This diminutive dwarf cichlid is somewhat rarely found in the hobby because the larger 'Opal' variety (which is a man-made variety) had become more popular. The males of the species are certainly larger and more colorful than are the females, and this fish is best described as having gorgeous pastel colors. The head is a soft yellow hue with an intricate face mask of bright neon blue and in some specimens, flecks of red. The body of the fish becomes a gradient of muted neon blue with dark blue cross-hatching between scale rows. The males have larger yellow finnage than do the females, generally ending in tipped points forming a cape-like appearance.
This fish occurs naturally only in the Paraguay River, however this river and its tributaries are responsible for feeding the “Pantanal” which is a low-altitude alluvial plain. This plain is seasonally flooded and drained by the river, making it an extremely rich natural ecosystem. Indeed, many precious species coveted in the hobby come from the Pantanal, including many plants used by aquascapers. The fish we have on offer were bred in Europe, and originally come from wild stock which were collected from the Pantanal.
The water which these fish are found in will have negligible levels of carbonate hardness and in general would be considered rather poor water conditions due to the lack of minerals, however these fish are uniquely adapted to these conditions. The tank-bred fish we have on offer are far more tolerant of a range of water conditions when compared to their wild cousins, but they will do best in soft water. There is no aggression in these fish, aside from bickering over food and nesting caves which is typical of many fish species. These fish will only breed in very soft water, and they like to breed in caves and crevices. Breeding these tiny jewel-like fish is best done in pairs. The female and male will lay their eggs on the walls of caves and stay close to the eggs until they hatch. It is best to remove the male once there are baby fry, and simply let the mother care for her young. The young will forage and eat tiny organisms they find but most often, newly hatched baby brine shrimp are fed to them because the high fat content causes them to grow very rapidly. These fish ship individually bagged.
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