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July 27, 2011

This week The Wet Spot Tropical Fish would like to welcome you to the vast jungles of Myanmar…

Myanmar was known as Burma until 1989, when the country changed its title to “the Republic of the Union of Myanmar”. There is much debate as to what the country should be properly called – some governments and news organizations refer to it as “Burma”, others “Myanmar”. Here I will refer to the country as Burma, as there are several common names of fish that have that name in their title. Having settled that, let us begin on a journey of life and diversity…

Home to 26 national parks and rainforests under protection by the local governments, Burma gets almost 200 of inches of rainwater a year. This makes for some of the world’s most beautiful rainforests, but with the 1995 law allowing heavy logging, many of those forests are now under threat. Many animals, including tigers and leopards, are now sparse. In the North, the locals have tamed and bred animals such as Elephants for labor, especially in the lumber industry. Among all of this turbulence there are hundreds of plentiful species of freshwater fish, some of which are even used as a food source.

Let’s say you’ve just purchased yourself a brand new 8.6 gallon 24x12x8 inch Cube Garden 60-f from Aqua Design Amano (it’s a great rimless tank with plenty of space for small fish). Begin setting up the tank by adding ADA Malayan substrate in order to replicate the natural environment of Burma. It’s a good idea to cover this substrate with aquarium sand so that these micro-fish are able to feed off the bottom. Place some Amano Branch Wood in the corners and add a few lace rocks to grow some Flame Moss (Taxiphyllum sp.) on. In the corners you could place various types of Java Fern (Microsorum pteropus) among the Branch Wood. For ground cover try the Cryptocoryne parva. The tannins will set in from the wood and you’re going to need to stabilize the pH at around 7.2 to help replicate the natural hardness of Burma. Make sure to cycle the aquarium well before you start releasing the fish listed! So grab the test kit and ditch the White Clouds - let’s add some better fish!

The “Naked Rummynose Rasbora” Sawbwa resplendens arrived large and lovely a couple of weeks ago. The males are already showing those bright red noses and tails! The fish gets its name from being one of the few scale-less cyprinids. However one of the most interesting things about S. resplendens is that it is not actually a rasbora – it is more closely related to a barb! Scientists have done studies and the species is currently in its own class, and it is likely to stay that way. In my opinion, the thing that really sets this fish apart from every other micro-fish is that males show a remarkable color difference from the females. Females are generally a brown to silver color with a black dot above the anal fin. Males on the other hand have red faces, a silver body, and two red dots on their tail. Males are also very competitive, and therefore should be kept with a heavy female ratio to reduce the aggression level. I personally kept S. resplendens, and let me tell you that there is nothing more rewarding than watching two males duel in the middle of a tank!

Sawbwa resplendens

In keeping with the theme of unique fish, we have the Yunnanilus sp. “Burmese Rosy Loach”. Originally described as "Tuberoschistura arakanensis", the small loach seems to show more similarities of the genus Yunnanilus, and therefore I will refer to it as such here. Though much is unknown about this amazing little creature, I believe it gets about two inches in length. Healthy males show an amazing reddish-orange color while females are a pale orange. Both have a black stripe running horizontal along the body. A regular diet of frozen daphnia, baby brine shrimp, and catfish pellets will keep your Burmese Rosy Loaches in great health. Like most loaches, these fish are sociable and should be kept in small schools. As if being rarely seen in the hobby wasn’t unique enough, this fish does something else that sets the genus apart from the rest - it swims at a 45 degree angle! I just know that once in your tank, these loaches will show some real character!

Yunnanilus sp. "Rosy"

The top of the tank may need a little action. Danio Choprae “Glowlight Danio” will do just the trick. D. choprae lives most of its life swimming in the middle of the aquarium in search of food. This fish, in my opinion, is extremely underrated in the hobby. There is nothing but color on these little fish! A yellow-gold color covers the body. A red stripe starts at the middle of the body and runs to the tail. There are 6 or 7 green vertical bars that also start in the middle of the body. If you want something active and eye-catching in the aquarium, then C. choprae is just the right fish!

Danio choprae

Of course there are the beautiful and ever so popular Danio margaritatus “Celestial Pearl Danios”, but we’re looking for more obscure fish for our Burmese biotope. There is a less-seen cousin that in my opinion is just as rad. Danio erythromicron “Emerald Dwarf Rasbora” looks like a little tiger with its silver stripes! The cheeks are a red color that goes well with their orange fins. This fish can be rather bashful, so it may take some time for them to start making a regular appearance in the tank. With the help of a dither fish like the D. choprae mentioned earlier, they’ll be darting around the foliage in no time. We only have a limited quantity of these fish, so act fast!

