Blue fish dolphins incredibly resemble real dolphins. It is the same blue, sometimes blue with dark specks, the color of the body, a high convex forehead with an obligatory growth and a protruding mouth, so the head of the fish visually looks rather large. The “growth” of the fish reaches 25 cm. They live for a very long time, sometimes up to 15 years.
The body of the dolphin is elongated. The central part of the body and tail are decorated with one large dark spot. On the sides - transverse stripes in black. When the fish is preparing to attack the opponent, the color of scales acquires a bright blue hue, and the throat and fins turn black.
Differences males and females
Distinguishing dolphins is quite simple. Boys are always bigger than girls. As they grow older, the color of the male's head changes to yellowish, but a clear difference is the vertical stripes on the sides (4–8 pcs.). When spawning, the forehead acquires a more saturated yellow color, and the stripes become much brighter.
In females, side marks are most often absent. Instead, you can see just black spots, and red dots are clearly visible on the tail fins.
Conditions of detention and care
The blue dolphin (photo below) has a peaceful disposition and prefers a schooling existence. A male and three females will be quite enough for home keeping.
Aquarium must choose roomy. Ideally at least 200 liters. Then the pets feel great and delight the look with their appearance.
These aquarium fish prefer open spaces because they swim in all water layers. Comfortable stay dolphin in the aquarium will provide the following options:
- water temperature is + 24… + 26 o C,
- acidity - 7-9,
- stiffness - 10-17.
Fish also need filtration and aeration of water. Another prerequisite - the weekly replacement of the third part of the liquid. The aquarium should be brightly lit.
Soil and vegetation
As soil, you can take river sand or small pebbles. If we talk about vegetation, then you should choose plants with hard leaves and strong roots. Suitable potty copies. The aquarium blue dolphin will feel great among the leaves of vallisneria, anubias and cryptocoryne. Ferns can be placed on the stones. Do not forget to put a limnofilu in the aquarium, as the fish use its leaves as food.
Dolphins love to hide, so various artificial grottoes, caves and cracks are simply necessary. You can reproduce the natural habitat of the fish by constructing stepped stone buildings.
Aquarium fish blue dolphins prefer only live food with a high content of protein. It:
- ordinary worms
- beef heart and liver
Do not give up dandelion, nettle, lettuce and spinach.
Blue dolphins: with whom do the fish get along?
These aquarium dwellers are distinguished by their peaceful and even nature-shy nature. The fish is completely non-conflicting, but still the best conditions for keeping are the specific aquarium. Only in this case, she can feel free, showing all the features of behavior.
If this is not possible, then non-aggressive fish from the cichlid family, such as aulonocara, should become neighbors. In general, any Malawian fish will do. A particularly interesting blue dolphin looks with yellow labidochromis. Among other species you can choose barbs, labyrinth fish and catfish.
When selecting neighbors it is worth remembering that the fish can mate with livingstone haplochromis, as well as leopard representatives of this species. The color of the offspring in this case is gray-brown with characteristic blue stripes.
Breeding blue dolphins
Sexual maturity of the fish reaches one and a half years. Reproduction is carried out in pairs and preferably in a separate aquarium. The behavior of fish during spawning changes: males become aggressive, while females become more fearful. Fish mating games are very funny - showing tenderness, they rub their foreheads.
The female lays caviar on the surface of the stone or in a carefully dug male hole. After several eggs are found in the nest, she takes them in her mouth and swims up to the male for further fertilization.
Another feature of blue dolphins - carrying female calf in the mouth. To protect the fish from stressful situations, resulting in the ingestion of eggs, it should be placed in a separate spawning.
Calf female wears three weeks, during which it does not eat anything. To prevent the fish from dying, experienced aquarists practice growing eggs in an incubator. For it, you can use a small capacity of about 15 liters. There is also a need for aeration. Water can be taken from the general aquarium or reproduce its parameters, but the temperature of the water in the incubator should be slightly higher: + 27 ... + 28 o C. Additionally, add methylene blue.
The mouth of the female is exempt from fertilized eggs placed later in a separate container. After about 7 days, the fry already rise to the surface of the water and begin to feed on their own. As feed at this stage, fine cyclops, nematodes, on the artemia numplias are suitable.
