Spring has officially sprung, and while many across the country spent their spring breaks enjoying the outdoors alongside the waking butterflies and bees, us Portlanders were less fortunate. As you could probably guess, we spent the first part of the week rained out (April showers and so on). We were thrilled, however, to have so many of our favorite fish-lovers use their precious free-time to stop by the shop! Those who did, certainly got their fill of butterfly and bee-type critters nonetheless. And so, in the spirit of spring, this week we present to you: Poecilia cf. wingei, Dekeyseria sp. “L052″, and Microsynodontis sp. “01”.
Fluttering by the lagoons of northeastern Venezuela, P. cf. wingei is as beautiful as America’s favorite winged friends. More commonly known as the “Butterfly Endler’s Livebearer”, males are breathtaking, reaching only 1 inch in length and exhibiting brightly colored scales and colorfully-edged, extended caudal fins to impress the ladies. Rather than spending energy on being colorful, the larger females have simple silver bodies with translucent fins, investing more into their side of reproduction. Unlike butterflies, and most fish, endlers do not lay eggs. Rather, the female retains the fertilized eggs inside her body where they develop, and eventually births live, free-swimming young. Endlers are very active and do best in large tank setups with ample plant-life including floating plants. Water flow and filtration are unnecessary with this species. Peaceful by nature, they can be kept in community setups with other small, peaceful species like corydoras, small rainbowfish, and small tetras. If breeding, it is best to keep them in a single-species tank. Omnivorous by nature, they most likely consume zooplankton and detritus in the wild. In captivity they can be fed varied high-quality flake and small prepared foods with some vegetal component.
Just as there are many kinds of butterfly, there are many butterfly-like fish. Found in the Atabapo river of South America, the L052 pleco, is more commonly known as the “Atabapo Butterfly Pleco”. A small catfish species, butterfly plecos reach a max size of 5 inches and are dark in coloration with bold, orangey-colored stripes. Banding is evenly spaced in juveniles, and eventually become a branching network patterns in adults. Hailing from river habitats with submerged roots and riparian vegetation, they do best in tank setups with networks of rocks, driftwood logs, and branches forming dark spaces and caves. Cave breeders by nature, if you plan to breed, waters should be soft and acidic. Like most plecos, they are very peaceful and can be kept in community tanks with other South American species like tetras, hatchetfish, pencilfish, corydoras, and peaceful dwarf cichlids. An undescribed species, not much is known about their natural diets, though in captivity they do well on a standard pleco diets including sinking foods and algae wafers. Raw vegetables are their favorite treats, and can be fed to them in small pieces secured to rocks or fastened to pleco feeders.
Listen closely, and you may hear these guys buzz- Microsynodontis sp. “01” is a lovely dwarf catfish hailing from the river basins of West Africa. Reaching a max size of 3.5 inches in length, these catfish are black with yellow bee stripes and translucent fins blotched with black. Like the pollinating insects, bumble bee catfish have long hair-like whiskers, but rather than using them to gather pollen, they are sensitive barbels used to find prey. Nocturnal by nature, they require dim lighting and plentiful cover. Tanks are best furnished with soft substrate and items like rocks, driftwood, twisted roots, and plants. Mostly peaceful, they can be combined with African species like tetras, Pelvicachromis, and small mormyrids. Predating by night on small invertebrates, in captivity they do best with diets consisting of frozen, live, and dried foods.
If you’re anything like us, you find fish easy to love. And while insects are admittedly less charismatic to most, it’s more important than ever to be reminded of our precious pollinating insects. This spring as our environments are once more in a buzz, think about providing some aid to these terrestrial critters the same way we do for our aquatic companions.