Shaolin Monkfish

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How was your first week of the New Year? No, we haven’t lost time. We’re speaking, of course, of the Chinese New Year. One of the world’s most prominent festivals, billions around the world celebrate the annual start of the lunisolar calendar with 15 days of festivities. Today, we pay homage to the rich, cultural traditions associated with this annual event. Our most festive species include Mesonoemacheilus triangularis, Pethia nigrofasciata, and Stenomelania torulosa.   

An integral part of Chinese culture, zodiac animals help determine fundamental parts of life from marriage compatibility to career fit. Hailing from the river Manimala, M. triangularis is known to locals as the “Zodiac Loach”. Reaching just over 2 inches in length, these loaches are long-bodied with pointed heads and prominent whiskers. Exhibiting dark bodies with golden triangular patterning, these loaches dragon dance across the substrate. Preferring clear, well-oxygenated streams and rivers, they do best in tanks resembling flowing streams with variable-sized water-worn rocks, sand, and fine gravel. Additional furnishing to provide a natural feel can include driftwood branches, caves, and boulders arranged to form multiple crannies. With variable aggression depending on their population of origin, caution is recommended when adding this species to established community tanks. These loaches are best kept in tanks with small, open-water-dwelling cyprinids, and no other bottom-dwellers. Omnivorous by nature, they feed mostly on invertebrates and zooplankton, with small amounts of vegetation. In captivity, they are easily fed dried foods of suitable size, with regular live and frozen offerings. Intolerant to build-up of organic waste, 30 to 50% weekly water changes are encouraged.

Representing good fortune, happiness, wealth, and longevity, red is the prominent motif of Chinese New Year. Windows and doors are decorated with red paper cutouts, red lanterns are hung, and money gifts are shared in red envelopes. Always adorned for this occasion is P. nigrofasciata. More commonly known as “Black Ruby Barbs”, these fish reach 2 inches in length, and exhibit arrow-shaped bodies with bright red heads, and black rears dotted with silver scales. Found in the southwestern ‘wet zone’ of Sri Lanka, these barbs thrive in pristine, shallow forest streams with dense marginal vegetation.For optimal coloration, tanks should be densely planted with some floating plants, dark substrate, driftwood branches, roots, and leaf litter. Generally peaceful, Black Ruby Barbs are optimal for community tanks housing small cyprinids, tetras, livebearers, rainbowfish, catfish, and loaches. Schooling by nature, they should also be kept in conspecific groups of 6 or more. Opportunistic foragers, they feed on diatoms, algae, organic detritus, and small invertebrates. Not picky in captivity, they can be fed a variety of flakes and granules, though best coloration is encouraged by regular live and frozen meals.

Chinese New Year festivities begin as every family deep-cleans their home. This symbolises sweeping away ill fortune and making way for incoming good luck. As we aquarists well know, clean tanks bring better fortune than dirty ones, and while Chinese families are probably not cleaning with chopsticks, we are able to clean our tanks with “Chopstick Snails”. Highly efficient scavengers and substrate sifters, S. torulosa is a hardy snail native to the Sulawesi lake system of Indonesia. Fun to observe, these snails have a unique appearance, and reach about 2.5 inches with long, spike-shaped shells. Chopstick snails spend most of their time climbing terrain, or burrowing in substrate. Completely peaceful by nature, they can be kept in any community tank where they will not get eaten. Safe with plants, they prefer to munch algae, biofilm, decaying plants, and sift through substrate. When kept in mature tanks, they require very little supplemental food, but they will gladly consume dried and frozen meals. When housing invertebrates it is extremely important to keep their environments copper-free. Check medication and food labels to ensure they will not poison your snails. 

It’s not too late to partake in Chinese New Year festivities. Here at the Wet Spot, we celebrate every holiday with fish-tivities, so it’s no surprise this scenario isn’t different–and we love our dedicated customers who do the same! Welcome to the year of the dog, aquarists!