Amphilophus hogaboomorum is named after the brothers George and Peter Hoogaboom, who captured the type specimens together with the authors. The genus name Amphilophus is a compound of Amphi = on both sides and lophus = thickening referring to the thick lips of the type species Amphilophus labiatus.
Amphilophus hogaboomorum proves that you can also make an impression without bright colors. This fish, with its simple tire pattern, knows how to present itself like no other. You get what you see. “Robustness” and completely in line with the environment from which this fish originates.
The Rio Choluteca, the river from which Amphilophus hogaboomorum comes, is one of the most dynamic in Central America.
Seven dark transverse bands, the first of which curves over the forehead (therefore also called a harlequin cichlid), and the last on the caudal peduncle, just before an extra spot, the caudal peduncle, which is not counted as a transverse band. At a later age, this fish still gets a bit of color, with the emphasis on a little because the yellow head and back of this fish can better be called “yellowish” while the red in the belly region can better be called “reddish”.
In nature, these fish do not grow larger than about 20 centimeters. The oligotrophic environment and possibly also overfishing probably limit the animals in their development because once in an aquarium (with 24-hour catering) the fish easily reach 30 centimeters. Females remain smaller and sometimes have a faintly visible dorsal fin spot above the third transverse band (counting from the head). Males may develop a forehead bump.
Endemic to the lower reaches of the Rio Choluteca. This approximately 300 km long river is located in the south of Honduras and flows into the Gulf of Fonseca. Except for the coastal strip, the area where the Choluteca flows is mountainous and relatively dry. Annual precipitation averages between 25 and 100 centimeters, but almost all of this water, falls in the seven months from May to December. During this period, Honduras is often hit hard by hurricanes. In 1998, during Hurricane Mitch, the Rio Choluteca became six times as wide in some places and wiped entire villages off the map. It will be appreciated that such frequent abrupt fluctuations in volume, flow rate, and water composition are important factors in the development of the fish that live here.
Hardly anything is known about the natural behavior, but most likely corresponds to Amphilophus citrinellus and Amphilophus labiatus. These live in nature in (social) groups and isolate themselves in pairs during the mating season. Then they become quite aggressive and do not tolerate any conspecifics around. The caretaker of these animals must also take into account that they can be bitten unexpectedly and hard (Pilack 2001).
As mentioned, the water in the Choluteca is nutrient-poor and contains few crustaceans, snails, and insect larvae. It is therefore not entirely clear what our Amphilophus hogaboomorum lives on. In any case, aquarium populations emerge as omnivores. Especially in the growth and development phase, a lot of powerful food is needed, such as mysis, artemia, mussel meat and fish.
Breeding Amphilophus hogaboomorum
Breeding Amphilophus hogaboomorum is quite easy. Between 400 and 800 eggs are laid in a sheltered place. After three days the larvae hatch and after another 4 days, the fry swim free. The parents lose interest when the young begin to swarm. The male then often immediately starts making advances again. For the female, a critical phase begins. She can only legitimize her presence in the male’s territory by laying eggs again. Failure to do so can be fatal for her, even in large aquariums.
Michael Pillack describes in the German association magazine DCG. a method of slightly reducing the male’s reproductive drive. He combines his breeding couple with a group of semi-grown Oscura heterospilus. This gives the male more, but also other stimuli than just those for reproduction. This added company significantly reduces the aggression in Michael’s setup.
There is little expertise in aquarium care requirements, but given its close relationship with Amphilophus citrinellus, you should expect somewhat similar care needs. Amphylophus species are (when given the opportunity) often more sociable than expected (Artigas Azas 2009). Raised together, preferably with another group of a different species, they can form a surprisingly sustainable community in large aquariums (from three meters). If you do not have more than two meters available, it is better to keep the fish in pairs. In this case one should take care of sufficient but also efficient hiding places for the female. The description by Carr and Giovannoli also contains the following biotope data.
The, at times strongly flowing water in the Rio Choluteca, contains little sediment. The waters of most of the Rio Choluteca’s tributaries are either clear or have milky turbidity whose origin is unknown. There is rarely discoloration from organic acids and there appears to be a chronic deficiency of dissolved nitrogen compounds. Aquatic plants do not or hardly occur in this oligotrophic environment. Its development is probably also slowed down by the annual flooding and the associated erosion. At the end of the dry season, beds of Ludwigia arise here and there, which are usually uprooted with the first rains. Perhaps the most important hydrophyte is a moss-like plant from the Podostemaceae family, the so-called “river weeds”. Especially the stones that receive sunlight are covered with this and contain a surprising variety of aquatic insects. The fish fauna consists of a large part of rheophilic species that live partly in the free water and partly between the rocks. Almost all of these species thrive from time to time, however, also in the many secondary channels, residual water pools, and backwaters that this area is rich in. (Carr 1950). It is possible that the stay in these pools is used for reproduction.
We can easily set up the aquarium for these fish with rocks, gravel, and sand. Keep in mind that the fish have their own ideas when it comes to furnishing. Rocks must therefore rest on the bottom and water plants are better left out. The water should be clean and oxygenated, but the water composition is not important. The following extreme values were measured in the dry season. GH5, KH8, PH8.5, temp. 30 – 34C, (Riehl/Baensch 1990). A salt encore can have a positive effect. The fish are found as far as the brackish water zones (Conkel 1993). Amphylophus hogaboomorum is a fish that, because of its modest colors, will never make a general appearance, yet attractive enough to never completely disappear.
Rene Beerlink – NVC
Carr, A.F. & L. Giovannoli. 1950. “The fishes of the Choluteca drainage of Southern Honduras”. Occasional Papers of the Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan. Nummer 523.
Riehl R., Baensch 1990. H. Aquariën Atlas, band 3, blz 730-731. Conkel D.1993. Cichlids of North and Central America. Pilack M. 2001. DCG-informationen 31-9. Blz 203-204. Artigas Azas J. 2009. Amphilophus hogaboomorum, Cichlidae.com.