6: story of my fish

by Paul Veenvliet
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6: story of my fish

Post by illustrator » Tue Nov 18, 2008 4:33 am

In this part of my blog I plan to keep track of what happens with the convicts in my aquarium. This is kind of a background for other items in the blog, or kind of a real story, if you want. I start with introducing both cons and plan to continue with short notes about what happens. I gave them names because it's easier writing a name than »the large female« or »the small male«, especially since small fish tend to grow. Despite giving them names I don't intend to write in an antropomorphic style. So, yes, my fish might attack each violently other but 'll not write that they are »angry«, simply because I can observe behaviour, but I cannot ask a fish about emotions. Some fragments of this story are also told elsewere in this blog.

The first convict cichlid is a female that I will call "Sabrina". I use German-sounding names because both convicts originate in Austria. I caught Sabrina on 11.01.2007 as a juvenile of about 2.5 cm. This means that she hatched in the fall of 2006. The first months I kept her with several other cichlids in an 80cm aquarium, but this did not go well. She lost part of her left pelvic fin, it was probably eaten by a juvenile Hemichromis. This fin healed, but remains shorter than the other pelvic fin. After that I kept her in a 60 cm aquarium, part of the time alone, part in company of some zebrafish (Danio rerio). Overall she grew up nicely, but much of the time the tips of her pectoral fins looked opaque, sometimes the tip of her tailfin as well. I presume that this was caused by an increased slime-production because of fluctuations in water quality, combined with increasing stress levels because of the small aquarium. Last summer (2008) she became increasingly shy, and I assumed that this added extra stress. I added a leucistic male convict (from trade), despite the very small aquarium size. I had to separate them with a divider off and on, despite that they spawned and the shyness of Sabrina almost disapeared. Once the young swam free, Sabrina became increasingly teritorial and chased the white male away. So first the divider remained in place permanently, then I removed the white male and Sabrina and some remaining offspring got the »whole« 60 cm aquarium (the white male had eaten part of the ofspring). The fin-problems remained (even though I first thought that they were gone) and Sabrina developed an increasingly white tip on her left pectoral fin, on photographs it looked like a beginning fungus infection. I decided for a drastic measure and cut of the outer 3 mm of the fin with scissors. The alternative would be to use medication, which would have a negative impact on the water quality (remember that the water quality was probably not good because of the small aquarium size), and although it might stop the fungus infection, it might at he same time have other negative consequences. It worked well, the fin-tip grew back and the infection did not return, but if you look closely the finrays are not entirely straight. It all shows that 60 cm is realy way to small for adult convicts, despite that it is mentioned as minimum aquarium size in a well known aquarium book (Aquarien Atlas, Mergus verlag). Finally, the larger aquarium arrived and in the beginning of Oktober 2008, Sabrina went to an 120 cm aquarium, some days later followed by her remaining ofspring. About three weeks later Sabrina's fins finally looked healthy, although the scars will probably remain visible.
sab1.jpg
Sabrina as a juvenile. Scattered in this blog are more recent photographs.

The second convict is a male that I will call "Wilhelm". I caught him in the Austrian stream on 11.11.2008 as a juvenile of about 3.5 cm. This means that he hatched in the summer of 2008. His tail is badly damaged by Hemichromis in the stream, but is currently regrowing. It looks like the lower finrays of his tail fin will remain bent because of scarring. I chose to catch a juvenile rather than an an adult because I figured that a juvenile would receive less agression from Sabrina and at the same time have an easier time escaping in case of agression. About three days after I placed Wilhelm in the aquarium, he changed to a more intensive adult colouration and started courting Sabrina. Sabrina either apears to ignores this, or chases Wilhelm away. A bunch of 2 cm youngsters from Sabrina's first clutch are still present in the aquarium: Wilhelm immediately established dominance over these youngsters and occasionally chases them. I guess that what will comes next is that Wilhelm will keep courting Sabrina, and once he is somewhat larger, he might well be successfull. I am curious when this will be, because right now Sabrina is almost three times as large as Wilhelm.
wil1.jpg
Wilhelm as he looks now. Note the scarring on the lower part of his tail fin.
wil2.jpg
Anothe picture of Wilhelm: the greenish/yellow fin colours are reflections of the light and depend on the angle under which the potograph is taken. These colourations will increase when he grows up.

It is amazing how quickly these fish adapt to changed circumstances. After a day or two they seem fully accustomed to aquarium-life and from the first day onwards they eat commerceal fish food (granulate) as if they have known it all their life. For some days such a con-from-the-wild looks like he is in a terrible hurry: apparently stream-life teaches that you have to be very active to find enough to eat while in an aquarium it pays of to calm down and wait untill a human head appears in front of the aquarium: this takes them only a few days to learn.

To be continued …
Last edited by illustrator on Wed Mar 18, 2009 12:08 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: 8: a story of two fish

Post by illustrator » Wed Dec 03, 2008 3:01 am

It's not at all easy to photograph a hyperactive small con. Wilhelm is growing well and his tail fin has nearly recovered. He is all day in courtship colouration and is very busy with courting Sabrina, digging holes in impossible places and chasing the youngsters. Not much reaction from Sabrina: she occasionally chases Wilhelm, otherwise she replies his courtship with mild threaths (turning stretched dorsal fin towards him).
wil.jpg
Note that he appears to have some orange pigmentation on his belly:
I am not sure about this, perhaps it's a reflection of the flashlight.
both.jpg
art.jpg

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Re: 6: a story of two fish

Post by illustrator » Mon Feb 02, 2009 2:27 am

Wil.jpg
Wilhelm growing up: he is about half-grown now. Currently not in breeding colouration, so his colours are not very contrasting, but I think that he will become a very nice fish in some time (actually: he is already).

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Re: 6: story of my fish

Post by illustrator » Wed Jul 08, 2009 4:11 am

wilhelm.jpg
Wilhelm is growing steadily, but he is sill only 2/3 of Sabrina's size. Sabrina is a very large female, because she spend most of her time without male company: she invested most energy in growing and little in reproduction.

However, in response to more frequent water changes, reduced number of fish and more live food (see topic "my aquariums") she recently came in breeding condition again. I first noticed that there were eggs when she tightly guareded a spot between stones. She did this alone and chased Wilhelm when he came close. By the time of writing the young are swimming free and Wilhelm is kept at least 80 cm from them. This makes the aquarium just about big enough, depending on where Sabrina with the young are: when they are in one corner, Wilhelm can retreat th the other end of the aquarium and it goes reasonably well. When Sarina with the young are in the middle of the aquarium Wilhelm is violently chased to and from and has nowhere to go. I think that things wouldbe very different if Wilhelm was larger: now he was good enough to fertilize the eggs and after that Sabrina doesn't need him anymore.

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Re: 6: story of my fish

Post by illustrator » Thu Aug 13, 2009 5:47 am

wil.jpg
just a photograph today ...

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