Haplotaxodon trifasciatus information thread

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Colby Dixon
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Haplotaxodon trifasciatus information thread

Post by Colby Dixon » Sun May 13, 2007 5:34 pm

Hello!


My buddies store got in two Haplotaxodon microlepis by surprise, so he offered them to me at a price to good to pass up. It was my Cichlid impulse buy in quite a while and I have to admit I'm not really sure how to care for this fish :oops: I'm having a hard time finding info on them...

Can anyone here fill in a few missing details for me?

-What kind of a habitat does this fish come from in the lake?

-I have heard they are bi-parental mouthbrooders. If so, how/where do they spawn (bower builders?)

-Can these fish be easily sexed at 3-4 inches?

-It looks like these fish get pretty big...(Males to 10inches...) I assume a 6 foot tank would be recommended?

-I am reading these fish are carnivores..What would they feed on in the lake?

Thank You for any insight into these fish.

Currently, they are schooling with my Cyps until I figure out what kind of a tank to set up for them.

Image

Image

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Last edited by Colby Dixon on Sun Jun 03, 2007 5:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Colby Dixon » Sun May 13, 2007 9:10 pm

It has been suggested that this is actually H. trifasciatus (based on the number of stripes under the dorsal fin). Can anyone confirm?
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Post by Mark Smith » Sun May 13, 2007 10:52 pm

Definitely H. trifasciatus.

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Post by Colby Dixon » Sun May 13, 2007 11:10 pm

Mark Smith wrote:Definitely H. trifasciatus.
Ok. Good to know. Thank You.

...Now what? I don't think they are going to be comfortable in their current 4 foot tank.

Getting them a proper tank is not going to be an issue. I'm trying to figure out if I need a sand bottom, or rocky tank or just plain open water...Any ideas?
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Post by sidguppy » Mon May 14, 2007 11:33 am

all!

sand, cause they sometimes hang around near the sand.
rocks, cause they also dwell near the rocks
and open water, cause this is definitely a swimmer.

a good way is to put rocks on, say, half the floor of of the tank, roomy caves like you would do for those Cyps in there (great mix btw). "swim through caves".
but don't pile the rocks all the way to the surface; leave the upper half of the tank completely free.

once they're used to your tank they spend a fair time dwelling up there, especially if you give them some current.

Haplotaxodons absolutely love floating food; the shape of the mouth makes it easy to feed off the surface or near it.
mine were skittish in the beginning, now they're like fancy Koi-carps. if I feed floating pellets there's all kinds of slurp and snap sounds by the voracious feeding....and they eat anything and everything.

yes it's a piscivore in the wild and I feed mine with tiny smelt from the fridge, but it's not needed. it also goes wild on mysis, krill, flake, floating pellets, any kind of mosquitolarvae etc. but you could always toss in some guppies for the action show.

they do get large. I've seen H trifasciatus at 10" and it's the female that gets truly big. they're similar in length, but she's far more bulky.
there's very little to show who's who, but as mine are growing (they grow fast!!) I can see that except for less bulk, males have tiny yellow points on the tailfinlobes wich the females almost lack. impossible to see if you cannot compare. I got 6, so I can. I'm going to get more, cause mine are always together....a true shoaling fish.

I've had a few big disappointments recently with having weird and expensive fish, but this is a success story. a very easygoing easy to keep fish that's always there, always swimming, eating fine, never getting sick or nasty.

well worth keeping.
IF you can get a bigger tank -6 foot is indeed a good plan, given the adult size and more Haplotaxodons I strongly suggest to do so, they do very well in a group.
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Post by Colby Dixon » Mon May 14, 2007 4:24 pm

Excellent info Sidguppy. It sounds to me like they make a nice addition to a mild Tanganyikan community tank.

Any Idea where they spawn?
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Post by sidguppy » Tue May 15, 2007 11:17 am

no clue whatsoever

mine aren't adults yet and AFAIk this fish hasn't been spawned in captivity

wich is quite strange, since by all accounts this is a very common fish.

there are plenty pictures and observations from several experinced people on Haplotaxodons doing the mouthbreeding, accompany loads of tiny fry and taking them in their mouths, but I haven't found any pix or descriptions about how and where they actually spawn...

maybe Mark or Evert or Philippe Benoit can help us out, but I can't find anything about it.
on the sand? in a pit? on the rocks? in the open water? apart from the fact that the spawns are huge and that they're very obviously bi-parentals there's little information.
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Post by Mark Smith » Tue May 15, 2007 1:18 pm

Hi Sidguppy

Good questions to ask. Unfortunately, I am not aware of anyone spawning either species in captivity, or anyone actually witnessing a spawning in the wild.

