Ellioti Cichlid

Ellioti Cichlid

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A1 Aquarium World
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Thorichthys ellioti is a medium sized Central American cichlid known from the slow-moving waters of the lower and middle river valleys of the Rio Papaloapan basin of eastern Mexico. They are usually found in groups, over sandy substrates where there is much driftwood and leaf litter for cover; the water clarity varies throughout its range, and in many places it is often a little murky and so vegetation is minimal. As these fish like to sift the substrate in search of food items, it is essential that they are maintained in an aquarium with a fine, soft sand substrate. Food morsels will be eaten, and any inedible material expelled through the gills, so it is important not to use sharp sand. Ample cover should be provided in the form of driftwood and smooth rocks, leaving an open swimming space along the front of the aquarium. Plants, whilst not forming a large part of their natural habitat, can be grown if fairly robust types are chosen as these cichlids are not particularly destructive, and the addition of live vegetation may make the aquarium more aesthetically pleasing. Leaf litter (e.g. dried Indian almond leaves) can be provided to create a more natural environment, but do remember to leave a decent space in the sand for these cichlids to sift through. Good water quality should be provided at all times to ensure the continued wellbeing of these beautiful fish – a high nitrate level makes them more prone to health problems, and is so easily avoided. The aquarium really should be at least 4ft long for juveniles and preferably 5-6ft long for adults, as these fish are rather territorial when breeding. Although a pair will reproduce in smaller aquaria, you will be able to observe T. elliotibehaving much more naturally if there is more space available - this being somewhat suppressed in smaller aquaria. Although territorial when breeding, these cichlids are not aggressive fighters the rest of the time. Instead they will often settle minor disputes amongst themselves through sheer bluff and bluster (in a similar manner to the closely related Firemouth, they will flare their gills – which are complete with eye spots - to make themselves appear larger and more intimidating when viewed head-on), and do not follow up these threats to the same degree as some other cichlids might. In scuffles between other more boisterous cichlids, such as many of the assertive types from Central America, the T. ellioti could end up coming out of it quite badly; so for this reason it is best to keep them in a species only set-up or else with other relatively placid species such as Severums (Heros severus) or Blue Acaras (Aequidens pulcher), for example. Do not house them with large, aggressive species, as T. ellioti is essentially a shy, peaceful fish outside of breeding time. Likewise, any diminutive, slow-moving tankmates should be avoided. Many aquarists have a good deal of success keeping robust livebearers such as swordtails or goodeids along with their T. ellioti in a specious environment, these acting as dither fish and encouraging the cichlids out into the open. Some of the small to medium Central American characins also make good tankmates, and if you are not fussy about creating a mix of fish from different continents, rainbowfish are another good option for shoaling mid-top water fish. Armoured suckermouth catfish should be quite safe for the lower areas of the tank, but avoid Corydoras as they are too easy a target should the T. ellioti commence spawning. It should be noted that this fish may undergo a change in nomenclature to T. maculipinnis at some time in the future, as there has been some confusion over its true identity and a great deal of debate amongst the scientific community about this. We are currently using the name T. ellioti here as although some consider it to be a junior synonym of T. maculipinnis, the T. ellioti name is still very widely used by suppliers in the trade.

Feeding

Omnivorous, but be careful not to feed too much protein as they can be prone to digestive issues. They will enjoy a variety of frozen foods such as vitamin-enriched brineshrimp, white mosquito larvae, bloodworm (sparingly), Mysis, daphnia, and various dried foods such as flake, green flake, crisps, slow sinking granules, cichlid pellets, and crushed algae wafers. Do also include some fresh vegetable matter in the diet.

Breeding

T. ellioti are sexually mature at around 6-7cm in length and breeding is quite straightforward. The male will choose a suitable territory containing a flat rock or piece of slate (they prefer a smooth, horizontal or slightly sloping piece of décor that is in a sheltered spot) and the female will deposit between 100-500 eggs here in small batches; after each batch is laid, the male will pass over them to release his milt, then the process is repeated. The eggs should hatch within 72 hours and the parents will move the larvae to a pre-dug pit in the substrate whilst they absorb their yolk sacs. The fry will be free swimming within 3-5 days and both parents will care for them, forcefully seeing off any intruders. The fry can be offered crushed flake/powdered baby fish food and baby brineshrimp (Artemia nauplii), moving on to bigger foodstuffs as they grow. The length of time that the parents guard the fry for does seem to vary a little, but they usually care for their offspring until they are between 1 and 2cm in length.