Danio margaritatus

Danio erythromicron

I’d say that would stock that ADA aquarium we were talking about at the beginning pretty well. Imagine the look on your friends faces when they see all the cool fish you’ve acquired. Before you know it they’ll be setting up their own Burmese biotopes, and you’ll be full of great pride knowing what you’ve inspired among your buddies! I hope this introduces you to some cool new fish that you never thought of keeping before. As always check out the products link for the current list. See you next week!

Anthony Perry
Sales Manager

July 21, 2011

Welcome back to another week with us here at The Wet Spot!

It appears the water levels of South America are starting to fall, and we’re starting to see some new Loricariids available. Some of you may not know this, but the L-number Catfish are some of my favorite fish! This week we have several new species to offer. With much eagerness I’d like to begin with one of my personal favorites…

Panaque albomaculatus LDA31 “Mustard Spot Pleco” is certainly a striking fish. It has a brown body and little yellow spots that cover the fish, almost in a perfect line on each side of the frame. The fish may be under the genus Panaque, but seems to accept a variety of foods including sinking wafers and frozen or prepared foods. Reaching just over 5”, this fish can be ideal for most aquarium settings. Males, like most members of the Loricariids, develop odontodes among the head and pectoral fins. They can tolerate a wide Ph range and seem to do well with warmer water (all the way up to 91 degrees)!

Panaque albomaculatus

Let’s move on to something a little bigger. Peckoltia sabaji L75 “Para Pleco” grows to around 10” and can make a great addition to a school of Corydoras. In fact, these fish actually prefer to socialize with members of the Cory family. And with a great school of Corydoras schwartzi in stock, I’m sure you’ll be enjoying both spotted catfish! Once settled into an aquarium, Para Plecos are not shy to try most foods, and do not need the water as warm as many plecos do. Their bodies are yellow and covered in big black spots that get smaller as they reach the caudal fin. A nice school of peaceful tetras above them will allow these fish to become confident enough to start making daytime appearances. Seeing these beautiful fish out and about is something I know every family member will enjoy!

Peckoltia sabaji

Corydoras schwartzi

Unlike in human folklore, the Leporacanthicus galaxias L29 “Vampire Pleco” does not go around biting the necks of fish while they sleep, but rather gets its name from the yellowish teeth located on its upper lip. However, this fish does prefer a carnivorous diet and primarily feeds on snails in nature. In an aquarium a variety of prepared foods like prawns, worms, and pellets will help make it to its 10” maximum size. It’s easy to see where the name galaxias came from, as little yellow dots make up what looks like a galaxy against this fish’s natural black body.

L29

Speaking of meat-eating plecos, we’ve had a great batch of Leporacanthicus triactus L91 “Three Beacon Pleco” in stock now for quite some time and they are extremely well conditioned. The L91 has always been one of my personal favorites and it’s easy to see why. Their body is a dark brown with black spots all over it. The spine of their dorsal fins is a bright orange color that is broken up by black bands, and the spine of tail also has this coloration. If you’re already familiar with the Vampire Plecos, this is a unique alternative! Both of these plecos do extremely well with two “eartheater” types that we have in stock - Geophagus abalios and Acarichthys heckelii “Threadfin Acara”, which are both striking fish that will add plenty of character to your tank!

L91

That concludes this week’s notes. If you have any questions about fancy plecos, please contact me – I love to talk about them! As always be sure to check out the products link for the current list. For those of you who made it to ACA this weekend I hope you have a safe and happy time. Until next week!

Geophagus abalios

Acarichthys heckelii

Anthony Perry
Sales Manager

June 24, 2011

Welcome back to another week here at The Wet Spot.

I couldn’t help but notice a little brown algae forming in your tank. Well, do we have a few fish to help you out with that diatom problem! Even though there is nothing wrong with a little bit of algae, as it usually is a sign of good tank health, many of us find it unsightly. So let’s get some little workers in there to take care of it!

The family Loricariidae contains one of the most unique little fish that the world of nature can offer. Otocinclus, commonly called “Otos”, were first described by Edward Drinker Cope in 1871, and have been available in the trade for many years. According to planetcatfish.com, there are 12 described and 3 un-described species that are known to science. Out of these, there are only a handful that are regularly available to the hobby, with the most common being Otocinclus arnoldi and  O. affinis. This week we are offering three different family members that are rarely seen among hobbyists!

