Electric Blue Acra : Care, Behaviour and Diet
The ‘electric’ that accompanies the moniker of the electric blue acara is not just another adjective; it tells of the fish’s striking appearance. This particular freshwater fish, which goes by the scientific name Andinoacarapulcher – note that it was formerly known as Aequidenspulcher – is native to the continent of South America particularly, Venezuela and Colombia. They can be found in habiting still waters or freely flowing waters with sandy river beds and substantial vegetation.
The electric blue acara is one to recommend for beginners as they are very hardy and not so demanding. Plus, keeping them within the home aquarium should not bring about any trouble as they are quite peaceful and can only grow up to a length of about 15 cm over a 10-year lifespan if properly cared for.
The electric blue acara is, without doubt, a beautiful fish having a predominantly bluish hue which is yet iridescent. It, however, has stripes/bands of different colors – from brown to black, grey and orange – displayed all over the body. The fish’s fins usually have distinctively coloreded gings; this may be green, orange or black.
For the body outline; the electric blue acara has an oval-shaped body structure and look somewhat stocky. The anal fin and the dorsal fin – which nearly covers its entire body length – are typically pointed. Like every other cichlid, the back of their fins possesses spiny rays which offer the fish some protection against predators.
It should be noted that the appearance of the electric blue acara is somewhat similar to that of the green terror cichlid, which is usually larger and more aggressive.
Cichlids are known for their aggressive behavior, but despite being a member of the group, the electric blue acara is never seen to exhibit a high degree of hostility. It is an easy-going creature and is quite accommodating and tolerant of other tank mates; although it does show some territorial tendencies during spawning.
Another aspect of the fish’s behavioral pattern is the burrowing proclivity it exhibits; it will often dig into the substrate and mayuproot plants [that are not tightly held] in the process. This digging behavior is very much common during spawning. Electric blue acaras take great delight in swimming around their tank but could seldom go into hiding – probably when they feel threatened or stressed.
Electric blue acaras are not much of choosy eaters; they are primarily omnivores meaning they will be fine with most of the feed available for fishes in the market. That said, you can feed them with pellets,flakes, brine shrimp, earthworm, larvae, insect, tubifex, cyclops and crustaceans.
From the foregoing, it can be observed that electric blue acaras cherish highly proteinous diet. Nonetheless, you can supplement their diet with vegetables [like spinach cucumber and cabbage] from time to time.
On the feeding frequency; you should provide them with a moderate supply of feed that can be consumed under 3 minutes, and they should be fed 2 –3 times daily. This will help put the concentrations of ammonia nitrite and nitrate in check and also prevent the fish from getting overfed. Again, you should ensure that leftover foods are taken out of the tank as soon as possible.
From all that has been discussed about their feeding habit and behavioral traits, it is quite apparent that keeping the electric blue acara does not come with so much difficulty. Plus, they are incredibly hardy, which means they can survive in different water conditions.
However, there is a need to provide them with sufficient space to freely live their (active) life and swim without hindrance – a tank with a carrying capacity of about 114 liters should be ideal for keeping the electric blue acara. It is also essential to keep the water clean at all times; doing a 20 – 25% water change every week will be excellent.
The tank should be set up to simulate the fish’s natural environment. Firstly,a sandy substrate should be created; such (soft) substrate will make it easy for the fish to dig without getting bruised. The tank should be furnished with floating or potted plants – recall that the tank has to be densely planted. You can also add driftwood, flat rocks and caves to provide them with enough hiding spots.
You should integrate a functional canister or powerhead filter into the tank to help keep the water aerated and sustain a strong water flow. Additionally, other items/devices such as thermometer, pH meter and ammonia testing kit may be handy in maintaining the required water chemistry.
The lighting in the aquarium of electric blue acara should be between normal to moderate level. Nevertheless, the tank should not be placed in an area with so much sunlight penetration.The plant used in decorating the tank will be very valuable in protecting the fish from sun rays.
