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my hitch hiker

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my hitch hiker

Post by Biulu on Sat Sep 28, 2013 8:46 am

About 6 weeks ago (before going to China) I was in Mexico city and bought some feeder fish mollies. In the bag came a 2 cm big tilapia as a hitch hiker. Now, 6 weeks later (on a restricted diet from an automatic feeder) he is about 10 cm! None of the other fish grew considerably but him.

Meet mr. Comelon (Spanish for somebody that has an insatiable appetite)



Tilapias were introduced in Mexico as a protein source for poor communities and many tilapia farms/ponds were set up. However, the fish escaped (as usual) and is so invasive that it is slowly replacing the native fish population. A friend of mine in Yucatan even spotted (and took pictures of) tilapias in cenotes!
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Re: my hitch hiker

Post by GaryE on Sat Sep 28, 2013 9:57 am

Tilapias are one of the great destroyers of biodiversity on the planet. In their favour, it's not exactly their own doing - they have been the tool used by humans in reshaping environments. In their own environments, they are wonderful fish. On other continents from their native Africa, they are a disaster.
Chances are your fish is a Saratherodon sp, (although it could be a Tilapia proper) and it will outgrow any tank you own very quickly. It is probably an omnivore that prefers vegetable foods, but will soon eat all its tankmates, all your plants and all the food intended for the other fish you try to keep with it.
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Re: my hitch hiker

Post by Biulu on Sat Sep 28, 2013 10:38 am

Mmm, that doesn't sound good. I thought it was a tilapia mariae. I guess I have to take a picture of the side so you can see the markings better. Until now it has only 1 spot but since it is young, maybe the others still need to develop.

I have never heard of sarotherodon and all people refer to this fish as tilapia, however that doesn't say that much. Was Sarotherodon also introduced as a food fish?
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Re: my hitch hiker

Post by GaryE on Sat Sep 28, 2013 1:17 pm

They are both sold as Tilapia. Sarotherodon mossambicus is a common food fish, but that guy does look like a mariae.
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Re: my hitch hiker

Post by Biulu on Sat Oct 05, 2013 4:56 pm

This fish is such a sucker! He is chilling out mid tank in an ideal photo position and as soon as I only look at him, he starts swimming frantically around again, chasing the odd molly.

This is another picture from him; more from the side. You can see how he is starting to colour up nicely. This fish was 2 cms long 6 weeks ago and way smaller than the mollies. Now he is around 12; I think the biggest fish I have kept so far.....


DSC00231 by Biulu, on Flickr" />
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Re: my hitch hiker

Post by Sbenson11 on Sat Oct 05, 2013 5:04 pm

Cute fish, but if that's a Tilapia it will be pan size in no time.

Steve
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Re: my hitch hiker

Post by Biulu on Sat Oct 05, 2013 5:09 pm

That is what I am aiming for Steve as I don't know what else to do with it! Good thing is that it is BBQ time all year round here...
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Re: my hitch hiker

Post by Biulu on Sun Oct 06, 2013 9:08 pm

I am beginning to doubt that my fish is a mariae because it doesn't have the black streak running 'through' the eye which most of them seem to have, but most of all, because it is getting these fluorescent blueish lines on the lower part of the head that you also see on some jewels.... It is definitively not a jewel though....

The back of the body and the tail are also turning a faint red.
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Re: my hitch hiker

Post by Biulu on Sun Oct 06, 2013 9:45 pm

I wonder if my fish could be an aequidens species?
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Re: my hitch hiker

Post by Ursus sapien on Wed Oct 16, 2013 7:37 pm

Can't speak to identification, but I will say that my pet tilapia Fred was an awesome pet. A little tempermental - she'd spash a little water over the edge of the tank if I didn't feed her fast enough and if I continued to ignore her she would make the spashes bigger - she covered me in duckweed that way once:-)
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Re: my hitch hiker

Post by Biulu on Mon Dec 16, 2013 9:02 pm

I am back in Mexico and was surprised to see how Mr. Comelon has grown! He is at least 20 cms now.... I also noticed that he has developed the funny behaviour of 'eating' gravel and then spitting it out again. Anybody knows what this means?

Here he is: the pictures are the best I could do. He is shier than you would think and doesn't seem to like the camera. In the last pictures you can see some mollies as a reference size. I got all these fish together and they were about the same size back then!


DSC00524 by Biulu, on Flickr


DSC00536 by Biulu, on Flickr


DSC00535 by Biulu, on Flickr

These are likely to be some of the last pictures of Mr. Comelon as a local fish store owner has agreed to take him off my hands.
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Re: my hitch hiker

Post by GaryE on Tue Dec 17, 2013 4:18 am

He's a handsome fellow.

The gravel thing is feeding. A lot of fish will roll gravel through their mouths (they often have roof of the mouth and throat teeth, but I don't know how Tilapia teeth are for sure). As they rasp the gravel, they remove micro-organisms and bacteria as food.
The best to watch are eartheaters (Geophagus, Satanoperca, Apistogramma, Gymnogeophagus, etc) which often have this down as as an art. If you keep them in sand, they sift all day long, and wild ones only begin to go for flake etc after a few days, when they've finished the substrate. My two Satanoperca turn over all the sand in my 120 gallon at least once a week. The sand is spotless as they are living gravel vacuums.
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Re: my hitch hiker

Post by Biulu on Tue Dec 17, 2013 9:07 am

Funny, this guy is the other way around; he is wild and came to me as a baby as you know. He was quick in finding out where the food came from and has also been 'grazing' on my earlier algae covered wood. There is not much left of these algae thanks to the mollies!

It is only yesterday that I saw him eating and spitting of the gravel for the first time. Maybe now that he is bigger, he can actually take a mouthful of gravel instead of just picking up one...
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