» Posted by on Oct 11, 2015 in Jim S | Comments Off on Goin’ South — South American Fish and Plants @ Absolutely Fish!

Goin’ South

South American Fish and Plants @ Absolutely Fish

By Jim S

Geophagus balzani

South America. To many here in North America, our neighbor to the south is synonymous with the tropical aquarium hobby. Neons to oscars, Angels to plecos, the place has it all. What is less appreciated is that as one pushes further south, conditions become decreasingly tropical. Attention to this fact is required with some plants and animals found in the hobby.

Cichlids of the genus Gymnogeophagus, containing twelve species including G. balzanii, G. australis, and G. rhabdotus, need special attention because of their origin. They occur naturally in southern Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and northern Argentina (G. balzanii). As such, they do best with seasonal variation in water temperature. Their water temperature should never exceed 77º F and be kept between 54ºF and 59ºF for two months each year. Doing so improves both the health of the fish and the likelihood of spawning. Failing to do so stresses the fish and increases the likelihood of disease.

Some plants found in the hobby also merit similar attention regarding temperature. Of particular note is the Uruguay Sword E. uruguayensis and “E. horemanii”. (Long offered as a separate species, “E. horemanii “ is just a red morph of E. uruguayensis.) In either form the Uruguay Sword is an excellent aquarium plant but excessive temperatures should be avoided. The optimal temperature range is between 65ºF and 75ºF.

These are just two examples relating to a single parameter (temperature). With any plant or animal kept in captivity, knowledge of their needs goes a long way towards maximizing the chances of success.

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