Determine the viability of the eggs will help their color. If the ball of the egg became white, it means that it is not viable. Remove them with a pipette. Transfer of young animals to their parents is possible when the age of the fry reaches 3-4 months. Aquarium fish blue dolphins breed to 7-8 years of age.
Habitat in nature
The blue dolphin of zirtokar muri cyrtocara moorii was discovered and described by Boulanger in 1902. Endemic of African Lake Malawi, fairly widespread throughout the lake. Occurs in coastal areas, at depths of 3-15 meters. They live in flocks and are predators who eat everything they can swallow. In aquariums, it appeared in 1968.
A large fish, with an elongated body, and a head with something usually resembling a dolphin, for which the fish got its name. Both males and females form a large fatty bump on the head. They can grow up to 25 cm in length, sometimes more, and life expectancy up to 10 years.
Fish that can be recommended to both experienced and advanced aquarists. For beginners, they are not suitable, as they need a spacious aquarium, frequent water changes and well-chosen neighbors. Although these are quite peace-loving fish, they are still not suitable for keeping in common aquariums. The best neighbors for blue dolphins will be other Malawians or African soma.
In nature, they are omnivorous predators that feed on various benthos. In the aquarium, they eat all kinds of food - artificial, live, frozen, vegetable. But, the basis should be high-protein feed, such as a tubule or artemia.
Also, blue dolphins eat small fish, but you can feed them only if you are sure that the fish do not get sick and will not get you an infection. As for the popular feeding with various minced meat or meat of mammals (liver, heart, etc.), at this time the fish organism is considered unable to properly digest such meat. Long-term feeding can lead to obesity and dystrophy of the internal organs, so it is better to avoid it.
Maintenance and care in the aquarium
For the content is primarily important volume. Remember that fish can grow up to 25 cm and for the content they need an aquarium from 300 liters. The second important condition: the purity and stable parameters of the water in the aquarium. In Lake Malawi, the parameter fluctuations are minimal, plus the water is very hard and has an alkaline reaction. Normal parameters for content will be: ph: 7.2-8.8, 10 - 18 dGH, water temperature 24-28С. If the water in your area is soft, then you have to artificially make it more rigid, for example by adding coral chips to the soil. There is an opinion that the water is not suitable for the parameters they need destroys their vision. The truth is not known how true it is.
As for the design, it is better to use sand in the quality of the soil, in which dolphins love to rummage. They do not need plants, they will either dig them up or eat them. It is better to add a lot of large stones, snags and other various shelters.
Compatible with other fish
Enough of peace-loving cichlid, but certainly not for a common aquarium. They get along well with fish of equal size, but they perceive small fish exclusively as food. Can be kept with other Malawians, but it is advisable to avoid mbuna, as they are too aggressive and restless. Good neighbors will be frontoses and large African soma, for example, a veil synodontis.
Blue dolphins, polygamous fish, form a family consisting of a male and several females. One male can be useful 3-6 females. Since the sex of dolphins is difficult to determine, the best way to pick up such a harem is to buy from 10 fry and grow them together. Fry become sexually mature with a body length of 12-15 cm, and then they are separated.
Why is the fish blue dolphin so called?
As noted above, the blue dolphin hails from hot Africa, more precisely from Lake Malawi, where it reaches a size of 20-25 cm.
In the domestic water body, the parameters of the fish largely depend on the size of the tank, varying within 8-20 cm.
This cichlid dolphin is called due to its external similarity with a marine mammal.
At the beginning of life, the pet does not particularly resemble a dolphin, but with age, Cyrtocara moorii on its rather large head's forehead forms a kind of fat cushion that makes the fish look like a famous sea animal. Big eyes under a convex forehead are mobile, large lips protrude.
The adult fish becomes light blue, but the spots sometimes remain. During mating games, the dominant male group in a state of intense excitement becomes saturated with a dark blue hue. In addition, during this period, the male's forehead becomes yellow, and several transverse bands appear on the body.
The successful breeding of dolphins in a home aquarium is 90% due to the good health of the producers themselves.
In addition, a lot of it depends on proper feeding of fish. In the diet of pets, different feeds should alternate, high-quality oligochaetes (Tueifex) should be used.
