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Breeding Dicrossus maculatus

by Sal Silvestri
from Wet Pet Gazette, Norwalk Aquarium Society
Volume 53 / Issue 1, July-Sept. 2004

I have kept and bred Dicrossus filamentosus, but I never saw (except in pictures) Dicrossus maculatus until 3 years ago. You can imagine my excitement when I saw it available in a wholesaler's list. I immediately ordered 12 fish. After almost 30 years a legend became a reality.

This species was found at Lago Maximo and Jose Assu as well as branches of the Amazon River near Tonantins, the Rio Javari and Rio Tajapuru. Little is known about the distribution range of this species. Reliable records stem from the vicinity of the city of Santarem.

D. maculatus resembles the widely known D. filamentosus and only larger males exhibit distinct features which distinguish them apart. While the male D. filamentosus develop a clearly lyretail (forked) caudal fin, the males of D. maculatus grow an oval to slightly lanced (spaded) tail-fin, bluish with a dense pattern of vertical bands. The female's is round and transparent, without any design. In addition, D. maculatus also have much longer ventral fins. The males of the latter species are larger and may reach up to 4 inches TL. In contrast, the females may only reach 2 ?inch TL.

When my 12 fish arrived, they were set up in a 20 gal high tank. The fish were juveniles and at that size they weren't sexable. They were housed with 6 juvenile Apistogramma maciliensis and one small albino Ancistrus bushy nose pleco. The tank had two Anubias sp- nana plants, whose leaves would hopefully be used as the spawning media and a very LARGE clump of Java fern, which covered half of the tank! Since they love to masticate the substrate in search for food, a fine medium as substrate (sand) and especially small foods - i.e., Artemia nauplii (baby brine shrimp) are recommended. The water was regular tap water. The pH fluctuated between 6.8 and 7.2, with a GH of 6 degrees. Temperature was set at a steady 80 degrees, and water changes of 25-30% were done weekly. This is very important since they are very sensitive to water condition.

Food: as with any other fish that I am attempting to breed, I provided them with a varied diet high in protein. They were fed twice daily with a rotating menu of live baby and adult brine shrimp (I never use frozen brine), frozen bloodworms, live blackworms (which I use sparingly .. 2-3 times a week), frozen daphnia, and a good paste food (my home made recipe). Note: since D. maculatus has a small mouth, the bloodworms and blackworms were chopped to small pieces to make it easier for them to eat it. Given this and the frequent water changes, it wasn't long before they started showing sexual dimorphism. I ended up with 4 males and 6 females (2 died). At this point the Apistos were also showing sexual dimorphism, but this is another story!

Breeding behavior
At this point I contemplated whether to move the entire colony to their own tank or just remove 2 pairs and see what would happen. Since all the fish were doing well, I removed all but 2 males and 3 females of D. maculatus and 2 pairs of the A. maciliensis. Reading that these fish demand soft and acid water, I mixed 50% RO (Reverse Osmosis) water with my tap water. This gave me a 6.5 pH and a GH of 2.

As time passed, the males got larger and they started to show some red coloration on their dorsal and caudal fins. To be honest, at first, all the fish hid in the large mass of Java moss, only to come out to eat. But, I soon saw one female hanging around one of the anubias plants. She started to pluck on one of the leaves and chased any fish that came within the immediate vicinity. It wasn't long before I saw her coloration change. She lost her two rows of black spots and was replaced by a large black lateral band. About three days after I noticed this change of behavior, I noticed that she was hovering around one particular leaf, and she had developed light yellow pectoral fins and a red anal fin. She was protecting the area more intensely. Upon closer observation, I noticed a patch of light beige colored eggs on the leaf she had cleaned. At this point even the male is chased away and the female cares for the eggs alone. Once spawning is finalized there's no trace of bonding anymore. At this stage the female positions herself on top of the eggs and fans fresh water over the eggs without interruption.

The eggs hatched after three days and immediately the larvae were relocated by the female to a pit/depression in the sand. The site is changed at least once a day. She preferred depressions near roots of plants. My anubias plant still had the plastic pot on it and she loved to deposit the brood inside the pot. I guess because they were perfectly camouflaged against the beige gravel. After 6-7 days the fry are free swimming, and the "proud mother" began to herd the brood around the tank. The mother would always stand on top of the feeding school. Any fry that stray away from the school is caught with the mouth and re-deposited in the school. At this point she became a "Terror"! Everyone hid. She attacked any moving objects (including my finger!). Everyone knew that she ruled the tank!

