Don't it Always Seem to Go

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At the Wet Spot, we are, and know our customers to be fish lovers through and through. Getting the rarest and most beautiful exotic specimens, however, sometimes contradicts those sentiments. We may not be ‘paving’ paradise in the strictest sense, but there is no doubt that human activity, including the removal and export of fish from their natural habitats, stresses desirable freshwater fish populations. That’s why we work hard to breed and rear healthy and happy fish in our tanks for yours. This week, we will focus on species that inhabit limited geographic ranges of South America that are no longer available for export or are virtually impossible to find in the wild. These include Hypancistrus sp. “L066″, Corydoras sp. “CW010”, and Scleromystax barbatus.

Known under many names, and for their fun yellow squiggle-like markings on brown bodies is H. sp. “L066” More commonly referred to as Yellow King Tiger Plecos, or Scribble Plecos, these catfish are only found in the Rio Xingu of Northern Brazil. This gorgeous specimen, and much of the other fauna of this major tributary of the Amazon River are under threat due to hydroelectric construction, which makes them incredibly hard to find. While our tank raised individuals are pretty hardy, we recommend keeping these fish in tanks that simulate flowing streams with variable-sized water-worn rocks, sand, fine gravel, boulders, and driftwood arranged to form multiple shady refuges, and nooks and crannies to mimic their natural habitat. Sensitive to water quality, 30 to 50% water changes should be performed weekly with a minimum tank base size of  47” X 18”. Reaching a maximum of 6 inches in length, these plecos are diminutive in behavior, and mostly peaceful. Optimal tank mates include quiet and non-territorial species, and they should not be kept alongside other Hypancistrus spp. to avoid hybridization. Wild individuals are most likely omnivorous, with diets composed predominantly of aquatic invertebrates. In captivity, they happily feed on sinking dried foods, live and frozen fare like bloodworm or daphnia, and homemade gelatin-bound foods containing fresh vegetables and meaty delicacies. Water conditions should be maintained with temperatures between 78 and 86° F, with a pH of 5.5 to 7.5, and hardness between 36 and 268 ppm.   

Native to the upper Amazon in Peru, is a bright beacon of light in the form of C. sp. Known as “Laser Orange Cories”, these armored catfish reach about 2.5 inches in length and exhibit beautiful shiny-orange body-plates. Peaceful and shoaling, they should be kept in conspecific groups of 6 or more, and can be housed alongside a huge variety of other peaceful species that would not prone to enjoying a gold-fish snack- they do not smile back. As an unidentifiable new-catch, these cories were assigned a CW number, and most available specimens are tank raised. Soft sandy substrate, and shade provided by a combination of tank furnishings and floating plants are essential to the well-being of this species. Sensitive moustache-like barbels near their mouths seek food from substrate, and sharp substrate can cause serious damage. Not terribly finicky eaters, Laser Orange Cories can be fed a variety of tablets, granules, and flake, but seem to thrive when offered regular live and frozen meals. Optimal water conditions include temperatures of 71 to 79°F, pH of 6.5 to 7.2, and hardness between 14 and 178 ppm.

Another rare cory species, native only to tributaries of coastal rivers of southeastern Brazil, is S. barbatus. Latin name roughly translating to “hard upper-lipped & bearded”, these catfish have very prominent whiskers dangling from armoured lips. Reaching about 4 inches in length, these cories exhibit beautiful dark bands on their caudal regions with a dark and light dotted font halves, and tan underbellies. Species of this genus inhabit slow moving streams, and still ponds with sandy substrate or small pebbles covered in mud. Optimal tank set ups would include substrate as such, along with plentiful hiding places and distinct territories formed with furnishings of aquarists’ choice, along with tall or floating plants. Characteristic of cories, these specimens are peaceful and shoaling, however, males tend to become territorial with one another in smaller tanks. As foraging omnivores in the wild, these fish can be fed multiple small meals of dried sinking foods a day along with regular supplementation of small live and frozen fare. Waters should be maintained with temperatures between 61 and 75°F, pH of 5.5 to 7.5, and hardness of 18 to 215 ppm.

As animal lovers and hobbyist fish keepers, we feel it is our responsibility to maintain as little impact on our beloved swimmers as possible. To us, that means tank raising high-demand and rare species at risk in their native habitats. When you get new tank inhabitants from the Wet Spot, you can be sure we have done our darndest to protect and conserve.