If you are an inquisitive amateur hobbyist looking for a large, unusual fish with an interesting character, then you might be interested in the citron cykhlazoma, which is not too complicated to be kept in large aquariums.
Citron tsikhlazoma, it is the citric tsikhlasoma and midas cichlid (Latin Amphilophus citrinellus, formerly Cichlasoma citrinellum, English Midas Cichlid) is a large fish of the cichlid family, attracting many aquarists with its bright color, size and unusual shape of the head.
It comes from Central America: inhabits the San Juan River basin, the lakes of Nicaragua and Managua, and the waters of Costa Rica. They live in places with a slow or completely absent current, prefer rocky shores and embankments, among which they search for food.
This species is often confused with Amphilophus labiatus, also known as the red devil, which is very similar to citron cychlasoma, but differs from it in smaller dimensions (citron cychlasoma: 30-35 cm, labiatus: up to 28 cm), as well as genetic differences and local habitat: endemics are living exclusively in the basin of Lake Nicaragua, when lemon cychlasmas are more common in the waters of Central America. Despite the insignificant differences, the red devil and lemon tsikhlasom perfectly form pairs and intersect in the aquarium conditions, which complicates the determination of the species of the offspring.
Citron tsikhlazomy have a very specific appearance: it is believed that in dominant males as they mature and puberty a fatty bump appears on the forehead, however, this neoplasm has been observed more than once in females, especially in old age. According to the results of numerous observations, it was established that if a dominant individual with a wen was transplanted into another aquarium, this growth will appear in another male in the original aquarium as a replacement for the first one.
In nature, these frontal hillocks occur only during the spawning period, but in aquarium conditions they can develop permanently in various individuals, which is part of the mechanism of adaptation to the conditions of a closed space.
In the aquarium you can find a lot of different variations of color citron tsikhlazomy, including white and spotted. They are bred by selection, but the natural color of lemon cychlasoma varies from golden yellow to bright orange.
With its participation, it is believed that such popular fish as the flowerfish and the three-hybrid parrot were bred.
- Males of citrons, as a rule, are larger than females: they can reach a length of up to 30 cm, while females can reach up to 20 cm. Most likely, in conditions of captivity, both sexes will be smaller.
- Another distinctive feature is dented frontal line above the eyes of males. In females, it is not so clearly expressed.
- Another difference is the different forms of the dorsal and anal fin: in males they are more elongated, thinned and filiform, while in females they are wider and rounded.
- But the main sexual characteristics, of course, arise during the spawning period. In males, the cone-shaped seed-conducting channel begins to protrude, and in females the expanding trapezoid ovipositor.
Adults and young individuals differ significantly from each other in color: in young scales, gray-yellow, grayish-blue shades of varying saturation – from pale, then dark.
The average lifespan of citron cychlasoma is 10-12 years. Many of them can live to 17 years under optimal conditions.
In the care of citron tsikhlazomy simple, different endurance and rarely get sick. The only requirements put forward to the owner are large volumes of aquarium and warm water.
- Only for one such fish will need a large tank with a volume of 200-250 liters per individual and 400-500 liters per pair.
- The citrons themselves are quite aggressive species, especially during the spawning period. At this time, males may show increased aggression towards females, and may even beat them to death. To stop the aggression of these fish, it is necessary to give them more space – territorial division and freedom of movement will reduce their stress level. Zoning areas of the aquarium will contribute to the individual buildings in the form of grottoes or cave-like decorative structures, which will be located at a noticeable distance from each other. The length of one such zone must be at least 40 cm for a couple of individuals.
- Lemon cichlids, like astronotus, have a habit of digging up plants and rummaging in the ground. Therefore, sand or pebbles of a fine fraction are best suited for them as a primer. Plants should be planted first in small pots or put them in an aquarium, prikopav their soil. It is best to use hard-leaved plants with a strong root system, such as anubiasa and cryptocorynas, or no roots, for example, hendeus, as a concomitant flora.
- CO2 aeration, timely filtration and replacement of 1/4 of the volume of water per week play an important role in the purification of fish habitats. Large fish produce a lot of waste, so it makes sense to equip the aquarium with a powerful filter.