Otocinclus affinis

Otos have adapted an amazing ability that separates them from the rest of the Loricariidae family—they can breathe oxygen from the surface! This is done by having a duct formed between the esophagus and the stomach, making them an air breathing fish! Otos are generally found in moderate to slow moving waters near the river banks. Due to their small mouths, they feed on softer foods such as diatom algae, as their mouths are not strong enough to chew harder foods like green algae. Unlike their cousins, Otos do not build nests and guard their eggs, but rather lay adhesive eggs onto plants and let nature take its course by leaving them on their own. These fish live in shoals or schools and should be kept as such.

This week we are proud to offer Otocinclus cocoma “Zebra/Tiger Oto”. This fish has thick black and grey lines that run horizontally down the body. The face has the same lines, which run laterally along the body. The Zebra Oto is a little more sensitive compared to its cousin, and seems to require a lot more food to be kept in good health. Well filtered water that is changed regularly is also highly recommended. These are available in limited quantity and will go fast!

Otocinclus cocama

A relative species, Nannoptopoma sp. “Orange Zebra Oto”, has a similar shape and size and is therefore given the common name of “oto”. The body is a rustic orange color that has darker bands contrasting against lighter ones. The snout is elongated and appears to come to a point. The eyes are a beautiful red color that blends well into the face. Care should be the same for the above mentioned species. With just a handful in stock, they won’t last long.

Nannoptopoma sp. "Orange Zebra Otocinclus"

Lastly, but certainly not the least, Parotocinclus sp. “Peru Bumble Bee Oto” is the smallest of our dream list—reaching just an inch. What this fish lacks in size it more than makes up for in appearance. Like its two cousins, the body has dark bars that are contrasted by light ones. There are little green and red dots that cover the body of the fish, mostly seen in the head. The pectoral fins are brownish-red and are absolutely beautiful. These would make a great addition to your nano aquarium!

Parotocinclus sp. "Peru Bumble Bee Oto"

That concludes this week’s notes. As mentioned last week I will be on vacation starting July 2nd and will not return until Monday July 11th. I ask that you all try and get in your orders early next week, as we will not be shipping fish the week of my absence. There will be much catching up to do upon my return, so I thank you for your patience as I respond to everyone’s emails. Like always, be sure to check out the products link to view this week’s list! Hopefully this helps with your algae problem!

Anthony Perry
Sales Manager

July 15, 2011

Welcome back to this week’s newsletter!

This week was a big one for us here at the store. Another Singapore order arrived this Monday and will be ready for your home aquarium this upcoming week. Many of you had requested special items, and we did our best to accommodate these needs. So be sure to check the list in our products link to see what cool new items we received!

The Borneo rainforest is the oldest in the world at around 130 million years old, making it almost 70 million years older than the Amazon. The country is home to one of the few places to still have wild Orangutan, the Borneon Orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus), and an amazing parasitic plant that produces the world’s largest known flower, the Rafflesia arnoldii, which can reach a meter in diameter! It is also my favorite country in the world, as many of you know. You can also still find the local tribes of the Dayak people, who were known for practicing Headhunting, though this practice disappeared due to religious influences of the east. It had resurfaced again in the 90’s when the people were using ethnic violence against the Mandurese, but now this practice lies dormant…

With all this diversity of life, there is much hidden under the surface of blackwaters that are part of the Borneo Freshwater Swamp Forests. There hidden among all the fallen leaves and branches lies a vast family of cyprinids to some of the world’s most unique loaches. Among these fishes lies a family that is unique to the small island. The Chocolate Gourami complex from the family Osphronemidae contains some of the coolest gouramis found in the trade. This week we are proud to offer three different species and one unique cousin to this week’s list, so let us begin with a little back ground.

Unlike the many Anabantoids that build bubblenests, both families of Sphaerichthys and Ctenops are mouthbrooding labyrinths. They are considered to be more difficult to keep in a home aquarium due to their specific needs of water quality and feeding. They prefer softer more acidic water (Ph 4-5, though low 6’s would be acceptable), as well as warmer water (79-88 degrees) that they prefer to be kept as blackwater (which means they like dark brown water). Feeding should be either small live foods like baby brine or daphnia, or frozen foods of the same. Don’t let all of their requirements discourage you – they’re amazing fish and with a little bit of guidance and the proper education, you’ll succeed!

Many of you are familiar with the common Sphaerichthys osphromenoides “Chocolate Gourami”. It’s easy to see where the name comes from as the fish is literally much like the color chocolate. The body is tall and contains 3-4 tan stripes that run vertical. The nose comes to a point with bigger eyes that are probably designed to see insects floating on the surface. Now just imagine a school of these in a blackwater biotope.

