Scriptaphyosemion liberiensis

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(Boulenger 1908) B.K.A. Information Pamphlet No.60 July, 1970

Habitat: As the name indicates, this species is found in Liberia, specifically in the area around the capital, Monrovia.

Size: A good male to 2" but commonly 1.75"; females usually smaller.

Description: a) Male - The long, narrow, torpedo like body ends in a tail which flares out from the narrow peduncle to become deeper than the deepest point of the body. The tail is not quite truncate, but finishes in a slight outward curve. The dorsal fin is set well back along the body, with the rays getting longer towards the back of the fin reaching a peak about four rays from the back and giving the fin a very pointed appearance. The anal fin is somewhat longer than the dorsal, finishing in line with but commencing a number of rays ahead of the dorsal fin. As in the dorsal, but not quite so markedly, the latter rays extend to give a point to the fin. The ventrals are quite small and appear to be carried close to the body. The pectorals are large and fanshaped. The bottom jaw is extended slightly. The base colour of the body is a solid green shading to coppery brown dorsally. A large number of red spots occur on the head and body, many of the spots joining to form vertical and horizontal splotchy bars. The dorsal fin has the brown of the body extending into it, but gradually shades into the green of the body colour. There is a submarginal red stripe, and the last few rays bear a couple of red spots. The anal is an extension of the green body, also with a submarginal red stripe and with a row of red spots close to the body. The caudal fin too has submarginal red stripes top and bottom, with red spots again relieving the central area of green. On a good specimen, the tail has a brighter yellow edge top and bottom, on others these edges can be any shade of green. The ventral fins are green with a red stripe. The pectorals, clear next to the body,develop into a greenish cream tip with a dark submarginal band. It is interesting to note that if the fish is viewed at 90 degrees to a strong side light, the green becomes a very deep and attractive shade of blue.

Description: b) Female - Shaped very much like the male except that the tail is rounded and the belly is naturally deeper. The body is brown with deeper brown irregular spots which run together to form a mottled pattern. A firmer spot sits on the top of the caudal peduncle. The tail is mainly clear but can have a smattering of spots. The dorsal has a number of markings and while in some specimens the markings are not unlike those of the male, this is not always so. In all individuals that I have noticed however, the dark markings of the anal fin closely resemble the red markings in the anal of the male.

Requirements: Water requirements don't seem to be too critical, normal "killie water" pleasing them. Probably slightly acid (6.4-6.8) and relatively soft (40-80 ppm) water is the optimum for spawning. A range of temperatures also has proved satisfactory but 72-75F. seems to suit best. The slightly protruding lower jaw suggests that it prefers to take its food from levels other than the bottom. It seems to do well on the usual live foods - mosquito wrigglers, daphnia, blood worms, fruit fly and at most times tubifex - and although I have seen it take beefheart, shredded prawn and flake food, it has only been when it is falling through the water. It seems to be less gluttonous than most and will often leave wrigglers in the tank when it has eaten sufficient.

Breeding: Despite its size this fish can be very prolific in a very short time, and at other times it may yield an egg a day. Ideally it likes bottom mops and if male and female are separated for a couple of weeks and then put together in a container as small as 1/2 gallon with a thick cover of bottom mops, 100 eggs in two days is not uncommon. By the same token poor results can be achieved by the same method. We have found that when breeders are not producing eggs on mops, a peat bottom will often give results. If one wishes to collect the eggs of course this isn't quite so good, but if a supply of fry is all that is required then this method is often the answer. The eggs will normally hatch within 21 days if kept at 70F., however it is not uncommon to get resting eggs with this species. Frequent changes of water will usually help these resting eggs to develop. Although some books say that newly hatched brine shrimp can be fed immediately after hatching, the fry are small and I prefer to give them "meaty" water for the first 2 or 3 days.

General: This is a peaceful fish and an extremely attractive one, especially on a dark bottom. Although not large they do show their colour well. They seem to swim at all levels of an aquarium. Until a few years ago the aquarium strain went under the name of Aphyosemion calabaricum but this was found to be a synonym for liberiense before the erection of the Roloffia genus.