Etroplus maculatus – Orange Chromide
Etroplus maculatus belongs to the only 3 cichlid species in Asia, all from the genus Etroplus. The name Etroplus comes from the Greek word ‘etron’ meaning belly and ‘hoplon’ meaning armour or weapon. It refers to the spiny rays of the anal fin. Etroplus maculatus grows to a maximum length of about 8 centimetres, so it can be considered a dwarf cichlid. The species occurs in southern and southwestern India and north and northwestern Sri Lanka. Etroplus maculatus occurs in the same habitat as the larger Etroplus suratensis. They act as cleaner fish for their relatives, ridding the body of parasites. The food value of the parasites is considered low, however, because of this service they are tolerated in the vicinity of the nests, where they feast on the eggs of Etroplus suratensis.
The body is strongly flattened laterally and is oval to egg-shaped. The orange cichlid owes its common name to its yellow to orange coloured flanks that are dotted with red tips. On their body, they have some dark round spots, one of which is almost always clearly visible. The back is grey-blue to brown-black in colour. In the spawning season, a blue-iridescent sheen appears over the entire body.
The unpaired fins are yellow to orange in colour and partly also dotted red and edged with a dark margin, which is particularly noticeable in the anal fin. The pelvic fins are completely black in colour. The fins are all slightly rounded in shape.
The males and females are so similar that it is very difficult to tell the sexes apart. Usually, the females are a bit duller in colour and have no red in the margin of the fins.
Etroplus maculatus is a peaceful species that should preferably be kept in a large group. There are always small confrontations between them to confirm the hierarchy. These confrontations are never violent, but in a smaller aquarium eventually lead to the weakest specimen withering away. The best is a larger group of at least 6-8 specimens. Etroplus maculatus is peaceful towards other species. Because they are shy by nature, it is wise to keep the fish with schooling fish that serve as signal fish against danger. The fish will soon calm down. The species is peaceful, even against much smaller fish.
Etroplus maculatus prefers brackish water, but can also be found in freshwater. No special requirements are set for the water setting, but it must be somewhat harder and more alkaline and absolutely clean. It is advisable to add one to two teaspoons of salt to ten litres of water because that increases the resistance to parasites such as white ich significantly. The temperature should be a minimum of 23 degrees Celsius and a maximum of 32 degrees Celsius. In its natural habitat, the water temperature is usually at the high end of this scale.
The best place for the fish – in accordance with the natural conditions – is in a river or lake biotope with plenty of swimming space, some stones to mark a kind of territory and a moderate current. Avoid soft plants, as they are eaten. Given the sensitivity to organic pollution, regular water changes are a must.
In nature, Etroplus maculatus lives largely on Aufwuchs scraped from the rocks. They will also eat the usual live or frozen food, such as brine shrimp, and mosquito larvae. However, it is important that a large component of the menu is plant-based (eg Spirulina).
Breeding Etroplus maculatus – Orange Chromide
For breeding Orange Chromides, the temperature is raised from 25 to 28°C, which is often an impulse for fish to start thinking about reproduction. From the small external differences between the parents, it could already be deduced that the Etroplus maculatus is an open substrate brooder, of which the parents jointly care for the brood. The spawning site, a rock or a piece of wood, is carefully cleaned by the parents. A package of about 200-300 eggs is then deposited on this.
After the eggs have hatched, the young often hang from the parents for some time, where they can feed on a nutritious mucous membrane like the fry of the discus fish. After a few days, the young are housed in a small pit, from where the searches for food begin. You can then quickly switch to supplementing with brine shrimp. With a sufficient supply of small infusion feed, the young can also be raised separately from the parents.
When the fish get bigger, they can be fed with various types of live and frozen food, just like the parents. Soft green algae and dry food in flakes and tablets are also eaten in part. The parents, but especially the mother, continue to care intensively for the young brood for a very long time so that with a successful breeding many youngsters can often grow to full maturity. Before breeding, a few teaspoons of salt per ten litres of water have been dissolved to prevent fungal diseases in the fry.
The Orange Chromide is a very special fish that can be found regularly in the aquarium trade, partly because of its colour and shape.
Peter-Jan Taheij, aquavisie.retry.org
Last Updated on 10 December 2022 by John