Mesonauta festiva, Heckel, 1840
Origin: Britisch Guyana, Brasil; Mato Grosso, Amazon basin. Here the fish occur in smaller and larger rivers, lakes and pools after flooding has occurred. They can usually be found in quieter areas near the banks, in shaded areas.
Synonyms: Acara festiva, Chromys acora, Cichlasoma insigne, Cichlasoma insignis, Heros festivus, Heckel, 1840, Heros insignis, Heckel, 1840,Mesonauta insignis, Cichlasoma festivum, Eigenmann, 1907.
First European import: Germany, 1908, by E. Reichelt.
First bred by: Weinhausen, 1911, Germany.
Description: See pictures.
Care: The fish can be kept in community tanks if it's coinhabitants aren't too small. They will adapt to a variety of waterconditions, but require densely planted zones and some floating plants. Water should be well filtered, although strong currents are to be avoided. The fish are best kept in pairs, in soft, slightly acidic water, with lots of hideouts.
Temperature: 22-25 degrees
Feeding: Live and frozen food, sometimes some vegetables. Larger fish also eat small fish, especially neon tetras are appreciated.
Size: Up to 15 cm, due too inbreeding usually smaller.
Breeding: A spacious tank is required to get the fish to breed. Watervalues are not very important, although soft acidic peat filtered water seems to give the best results. Lower the waterlevel, and raise the temperature in the tank to 25-28 degrees. Wait for the pair to start cleaning a substrate, which can be a stone, or a plant leaf. Feed the fish well and varied during this time, and combine it with weekly 20% waterchanges. In a period of several hours between 150-500 clear, small eggs are laid. The eggs will hatch in 2 days, and are then moved close to the surface by the parents, where they are stuck to the glass, driftwood, or on plants, and guarded by both parents. Parents can take care of the fry for a long time, although the fry should be fed. Sometimes the parents loose interest after breeding, and don't care for the eggs, or start to eat them. If this is the case, remove the parents, and try to raise the eggs separately.
Sexual dimorphism: Throat area in males dark green, otherwise only to be seen during the mating season.
Additional: Frequently occurring fish in its habitat, usually occurs sympatrically with Pterophyllum scalarare.
The fish can actually die if suddenly scared by something!
Picture references:Picture 1+2+3: E. Naus
References:Baensch, H. A., Riehl, R.(1982): Aquarien Atlas I. Mergus Verlag, Melle, Germany.(click on the link to buy this book)
Hoedeman, J. J.(1969): Aquariumvissen encyclopedie 6. Elsevier Nederland B. V., Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
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