to a dry flake from Wardley (Brine Shrimp Flakes). After some weeks have followed a new spawning, with the same male, but with another female, which resulted in five more fry. Thus I have managed to realize an old dream , the successful cultivation of "goby cichlids."
Eretmodus cyanostictus pair in the home aquarium of Sergey Anikstein. Photo by Sergey Anikstein.
A special thanks to Pam Chin for reviewing this writing.