Madagascar cichlid expert Sonia Guinane on the rare Malagasy cichlid Ptychochromis sp Tarantsy.
Scientific name: Ptychochromis sp. Tarantsy (formerly Ptychochromis sp. Fort Dauphin)
Origin: Tarantsy River and Lake Tarantsy, near Amboasary and Fort Duaphin, Madagascar.
Size: Males up to 16cm/6.5" in nature, but may grow larger in captivity. Females slightly smaller.
Aquarium: As this species is quite aggressive with conspecifics, it should preferably be housed in large aquaria with other fishes, ideally other Madagascan cichlids. Provide caves, pipes or bogwood to allow the less dominate fishes in the aquarium to hide.
Diet: Ptychochromis are omnivores and enjoy frozen, fresh or dry foods, including spirulina flake or blanched vegetables.
Breeding: When breeding, both male and female darken along much of the body, similar to the breeding colouration of the Mexican cichlid, Herichthys labridens. They become quite aggressive, especially with conspecifics. Favoured spawning site is a vertical rock or bogwood. Eggs hatch after three days and fry are free-swimming after six days. As the species is so rare, artificial egg hatching is probably advisable.
Water: Madagascan cichlids are tolerant of water parameters, provided they are not too extreme. Has spawned in well-filtered and oxygenated alkaline water, pH 7.7, KH 8, GH 15, at 26-27C/79-80F.
Notes: This undescribed species (whose conservation status should be considered as vulnerable or even endangered) was discovered by the late Jean-Claude Nourissat (who was instrumental in the exploration and subsequent discovery of many Madagascan cichlids, but died from Cerebral malaria following his return from his final trip to Madagascar in November 2003) and his travelling companion, Patrick de Rham.
Availability: Four wild-caught specimens were brought to England by Jean-Claude in 1999, successfully bred and distributed. They therefore should be occasionally available in the hobby in Europe and North America.
Price: £5-10 depending on their size.
This article was first published in the May 2004 issue of the Practical Fishkeeping Magazine.