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Thorichthys ellioti

(Meek 1904)

Pair with fry.
Male in front, female behind

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Distribution and variants: Rio Papaloapan river system in Mexico. No variation is recorded.
Size:

Male: 12-16 cm Female: 8-12 cm

Sex differences: Fairly similar in general appearance, it is nevertheless fairly easy to distinguish the gender, if You are faced with a pair; The male is usually markedly larger, and has more elongated fin tips, See the image above.
Natural diet: Omnivore. Fish fry, insects, crustaceans, algae and other vegetables, are all part of the diet.
Biotopes and general behavior: Prefers quiet or calmly moving water near the bottom, in smaller waterways. The substrate can be fallen leaves or sand.
Breeding behavior: Monogamous substrate breeder. The eggs (100-500) are laid on a hard, usually sloping surface, preferably with some kind of cover. They are tended by both parents. Typical hatching time is app. 3 days, after which, the embryos are moved to a previously made pit. Here they spend the next 3-4 days, until their yolk is gone, and they are ready to feed. The parents protect them for 1-4 weeks more.
Temperatures and water:

24-28 deg. C. PH: 7,5- 8/DH 8-25

Feeding: Accepts almost any kind of food, but it is important, that some vegetable matter is included in the diet, and that the food does not contain too much fat, since they are very greedy, and easily become over-fed.
Tank size: 200 L/100 cm.
Best kept as: Pair. In tanks longer than 1 meter, 2 pairs can be kept.
Acquisition and care The best result is achieved, by acquiring a suitable number of juveniles, and let them pair out as they please. The more options of partners, the better chance of a harmonic pair. 6-12 is a good choice, depending on the size (if You can already see sex-differences, 6 is probably enough) and how many pairs You aim for. When the fish are paired off, They are best kept in the company of other tank-mates (see below), since a pair left on it`s own, often develop aggression toward each other, probably because they lack somebody else to direct their inert aggressiveness towards. Regarding aggression, T. ellioti is not too bad though.  By comparison, they are somewhat less aggressive than their close and better known relative, T. meeki, but it is still unwise to underestimate their temper, as strife sometimes lead to fatalities, or at least serious damage.
Decoration: The tank is decorated as a typical river-bed aquarium, with sand or fine gravel, and coverage consisting of rocks and/or roots. Plants is an option, as  the fish are not destructive, or dig particularly much. T. ellioti presents itself best on a fairly dark background, with subdued light. Light form a window or some other outside source, enhances the iridescent blue markings.

T. ellioti in the tank. The other fish are Ancistrus sp. and Hyphessobrycon columbianus.
Suggested tankmates: Other not too aggressive mid-size cichlids, livebearers of a fair size (so they won`t be considered food by the cichlids) and various catfish. T. ellioti normally are not very aggressive, but will off course attempt to eat any tank mate they can swallow, and during brooding, they will try to keep any other fish away from the fry, which means, that tank mates shouls have a certain size, and be able to get away in a hurry. Loricariids are an exception, as they are mostly ignored, unless they get too close to the eggs/fry. It is not advisable to keep them with other Thorichthys species, because of the risk of hybridization.
Breeding:

Very easy to breed. Most water types are accepted, and temperature can be anywhere within the normal range for the species. Feeding is not a problem either. The ideal starter-food is newly hatched Artemia, but in a pinch, crushed dry-flakes and cyclops nauplia will do. It is best to keep the parents in the company of some other fish, to avoid that the increased aggression that their parental instincts give, is directed towards the partner. The tank mates should off course be of such a nature, that they will not get killed, but still peaceful and slow enough, to allow the parents to keep them at bay, at least long enough to allow for securing of the fry  desired for raising. It should be noted though, that excess juveniles can be pretty hard to sell off.

Extra information: Some doubt exists, as to whether this species is incorrectly named. According to Juan Miguel Artigas Azas, there may be a misunderstanding in the nomenclature, and the correct name should thus be Thorichthys maculipinnis (there is no doubt, that the fish is a valid species, only if the taxonomic procedures has been correctly applied.
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