วันศุกร์ที่ 5 ตุลาคม พ.ศ. 2555

Fish Data : Golden Mbuna



 



Scientific Name: Melanochromis auratus
Natural Habitat: Lake Malawi
Common Names: Golden Mbuna, Malawi Golden Cichlid.
Adult Size: 5 inches.
Tank Mates: Some tank mates include other Mbuna Cichlids such as Cobalt Blue, Yellow Labs, Johanni, Red Zebra, Kenyi, and others.
Tank Size: At least 30 gallons.
Tank Region: Everywhere.
Water Temperature: 72°F – 83°F
Water pH: 7.5 – 8..
Distribution:    The Auratus or Golden Mbuna was described by Boulenger in 1897 and are endemic to Lake Malawi, Africa. These fish occupy the southern part of Lake Malawi from the Jalo Reef and then north of Nkhota Kota and south along the western coast to Crocodile Rocks. They are not found on the eastern shore. This Mbuna likes rocky areas, feeding off the algae in the water.

Status:    This species is listed on the IUCN Red List, but with the status of 'LC', meaning 'Least Concern'.

Description:   The body of the Auratus or Golden Mbuna is elongated with a rounded snout, narrow mouth, and continuous dorsal fin. In coloring, the male has a much different appearance than the female. He has a somewhat transparent yellow dorsal fin, with black specks that form almost a horizontal "line" through the top. The back is a golden yellow to a faded yellow and the remainder of the body is black. A thin yellow line edged in neon blue runs horizontally through the middle of the body from behind the gill area to the caudal fin. The tail fin is black with yellow at the outer most edge. The anal and pelvic fins are black with neon blue trimming.
   

  The female is basically golden in color with a black dorsal fin edged in gold. The back is black and the balance of the body is golden. A white/blue trimmed black line run horizontally through the middle of the body from behind the eye to the caudal fin. The tail fin is white with black spots on the upper part, and the bottom is golden. The rest of the fins are golden as well.
   

  The juvenile has a golden belly and the upper body is white with 3 black horizontal stripes. These stripes are located down the middle, along the back, and one through the top of the dorsal fin. The tail fin is colored similar to the female though sometimes it has a few diagonal stripes instead of spots. (stripes at around 3 to 5 months) The juvenile keeps the female coloring until they are 6 months.
  

   All cichlids share a common feature that some saltwater fish such as wrasses and parrotfish have and that is a well-developed pharyngeal set of teeth that are in the throat, along with their regular teeth. Cichlids have spiny rays in the back parts of the anal, dorsal, pectoral, and pelvic fins to help discourage predators. The front part of these fins are soft and perfect for precise positions and effortless movements in the water as opposed to fast swimming.



Cichlids have one nostril on each side while other fish have 2 sets. To sense "smells" in the water, they suck water in and expel the water right back out after being "sampled" for a short or longer time, depending on how much the cichlid needs to "smell" the water. This feature is shared by saltwater damselfish and cichlids are thought to be closely related.

Care and feeding:    The Auratus or Golden Mbuna is primarily an herbivore, so may eat any plant you put in the tank. They need to be fed small meals of dry, fresh and frozen foods that are rich in vegetable matter several times a day. Spirulina is highly recommended as a staple food. These foods will help keep the colors bright. Foods like beef heart are to be avoided as they can promote digestive problems


   A minimum of 50 gallons, though 125 gallons is suggested when keeping them with other compatible fish. They do fine in either freshwater or brackish freshwater but need good water movement along with very strong and efficient filtration. A crushed coral substrate can help keep the PH up, or a regular gravel for freshwater fish can be used. Their natural habitat has sand. Provide lots of passageways and caves formed with piles of rocks. They like to dig so make sure the rocks sit on the bottom of the aquarium not on the substrate.