Raising the Fry
As they became free swimming I started feeding baby brine shrimp, which I sprayed with a turkey baster, over the clump of Java moss. This was done because most of the time the brood were foraging inside the Java moss. I estimated that there were approximately 50 fry. At this stage the water changes were done very "carefully". The water was siphoned into a bucket, which was carefully checked for any fry that were siphoned out! Since this was the first spawn, I didn't want the fry to be picked-off by the other residents in the tank! So, in order to guarantee that I would have some surviving fry, I decided to remove half of the clutch. I placed them in a 15 gal tank, which was filled with 70% of the water from the tank where they hatched and 30% straight tap water. The tank was bare except for some Java moss. My filtration was a sponge filter and a corner box filter. A 30-40% water change was done weekly. I also put a juvenile bushy nose catfish (Ancistrus), with the fry, to eat any uneaten food. Even with this regiment, the fry grew slow. A special observation that I made was that there were not any noticeable differences in size between the fry left with the parents and those raised separately. My past experience has always been that fry left with the parents always grew faster! At about 4 months old, they were approximately ?quot;. At this age and size, I included finely chopped blackworms and bloodworms in their diet. At about 5 months old, they were a good 1" and the sexual dimorphism started to be noticeable.

In this spawn, I ended up with about 10% males. This was mainly due to the low pH, which seemingly favors the development of female offspring. The subsequent spawn was done with straight tap water… in this spawn almost 40% were males.

Despite what I read about this fish, I found them to be quite hardy, and easy to work with. I enjoyed working with them immensely and the males are very impressive when fully grown. If you are looking for a bit of a different dwarf, give the maculatus a try. You will not be disappointed.


dwarf cichlids

Dicrossus filamentosa is a dwarf cichlid found only in northern South America. It inhabits small, shallow water courses.

There are two known populations of D. filamentosa. One is found in the Orinoco headwaters and the other in the Rio Negro. The only method of distinction that I’m aware of is two fold: the males of the Rio Negro morph have a narrow wedge of speckles in the deep fork of the lyre-tailed caudal fin, and the females develop bright red ventral fins after the first spawn. The other population’s males have a wide speckled area and their females' ventral fins remain clear after the first spawn. Regardless of the population this is a beautiful fish with a striking checkerboard pattern along its flanks. Hence their common name checkerboard cichlid. Please see the cited reference for an accurate physical description of this fish. Every major magazine and reference book has at least one decent picture. In older literature this fish was known as Crenicara filamentosa. Because of the wide availability of photos I will opt to save valuable paper by not describing this stunning fish’s appearance. Please forgive me.

I was able to purchase from a breeder/importer out of Massachusetts on 3/20/97. Researching this fish months before its arrival allowed me to choose carefully the habitat I would use for its home. I recently purchased a 35 gallon breeder and decided to use it - its large bottom area making it ideal for small territorial cichlids and shallow water depth offering excellent light penetration for healthy plant growth and ease of maintenance. It came without a lid. I easily fashioned one out of 1/8th inch plexi-glass. For planting this tank I chose Java fern and Java moss and some of the salvinia sp. floating plants, which were good for a while but began growing out of control. I can’t tell you how many pounds were pulled out at every water change. Open spaces between the bunches of Java fern patches allowed the fish free-swimming room. The broad leaves of the Java fern are absolutely necessary because this fish deposits the eggs on plant leaves. Coconut shell halves and a small piece of bog wood were in the tank along with a shale cave for the Apistogramma nijsseni pair which ultimately spawned in this tank too, at the same time! For substrate I chose fine gravel 1-2" deep for plant roots, but later began to remove some of it because fine gravel holds too much dirt.

Water that has a low pH value and extremely soft is mandatory in the breeding these cichlids. The eggs of this species will easily dissolve in even moderately hard water. I obtain water for these fish two different ways. First, I use rain water collected in a plastic 55 gallon drum, and second, I use tap water. Both rain and tap water are filtered through an A.P. tap water purifier. Then it is trickled through peat to produce a water with a pH of around 5.5-6.0. The water temperature of the new water is slightly cooler (70F to 72F) than that of the aquarium which is kept at 80F to 82F. The addition of slightly cooler water definitely aids in triggering the spawning ritual. Water is changed about 10-15% every 2 weeks.

