The colorful Black-Stripe Dwarf Cichlid Taeniacara candid, dubbed the Torpedo Cichlid, is a beautiful and relatively small cichlid most appropriate for experienced aquarists. The descriptive names Black Stripe Dwarf Cichlid and Torpedo Cichlid can easily be accounted for as this little fish has a narrow streamlined body, a black racing type stripe running down the center of its body, and the males have a flare type tail that is painted in reds.
The Black-Stripe Dwarf Cichlid shares its origins in the Amazon river in South America with many other species of dwarf cichlids, but presents a much slimmer body than other dwarfs. It was previously described asApistogramma weisei and is thus also commonly known as Weise's Dwarf Cichlid. However, the scientific name was changed because it differs from the closely related Apistogramma by its unusually elongated body. It only reaches a length of just under 3 inches (7 cm) and the female is even smaller reaching about 2" (5 cm). Being short as well as slim makes it appear much smaller than its counterpart dwarf cichlids as well.
Although a challenge to keep, the Black-Stripe Dwarf Cichlid is a rewarding fish for the more advanced cichlid enthusiast. Their small size makes them some of the easier cichlids to house, only needing about 30 gallons for a pair, but its requirements are more stringent. It needs an environment similar to the other dwarfs yet requires more care and maintenance to keep it healthy and thriving.
They can be moderately difficult to care for due to their water chemistry requirements. They do best in soft acidic water with low nitrate levels. Water changes need to be performed frequently to keep the nitrate levels low. Tank bred specimens are now available that are not as delicate as their wild caught counterparts, but they still demand certain water conditions to thrive. If water quality is ignored, as with all cichlids, disease and death can occur. Just a little dedication will reap pleasurable results from this little fish.
The Black-Stripe Dwarf Cichlid can be kept in a community with other peaceful cichlids of similar size or smaller. Other small fish that swim primarily close to the surface, such as some of the Characins, can also make good tank mates. These small surface dwelling fish serve another function as well, they act as 'dither' fish to draw the male's hostility away from the females. Provide a substrate of fine dark sand along with rocks and pots to create plenty of caves. They enjoy a densely planted aquarium and floating plants will help to diffuse the lighting.
The Black-Stripe Dwarf Cichlid is a small, colorful, and elongated fish. Its body has a more slender and torpedo like profile as compared to other dwarf cichlids. Mature males have a more pointed dorsal fins than the females. Males have a large spade-shaped tail fin that extends into a point at the end, while the females have shorter fins. The males can grow up to just under 3" (8 cm) while the females only up to about 2" (5 cm). This fish can live up to about 5 years with proper care.
The body has a base color of silver above a black horizontal stripe that runs from the head to just before the tail, though the stripe may be absent from some specimens. There is a slightly lighter silver/white on the belly in front of the anal fin. The fins are colored with blue, yellow, red, and brown. The female has less intense coloring, yet is still a pretty little fish.
All cichlids, along with some saltwater fish such as wrasses and parrotfish, share a well-developed pharyngeal set of teeth located in the throat, in addition to 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.
The Black-Stripe Dwarf Cichlid is a carnivore that feeds on insect larvae and other small live foods in the wild. In the aquarium it can be fed newly hatched baby brine, frozen brine shrimp, freeze dried bloodworms, tubifex worms, and high quality flake food. This diet is especially easy to feed to tank bred Black-Stripe Dwarf Cichlids.
Wild caught specimens will have to be provided with a live diet until they accept prepared foods. Feed them chopped earthworm, blood worms, and mosquito larvae. Feed 2 to 5 small pinches of food a day in smaller amounts rather than a large quantity once a day. This will keep the water quality higher over a longer time. All fish benefit from vitamins and supplements added to their foods.
A minimum 30 gallon tank is suggested for a pair, with 55 gallons or more if in a mixed tank. They prefer slow to moderate moving water along with good efficient filtration. The Black-Stripe Dwarf Cichlid does well in acidic water with low nitrate levels. A mature tank with soft water and a pH of acidic to neutral is best. Also, oxygen levels must be maintained for best color and health. The aquarium should have a cover and low to moderate lighting.
