By Randy Longrie
I acquired three females from a hobbyist who had no interest in finding a male to pursue possible breeding. Besides, I got them for a great price.
Aulonocranus are included in a group of fish from Lake Tanganyika called “feather fin”. Other species in this group are Benthochromis, Cardiopharynx, Cunningtonia, Cyathopharynx, and Ophthalmotilapia. These fish all have medium-large fish that have elongated fins of some sort. Aulonocranus have long ventral fins.
I finally located a “wild caught” male and it didn’t take long for action. He was put into a 55-gallon tank with the females being the sole tank mates. After introducing him in, he just wanted to hide in the pile of rocks I had in one corner of the tank. The following morning I noticed a large spawning pit in the opposite corner. It was around eight inched in diameter and 5 inched deep. This is accomplished by using sand as a substrate. It is great to see the behavior of fish in their natural environment! The following morning success, one female with a mouthful of eggs. You could see the amber colored eggs though the skin of the bottom of her mouth. Some “feather fins” have a reputation of not holding the eggs to full term. I did strip the female after seven days. Pretty large fry that ate anything I gave them once their yolk sac was absorbed (just like the adults).
Aulon(elecrtic) cranus(head) has large sensory pores in the head region. In the wild, they feed at dusk and dawn. The pores act like radar when they hover slightly above the substrate. When detect movement, they plunge their mouth into the sand. They sift the sand though their gills and digest anything edible. Another cool behavior is when I go in with a net, they bury themselves in the sand to escape. It kind of freaked me out at first.