FISH COLLECTING In Northern Guatemala

Peten Itza lake.jpg
"Peten Itza lake" by R. Villalobos (talk)

There are different types of hobbyists. Some like freshwater species, some like marine and some like both. Most like “hunting” for prized specimens in their local fish store or may even venture to the city next-door for new hunting grounds. But there is a special kind of hobbyist… 

There are some of us who love capturing our own fish. I was lucky enough to live in Guatemala when I discovered the aquarium hobby and immediately started looking for species that where described in some of the books I had. There are about 150 species of freshwater fish in Guatemala. 

At the time I lived in the northern part of Guatemala, called Peten. It’s mostly tropical rain forest and the soil is lime based like most of the Yucatan peninsula. There are few large rivers and even finding a creek was not easy but I lived on the shores of the Lake Peten Itza, the largest of the area. This lake has its share of cichlids like the Yellowbelly Cichlid (Cichlasoma salvini), the Jack Dempsey (C. octofasciatum), etc. I also found some species of catfish like Rhamadia guatemalensis, some types of Gars, tetras etc.

Now if you want to go down there and catch some for yourself, what you have to do is go to Flores, this is a small Island and it’s the Capital of the Department of Peten. Once in Flores, find the public docks. Here you will find a number of small wooden boats waiting for passengers. They will offer to take you to the various touristy places normal Americans on holiday visit. Just say no thank you or “No Gracias”. Ask any boatman to direct you to a fisherman or even ask him to take you to the village of San Miguel. This is a tiny little village consisting mostly of fishermen so finding someone fishing will be no problem. They catch small fish for bait with different types of nets. You could bring your net and simply get a boatman to ferry you around, for a fee of course, and cast your own. If this is what you decide to do, find a place that has shallow water with lots of water plants. This is the hunting ground of most cichlids as well as their nurseries. You will also get some tetras if you are lucky or some livebearers. I have captured some beautiful black sailfin mollies (aletones by the locals), gars, halfbeaks, and cichlids but you have to try several times and sometimes even chase them!!!

There are smaller lakes as you exit town towards Tikal. One of them is called Salpeten, because for some reason this little lake is salty and it has some of the most beautiful mollies Poecilia petenensis, Phallichthys fairweatheri and some Thorichthys affinis.

If you are even more adventurous, you can go to the Passion River or the Mopan River. The Mopan has some of the most beautiful firemouths Thorichthys meeki you can find.

You can find T. affinis pretty much anywhere you go in Peten…

There are some pictures of them from guys that collected thereon:

Now the fish that I hunted for the most is Gymnotus carapo or banded knifefish. A good friend of mine told me that he had collected some in one of the Rio Dulce tributaries but it was hard to find. Finally, I went to a place called Punta de Manabique, this is the easternmost point of Guatemala. It is a peninsula that projects into the Caribbean Sea. As there are no roads to the village, you must take a boat from Puerto Barrios and it takes about 30 to 45 minutes to get there. I was collecting marine fishes and one night a local park ranger friend of mine invited me to go into the mangrove forest. I jumped at the opportunity and we ended up getting lost for about a half day in the mangrove forest labyrinth. While lost, I kept dipping my long handle net in the water trying to keep it from getting stuck in a branch or root but all of a sudden I pulled the net out and there it was!!! A Banded Knifefish!!! It was about 15 inches long. A beautiful creature. I had nothing to keep such large fish with me (dumb me just took some 1gallon ziplock bags) and so I just let him go, knowing where to find more.

The night when we got back, my wife and I were walking along the beach and we found a hole about 5 feet in diameter and no more than 3 feet deep with freshwater. It had some plants so we decided to see if there were any fish in it… We found a huge Jack Dempsey male and 3 females living there along with a ton of fry. What is interesting about this hole is that is completely separated from any other body of water and is about 50 feet from the beach. Only when it rains so much that it floods is that it gets new water. We took some of the Jack Dempsey homes with us. I also caught a seahorse and some pipefish, the pipefish being actually common and easy to get, while the seahorse ended up costing me Q5.00 quetzals (then $1 = Q7.00) to a little boy that had followed me around and saw an opportunity to make some cash. He would not tell me where or how he got the seahorse the little entrepreneurial rat. So I promised that if he got more I would buy them from him. I never saw him again.

You can see my other articles and some of my aquarium fish at http://www.tropicalfishpages.blogspot.com - Article Source: EzineArticles


Fact Sheet: ARABIAN ANGELFISH - Pomacanthus asfur

(Original Title: Facts About the Arabian Angelfish)

Source: Fishbase.org - Photo: Randall
The Arabian Angelfish is considered one of the most brightly colored fish in the world. They are very sought after, they are quite expensive and because of that, they are a rare sight in a tank. So, therefore, they are truly a visual delight in any aquarium.