Sphaerichthys osphromenoides

Set them up in a dimly lit 30 gallon with Malaysian root wood or beech or oak (remember to strip off the bark and let dry), and let some peat settle in the filter. Plant the tank well with low-light plants - Java Ferns and Java Mosses rooting on the wood and a variety of Cryptocorynes lining the back of the tank with their bronzes, reds, and greens. Let a few almond leaves settle among all the plant life. When they are ready to breed, Chocolate Gouramis will often display right in the middle of the tank, their fins fully erect as they circle one another. Try a school of Puntius rhomboocellatus “Rhombo Barb” in the tank, and they will dart quickly under the group trying to avoid being part of the action, or maybe hoping an egg or two will drop down within their grasp…

Puntius rhomboocellatus

Perhaps you want to get a little wilder - go with Sphaerichthys selatanensis “Cross Bar Chocolate Gourami” instead in this beautiful aquarium. This fish is much like its cousin in color and pattern, but has an additional line running horizontally across the body.

Sphaerichthys selatanensis

Maybe you would like a little more color from your dream tank – go with Sphaerichthys vaillanti “Valliant Chocolate Gourami”. The amazing hues of reds and greens on the females will astonish you with their rich colors when in breeding form. The face is olive green and the body turns a beautiful red. Seven to eight dark bars appear down the body. The males, however, are just a brown fish, typically smaller than the females.

Sphaerichthys vaillanti

The last member of our family is not considered a chocolate type, but does display similar colors. Because of its visual similarity I thought it appropriate to mention here. Ctenops nobilis “Nobel Gourami” has a body that is much more elongated than members of the other genus. The mouth is much larger and more likely to eat larger prey such as flies or small fish that pass by. The anal is fin is a gorgeous yellow and the caudal fin has a red border. An eyespot can also be found on the tail. In my experience the tank should be well covered with this species because in my experience they like to jump. Nobel Gouramis are probably one of the most unique gouramis there is, and I was extremely happy with my group when I had kept them.

Ctenops nobilis

Any of these fish would be ideal for the South East Asian aquarium described above. Though it may take a few months of hard work and dedication, it pays off when you finally add the centerpiece: the Chocolate Gouramis!

Until next week, thanks again for all your orders and support of our growing business.

Anthony Perry
Sales Manager

June 17, 2011

Welcome back to another week here at The Wet Spot. Hopefully the sun is shining in your area, and you’ve had the chance to enjoy it. Just don’t forget about that beautiful aquarium in the corner! Speaking of the sun, I would like everyone to know that I will be going on vacation from July 4th to July 10th. During this week of my absence there will be no online shipping. I ask that you please try and get in all of your orders that you can before I take my absence. There will be much catching up to do upon my return!

Now back to the notes. Lately, there has been a bit of demand for Licorice Gourami types. I’ve been asked not only about availability, but popularity here in the U.S. as well. Many of you have tried to research the few species we are offering with not much luck finding any information. This is because there is no real demand among hobbyist. I thought it time to mention these truly beautiful and underrated species.

Right now we have three types available. Parosphromenus deissneri “Licorice Gourami” is probably the most common of the group. I believe this to be one of the larger of the species, growing to just around 1.75”. But do not count out its small size. This Labyrinth packs an amazing amount of color in its small stature. The body has two black lines running horizontal down the body. Contrast this with three tan lines and add some vibrant blue fins, and you’ll see what I mean.

All Licorice Gouramis should be kept in a dimly lit tank with plenty of hiding places and minimal water flow. They prefer acidic water (5.5-7 ph) that is kept in cooler ranges of temperature (71-78 degrees). In my experience these fish will only accept live foods, and therefore, are not the best for the beginning hobbyist. These fish are extremely peaceful among other fish and I would highly recommend a group of the beautiful Sundadanio axelrodi “Neon Rasbora Blue Form” to go with them.

Sundadanio axelrodi "Blue"

The last two types we are offering is Parosphromenus filamentosa “Filament Licorice Gourami”, which has the same markings has its cousin, but has a “spade-tail” that is colored red and bordered with black and blue.

Parosphromenus filamentosa

The other is Parosphromeus ornaticauda “Ornate Licorice Gourami”, one of the smallest of the group at just over an inch! This fish is more darkly colored brown and the lines are not as prominently black as its other cousins. The fins are black with bright white borders on both the anal and dorsal fin. Keeping is the same for all the species.

