Paretroplus nourissati (Allgayer 1998)

This is not a full article about Paretroplus nourissati (known as the Lamena), just my personal experience keeping them. See the references at the end of the page for more complete information about Malagasy cichlids.

I own these fish (along with a group of Pe. menarambo and a group of Pe. maculatus) since November 2003. They came from Laif de Mason, and according to him they were born July 2003. The fish were split in 3 tanks, 250, 200 and 100 litres. The tanks being small, it was easier for me to feed a lot and change water often, in order to help them grow well. I am currently constructing two bigger wooden tanks (1500 and 1000 litres) to transfer them as they become bigger.
The fish are fed 2 or 3 times daily, with commercial flakes and bits, Enchytreae worms, Daphniae, frozen mosquito larvae and Artemia, and a home made frozen mix with spinach, peas, shrimp, white fish, and mussels. The tanks are full of snails also, and I rarely see one snail arriving to full adulthood. Pe. nourissati also seem to like green hair algae a lot, as I see them biting on it often, and their feces have a dark green color.

30% water changes are made once or twice/week. All the tanks are fully planted with easy growing plants (Limnophila sessiliflora, Rotala rotundifolia, Vesicularia dubyana, Anubias barteri).
All Malagasy cichlids are very sensible to Ick (Ichthyophthirius multifillis). I had an Ick infection once after a water change made in a hurry (water too cold), and once after some very cold days in the winter and a drop of temperature. Both times, adding salt and rising the temperature proved enough to cure them without any casualty.
The size of the fish were about 3 to 5 cm when they arrived, and their color was gray-yellowish with their characteristic dark vertical bars. They soon begun to show some red on their fins as they grew out.

They are now (July 2004) one year old, their size is around 10 cm and they show a very nice red on their fins. One of them stayed behind, measuring 6 cm, but it eats well and seem to do well in the small "fights" that occur often in the tank.

In May 2004, I noticed in the 250 litres tank, that one of them (I only learned today that it is a male) took the characteristic yellow-orange color on his body and started to defend a small ceramic pot and it?s surroundings. Although there were bigger Lamenas in the tank, he was defending his territory quite successfully. From time to time he would "flirt" with one or another of his compagnons, and after some time, I noticed that he would accept only one other Lamena in his territory.

The two fish would display to each other, and they made some attempts to clean the inside of the pot. As the fish where not even one year old, the thought of them preparing to spawn did not cross my mind. A couple of weeks ago, the other fish (which is 2 cm bigger) also became yellow-orange, and begun to spend more time in the surroundings of the pot, and both fish would chase any intruder brave enough to come closer than 20-30 cm from the pot. The whole area surrounding the pot is covered with Java moss (Vesicularia dubyana).

July 17 2004, 18 hours. All my tanks are at my work (a recording studio) in the bar. Today, I arrived for work, and the two Lamenas were spawning in the pot. I called my wife at home and asked her to bring my camera immediately. The male was the smaller of the two, and the spawining was typical cave-spawining process, with the exception of, instead of the male, it was the female that was defending the territory between laying eggs, while the male was fertilizing and aerating them.

When I arrived there was less than 10 eggs on the roof of the pot, and they finished almost one hour later with a total of 68 eggs. Unfortunately the camera did not come on time to take some pictures of the spawining process.

The eggs are big, and have a creme-white color. Usually they have a cherry-red color, but there are reports of white eggs that were fertilized and hatched (reference 2). I decided to leave the eggs with the parents, as they are still young, and I prefer to let them "learn" to take care of them. If everything goes well, I will steal the larvae once hatched.
Tank parameters: pH 7,9, dGH 15, KH 8, temp 27°C. Last water change, 3 days before spawning.

July 18 2004, 16 hours. All the eggs are there, with the same color. The male is defending them very well. The good thing is that all the Pe. menarambo in the tank are always swimming in the upper part, and the rest of the Lamenas are in the opposite side of the flowerpot.

The female is no longer there, the male chases her away every time she approaches. She has some (light) fight marks on her body. The male even tries to impress me every time I come closer to the glass in front of his flowerpot.

July 19 2004. All the eggs are gone. The male still defends his territory, and from time to time accepts the female in the surroundings. It is disappointing, but at least I know I have one breeding couple. Next time I will steal the eggs immediately.

July 21 2004. After a couple of days of almost complete indifference for his pot, the male is again showing a great interest, cleaning it, arranging the java moss surrounding the pot to his likings, and inviting the female again. Surprisingly, after only 5 days from her previous spawning, she accepts the invitations and they spend most of their time doing what I call "blank" spawning rehearsals. It's nice to know that the pair bond is not broken.

Continued in page 2

1) Les Cichlides endemiques de Madagascar by Jean Claude Nourissat and Patrick de Rham
2) Breeding the Lamena, a New Cichlid from Madagascar by Patrick De Rham, Cichlid News magazine, Vol. 4. No. 1-2, January-April 1995.

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