It is just one of those mysteries that has not yet been revealed. Perhaps you will be the first? If I was going to work with either species, I would keep only them in a large aquarium, no other species present whatsoever, in at least 150 gallons. Lots of live food only, and observe them frequently from a distance, so as not to disturb them if possible. Of course, keep all the basics in mind, ie property temp, water chemistry, perhaps only one male and several females only,etc.

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Post by Thomas Andersen » Tue May 15, 2007 1:36 pm

Haplotaxodon microlepis has been spawned, but only once as far as I know, by my fellow Dane, Max Bjørneskov in 1998. I don't think this has been published in any international publication, but it's mentioned in this Danish publication: Larsen & Ingemann Hansen (1999) "Cichlider fra hele Verden". A quick translation:

"As far as known, only one breeder, Max Bjørneskov (1998) has suceeded in raising fry from this species, and only after several years "fighting" with different groups. The succesful breeding confirmed Konings theory that this species is a biparental mouthbrooder"

Not much, but if you guys are interested, I can try and write/call Max and see if he has the time to give a throughly spawning report.

All the best, Thomas

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Post by Colby Dixon » Tue May 15, 2007 4:21 pm

Thomas Andersen wrote: Not much, but if you guys are interested, I can try and write/call Max and see if he has the time to give a throughly spawning report.

All the best, Thomas
Thomas, that would be wonderful as I think I am going to give spawning H. trifasciatus a try.

I need to talk to my LFS and see if they can get anymore of these fish so I can have a fairly large group to work with...
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Post by Colby Dixon » Thu May 17, 2007 7:58 pm

While reading through the article called "Livebearing Cichlids" by Martin Geerts (1993, Cichlid Yearbook 3). http://cichlidae.com/article.php?id=093 Geerts notes that E.K. Balon notes in 1991 (before the description of H. trifasciatus) that H. microlepis is:
a pit brooder which "... guards its clutch in a sand-pit nest but after hatching collects the embryos into its buccal pouch and broods them"
. While Geerts later goes on to remark that there are no known larvophilous mouthbrooder in Tanganyika it is still tempting to think that Balon was correct in noting that H. microlepis spawns in a pit!

It is further tempting to speculate that since H. trifasciatus had yet to be described that perhaps this spawning method also applies to H. trifasciatus...
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Post by Thomas Andersen » Fri May 18, 2007 1:12 am

Interesting info, Seedy. I'm wondering if it could have been H. trifasciatus Max have bred - I'll find out :wink:

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Post by mime » Fri May 18, 2007 2:07 am

Hello Haploholic fellows

I’d like to begin with a larger view of one of my Haplotaxodon-tanks:
Image

I prepared a contribution to another forum concerning Haplotaxodon in November 2005 (!), but unfortunately never posted it. In doing the preparation I had several phone calls with Max Bjoerneskov, asking him everything he could remember on his Haplotaxodon. In the meantime I made a lot of observations with my Haplotaxodon and this thread gave me the necessary kick for posting.
I will start with the nice and informativ talk with Max Bjoerneskov, who allowed me to post this „summary“. It’s years ago, since Max kept this species, so he couldn’t remember everything I wanted to know.

The spawning aquarium was 2.45 m x 0.7 m x 0.6 m (around 1000 liters), filtered by an external Eheim filter, which we – Max and me – think is not important, as long as a good water quality is guaranteed. Total hardiness of the water was 20° dGH and pH was 8. He started with a group of 10 individuals, measuring around 12 cm. It lasted one and a half years from acquiring the specimens to spawning.
The pair separated from the rest of the group. When feeding one day, Max encountered them spawning. The female spit out some eggs during feeding, but continued spawning afterwards. The eggs fell to the ground, from where they were taken into the mouth by the female. Spawning took place over a sandy area without any pit. Max estimated the eggs around 1-1.5 mm in diameter (not measured). He stopped feeding for the first days. After 10 days the female transferred the young ones to the male. The whole brood numbered approximately 150 individuals.
There were also some Cyathopharynx and some Altolamprologus in the same tank.

