Yes Mike's Rifts is a fully licensed pet shop and registered business that sells to the public.
Why are you appointment only?
Our business premises are based at home therefore visits need to be pre-arranged. This can be done via telephone, email or facebook.
What times are suitable for an appointment?
Monday - Friday 9.30am - 5.30pm
Sat 10am - 5pm
Sun 11am - 5pm
Also evening appointments are possible from 7-9pm
If I can't make an appointment what happens?
If for whatever reason you cannot make an appointment just contact us to let us know.
We can re-arrange your appointment and open up your original slot for another customer.
If a customer fails to notify us of a cancelled visit twice we reserve the right to refuse that customer any futher appointments to view stock.
If I can't make a visit how do I order fish from you?
You can telephone or send an email to make a stock enquiry. Once you have finalised your order a secure payment can be made over the phone using your debit or credit card and we can then send the order out on a next day delivery.
Where do you get your Tanganyikan & Malawi Cichlids from?
Most of our wild caught Tanganyikan & Malawi Cichlids are imported directly from east Africa. This helps to ensure the fish are what they are supposed to be and our tank bred stocks are sourced from suppliers who offer the best quality rather than the best price.
I've heard there are companies in Africa breeding Tanganyikan & Malawi Cichlids in ponds?
There is only one company based in Burundi who breed mostly Tanganyikan cichlids in ponds (now defunct), apart from some very small scale breeding for endangered species it's a myth that wild caught fish are pond bred. It's been tried by several people in the past but has failed as running fish farms for aquaculture in the countries in the rift lake region has proven extremely problematic.
Why Mike's Rifts and who is this Mike?
Mike's Rifts was set-up in 2009 after a redundancy notice offered me an opportunity to change careers. I've been keeping Malawi & Tanganyikan cichlids since 1984 and this hobby has enabled me to visit both Lake Malawi and Lake Tanganyika to dive and explore their waters. My life long passion for these animals is what continues to drive Mike's Rifts.
Why can't you sell me groups of just females or whatever ratio I want?
Tank bred stocks come in at a 50/50 ratio so they are sold as such.
With some wild caught fish there can be more females than males, this can be seen with Tropheus where they are exported at 1m:2f ratios but this is not the norm for most wild caught fish which are exported as 1m:1f.
Sometimes extra females are available as some customers want only coloured males for display tanks therefore leaving spare females.
Why do you carry out weekly water changes on your tanks?
Several reasons, to renew minerals and trace elements, to remove dissolved organic waste that a filter cannot remove and to reduce the populations of disease pathogens that can build up in a fish tank.
Why do you recommend storage and aeration of water before using it?
Whilst in storage chlorine will degass as will carbon dioxide which leads to stable water for water changing. Also it gives you an opportunity to increase the pH safely by adding buffers before you add the water to the tank. This can considerably minimise the stress on your livestock.
Why don't you use centralised systems?
This can lead to the spread of disease pathogens from one tank to another therefore a problem with just one tank can quickly lead to every tank having the same problem. It's safer for the fish to be kept in individual tanks especially newly imported wild caught stock.
Are wild caught cichlids better than tank bred?
For the vast majority of rift valley cichlid keepers tank bred fish are the best option but for breeding stocks that are guaranteed to be unrelated then wild caught fish are often the best option.
Are F1 fish better than wild caught fish?
In many respects yes they are, they will have the colour and vibrancy of wild stock except with a greater robustness to captive conditions. In some cases F1 stocks can be actually better looking than their wild counterparts.
Why do so many people claim to have F1?
The simple answer is many of them are not true F1's, some people are either ignorant of what it means or they lie. Some people may also sell tank bred fish as wild caught therefore leading the new owner to believe they have wild caught stock and so any fry bred from them they label mistakenly as F1.
What is Malawi Bloat?