Inconsistent or fluctuating water chemistry may stress the electric blue acara, thereby predisposing it to some diseased conditions. It is against this backdrop that becomes highly important to maintain the following water parameters:
- Water temperature:The appropriate temperature range for the water environment in which electric blue acara inhabit should be between 22°C – 28°C.
- Water hardness:This is another area where the toughness of electric blue acaras come to the fore; they can thrive in very soft water to extremely hard water.To be more precise; a degree of water hardness between 3dH – 20dH should be ideal for them.
- pH range: the pH of the water should be set to between 6.5 to 8.0, a slightly acidic to slightly alkaline range.
There are specific considerations to make when deciding on the appropriate tank mated to put up with the electric blue acara. Firstly, this particular fish is a peaceful species that does not portend any danger to relatively sized fishes, but they can be threatened by fishes that are considerably larger or aggressive hence you should not house them in the same tank with the likes of green terror cichlids and dwarf cichlids.
On the flip side, there have also been reports of electric blue acaras preying on smaller fishes. Therefore, you should ensure that none of your miniature aquatic pets dwells in the same tank with the electric blue acara.
However, you can select any of the following freshwater fishes as tankmates for the electric blue acaras:
- Pearl cichlid
- Zebra cichlid
- Pictus catfish
They can also share a tank with their kind, as well as other small aquatic invertebrates.
The task of distinguishing between male and female electric blue acara is not very difficult; all that is needed to do is to carefully look at the fish’s body for certain details/features. The most commonly used features are the anal fin and dorsal fin; these fins are usually longer and pointier in the male than the female – whose fins are rather shorter and rounded.
Also, male electric blue acaras tend to have a larger body than the female and they also possess a hump around their forehead. The color of the male’s body is normally more pronounced than that of the female’s body.
Before I delve into the pre-breeding conditioning, let me quickly state here that having more female electric blue acaras than male in the same tank– say, four females to two males- will boost the chance of getting a compatible breeding pair.
You will, however,have to watch out and take note of the pair that sticks together on most occasions. Having noticed such courting behavior, you can then move to separate the pair. By the way; electric blue acaras unknown to maintain a monogamous union all through their life.
To separate the pair; you can divide the breeding tank into two compartments and have each of them placed in one compartment apiece. Now to induce spawning; you should increase the water temperature in the breeding tank by 2°C –raising the temperature from 22°C to 24°C–every day. You should, however, not exceed the 28°Cmark.
Another thing you have to do is to feed them regularly with live feeds, for example, chopped earthworms. They should be provided with these feeds three times daily over a period of2 – 3 weeks. The pH value for the breeding environment should be maintained between 6.5 – 7.0, and a 30% water change should be carried out every week to help maintain good hygiene within the tank. Every other feature – from flat rocks to finely grained sand and so on – should be provided in the breeding tank.
To sound a note of Warning: An air-powered filter should be incorporated into the breeding tank as a powerhead filter may suck up the fry.
N.B: The electric blue acara reach sexual maturity at about 10 months old, and at this stage, they should have attained an approximate length of 10cm. The fish both (male and female) usually display darker coloration; this is an indication of their readiness to spawn.
Let me now go into the breeding proper; the pair should be brought together – you should remove the divider – into one (breeding) tank.And, in case you do not know; electric blue acaras are among the most comfortabletypes of freshwater fish to breed. Breeding them is not a strenuous exercise.
The entire breeding process of this beautiful freshwater species is one that is quite delightful to watch or take note of. At the point of introduction, the pair will be seen performing a (courtship) dance, and then proceed to mate on one of the big flat rocks in the aquarium.
It is yet worth noting that before choosing a platform to mate on, the pair would have cleaned up their breeding ground. It is not uncommon to see the fish digging the sandy substrate to create a choice breeding surface for themselves.
The mating exercise will lead to the release of eggs from the female, and these eggs are eventually fertilized by the sperm from the male. The couple continues with the act of intimacy [and mating] until the female releases the last set of eggs that she is carrying within her belly. Electric blue acaras can lay up to 150 – 300 eggs during one spawning session and may be ready to breed again after two weeks – enough time to care for the newly delivered brood –with the partners remaining faithful to one another.