Also known as the Asfur Angelfish or Crescent Angelfish, the Arabian Angelfish as a juvenile is colored blue with light blue and white stripes. As an adult fish it is blue/purple in it's body, with a black head, and yellow markings on its dorsal and caudal fin. They have streamer-like extensions of the soft dorsal and anal fins.They have small mouths. The adults can grow to 40cm (16 inches) in length. Their genus is Pomacanthus.

These angelfish are found on protected reefs in the Western Indian Ocean from the Red Sea to Zanzibar. Like most Red sea fish it is hardy and has a long life expectancy under ideal conditions in a tank. They live at a depth of 3-30 meters. Because of the shallowness that they can be viewed, they are a glorious site for divers.

Arabian Angelfish are very difficult to breed in aquariums. They are hermaphrodites, so it's very hard to distinguish between the male and female. This is why they are left to breed in the wild. This is the reason why they are so expensive to buy.

They are shy fish and like all large angelfish, they have a tendency to be aggressive towards other large fish their size. The Arabian Angelfish should not be kept with other Asfur Angelfish as they will not tolerate them. They can be mixed with other smaller Angelfish successfully.

Aquarium Requirements
Smaller Angelfish require a tank of a minimum of 55 gallons. With larger Angelfish the tank should be a minimum size of 100 gallons. There should also be lots of hiding places for this fish because it is shy. They also require live grazing. The water temperature needs to be between 75 and 79 degrees Fahrenheit for them. They are not reef safe which means corals are not safe in the same tank with them.They nip at soft and stony corals (sessile invertebrates) so it would be best to keep them with small polyped stony corals. This is generally why they are found in fish only tanks.

The Arabian Angelfish are omnivores (eat both plants and animals). They require a varied reef diet. Chunks of meat, vegetables, prepared angelfish sponge products, mussels, clams, krill, and shrimp. In the wild, they graze on algae, polyps and smaller crustaceans. Your local pet fish and aquarium supplier will have sponge products for purchase.

If you're lucky enough to find an Arabian Angelfish for your tank and you adhere to a few simple guidelines pointed out in this article, you will have many hours of viewing pleasure.



Dominant Male
Photo   by     Katatoniq
Lake Malawi is part of the East African Rift valley system (meaning it lies in the East African rift caused by the African tectonic plate splitting in two) and is located in southern Africa. It is the ninth largest lake in the world and the third largest in Africa with a surface area around 29,600 km. It is situated between the countries of Malawi, Tanzania, and Mozambique. 

The lake is often called Lake Nyssa as there is still a debate between bordering countries. Lake Malawi consists of a single large basin that is approximately 506 km long and 75 km wide at the widest point. The lake's maximum depth is 700 m and it has a mean depth of around 292 m. Lake Malawi is unusual because it does not have tides or currents.

The lake is fairly warm with a deep level temperature of around 72o and with a surface temperature of 75 - 84o. The reason for the 9o F fluctuation in temperature is that Lake Malawi lies far enough south of the equator to experience definite seasonal variations in temperature. The pH ranges from 7.7 - 8.6, the gH ranges from 4-6 dH, and the kH ranges from 6-8 dH.

There are several main cichlid habitats within the lake. The first is the sandy shoreline that makes up about 70% of the coast. Some plants live in this area, but not many. Haps and peacocks use this as their habitat. The second area is the rocky shoreline that makes up the remaining 30% of the coast.

Here there is no vegetation and rocks are piled on top of each other. The rocky areas tend to be where the shores have a steep drop off. Mbunas make this their habitat (hence their name which means "rock-dweller"). The third area is the river mouths and area close to shore that is highly vegetated. These areas tend to be shallow and can also be fairly muddy. Lastly, the deepwater zones that go from 30 m to 250 m deep are inhabited by some of the larger predatory cichlids.


FLOWERHORN FISH: The Herald of Good Fortune

English: Elvis by ILC
Flowerhorn Elvis (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In the mid 90's, a new hybrid of the cichlid was created in Malaysia. Various species of South American cichlids were interbred which lead to a hybrid cichlid, the flowerhorn. The flowerhorn fish have a distinctive hump on their head and characteristic black markings on their sides. The black markings on the side of the flowerhorn fish sometimes resemble Chinese characters or numbers are thought to bring luck. 

The hump on the head of the flowerhorn fish is also thought to bring fortune since it somehow resembles the Chinese god of longevity These features appear on both male and female flowerhorns. Unlike other fish hybrids, the male and female flowerhorns are fertile and can be bred easily. This enabled breeders and enthusiasts alike to venture in the flowerhorn sale since there was a demand for it.

