Haplochromis sp. "Dayglow Fulu" male. Fish and Photo by Frederic Potvin.
Haplochromis sp. "Dayglow" is an haplochromine cichlid resembling a number of known species of Victoria Lake, in particular Haplochromis plagiodon. This fish is found in Kanyaboli Lake, and the breeding male coloration is quite striking. The head is powder blue with a black vertical bar glowing through the eye, and a black blotch is present on the upper part of the edge of the gill cover. The body ground coloration goes from yellow to blue, depending on the individual and it's mood, and more or less defined black vertical bars are present on the sides of the fish. A more or less defined longitudinal black line goes from the operculum blotch and runs to the center of the caudal peduncle. Another black line runs the base of the dorsal fin, which is powder blue and turns bright red at the tip. The same pattern of blue going to red if found in the anal fin, which harbors three orange ocelli, outlined in black. Pelvic fins are a light yellow, almost transparent, whereas the ventrals are almost black. Finally, the caudal fin is almost totally red, with some blue on the peduncle.
The female is almost colorless, with some individuals showing a faint vertical bar over the eye, and a very faint black longitudinal line in the center of the body
The very first time I ever saw this fish's name was on a shipment list my Aquarium Society was supposed to receive from Paul V. Loiselle. Unfortunately, this beauty wasn't part of the actual shipment we received in November 1995, as they were replaced by another species from the Victoria Lake area. In April 1999, as I was invited by the Ohio Cichlid Association for a talk on Victoria Cichlids, I was informed that they had received this fish from Paul Loiselle, and the person in charge of the conservation program was afraid that the fish would disappear from the area cause of the lack of interest from the breeders to keep fish on a long term basis. He thus offered a part of his original breeding group, an offer I could not decline. I flew home with a breeding group composed of two males and eight females, two of them were already brooding.
Upon arrival, the group was set up in a 85 gallons breeder tank, this is a home made tank with a very large bottom, c.a. 42 X 24 inches, which seem to suit well the needs of this new group. The H. sp. "Dayglow" shared this tank with 6 Vieja argentea juveniles of the same size, and surprisingly all these fishes exhibited the same amount of interspecific aggressiveness.
The tank decor consisted of a thick layer of natural fine gravel, and some rockwork providing suitable spawning sites and a few hiding places. The water chemistry was at a pH of 7.6, a total water hardness averaging 100 ppm, with a temperature of 79F. Some plants were present, mainly some Java ferns and Water lettuce at the surface. The filtering is performed by a built in internal filter, filled with polyester floss and activated carbon, and powered with a penguin 1140 power head. Aeration was completed using a HygroSponge filter fed with a Hagen Optima air pump. Heating was provided by a Visitherm 300W. Illumination consisted of two 48 inches 40W fluorescent, one being a cool white and the other a full spectrum bulb.
The breeding group was fed good quality flakes, spirulina flakes, Cichlid teen pellets as well as Doromin and Hagen Nutrafin for cichlid pellets. Their diet was completed by an occasional distribution of Romaine lettuce, which was originally meant for the V. argentea, but that they seemed to enjoy as well as their CA counterparts. The nitrogen cycle management was performed by large water changes (50%) every 2 weeks.
Haplochromis sp. "Dayglow Fulu" female. Fish and Photo by Frederic Potvin.
Haplochromis sp. "Dayglow Fulu" juvenile male. Fish and Photo by Frederic Potvin.
The dominant male exhibits all the possible colors, while other males will stay almost colorless, presumably to avoid drawing the dominant male's attention which is quite active and actively chase every other individual in his territory. This fish is quite active, always displaying to females and to trespassers, taking half of the 85g tank for his territory. Unfortunately, the actual breeding have not been observed, and I believe it happens early in the morning. In the following days after setting up those fishes in their new home, I was blessed with 2 additional spawnings. I decided to strip the females that were ovigorous upon arrival cause they were quite thin, and I didn't want to miss the chance to establish this new species in my area. My concerns were unwarranted as I was flooded with Dayglow fry in a matter of a few weeks. This fish are more prolific than the well known convict cichlid!!! (Archocentrus nigrofasciatus). The fry is easy to care for, they will eat all you will offer them, newly hatched brine, crushed flakes, spirulina powder, baby fish powder and so forth. They grow quite rapidly, reaching one inch in length in about 2 months, provided regular water changes, which were performed once a week.
Some of these fry were sold at auctions, some given to skillful hobbyists to disperse them in order to avoid loosing them completely in case of a "disaster" with the original group.
The older fry are now 2.5 inches long, and I'm expecting them to begin breeding quite soon. I've set up a dozen of them in a 35g with the same water conditions and maintenance. The males colored up at only one inch in length, which is quite interesting in a commercial point of view.
In closing, Haplochromis sp. "Dayglow" is a wonderful Victorian cichlid, easy to care for and breed, and I hope we will succeed dispersing this beauty all around the continent in the years to come.