Well I hope this enlightens some of you to another world in the hobby. As always be sure to check out our products link for our current list. I would also like to take the time to ask that if there is a certain fish that you’ve been looking for, do not hesitate to ask. We will do our best to fulfill all of your orders. I would also love to see pictures of your tanks if you can find the time to do so. Take care for now!

Anthony Perry
Sales Manager

July 01, 2011

Welcome to another week with us here at The Wet Spot!

As most of you know by now I will be on vacation next week. In my absence, there will be no outgoing orders from July 4th to July 8th. With my leave I am sure there will be many emails to respond to. I would like to thank all of you for your patience as I return all of your questions or concerns. Shipping will begin immediately July 11th. If there is something you would like to order from this week’s list, do not hesitate to place your order. I’ll have it out for you in no time. Now for this week’s notes…

In the upper north eastern continent of South America lays the country of Colombia. Now known as the District of Colombia, is rich in a culture of dancing, football (aka, soccer), music, and food, but most important to us as hobbyists, the Orinoco River Basin. The flooded region connected to the Amazon contains wildlife that is vast as the area is. The river is full of life from that of the intelligent Freshwater Pink River Dolphin (Inia geoffrensis) to the mouth of the Orinoco Crocodile (Crocodylus intermedius). Among the unusual wildlife lives one of my personal favorite families, the South American Cichlids, or known as the Cichlidae family which belongs to the order Perciformes. With over 1300 species described by scientists, and many more un-described, there could be up to 1700 species that the human race has not identified. The Amazon basin contains many of these beautiful and unique fish that we enjoy in our homes and offices.

In this huge family belongs a cichlid that in my opinion is greatly underrated. Hoplarchus psitticus “True Parrot Cichlid” is one of the most beautiful cichlids from the Amazon Basin. This iridescent green fish has bright red eyes with black spots that are lateral with the body. Along the stomach area there are lighter green bars that flow up into big spots above the lateral line. A bright red line runs on top of the dorsal fin that stands out against the green. The ventral fins have blue and red lines that create a rainbow of colors. These fish can be found in the countries of Colombia, Brazil, and Venezuela. In Brazil, the fisherman of Manaus calls them papagai, which is Portuguese for “parrot”. In fact, the name psitticus is derived from the family Psitticidae, which is the family for parrots!

Hoplarchus psitticus

These fish grow very large and will require a bigger aquarium for the fish to be able to reach their full size of 14”. It is best to keep them in small or groups or with other moderately aggressive fish of similar size. They are typically found along flooded brush and forest regions of the blackwater tributaries of the river basin and prefer to be kept in softer water, though not necessary as a Ph value of 7 will be just fine. An insectivore by nature, diet should consist of such foods like frozen shrimp or pellets.

Hoplarchus psitticus Juvenile

I have experienced firsthand how much personality these amazing cichlids have. My H. psitticus at home, Estabon, glides through his aquarium with minimal effort. I find him constantly curious in the corner of the tank a waiting for me to get up and feed him. He seems to be just a big puppy dog and knows how to demand his food without ever having to make a fuss. These fish can live a very long time, and are defiantly a pet that will be with you for as long as you can house them!

Moving further down the country, we come across the Rio Atabapo. The Rio Atabapo lies on the border of Colombia and Venezuela and is home to a most unique severum, Heros cf. severus “Atabapo”. What makes this severum unlike it’s cousins you ask? It’s a mouth brooding severum! When a pair forms they lay eggs onto smooth vertical surfaces. After about 48 hours the female scoops up the wigglers into her mouth. For the next 7-14 days she’ll “incubate” the eggs as the fry develop further. Once this happens she’ll start letting the fry become free swimming until they are big enough to fend for themselves. H. cf. “Atabapo” has a brown body that has bright red eyes. 6-8 rows of gorgeous red dots line the stomach area, and six rows of vertical black bars run about half way up the body. The chest is also colored that beautiful red that runs into the ventral fins and into the anal fin. Finally, a solid black line runs from the top of the dorsal through the caudal and into the ventral fin. This pattern seems to radiate during spawning, and some hobbyists have even seen “spots” appear in the face. Feeding is typical of the genus, and water quality should be kept much like that of H. psitticus. Together, both of these cichlids will keep your 210 gallon family just as unique as you are!

In conclusion, there are many species of cichlids available in the trade. Some are often overlooked as just a brown fish when young, but with age can truly turn into a beauty. Though many of us cannot house them, they are indeed a sight to be seen! I would like to thank Wayne Liebal for providing the information and influence of writing this article. Remember to check the products link for our current stock list. Have a happy 4th of July from all of us at The Wet Spot and I will talk to you all when I return!

Anthony Perry
Sales Manager