The fertilized eggs undergo incubation for about 4 – 7 days. After this, they attain the stage of free-swimming juveniles after 3 or 4 days. The egg/fry could be hidden [by the parents] in the pit dug beforehand.
Electric blue acaras are notable for the wonderful parental instinct; they show their caring attitude right from the period preceding spawning till when their offspring go their way to fend for themselves. The parents will always guard the nest, and even aid the fry to break forth from the shell during hatching. This further explains the reason they become territorial during spawning – they simply do not like leaving things to chance in matters that regard their family.
Notwithstanding, they are not entirely saintly when it comes to taking care of their offspring as there have been scenarios where adults – especially young parents – end up eating their eggs or fry.
- Post-breeding care
To prevent the occurrence of parents feasting on their offspring; you should transfer the juveniles into a grow-out tank. Besides, this kind of arrangement will help you to better monitor their development/growth.
The grow-out tank should be equipped with an air-powered filter, and need not be decorated with plants or any other item. You can feed the fry with dahlia, brine shrimp, rotifer or microworm.
Electric blue acaras are not immune to certain freshwater diseases that could ariseas a result of poor water quality and unhealthy diet, and this is why it is expedient to ensure that they are well cared for. So, without further ado, let us briefly look at some of the diseases that may affect the well-being of this amazing aquatic pet:
- Malawi bloat: Malawi bloat is a disease that is common to many cichlids: this is why it is sometimes called ‘cichlid bloat’. Apart from poor water quality and substandard diet, a specific bacterium Clostridium difficile has also been implicated as a causative agent of this diseased condition.
A fish suffering from this disease will be seen to have swollen abdomen and also experiences loss of appetite. Additionally, the there can be respiratory complications in which case the (affected) fish begins to breathe rapidly; internal organ such as kidney and liver may also be adversely affected and the feces of the fish become discolored and stringy. Ulcerative spots/ lesions may also emerge on their body.
Medications such as octozin, metronidazole and some other antibiotics have been found to be effective in the treatment of Malawi bloat.
- Skin fluke: skin flukes are also reported to endanger the health of electric blue acaras to a great extent. Their presence in and on the body of the fish will result in severe irritation that could cause the fish to rub it against hard surfaces within the tank. Again, an affected fish can suffer skin damage, which might consequently lead to secondary infections.The activities of these organisms may also result in the fish losing its attractive coloration;becoming lethargic, and depressed. Praziquantelis about the most potent and most commonly used medication for treating skin fluke infestation.
- Freshwater ich:Freshwater ich has also been widely reported to affect electric blue acaras – even as it does hamper the health of an array of other freshwater fishes. An infected electric blue acara with develop white spot on its skin;scratch its body against hard objects; loses appetite and suffer respiratory problems which may cause it to come to the surface, gasping for breath.
Furthermore, the fins may become clamped, and the fish gets to go into hiding frequently.
Medications such as malachite green, formalin, methylene blue, sodium chloride, etc., as well as high temperature, are usually employed in the treatment of this disease.
Electric blue acaras are not just another kind of fish in the home aquarium; they make an excellent addition in the home interior, and this is down to their pearlescent appearance.
More so, they exhibit characteristics and lifestyle that will always appeal to aquarium hobbyists, and it is no wonder that they have become the favorite aquatic pet of many persons who delight in the splendor of the marine world.
As I bring this write-up to a close, it is crucial to re-emphasize the need to take adequate care of this treasure from the water world and not get carried away by its tremendous hardy characteristic. This is why you have got to take the facts shared on how to care for the electric blue acaras in this article to heart if you desire to have the pet with you for a reasonably long period.
And, one more thing: don’t just go to the pet store to pick one up if the commitment to take care of it, is lacking – it would be saddening to see another electric blue go due to lack of attention.