Malawi Cichlids will deteriorate under poor water conditions. As these are messy fish, do water changes of 20 to 50% a week depending on bio load. Malawi bloat is a typical disease especially if their mostly herbivorous dietary needs are not met with quality foods. They can contract other diseases that ail all freshwater fish.

Water Region: Top, Middle, Bottom:    These fish will swim in all areas of the aquarium.

Acceptable Water Conditions:    The streams that flow into Lake Malawi have a high mineral content. This along with evaporation has resulted in alkaline water that is highly mineralized. Lake Malawi is known for its clarity and stability as far as PH and other water chemistries. It is easy to see why it is important to watch tank parameters with all Lake Malawi fish. A higher PH means that ammonia is more lethal, so water changes are a must for these fishes. A very slow acclimation to different PH levels can sometimes be achieved.
   Hardness: 6 - 10° dH
   Ph: 7.7 - 8.6
   Temp: 73 - 82° F (23 -28° C).

Social Behaviors:    This fish is not considered to be a community fish. They do best in a species specific tank. They can be kept with some other aggressive Mbunas, just be careful that they are not similar in shape or color or they will be attacked. Do not put this fish with peaceful cichlids. They are also aggressive toward similar looking males of a different species. Some other species of Mbunas will not even spawn until after the Golden Mbunas are removed!
 
 The Auratus is best kept in groups of one male and several females. They will attack and kill any other males in the tank. In less than 120 gallons (450 liters), a dominant female will even seek out and kill subordinate males. Females become aggressive near the time their eggs have developed and are near releasing. The males will sometimes even kill females in smaller tanks. If overstocking is used as a form of aggression reduction, care should be taken to do several partial water changes a week.  
 


Sexual Differences:    The female and the male Malawi Golden Cichlid are different, with the male having a dark brown color, with a band that is pale on the sides, running from the caudal peduncle to the forehead. The bases of the anal and caudal fins are darker, while the back is colored yellow. The color of the dorsal fin will be blue/turquoise.
As for the female, the main color is yellow (golden) and she has three bands that are black/brown, with yellow fins and red/orange dorsal fin tips.

Breeding/Reproduction:    The Auratus has been bred in captivity. This cichlid, like other Mbunas, spawn in the male's territory. When spawning the male changes his color, it becomes an intense exaggeration of his original coloring that almost looks like a double exposed picture.
  The females lay around 40 eggs and then immediately take them into their mouths before they are fertilized. She then stimulates the male to discharge sperm (milt cloud) by mouthing his vent or the eggspots on his anal fin. She inhales of cloud of "milt" which then fertilize the eggs in her mouth. In 21 days at about 82° F, the eggs are developed.

   The released fry can eat finely powdered dry foods and brine shrimp nauplii. The female will guard her young for a few days, even taking them into her mouth if there is a perceived threat. As long as you have plenty of hiding places, your young will have a easier time surviving until they are too big to eat. They will reach 1" within 3 months and males show their colors between 6 and 9 months. See the description of how cichlids breed in Breeding Freshwater Fish.

Common Disease:     Cichlid diseases may be due to infections by bacteria; fungi; or parasites. One of the most common cichlid diseases is Hole-in-the-head disease. Also known as Hexamita; this results in appetite and weight loss; and small depressions are observed on the head.Another very common cichlid disease is Ich or Ichtyophthirius. With this white salt-like marks appear on the head first; and then spread over the whole body. Breathing is quick; the fish scratches a lot; and the eyes and fins; both; become cloudy 

Availability:    The Auratus or Golden Mbuna are often found online for around $2.00 to $6.00 USD. Prices vary depending on whether they are male, female, or juvenile. They are sometimes found in fish stores, though may be special ordered if you are willing to wait for them if they are out of season.

   When acquiring a Golden Mbuna, with all the different hybrids that have formed in captivity, there is no way to tell exactly what you are getting unless it is from a reputable dealer.




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Picture Credit : http://wereallwet.com/golden-mbuna-cichlid-care/