Mem-o-reel 'em in

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Memorial Day has come around again, which means summer is officially here! While we’re firing up the grill and getting our first sunburns of the season, however, the southern hemisphere is moving into their winter. Before you go and thumb your nose at our South American neighbors, that just means they’ll be enjoying temperatures in the 70’s on most of the continent. Being close to the equator definitely has its benefits, not the least of which is an abundance of beautiful tropical fish species. A few of our favorites that exemplify the range and quality are Hasemania nambiquara, Apistogramma hoignei, and Tahuantinsuyoa macantzatza.

Described in 2007, H. nambiquara is native to the upper Rio Tapajos drainage in Brazil where it lives on the edge! Found primarily in marginal regions of the river with clear, shallow water and lots of overhanging riparian vegetation, this characin is ideal for well-planted river biotope community aquaria. Tanks should be equipped with sandy substrate, leaf litter, wood and branches, smooth, variably-sized rocks, and plenty of open swimming space. Reaching just over 1 inch in length these “Nambiquara Tetras” resemble Emperor Tetras with silver-blue coloration, dark lateral striping, and yellow fins. These tetras do well alongside other river-dwelling South American characins, peaceful catfish, and dwarf cichlids. Schooling by nature, they should also be kept in conspecific groups of 5 or more. Feasting predominantly on small invertebrates in the wild, they should be offered regular live and frozen meals, though they are known to accept quality dried products without complaint. Waters are best kept with temperatures between 74 and 82°F, pH of 6.0 to 8.0, and hardness around 90 to 356 ppm.

A more reclusive South American, A. hoignei prefers slow-moving blackwater habitats among fallen leaf litter. These “Apistos” do best in heavily planted setups with lots of cover like upturned clay pots, rock piles, caves, driftwood and PVC pipe. Reaching about 2.5 inches, males are shiny and purple in coloration with golden heads striped in black, and red edges on their caudal fins. Females are slightly smaller and pale in coloration with black markings. Like all Apistos, they pair-bond for life and are ideally kept as single pairs within a South American community tank. Other tank inhabitants may include peaceful characins and catfish like Cories or Loricariids. For specimens to show their best coloring, they should be fed high quality diets of mostly small, live and frozen invertebrates supplemented by high-quality tropical flake. Tanks should be maintained with water temperatures of 75 to 82°F, pH between 5.0 and 7.0, and hardness under 179 ppm.

A rare and revered cichlid to native Peruvians T. macantzatza hails from Rio Aguaytia in Peru where it can be found in the rocky bottoms of clear, fast-flowing streams. Known more commonly as “Inca Stone Fish”, this cichlid reaches about 4 inches in length and exhibits gorgeous neon blue patterning on its face and fins, vertical black bars down their sides, and a red edge on its dorsal fin. Peaceful for cichlids, they can be kept with eartheaters, dwarf pikes, acaras, and peaceful catfish. As biparental mouthbrooders, they breed readily in captivity, though they may become aggressive and territorial toward other tank-mates during spawning. Omnivorous and predatorial by nature, they are liable to eat tank-mates that fit in their mouths, but should be fed balanced diets of frozen and prepared foods. Inca Stone Fish do best in waters with temperatures of 78 to 82°F, pH around 6.5 to 7.5, and hardness under 90 ppm.
So many South American species, so many habitats, the South American tank knows no bound!