Since those phone calls with Max I have two (presumed) pairs seperating from the rest from time to time, staying close together, swimming in circles, following each other, forcing the others very gently away. They lower their mouth bottom and branchiostegalia very often and extensively. Luckily I could film this behaviour, unfortunately in a rather poor quality on Hi8-cassette: low light level and old camera. But I didn’t digitize the film so far. The two bigger individuals from each pair are threatening each other, and sometimes both of the pairs threaten also other individuals of the group, which consists of 6 H. trifasciatus from Burundi and 3 H. sp. from Sambia.

Image
H. trifasciatus from Burundi: lowering of the mouth-bottom-region and circling of a pair with one intruder on the upper right, photo without flash


Image
H. trifasciatus from Burundi: another moment in circling, photo without flash


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H. trifasciatus from Burundi: the other pair, photo without flash


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H. trifasciatus from Burundi: with both lowering the mouth bottom, photo without flash

To the sexual differences: Years ago, when they were much smaller I vented them once during the night. To me the bigger ones seemed to be females, but, according to Kuwamura (1988), „Biparental Mouthbrooding and Guarding in a Tanganyikan Cichlid Haplotaxodon ?microlepis?“ (in Copeia), the females of guarding pairs in the lake are always smaller than the male. I had one dead individual, of which I photographed the genital papilla and which I dissected: It was a female.

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H. trifasciatus from Burundi: the dead one on the dissection tray


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H. trifasciatus from Burundi: its genital papilla


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H. trifasciatus from Burundi: its opened body cavity


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H. trifasciatus from Burundi: the ovaries layed byside


Look at the different size of the eggs in the ovaries; I don’t know at all, if the larger ones were ripe or not. I suppose they weren’t, because the ovaries are not that big for 100-200 ripe eggs. But I don’t have a good possibility for a comparison with the male genital papilla. My individuals are now quite big for a night-venting-session.

Sidguppy: Where do you have the information from, that normally the females are larger or at least bulkier than the males?

To their communication: Normally, when nothing special is happening in the tank, they show neither bars (vertical) nor lines (horizontal). When threatening or impressing the more dominant individual darkens its head and gill covers, with the rest of the body getting quite pale. The inferior individual then shows its bars, three in H. trifasciatus and four in H. microlepis.

Image
H. trifasciatus from Burundi or Kigoma: one of my smaller individuals with its three dark bars below the dorsal


Image
H. trifasciatus from Burundi: a pair above with one individual showing a little bit the head darkening, the subordinate with the bars and a third individual on the lower right showing no dark signs at all


In some occasion they show their only dark line, extending from the caudal peduncle to the gill cover, but I can’t really tell in what situations.

To the species/variant situation: I have both H. microlepis (5 smaller ones from Kigoma, caught by Leonardo Plinio) and H. sp. from Sambia (3 big ones and 7 smaller ones, all from Airfish) and H. trifasciatus (6 big ones from Burundi since 2003, 4 smaller ones from Burundi and 2 smaller ones from Kigoma, also caught by Leonardo Plinio) in my tanks. The following pictures should give you an impression of the three species/variants and why I separate the ones from Sambia and label them „H. sp. Sambia“.

Haplotaxodon microlepis:

Image
H. microlepis from Kigoma in „normal“ mood, without any bars or stripes


Image
H. microlepis from Kigoma showing its bars (only three in the picture)


Haplotaxodon trifasciatus:

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H. trifasciatus from Burundi: one older photo from my cyanophycean time


Image
H. trifasciatus from Burundi: one of the quite often yawnings


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H. trifasciatus from Burundi: the caudal filaments - clearly different to H. sp. from Sambia


Haplotaxodon sp. Sambia

Image
H. sp. from Sambia: a majestic posture, showing faintly the three bars and the line


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H. sp. from Sambia: a complete side view, shortly after I’ve got them, after the fin filaments were lost because of the transport


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H. sp. from Sambia: look at the high body of the individal in the middle – to me very typical for the ones from Sambia


Image
H. sp. from Sambia: the caudal fin – for comparison with the one of H. trifasciatus from Burundi

The ones from Sambia clearly show 3 bars below the base of the dorsal, clearly different caudal filaments and different body proportions and fin and body markings and colours. If H. trifasciatus is really another species than H. microlepis, what I think, then – to me – the ones from Samibia should also be a separate species.

