How to Care for Your New Red Bay Snooks
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Four-inch non-dominant male in a pod of seven. Not much red yet.
Appeal. You can’t help but like honker-size cichlids – especially large cichlids that do not insist on destroying anything they can reach. Red bay snooks argue but do not fight other fish to the death as their primary occupation. They also do not pick up all their gravel and pile it against the front glass of their aquarium.
Origin. There’s a region called the Peten valley in their home countries from which they get their name (Petenia). Two variants live there – a green and a red. Both are rather splendid (splendida) specimens. We prefer the red variant. When young, they look a great deal alike.
Red Survival? The further south you go, the more fish-eating birds you encounter. How can a red fish exist in a wading pool buffet where fish-gulping birds love to spend their winter vacations? The red bay snooks hover under water lily pads that are red on their underside. Oddly enough, red is their camouflage color.
Size. If you’re looking for a 10-gallon tank occupant, pick another candidate. Males grow to eating size – a foot and a half. Females grow to a foot long, still large enough to make a nice dinner for one with a bit of dill sauce and a side of steamed asparagus.
Sexing. Refer to the preceding paragraph. The males start outgrowing the females somewhere around 2.5 to three inches. Males tend to hog the food more. The politer females hang back and let the males gorge themselves. The males are pushier, redder, and showier as time and a half goes by.
Space. As you may suspect, a fish that exceeds a foot needs plenty of room. Think of a 55 as the bare minimum. However, you can mix other civilized cichlids with them – especially in larger tanks.
Groups. Under four inches they get along fairly well with each other -- even in a 20H. Give them larger quarters as they increase in size.
Water. You need not obsess over their pH or DH. We add a bit of salt every so often. If their water gets cloudy (usually because it’s fun to feed them), change it.
Water Changes. When you feed them, you will see why they need large water changes. They stuff more food in their mouths than a Super Bowl fan. They will eat until their mouths pooch out. If you mess with them at this point, they will release a lot of the pellets they’re trying to choke down. They seem to enjoy water changes. We give ours a 50% water change weekly.
Tank Décor/Security. Red bay snooks are not hiders. Maybe a bit shy when small, but the biggies run to the front because they know you have a snack for them.
Tank Mates. Your snooks will get along with most non-bite-size cichlids, catfish, and other larger fishes that don’t pick on them.
Food. From the day you get them as two-inchers, your red bay snooks will eat flakes and pellets. They love live and frozen foods. Of course they love goldfish, but you really need to feed them more than goldfish, goldfish, goldfish plus goldfish for dessert. Look for foods with carotenoids (plankton, krill, goldfish and color foods) to develop their red coloration.
Intriguing Mouths. Some call them bucket mouths. Others say they have protrusible mouths. Much like datnioides and leaf fish, red bay snooks can pooch their mouth out so fast it creates a suction that hoovers smaller fish into their jaws. Their nearly paper thin protrusible lips probably explains why they rarely bite their tank mates.
Breeding Comments. If you decide to breed them (actually, they’re the ones that decide to breed), you will get a huge crop. Start by feeding them well. Then make a sudden water change and bump their temperature. No real secrets. A dither fish is optional.
Like most large cichlids, your red bay snooks will keep an eye
on you. Be sure to set a good
Joe Bowersox, Des Moines, IA, January 8, 2010
Hello Larry. This is Joe, I bought the Red Bay Snooks from you and have sold their babies to you last spring.
Anyway, I noticed on your description of these that you note that they will not dig the gravel to the sides. I thought you might like to know that the dominant male digs constantly before the female lays the eggs.
You probably knew this, but I am bored because it is like -12 degrees outside so I thought I would do some reading tonight.
I hope the holidays treated you good. I will be in tomorrow to buy some food.
A: When they spawned for me, they just went about the process without making a mess -- not like many big cichlids that pile their gravel up against their front glass. I'll add your report to their page. LA
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