I’m on the verge of parting with a species group of Iodotropheus sprengeraeso I thought I’d do a blog post about my experiences with these little guys.

Color: I found that if I kept them in a tank with dark-colored rocks, they would be pretty much uniformly brown. The gorgeous lavender/orange doesn’t show unless you keep them in a very pale environment, so they’re great fish for people with Texas holey rock decor or other pale/white rocks. (Both my cichlid tanks have white aragonite substrate and pale blue background.) I didn’t vet my sources carefully to get a great color strain, so my fish are a mix of lookers and plain janes – I recommend ordering from a reputable breeder rather than getting pet-shop-farmed “quality” fish.

Inter-species Aggression: they were more aggressive than my saulosi – I removed the adults from my main tank because the alpha rusty was keeping my alpha saulosi from coloring fully.

Conspecific Aggression: lowest female on the totem pole gets pretty beat up by the others after holding. Lots of fin and some scale damage, but survivable and recoverable. Male vs male damage – well, actually I had a lower “assassination” count for the rusty males than for the saulosi males, but it still happened. This isn’t days’ worth of fin-nipping like with the females, it’s brutal body-blows that happen over the course of only a few hours and leave the victim immobile and dying. When you’re not home to rescue the victim, of course. They know when they’re being watched.

Skittishness: the alpha male spent most of his time hiding (I once had an acei Tank Boss that did this as well) and that resulted in the entire colony making themselves scarce anytime I walked by the tank. I parted with him to a hobbyist who was looking for show fish rather than a breeding group, and the remaining fish have become far more willing to tolerate an observer’s presence. If you hold still enough.

Predation: my rusties are little fry-eating predators, the b-tards. Since removing the last rusty from my 75, the 3/4″ saulosi fry have become far more willing to brave the open water. In the other tank, I know I had several spawns, but no fry ever survived to get real big. (There are two or so that I know of in there who might actually make it, since the adult group will be moving out fairly soon. Of course, that will just mean selling them once they get large enough.)

Ironically I’ve enjoyed the group more now that I’ve decided to do the marketing work to get rid of them than in all the time I had them in my secondary cichlid tank previously! But I’m wanting to streamline my efforts towards the saulosi, now that my adults are breeding like rabbits, so they’ve got to go. Especially on account of their baby-eating!


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