I have a fairly sizable colony of rusties – Iodotropheus sprengerae – and I’ve not been too happy with them, for a couple of reasons. The first is not necessarily a ding against the species as a whole – my particular male appears to be of the psychotic killer alpha variety. Seriously, he beats up on saulosi males, and the two species look nothing alike, so technically he shouldn’t have a huge problem with them. Guess he never read his species profile on the internet. Go figure, right? And it’s not a lack of females, I have six others and never had one of them color up or spawn after I removed him months and months ago, so I’m thinking they’re all female.
The other problem I have with them is actually a result of my aquarium decor choices, as I found out when I moved a bunch of them over to my “temporary holding” tank. In my main tank, which has white sand but is covered with dark-colored rocks, the rusties phase their colors dark, to match the rocks, and end up looking boring brown. Stick them in the holding tank, with the same white sand, but with much lighter rocks? They’ve lightened up considerably, showing the much more attractive orange-rust and lavender tones. Which has me wondering, since the holding tank is a long rather than a tall, if I might be able to keep the colony there for a while to see how they do in a species-only setup. Still would need to rehome them, though, unless I somehow found a really cheap 29 long or 40 breeder and sneakily swapped tanks without The Patriarchy finding out about it… ahahaha. (Multiple Tank Syndrome is a thing that happens, and requires intervention no less, so he’s doing me a favor. Really. It’s like cat hoarding, only with fish, and I have no more space for these things! So it’d have to be a swap.)
I’d have to figure out what to do with the other saulosi male still in temp housing, though; maybe I can pop him in the main tank as the other males seem to be more or less coexisting without murdering each other. Dang species is far too male-heavy and I just can’t get any locally, they have to be air-mailed from specialty commercial breeders in Florida. As unsexed juvies, of course. And ordered myself, since apparently the local fish stores around here are physically incapable of doing an internet search and ordering fish from anybody other than their usual Indonesian fish farm suppliers. /sarc
I need to keep a close eye on what’s going on in the main cichlid tank now, of course, since I’ve removed four fish, but the usual trouble applies: you watch them, and they watch you right back. (African cichlids are intelligent enough to actually recognize their owners and differentiate between “usual people” and strangers. My current community likes people and will come eye anyone through the glass, but I had one previous tank community that would hide like lightning if a stranger approached the tank. But not if I or my husband approached.) They certainly know who will occasionally give them extra food if they beg at the front glass! Of course, they also know me as Scary Net Person, although they quickly figure out who my target is. Although perhaps rusties are less intelligent than others, because I managed to nab four out of six before the last two caught on and would have nothing to do with the tasty food inside the net of doom!