Provide a substrate of fine dark gravel along with rocks and pots to create plenty of caves. Caves formed from rockwork or synthetics like coconuts or clay pots will provide a refuge for the fish as well as a place for breeding. They enjoy a densely planted aquarium. Floating plants help to diffuse lighting. If using live plants, dense plantings that will provide shade for your fish will need time to grow out before providing optimal cover for the fish. Rosette plants like the Amazon Sword, Vallisneria, stem plants like Wisteria, and other acidic tolerate plants work great.
When using substrate or rocks, be sure they do not leach into the water and affect the pH. Substrates such as limestone can increase the pH level. It is recommended to not use sand that is intended for specifically marine aquariums. Driftwood is a big help in keeping pH low and contributes to the "tea stained" coloring of the Amazon River.
The Black-Stripe Dwarf Cichlid is a community fish that can be kept with other peaceful cichlids of similar or smaller size. They are territorial with their own kind, but can be kept alone or in pairs in a 30 gallon tank. If interested in keeping more than a single pair in one tank, be sure the tank is at least 55 gallons are larger. Having other Black-Stripe Dwarf Cichlids in the tank helps the female to develop more of a maternal instinct, and she may be a little more protective of the fry. If there is no threat, a female will not guard her young with the normal intensity. As the parents share this "guarding" of the fry, having other individuals in the tank also helps to strengthen their bond. Take caution adding multiple males as the dominant male will normally attack and kill the weaker males.
Other small fish that swim primarily close to the surface can also make good tank mates. Some of the characin species like hatchetfish, pencilfish, and some of the tetras will work well. They can also serve another function as 'dither' fish to draw the male's hostility away from the female.
South American cichlids tend to be less aggressive than their African cousins, but space is very important. They are still a cichlid and are semi-aggressive, so they may not work well with non-cichlid tropical fish when spawning. They will work great with dwarf cichlids of the Apistogramma genus in a large enough tank; provide at least 55 gallons in this mixed situation.
The Black-Stripe Dwarf Cichlids are cave spawners with a patriarch-matriarch family in the wild. Males generally form harems but have a tendency towards a nuclear family. Females will spawn about 60 - 90 eggs, which are deposited on the ceiling of a cave where they attach. In a harem situation they are usually cared for by the female while the male guards the territory. However as pairs the male may also participate in brood care.
For breeding in the aquarium a male with 3 - 4 females is fine, or they can be bred as pairs. For a pair obtain 6 juveniles and let them grow up together. At least one male-female pair will form from this arrangment. You may or may not decide to remove the others, depending on your tank size. Condition them with meaty foods like white worms, mosquito larvae, blood worms, and even clean chopped earth worms every day.
They appreciate upturned flowerpots, fake "coconut caves," bogwood, and broad leafed plants for cover and as spawning sites. They need to have a pH around 5.5 to spawn. As with other dwarfs, this lower pH may also be needed for the eggs to hatch. Basically the more acidic and soft the water, the happier they are, with 0 hardness being ideal. Some breeders use rainwater or phosphoric acid to lower the pH. If using acid, add it to a bucket of conditioned water and leave it for a few days before adding it to the tank, do not put it directly in the tank.
The female will become heavy with eggs and will pick a spawning spot. She will lay 60 to 90 eggs on the surface of her chosen site. The male will fertilize them and promptly leave the cave to patrol the outside. The males are quite aggressive guarding their territories, and will even attack larger fish to repel them. If during this time other fish in the tank are too terrorized to eat, you may need to remove them.
The female will actually turn yellow and black during this brooding period. She will keep popping her head out of her "cave" to make sure the coast is clear. The eggs will hatch in 48 to 60 hours at a temperature of 82° F (28° C). After 7 days the fry will follow her out and start grazing on algae in the tank. The male will keep other fish at bay when the family is out. The female will stay above the fry and flick her fins to signal to her young.
The fry will eat newly hatched brine shrimp and microworms and should be fed every day, several times a day. The fry grow fast. In one month, if the water is kept clean and they are fed well, they can grow up to 3/8". In two months they can be over 1/2", which is half of the adult size of a female.