Recommended water parameters:
- temperature: 21-28 ° C;
- acidity: pH 6.0-8.0;
- hardness: 10-12 ° dH.
Lemon cichlid is one of the least fastidious fish to eat, so there is no special diet for them. Eat both frozen and live food in the form of other small fish, insects and their larvae, bloodworms, earthworms, mussels and shrimp. In the latter case, it is recommended not to peel the shrimp from the shell because of the yellow-orange carotene pigment contained in it.
It will contribute to the bright and saturated color of citron. In terms of plant foods, food with spirulina, peas, spinach, lettuce, cabbage is well suited.
Animal food that is too rich in hard to absorb protein (like a bovine heart) is not recommended for feeding, as it has a negative effect on the digestive system of fish. By analogy, it is necessary to feed her with those products that she uses in natural conditions.
Like other cichlids, citron is prone to overeating, leading to obesity. For this reason, it is recommended to arrange fasting days once a week.
Cichlids begin to breed, reaching 1 year and a length of about 10 cm.
The best breeding method for fish is to acquire 6 juveniles (3 males and 3 females) and grow them together, allowing couples to form naturally. As soon as a dominant pair is formed, it is advisable to seed other fish from them, for their own safety – the pair will protect the territory for their future offspring.
The stimulus to spawning is the temperature rise to 26-28 ° C, regular water changes and abundant feeding with high-protein live or frozen feed.
Spawning period can last from a couple of weeks to six months. At this time, the citrons circle each other with widely spaced fins and open mouths – this is a kind of mating game.
The fatty bump in this period, both markedly increased.
The male can often show aggression to the female and can even beat her to death due to the limited space of movement or because she came too close to the area he chose to spawn.
To prevent this from happening, at the bottom of the aquarium it is worthwhile to place small shelters for the female in the form of decorative structures, so that she can squeeze into them, but the male does not. Many aquarists place a separation network between them for several weeks so that the male can get used to his partner.
When producers begin to dig the ground, then they are ready to spawn and, most likely, the net can be removed. However, make sure that the male does not attack the female, then you have to put the separator back.
There is no guarantee that even such measures will help, many aquarists do not even remove the separator between individuals during spawning. They drill small holes in it to enable the male to fertilize the spawn, while not sharing a common space with the female.
After the male has prepared spawning places, the female lays up to 2000 eggs in it (depending on the conditions of detention, spawning, nutrition of individuals and their health), and the male fertilizes this eggs. The remaining unfertilized eggs are eaten by parents.
The incubation period is 1-3 days, after which the fry are transferred by parents to places in the ground that have been excavated for them. Within 5-7 days they become capable of independent swimming.
From now on, it will be advisable to put a separator between the male and the female. It is especially not recommended to plant fry during this period: the male may try to make a second spawning, but the female will not be ready for it.
In this case, he may well score it in a fit of aggression.
- In the first days of food, the fry are served by a secret produced by the skin glands of their parents, then it is recommended to feed them with microscopic crustaceans and infusoria.
- To avoid large fry eating smaller ones, they can be sorted from each other by size.
- Under favorable conditions, their growth and development occur rapidly, and the color changes from gray to other shades around when the fry reach a length of 2-2.5 cm.
- Cychlasma meeka and red devil are able to mate with citron cychlasmas and generate hybrid forms. If you do not want to allow this, do not keep them in the same tank.
It is necessary to settle aggressive fish such as lemon cichlids only with similar-sized species – mail catfish and other large representatives of the catfish order, as well as with fast-swimming fish of moderate size, such as barbs and shark balls.
By sharing the other neighbors should also be treated with caution, as citrons have a very peculiar character. Most successfully, they can be maintained with commensurate, temperamental cichlids:
- three hybrid parrot;
- rainbow tsikhlazoma;
- diamond tsikhlazoma;
Especially aggressive in relation to the neighbors of the couple during the spawning period, so you can practice single content or the content of only females. However, they manage to gather in pairs and spawn, only the roe dies.