Fishvengers In-fin-ity Wars

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For those of us who are awe-struck by the multitudes of defensive and offensive adaptations present in the animal kingdom, nerding out about superheros isn’t much of a leap. If you’re like us, you’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of Marvel’s latest blockbuster. To celebrate the return of everyone’s favorite superhero supergroup to the silver screen, we’ve put together out own little motley crew. And without further ado, we present the most anticipated newsletter of the summer: Fish-vengers: In-fin-ity Wars! Introducing an all-star cast: Crenicichla proteus as Hulk, Tatia musaica as Groot, and Pseudohemiodon aff. apithanos as Thanos (of course!).

Undeniably the strongest Fish-venger, C. proteus spends most of its time meditatively swimming through well-planted river shallows in Peru, Ecuador, and Brazil. Maxing out around 6 inches in length, these “Anashua Green Pike Cichlids” are green, have long, pointed bodies with big, red eyes, a dark lateral stripe, and red and black patterning on their fins. With a tendency to dig and arrange tank furnishings themselves, these South American cichlids do best in tanks with robust potted plants, sandy substrate, rockwork arranged to form caves and crevices, and bogwood. Sometimes, but not always predatory, you won’t like these pikes when they’re angry. They eat just about any fish that will fit in their (admittedly gaping) mouths, and tend to be aggressive toward conspecifics. Just like Hulk, they do best in tanks with individuals that can hold their own, like large South American cichlids. Omnivorous by nature, they should be fed well-rounded diets composed of high quality cichlid pellets, live and frozen offerings like bloodworm, and some vegetal matter like spirulina or algae wafers.

Hailing from the upper Rio Orinoco drainages is our kind-hearted, wood-loving Fish-venger, T. musaica. Small, but mighty like baby Groot, “Ninja Wood Catfish” reach only 2.5 inches in length, and exhibit black bodies with white blotch-like patterning. As if flying through space, these catfish can handle some G’s-and are found predominantly in fast-flowing stretches of habitat. To mimic their natural environments, tanks should be well-oxygenated with filtration units and some flow, and large pieces of wood with cracks and crevices to squeeze into. Primarily nocturnal, tanks should be dimly lit with plenty of hiding spots, and some hardy plants like java fern or anubias to provide extra shade. Some aquarists use blue moon lighting to entice them into view, which they are prone to do when offered tasty morsels that can’t be passed up like bloodworm. Mostly carnivorous, they should be fed small meaty foods and high quality catfish pellets, but are likely to overeat if allowed. Generally peaceful, and suitable for well-researched community tanks, these wood cats do best in conspecific groups of 5 or more alongside South American river dwellers that can’t fit in their mouths. Sensitive to water quality, weekly water changes are recommended.

As many great villains start out, P. aff. apithanos is unusual among it’s kind. Apithanos translating roughly to “incredible” for their unique color patterns, these catfish are oddball Loricariids, that reach 7 inches in length. Known as “Chameleon Whiptail Catfish” they have wide, flattened heads, long, whip-like tails, and brown, black, and tan coloration that changes to match their background. Hailing from the western Amazon River drainage, these catfish spend their time digging in soft substrate and leaf litter. Tanks should be dimly lit, and are best equipped with open areas of sandy substrate, scattered driftwood, and floating plants. As they move along tank bottoms, rooted plants are liable to being dug up, and won’t last long–just like Thanos’ enemies. Generally peaceful, they can be kept alongside other South American river fish, though some individuals may be territorial against other bottom dwellers in smaller tanks. Primarily feeding on small invertebrates and algae in the wild, they should be fed a combination of live and frozen meals, algae wafers, raw vegetables, and high quality sinking pellets.

We hope you have enjoyed your feature presentation. If you ask us, this team really puts the fin in infinity.


Roll credits:






…psst, you still there?


Cut to: a sandy bottomed aquascape, everything seems peaceful when: red, eyes flash open and a chameleon whiptail slinks away suspiciously. Looks like our heros didn’t take down their villain for good. Find out what happens next in 3 years…

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