Image
H. trifasciatus from Burundi on the lower right and H. sp. from Sambia on the upper left, which seldom show three broad and two narrow, incomplete bars

And now I am waiting again for threatening, circling and ...

My thoughts got a bit long, but I hope you don’t mind.
Greetings
Michael

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Post by Thomas Andersen » Fri May 18, 2007 2:27 am

That's some extraordinary info and photos :shock: Thanks Michael for sharing this.

I've never give it a thought that a third Haplotaxodon species could be present, but clearly you are right in your observations in body proportions, markings in the caudal etc. - cool! 8)

I guess there is no need contacting Max now, as you have allready done that - thanks again for posting this, it really gives something to think about :)

All the best, Thomas

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Post by sidguppy » Fri May 18, 2007 3:18 am

Sidguppy: Where do you have the information from, that normally the females are larger or at least bulkier than the males?
own observation from my own fish and the larger pair in Dhonti's tank.

all fish look exactly the same, they're all H trifasciatus, supposed to be imported from Brichard's station in Burundi.

it was already visible in Dhonti's huge pair wich is 2 fish about 10" in length. lengthwise there is virtually no difference.
the other one has a easy to see higher build and heavier body.

mine were tiny, less than 4" in length, but since they're growing they have changed color first; the silvery color with the 3 bands has changed into the brownish color with the yellow stripes, similar to some of the fish above.
3 are 'normal build, the other 3 are getting noticable bulkier......lengthwise they're all similar.

maybe I'm just seeing things that aren't there, but I think not.

btw I only had ther yellow points on tailfins, but this morning I spotted that one has a true filament on the lower tailfinlobe, the upper one seems to have been bitten off. however the 'biters' are going to leave soon anyway. and I'll get a few Haplo's more.

those true microlepis look absolutely stunning! very different bodyshape too, muich more streamlined. I can say for sure that I haven't seen em anywhere, all the Haplotaxodons I've seen so far are all trifasciatus.
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Post by Mark Smith » Fri May 18, 2007 9:39 am

Wow

Great info and photos Mime! So far then, H. trifasciatus has been spawned in captivity, but to the best of our knowledge, H. microlepis and the Zambian species/variant have not??

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Post by Colby Dixon » Fri May 18, 2007 3:19 pm

Wow! is correct!

Mime, Thank you for the wonderful write up!

I do believe this thread is now the best online resource available for Haplotaxadon info!

I will also keep this thread updated as I begin the process of setting up a tank for the fish.

I know we all frown uppon 'common' names...However, my wife has already taken to calling this Genus the "Pelican Cichlids" :D ...and I can't help but see the resemblance!
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Re: Haplotaxodon trifasciatus information thread

Post by Colby Dixon » Sun Jun 03, 2007 5:28 am

Well, mine have settled in and are starting to show their colors. They can't seem to eat enough and seem to already be growing. It's not going to be much longer before a 6 foot tank is required. I'm hoping to pick up a 240 or 180 gallon for them. Here are some new pics:

Image

Image

Image

Image
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Re: Haplotaxodon trifasciatus information thread

Post by Ammavita » Sun Jun 03, 2007 4:41 pm

Mime, I have discovered and just read very attentively your last intervention on this post :shock: :shock: :shock:
I wanted simply to thank you for this information, these photographs and to have divided them with us. :wink:
Thank you and when you want you give that again :lol:

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Re: Haplotaxodon trifasciatus information thread

Post by Bo » Wed Jun 13, 2007 1:33 pm

Very nice info on some very interesting cichlids!

I have kept these fish in my small shop for some time! I had no problem what so ever with them. The eat good, an were doing fine.
I sold them too a good friend of mine.
He has been experiencing some difficulties. The are very easily getting sick, and are blowing up. (bloat)

Does any of you have a record of them beeing fragile?

As mentioned, I dont think they were fragile, but whats you opinion on this issue?

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