Pelvicachromis taeniatus "Dehane"

by Francine Bethea

While cruising through an lfs, I spied a lovely pair of fish. They looked like Kribensis to me. I asked the manager why they were so expensive. His reply was because they are Pelvicachromis taeniatus ‘Dehane’. Well then. That made the difference.

The natural habitat of these fish consists of small water courses inundated with plants and roots. Further reading mentioned that these fish are capable of keeping and breeding in water with a pH value of between 5 and 7.5. Also, the total hardness should not be above 5 degrees. Naturally this is where I began.

Nevertheless, the tank I setup for the taeniatus was a 20 gal long. First I seeded the tank with a partial water change from the 30 gal above it. Then I topped it off with 10 gals of distilled water. I set the temperature at 78 degrees. I already knew that the water parameters would be as all my tanks are; pH 5.0, gh < 4. Regardless, I checked to be sure. Whenever I seed a new tank I also make sure that my ammonia and nitrite levels are nil.

The aquascape consisted of a large driftwood piece, a slate pile, and a halved coconut shell. I planted an Amazon Sword, tons of java fern, a little of the java moss, Riccia and added a sprinkle of Duckweed. My intent here was to allow the Duckweed and the Riccia to spread to form a canopy. With the lights so close to the surface, and a low turbulence at the surface, this worked perfectly. The back glass was then covered with dark colored mat paper. I strongly believe in recreating the natural habitat of a species I intend to keep. Although, I must say, when it is time to catch fish this biotope can be a bit of a challenge.

I used a mini canister filter with two bio sponges. I also attached a sponge on the intake tube. By doing this, I have a sponge laden with bacteria ready to go for another tank. Also, the sponge prevents large debris from clogging the intake and also from sucking up hapless fry. The current was relatively non-existent.

At first, the taeniatus were very shy and hid a lot. I decided to add a few dithers. I had a few Glowlight Tetras that had been exiled from an Apisto tank. Then I purchased a few Bronze Corydoras for substrate maintenance. The addition of these fish seemed to make the taeniatus less shy.

Two weeks had passed and during the second week, the female had disappeared. Not having my wits about me, I checked the carpet under the tank and gave the cat a wary eye. However, this was not the case. I checked the tank more thoroughly and found the female under the slate pile. Carefully, I lifted the top slab. To my surprise there were 30 or so white, oblong shaped eggs adhered to the slate.

I ignored the tank except for the weekly 25% water change and the daily feeding. On the seventh day the male taeniatus was parading a swarm of free swimming fry. The fry moved with the male around the tank. Whenever the male dashed off to maintain boundaries, the fry would hunker down atop the substrate.

What puzzled me was that the female was also kept away from the fry. I was led to believe that this species shared the responsibility of rearing. This behavior, whether natural or not, was stressful to me and the other fish in the tank. Therefore, I siphoned the fry into a 2.5 gal. I added some of the java moss from the breeding tank. Filtration was taken care of with a hydro sponge. The fry immediately started for the sponge and the java moss. I fed them frozen bbs more than anything else. Taeniatus fry forage in groups. They scavenged for food continuously. I have found that these particular fry usually leave nothing to waste. If by chance I would over-feed, I wouldn’t feed them again until late the next day.

Pelvicachromis taeniatus make a wonderful addition to any community tank. I know someone with lots of fry.

This article first appeared in PVAS’s Delta Tale, Vol 30, # 2-3