When I first met my husband in 1972, he invited me to come see his fish.
Since then he’s had many, many set-ups: freshwater, saltwater, small, large, goldfish, guppies, oscars, catfish, angelfish, anemones, clownfish…
His current pride and joy is a 180-gallon tank in our family room, filled with fish whose natural habitat is Lake Tanganyika or Lake Malawi in Africa. They are characterized by brilliant colors, especially yellows and blues.
It’s tricky taking pictures of an aquarium. You get lots of reflections. I promise you there is no table lamp in the tank. It’s really on an end table across the room.
I don’t remember how many cichlids Greg started out with. Now there are at least 50–it’s hard to count them because they’re constantly moving.
The fish are all different sizes. The largest ones are the originals he bought maybe ten years ago. Since then they’ve multiplied continuously.
The dark fish below spends all his time excavating. He picks up gravel in his mouth and spits it out in another part of the tank. He’s responsible for all the hills and valleys in the landscaping.
Greg loves to sit and watch the fish. He says it’s like watching a soap opera. There are a few bullies who pick on the others, and the courting couples swim around each other in graceful circles. Some mind their own business, and others curiously explore. They all love to be fed and nearly jump out of the tank in their enthusiasm for frozen brine shrimp or flake food.
Greg designed the tank with lots of hidey holes. If there are sudden movements in the family room, the fish disappear. They also enter their caves when Greg turns off the tank lights at night.
African cichlids are mouth brooders. The females hold their fertilized eggs (and the hatched, developing babies) in their mouths for three to five weeks to protect them from predators. After they’re released, most get eaten, but some hide in the caves until they’re too big to be vulnerable. Greg always gets excited when he sees a new little one.
Do you raise fish? What types do you like? Share in the comments below.