I collected the Ctenopoma intermediumwhen
I was in the Pan handle area of the Okavango swamps in Botswana. The
river was flowing quite strongly but I only wanted to go to the open
flooded margins, away from the densely, papyrus-vegetated main channel.
I hired a dug-out canoe and two young boys of about 10 years of age
took me to what I thought would be Ctenopomacountry.
We made our way through the thick papyrus, following hippo paths, very
useful for canoes IF there are no hippos. We were also warned about
crocodiles in the area, so after carefully scanning an area, I set foot
in what turned out to be an exciting and successful collecting trip. I
had a small scoop net and proceeded to walk around a large, shallow
grassy area looking for depressions (probably caused by hippos) where I
thought C. intermedium would occur.
about 30 minutes of scooping I came up with my first male of a few
centimetres in length and almost as darkly coloured as in the
photograph. The area was thickly overgrown with grass and the water was
shallow, less than 15 cm deep. No other fish were collected with the Ctenopoma.
After another 10 minutes I collected several smaller juveniles and then
thought that I should have another look around for the crocodiles. I
later had a look for the small bubble nests the Ctenopoma males
construct but none were observed. Water values in the Seronga area
were: conductivity 12.7 mS/m ; pH 7.6; water temp. when I collected
fish, around 25°C. After several hours my 'taxi' was waiting and I
returned with my small catch. It was interesting that when I went to
pay for my ride the two young fellows did not want money, they wanted
very small fishing hooks to catch young cichlids. I took them up to the
local bush `shop' but as to be expected they were out of small hooks.
They reluctantly had to take my money and left me feeling guilty that I
did not have the right currency for the panhandle taxis.
few days later I was in a small aircraft flying back to Grahamstown
with the fish in a plastic bag on my lap. They all made it and within
the month a male had made a bubble nest in a thickly vegetated tank at
25-27°C; Conductivity: 150 muS/cm; pH 7. Unfortunately, he mated and
killed both his females overnight without me being able to observe the
mating or remove the females. This particular male is the one featured
in the slides. He aggressively defended his nest, but using unfair
tactics I removed his nest with the eggs as I wanted to observe and
record their development. The eggs were 0.78 mm, almost colourless with
a large central oil globule of 0.49mm. Many of the nest bubbles I
measured were also very close to the diameter of the eggs. He later
went on to develop the long dorsal and anal finage, which other males
did not do, and a lovely dark breeding coloration with a bluish sheen.