Nannacara aureocephalus

by Francine Bethea

A few years ago, while thumbing through a Dwarf Cichlid book, I spied many species that I would have liked to have. Finally, the opportunity arose and I acquired a pair high on my wish list-Nannacara aureocephalus, also known as the Golden-Head Cichlid. In the wild, this species can be found in the Rio Mana of French Guyana. Luckily, I got mine from an importer out of New Jersey.

Once the pair arrived, I placed them in an established 20-gallon long that had water values similar to what the fish would experience in the wild-soft and acidic. A large piece of driftwood with Java Fern and Java Moss attached provided plenty of hiding places. A sponge filter gurgled slowly to encourage the growth of a thick mat of duckweed; the low light level gave the fish a sense of security. The other inhabitants of the tank were an aging group of Glowlight tetras. The water temperature was set for 78°, with a total hardness about 1° dH and a pH of 6. The combination of these water conditions and heavy feedings of live foods induced a spawn within 10 days.

The female’s normal beige coloration changed to a checkerboard pattern of dark brown to black on top of the beige background. With this dramatic change in color came a fierceness to protect the spawning site. The male and the Glowlight tetras had been hounded to the far corners of the tank. After about 12 days, the fry became free swimming and the male was allowed to move in. The checkerboard pattern now adorned the male as well and he joined his mate to lead the fry around. A closer observation revealed that the fry also sported this checkerboard design and were very hard to find near the gravel floor.

The fry are capable of taking Microworms and Artemia as a supplement to whatever they found in the gravel and on the driftwood. The brood started out in heavy numbers, but soon the numbers began to dwindle. The survivors at 5mm in size began to stray from their parents, no longer in danger of being picked off by the tetras. In the meantime, the male returned to his normal coloration of gold with blue bordering each scale. The male had also surpassed the female in size, which is a distinctive trait of this species.

This article first appeared in PVAS’s Delta Tale, Vol 32, # 3