The fish are fed a variety of foods. This is important as proper conditioning of the fish insures beautiful, healthy fish and frequent spawns. Frozen foods like bloodworm and brine shrimp are fed most often because of their relatively high nutritional value and, most importantly ease of use. I’ll treat them occasionally with live brine shrimp, and mosquito larvae when they are "in season". When I’m pressed for time they’ll get Tetra Cichlid flakes. Yes, they’ll take dry flakes! I’ve heard stories of fish keepers going to extreme lengths to procure all sorts of live and home made prepared foods for these fish. That was not the case for me.

Filtration is handled by 3 box filters with ceramic noodle, peat, and floss. Filters are changed when they appear very dirty. The filters are changed on a rotation basis at water change time.

Lighting is a single 36" plant bulb. The tube is about 12" above water level. The light is on a timer set for 15 hours. Healthy plants, if you’re going to keep them, are important because dead and dying plants don’t help keep the water clean. Change the bulb at least once a year.
The tank mates are 4 Cardinal tetras, 1 pair A. nissjenni, 1 Plecostomus sp. and 2 Otocentrus cats. Note: I eventually removed the tetras after young filamentosa fry vanished spawn after spawn. Note on a note: young fry continued to vanish even after the tetras had been removed! But that’s for later on in the story!

The female chooses a leaf on which to spawn. It is usually a perfectly shaped, clean broad leaf not far from the bottom - about 2-5 inches. She meticulously cleans the leaf. At this time the female has been doing a lot of head standing when the male comes by. I guess that is her signal that she is ready to spawn. I never witnessed the blessed event. But in the morning she is hovering directly over the chosen leaf. The egg mass appears to be about 30 to 50 eggs. I however have never been lucky enough to yield that many fry. She has now drastically changed her color pattern and attitude. Her normal checkerboard pattern is replaced with a solid black lateral stripe and her ventral and anal fins have turned bright red. The male has also lost his checkerboard pattern for the solid black stripe. She is extremely defensive now, and will move into a headstand position if any body even looks at her, and she’ll flare her fins and arch her body. If an intruder gets too close she will dart out at it. After spawning the male receives no better treatment. He’s chased away and the female cares for the young until they’re old enough to fend for themselves. I’ve heard stories of severe brutality resulting in a dead male, but it never came to that with this pair, in my tank. A quick theory as to why: all the breeding articles that I’ve read that reported male beatings resulting in death (apistos, too.) had a common denominator - small tanks averaging 15 gallons or
오래전부터 인기가 높은 소형 시클리드로 매년 봄과 가을에 걸쳐 와일드한
종이 일반적으로 보급된다. 야생 상태의 ph는 6이하이기 때문에 이에 준한
수질 관리를 해주며 입하 직후는 백점병에 걸리기 쉬우므로 주의를 요한다.
천연 상태에서도 암,수 비율이 수컷에 치우치고 있어 암컷의 입수가
어려우며 배 지느러미가 붉게 물드는 것이 암컷이다.

참고 :

체커보드.시클리드는 정말 은은한 맛이 나는 아름다운 고기입니다. 먹이도 잘 먹구요. 대상과 현대수족관에서 1년에 한번씩은 나오니까 애간장 타면서 사실 필요는 없어요. 그리고 가격도 블리사르디 정도로 약간 고가인 축에 속하지요. 유의할 점은 수질은 다소 까다롭다는 점이에요. 따라서 초보자가 키우기에 다소 어려운 점이 있어요. 저도 측면여과기를 다소 용량이 떨어지는 것에 키워서 초창기에 많은 물고기를 죽였는데 체커보드도 그중 하나였지요. 온도도 유의하시고요. 백점병과 입밑에 붉은 염증이 생겨서 죽었어요. 시클리트중에서는 너무 순한 편에 속해서 자주색 나는 물고기인 크리펜시스(?) 등 아주 순한 것하구만 키우세요. 네온테트러도 합사 가능합니다. 클수록 지느러미도 멋지게 길어집니다.

★6가지의 체커보드가 있다고 합니다.. 본게시판 게시물참조







Spawning Dicrossus maculatus

I first remember this seldom-seen Checkerboard cichlid from when I was a teenager in the fifties. I had gone to a Western New York fish show with an older member and his son. From there we visited the home of another young member in the area. In a tank in his room he had a beautiful pair of Spade-tail Checkerboards. Ever since that day I have been keeping my eyes open hoping to someday find a pair. After over forty years I finally had success. This spring of 2002 Paul McFarlane and I got a price list from an importer in Montreal. On the list was Dicrossus maculatus. An order was soon placed and few weeks later along with a number of other varieties they arrived safe and in excellent health.