Malawi bloat is a disease that affects cichlids from the rift valley lakes. It's commonly thought to be caused by parasites that live naturally in the digestive tracts of these fish. These parasites all belong to the group of micro-organisms called flagellated protozoa, namely Hexamita, Spironucleus and Cryptobia. These pathogens are found commonly in cichlids worldwide. Bloat starts with a population explosion of one of these groups of flagellated protozoa in the gut lining where if left untreated can lead to the breakdown in the fishes renal system. This is when the fish becomes "bloated" and can die due to being unable to osmoregulate themselves normally. Stress is thought to play a large factor in outbreaks of "bloat" and stocks that are newly introduced into established tanks are prone to much higher levels of stress than fish that are established and settled. Along with stress overfeeding or feeding with foodstuffs containing too much animal protein can also lead to fish becoming ill with bloat. This disease can be avoided by feeding the correct diet and keeping tank conditions clean whilst ensuring stress levels are kept to a minimum.
Is Malawi bloat a treatable disease?
Yes its perfectly treatable as long as its spotted early on. Waterlife's Octozin is a highly effective cure for Malawi bloat.
Is it OK to mix cichlids from different rift valley lakes?
In our experience it's not worth the risk, lets put aside the differences in water conditions, behaviour and diets and look at one single aspect alone and that is when you mix wild caught cichlids from Tanganyika and Malawi they are then exposed to each others parasites. This may lead to a situation where a Tanganyikan cichlid becomes infected with a pathogen that came from a Malawi cichlid (and vice versa) that it has zero immune response to. This could lead to illness and loss of livestock, so in our opinion it's best to keep the fishes from each lake seperate.
What is a "Marmalade Cat" or "Mcat"?
An Mcat is a male Malawian Mbuna which has a genetic defect and shows both the normal male colouration blended in with an Orange Blotch colour pattern. Mcat males are found naturally within wild populations of Mbuna that have Orange Blotch females. They are relatively rare as a wild caught fish and therefore often command high prices.
Terminology used when selling rift valley cichlids
Fishes described as wild caught should have been collected in a rift valley lake.
This is a fish that has been bred and reared in a pond in captive conditions.
Fish that have been bred and reared in tanks or ponds next to a Rift Valley Lake. (actually quite rare despite rumours to the contrary)
This is a fish that has been bred in a fish tank in captive conditions.
This term refers to the "Filial" system that is used to keep track of generations when breeding plants and animals. With Tanganyikan and Malawi cichlids it is used to refer to how many generations removed from wild caught a fish is. So F1 refers to 1 generation removed from wild caught parents, F2 is 2 generations removed from wild caught parents and so on. F0 is sometimes used to describe a wild caught fish.
Fish bred in the UK.
Fish that were bred in countries on the continent such as Germany, Holland and Czech Republic.
Far Eastern Bred
Fish that were bred in countries in the Far East such as Thailand, Singapore and Sri Lanka.
Bad practices to be aware of when purchasing new stocks
Sellers describing everything as F1 or even wild when it's nothing of the sort. Ask the seller for evidence if you are suspicious as a wild fish should have been imported into the EU and have documents somewhere to prove it's origin. Even F1 stock should have an invoice from source to show it's F1 if you are purchasing from a dealer. No paperwork to back the description up then think carefully about the purchase.
Dealers who ship in large tank/pond bred stocks from the Far East or Europe and pass them on as either F1 or wild caught.
Fish that are obviously at a juvenile size but in full adult male colour. These stocks are hormone treated so that they show these colours at an un-natural size (even the females!) The hormones eventually wear off and the fish loose most of their original colour.
Sounds too good to be true! - wild caught breeding groups containing mostly females sound pefect until you take into account the age of the fish i.e. past their breeding best or with certain species such as Tropheus they could all be males being passed off as a bargain breeding group after the orginal owner removed all the females.
Count the bars and spots as they could be hybrids. If you count 6 bars on one side of the body and 3 on the other then they could be hybrids being sold off as a real species.
The sale of these fish comes under the UK's Retail trading laws, you have full legal rights to ask questions and if you are unhappy with the response from the seller then think twice about going ahead with the purchase. If you suspect you have been duped then you can contact your local trading standards office for help and advice. Some of the scam artists out there are unlicenced and it is against the law to trade in these animals without a licence. These sellers are often operating on a cash basis and also evading paying tax on their profits.