Cichlasoma amazonarum breeding pair. Fish and Photo by Frederic Potvin.
You are looking at a 125 liters (33 gallons) tank, equipped with a canister filter, a thick layer of gravel, some driftwood and many plants. Among these plants, you can find some Vallisneria gigantea, Ceratopteris cornuta, Echinodorus parviflorus, and some floating Lemna minor. There are some flat rocks either laying on the bottom or standing almost upright against the lateral glasses of the tank. The water of the tank is moderatley soft and slightly acid water, and the water is kept very clean by regular water changes.
The only inhabitants of that tank is a pair of Cichlasoma amazonarum, a fish closely related to the type species of that genus, Cichlasoma bimaculatum, but showing a more colorfull dress when spawning. The couple is presently tending one month old fry, and their color is subsiding. The spawning dress is as on the picture, but the lower jaw and lower part of gill plate becomes a rich dark red. You also can note the midlateral spot flanked with two vertical white bars, a color pattern reminescent of Cleithracara maronii, the keyhole cichlid.
These fishes are very adaptable in their interspecific relationships, being mild with milder fisher, or becoming bullies when kept with bruisers. Furthermore, they react to their keepers, as you would expect from an oscar (Astronotus ocellatus). Their conditionning food consisted of good quality flake food, frozen blood worms and beef heart. The couple were fed twice a day the quantity they can eat in 10 minutes. Under the appropriate conditions, these fishes are very prolific, and will bless you with many fry.
|p>Cichlasona amazonarum pair at the spawning site, in the aquarium of Frederic Potvin. Photo by Frederic Potvin.|
Cichlasoma amazonarum benefits a target fish at breeding time, but fishes belonging to the same species fishes may be badly molested. I've seen two males performong jaw locking until they tore apart each other lips and jaws. Other species fishes are doing good, like Firemouths cichlids (Thorichthys meeki), or convict cichlids (Archocentrus nigrofasciatus). When a couple decides to mate, they perform the typical American cichlid behaviour, displaying to each other all the time and sticking together and chasing intruders in the choosen territory. When they are ready to spawn, the displaying intensifies, and they begin to clean the choosen spawning site, usually a flat stone nearly vertical. I've seen spawning on horizontal stones, but they will choose an upright stone if possible. The typical spawn consists of 300-500 small amber eggs arranged in circle onto the spawning substrate. These eggs take 60 hours to hatch at 80°F and the wrigglers are free-swimming after an additionnal 5 days. The female takes care of the brood while the male keep an eye on the territory. The youngs grow very fast, eagerly accept brine shrimp nauplii as well as any prepared food.
In my opinion, Cichlasoma amazonarum are the perfect cichlid, not too aggressive but enough to take care of themselves with more aggressive fishes. They are easy to spawn, at least the progeny of my original individuals, they are very prolific, and also very attractive. They tend to show personality, at the same extend as an Oscar would (Astronotus ocellatus). They are so prolific that, since the introduction of the first offsprings, I can not remember an auction of our fish club where I haven't seen them.
If you see these beauties passing by, buy them! You won't regret them.
Cichlasoma amazonarum fry. Photo by Frederic Potvin.