Ready-to-spawn males become agitated; aggression towards other males appears in their behavior. They change the color of the fat pad to a yellow tint, transverse stripes appear on their body in dark blue.
In the female, readiness for spawning is manifested by a general clarification of the body color and a noticeable swelling of the anal area.
Both future parents of the family on the eve of spawning, showing noticeable excitement, jointly search for a suitable spawning site. The plot chosen by them is jointly cleared, and here the love games begin, and then the caviar is deposited in the amount of 3-8 pieces for one effort.
Eggs are poured with male sperm, after which the female puts them in her mouth. The whole process is repeated several times with an interval of 25 seconds, and by the end of spawning, 4-5 minutes. The total spawning time is approximately one hour.
A pair during this time period can set aside from 70 to 120 fertilized eggs, of which, under a happy set of circumstances, 40-60 fry of the blue dolphin will appear.
Care for offspring
The incubation of the fry, lasting 16-25 days, in Cyrtocara moorii occurs in the mouth of the female. And the main concern of the aquarist begins at the hatching stage of fry:
- First of all, it is necessary to take care of sufficient water conditioning of the artificial reservoir through filters to ensure its chemical and hydrological balance.
- Separate care - feeding fry: regular, balanced, varied. At first, Artemia, crustaceans with abraded feed additives such as Tetra Phyll, washed tubule with vitamin A, D, E, K additives will fit
Blue beauties are growing up at a speed of 8-10 mm per month, simultaneously increasing body weight. With the ideal content of dolphin fry, their early puberty occurs and, as a result, forced spawning at the age of 8-10 months.
Of course, this phenomenon should be considered as anomalous, leading to the appearance of weak offspring, most of which die. A stable breeding result with obtaining strong, viable offspring is possible in individuals of Cyrtocara moorii one-year-and-a-half-year-old. The ability to reproduce this cichlid retains up to the age of 7-8 years.
Behavior and compatibility with its other inhabitants
These extraordinarily beautiful cichlids can be described as very clever pets and also wonderful parents. In ordinary life, they are sedate, uncluttered, and when the hour of fun and games comes, they can move at the same time swiftly and gracefully.
Dolphins show themselves in all their glory before the females: having straightened the fins, they show their swimming prowess.
These pets have an affection for the owner and are able to recognize him, animating each time he approaches an artificial reservoir.
Cichlid dolphin is inherently peaceful, calm, so it feels best in a water reservoir. If it is necessary to combine with other species, the most suitable neighborhood will be with non-aggressive cichlids, such as aulonocara, or other Malawian fish.
To ensure the external beauty of the reservoir, it is possible to settle with a dolphin of a contrast labidochromis. The neighborhood of Cyrtocara moorii with:
- labyrinth pets.
Make a conclusion: breeding and caring for a handsome blue man from Malawi is time consuming, requiring diligence and skill, but isn't the result worth it? Make an effort to acquire the necessary skills and experience, and the result - the blue dolphins in your tank - will delight you for many years.
Compatibility and breeding
Despite the peace-loving nature, the blue dolphin is able to get along far from all the fish. They will appreciate the neighborhood only with equal to themselves in size and character. Those that will be inferior to them in size will definitely be eaten, regardless of the briskness and the number of shelters. Still, active and pugnacious neighbors need to be avoided, since mbuny are not suitable for them at all.
- African soma,
- Other cyclides of equal size
- Large residents of Malawi lakes.
It is almost impossible to distinguish a male from a female. It is believed that the male is slightly larger and brighter, but these signs are not subjective. They cannot be “tried on” on all fish, therefore, looking at the photo of a fish, it is not realistic to determine its gender.
For breeding, blue dolphins are perfect. They form a polygamous family, with one male and 3-6 females. Since it is impossible to determine the sex, 10 fry are bought for breeding and are raised together. By the time the fish reaches 12-14 centimeters, they are seated in families.
For laying male picks the perfect place. As it can serve as a smooth stone at the bottom, or a small dimple in the ground. The female spawns there, and the male fertilizes her. After that, the female takes her and breeds for a couple of weeks. If the temperature is below 26 degrees, then the incubation period can take up to three weeks. To protect the fry, the female takes them into her mouth, “walking” at night, while all the aquarium inhabitants are asleep. Naupilii Artemia is considered an ideal feed for young.