The first thing that I did was check the water in which they came. The water was fairly soft and slightly acid. I duplicated it the best I could filling a ten gallon aquarium. In the tank I put a box filter, a clay flower pot with a hole in the side, a clump of Java moss and a small potted radican sword. I left the bottom bare so that it was easy to clean. It did not take me long to discover that these fish are rather timid and would only eat live food. Since I had a good supply of daphnia in a tub in the back yard this was no problem. Weeks went by and the male that is about three inches long started to get a little bit aggressive with the female who is an inch smaller. Most of the time she stayed in the clump of Java moss or behind the filter. If she ventured too far out she was quickly chased back to her safe hiding place. He did however allow her to come out to eat.

This went on for a couple of months. I was starting to get a little frustrated with the fact that the female was plump but no spawning had taken place. The water had a pH of 6.6 and my conductivity metre read 180 microsiemens. My next move was to make the water even softer. I started doing my water changes with straight RO water. Soon after a couple of water changes things happened. It was now late June and one evening I was surprised and delighted to see the female with her red ventral fins hovering over a clutch of eggs. Two days later however, to my disappointment the eggs were gone. Within two weeks they spawned again. Just as before, she had spawned on the radican leaf. There I was torn between taking the eggs and hatching them artificially or taking another chance with mom. After all most first spawnings of eggs are no good anyway. I noticed that things had changed. The female became very aggressive and gave the male a good whack whenever he came too close. On the third day the eggs hatched and there was about seventy-five little wrigglers on the leaf, (I hear that they can lay up to a hundred and fifty). The next day they were gone. What a disappointment. Not only that but the female had gone into hiding. The following evening however I could hardly believe my eyes the fry were back on the leaf with mom standing guard. Soon the fry were free swimming and followed their mother in a tight little school wherever she went. The male found that it was best if he spent most of his time in the Java moss leaving the female and fry most of the tank in which to roam. Each night just before lights out at 11pm she would bed them down for the night on the tank bottom. When they were about five weeks old and a little more than a quarter of an inch long. I decided that seeing that the male was starting to move around too much and the fry were ranging further from the female for her to feel comfortable. And that it was time to move both parents to another tank. The fry I felt were too small and sensitive to move. All this time the parents and fry had been living on newly hatched baby brine shrimp with a few white worms for the adults occasionally.

The maculatus fry are not the easiest of fish to raise. They are very sensitive to water changes and conditions and I find them to be slow growers. Now at a inch long and three months old they are starting to spar amongst themselves. In spite of a few losses I still have about fifty fry and the parents have finally quit sulking and are showing signs that they might spawn again soon.

If you are fortunate enough to come across these fish don't buy them unless you are an experienced keeper and breeder. It is a great feeling of accomplishment to have any success at all with this little cichlid from Brazil. But it only takes one good pair and lots of good luck.

***** 담뽀뽀님에 의해서 게시물 이동되었습니다 (2006-05-07 23:01)
  • ?
    레몽 2004.03.03 10:36 (*.204.128.200)
    6가지라는데 하나도 모르겠네요^^ 독일디스커스에서 2마리에 5천원이었던걸루 기억합니다^^ 그저께..ㅎㅎ
  • profile
    담뽀뽀 2004.03.03 21:27 (*.50.73.63)
    네.. 6가지 라고 하는데.. 본게시판 공지사항에 체커보드 종류가 있습니다..
    한번 확인해보시구요..헤헤..
    아 독디에.. 체커가 있었나요 ?? ^^;; 헤헤.. 2마리 5천이면.. 괜찮은 가격이네요..^^
  • profile
    금수강산 2007.10.09 08:04 (*.252.185.213)
    체커보드 처음 들어본 고기 이름 이군요 이쁩니다.
  • ?
    희미정민 2010.05.13 22:47 (*.122.170.6)

    영어로 한참 나오길래..헉..

    이쁜 물고기 사진보고 이쁘다....했네요..^*^

  • profile
    불타는고갈비 2011.03.25 20:04 (*.150.188.90)

    무식이 탈로 날까봐 ....그냥 사진만 즐겁게 봤네요...쩝`

  • ?
    테리우순 2013.01.30 20:37 (*.116.196.225)

    전체 영어라 그림만 들어오네요ㅠ.ㅠ

  • profile
    멋진사내 2017.01.26 02:21 (*.39.93.132)

    좋은 정보 잘보고 갑니다

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