Flowerhorn fish is easily maintained. A 200-Liter capacity will be enough to house one flowerhorn fish. They are not sensitive to small degrees of variation in the water condition. However, it is best to have a neutral to an alkaline water so as not to mute the colors of the flowerhorns. When keeping multiple flowerhorn fish in a single aquarium, it is advised that it be limited to up to three only and that there are decorations in the aquarium that would segregate the territories of the different flowerhorns. Likewise, male and female flowerhorns may be kept in the same aquarium, especially when the intention is to breed. When trying to breed, a flat surface should be provided where the female flowerhorn will lay her eggs. Male flowerhorns tend to guard the territory, chasing other fish away, while the female flowerhorns guard the eggs.

Male and female flowerhorns tend to look almost the same when they are small.However, when they reach about 10-12 cm they can be distinguished when the anal pore is checked A female flowerhorn is characterized by a U-shaped anal pore while a V-shaped anal pore is distinctive of the male flowerhorn. Also, mature female flowerhorns have a smaller hump compared to their male counterpart. Despite the slight difference in appearance, the flowerhorn sale for both male and female flowerhorns are at par.

The price of flowerhorns nowadays is not as extravagant as it was in the start Only those flowerhorns with very distinct marks such as those that resemble the Chinese character for luck or those with a well-proportioned hump are valued at the highest price. However, this has not stopped breeders and enthusiasts to stop breeding the hybrid cichlid to enhance the features of the fish. Crossbreeding of flowerhorns are still done today to further enhance the markings and colors of the flowerhorn fish.

There are groups of people, however, who detest the flowerhorn fish. Being developed by man, many groups, religious and environmentalists alike, frown at the creation of the flowerhorn fish. It has been considered an abomination of nature since it would not exist without the tampering of man. There are groups as well that consider the flowerhorns a threat to the ecosystem.

The flowerhorn fish indeed captured the attention of many.With both the grandeur and criticism that it has attained, people will continue to appreciate the flowerhorn fish be it for its beauty or for the associated good fortune that awaits those who keep them.


NIL TILAPIA - Oreochromis niloticus

NIL TILAPIA - Oreochromis niloticus - Photo: Wikimedia


Pelvicachromis sacrimontis - GREEN KRIBENSIS


REPTILES Have Special Needs

Strange mess mates exotic pets
Strange messmates exotic pets
(Photo credit: 
People have all kinds of different pets.

Some people only feel safe with what is considered "normal" pets.  This usually consists of cats, dogs, hamsters, or birds.  Country folks may have farmyard animals for pets.  Horses, cows, goats, bunnies, and so on are typical.

Then you have the people who pride themselves on being "outside the norm". These people may be the sort who likes to consider themselves and their pets unique.

Or maybe they just love animals of all kinds and welcome any and all types of pets.  Reptiles have been kept as pets for many years, but as the number of pet stores has grown so has the number of reptiles kept as pets.  Sometimes this is bad news for the reptiles.  If a dangerous reptile is chosen, it could be bad news for the owner as well.

Sometimes the type of pet a person has depends on the area in which they live.  Availability may make the choice for them.  The environment is also a consideration.  In south Louisiana, a child may be raised thinking an alligator is normal to keep for a pet!  It would be impractical for a child who lives in the midst of the city to own a pet cow.

What types of reptiles are popular as exotic pets?  Snakes, lizards, and turtles make the choices wide.  There are some, however, of each type that makes some better choices than others.  Unfortunately, these types of pets are also the most often abused and neglected simply because of failure to learn about their proper needs prior to ownership.  Once the new wears off, they become forgotten.  Because reptiles are often quiet and contained, it is easy to forget they are around.

Corn snakes are often chosen because they are known to be easier to care for.  They are excellent escape artists, though, so great care must be taken to keep the latches tightly closed on their enclosures.  It may seem funny in the movies to see a snake escape and scare the family or guests, but it can cause great harm to your pet in reality.

Boas are a well-known reptile pet, but people often underestimate their lifespan and their great size when grown.  A snake kept in an area it has outgrown will not be a happy, well-adjusted pet.  It may cause the snake harm and you as well, should he choose to fight back because of his discomfort.

Those cute little reptiles grow up and will need different requirements for food and housing as they grow.  A responsible pet owner will be prepared for the changes and willing to accommodate.  Can you recreate the natural environment and maintain it?  Think of it as being a person from the country who moves to the city, unwillingly, and never learned to adjust because they just don't seem to fit into the new surroundings.  Except this person has the ability to move back to the country, while the snake is unable to make this choice on his own.  The right housing makes a happier pet.