I am starting a new video series on breeding fish. This will be a very ambitious project. Over the next few weeks I will start video series on several species. I am also going to start publishing a written transcript for each video here in the blog. A few people have commented that it is hard to search through a video for the information. I cannot promise that the video voice over and the script I publish will be exactly the same, but it will be close…. and the pertinent information will be the same.
The first species in the series will be a loricariid catfish: Panaqolus albivermis – L204 – the flash pleco. I have been getting some nice specimens of these this year, so I thought I should give spawning them a try. I have never spawned any pleco other than tank-strain Ancistrus sp. Enjoy….
I have made an early New Year’s resolution to step up with the video posts in 2016. I am going to try very hard to post at least once each week. The biggest challenge is coming up with video ideas. I know… I still have a lot to finish on the fish room itself, and I will be getting to those sooner rather than later.
But I also want to start posting a lot more videos about the fish that I keep. After all, that is what my blog is all about… keeping fish. I have gotten away from breeding fish in the past two years, but my other early New Years resolution is to actually work with some of these really cool species I have been importing.
This video is the first in a series showcasing the fish I am actually working with. The plan is to introduce each species in an initial video that describes setting up an aquarium for a that species, and outlining the plan of action for successfully spawning them. Followed a few weeks later by a video of the fish settled in and, hopefully, spawning. The series for each species would end with a video showing the rearing of the fry. This is an ambitious project, but I should be able to keep up if I build some momentum.
First up… a pleco… Panaqolus albivermis, which is also known by it’s L-number designation: L204, and by the common name Flash Pleco. I am told that the common name refers to the bright white to orange thin stripes that resemble lighting on a jet black fish. Gotta love common names.
Panaqolus is a genus of loricariid catfish from South America. Panaqolus albivermis comes from Peru. Specifically the San Alajandro river, which is a relatively small flowage in the upper Ucayali River system. Most notable about that stream… it is not a soft water habitat. The relatively short San Alejandro drains water from the Andes into the Ucayali, and the pH alkaline… some measurements as high as 8.4! That is one reason I chose to work with this catfish. The water that comes into my aquariums through my automated water changing system is within the correct parameters for the species. No need for reverse osmosis for this pretty pleco!
Panaqolus belong to the group of sucker mouth catfish that like to dine on soft wood. In fact, just about everything they plecos like is associated with wood. So the aquarium will need to include a lot of driftwood for them to chew on and hide in.
The aquarium itself is a 30-gallon breeder aquarium located on the top shelf of my racks. The temperature will stay warmer up there, but I will also use a 200 watt heater in the tank to keep the water at a toasty 82F.
The tank is going to be filtered by a Poret foam 5” cube filter that is powered by a cube lifter lift tube that moves a lot of water. This will be plenty of mechanical and biological filtration for the amount of biomass I will keep in this tank.
The filter will not provide enough current, which the plecos need, so I am also including an Aqueon circulation pump at the end of the tank opposite the filter. The position of the pump is very important. Loricariid breeders have told me that the flow needs to run perpendicular to the openings of the spawning caves. So that is what I have done. The caves are all lines up with the opening facing the front of the aquarium (so I can see into them easily), and the circulation pump pushes water past the openings. You can see that flow when I drop some sand into the current.
The tank will receive a minimum of three small water changes each week through the auto-drip system. Once each week I will also use a siphon to remove detritus from the bottom of the tank. Wood-eating catfish are notoriously messy. The cube filter will also clog with wood dust very quickly, and I will need to pull it regularly to knock it out. That is one reason the filter is not deeply buried in the pile of wood.
The tank is set up. Wood… check. Caves… check. Current…. Check. Heater and filter…. Check. Ready for fish.
One of the negatives to keeping plecos is that they hide a lot, so if you want to have some action in the tank you should include a school of tetras or other fish that will stay out in the open. I have a lot of these Hyphessobrycon sp. ‘junior’ tetras that are also from Peru, so I added a school to the tank. This is another species I have not spawned, so maybe I will be able to use this tank to collect some eggs from them as well.
The catfish will come from this group of young adult wild fish that were imported a few months ago and are well quarantined. I have pulled them out of the tank they are in and put them into this tray so I can get a better look at them.
Panaqolus males that are in their full breeding glory are easy to see. They grow odontodes…. Hair-like filaments… all over their body. These fish are not in breeding condition, however, so I cannot use odontodes to sex them.
Body shape is not much of a help either with the flash pleco. Females may be a little rounder or a little wider, but that is not a sure thing. Most pleco males have broader heads and narrower bodies, but that turns out to be not so sure a thing in this species either.
When in doubt, look for differences. I am going to choose six fish. When I look at the group, I see some that are broader in the head and brighter in color, compared to some that have smaller heads, round sides and are not as bright in color…. And I think these are the females.
Male loricariids can be evil bastards, so I am only going to choose two of the ones I think are males. I will also pick four that I think are females. Six fish may eventually be too many in a 30-gallon once they are full grown and spawning, but I like to start a group a little larger than what I think it will eventually become. Adding new fish to an established group may not be a good idea.
Here are the six fish I chose going into the aquarium, and now this breeding project has officially begun!
The flash plecos will eat the driftwood in the aquarium, but it cannot be the only thing in their diet. Animal protein is not a great idea for these fish, although a little can help to bring females into breeding condition. I feed the tank something every day. Loricariids that live in warm water have a high metabolism, and need a lot of food.
Vegetables are excellent… here I am feeding the tank some zucchini, which they like a lot. Other vegetables they like include fresh green beans, any squash, cucumber and even watermelon. The trick to feeding fresh vegetables and fruits is moderation. Feed small amounts so that the water is not fouled, and do not leave the food in the tank until it rots.
I also feed Repashy Morning Wood, a gel food diet designed for wood-eating catfish. The gel contains a lot of cellulose, so it is like wood, but it also contains more nutrients, vitamins and minerals. I feed Morning Wood at least three days a week, and I like to feed it on these ceramic disc feeders, which are heavy and stay in one place in the tank.
The last thing that I like to feed the flash plecos is hard wood stems with the bark. I like oak, ash, maple or fruit trees the best. I stay away from any conifer, hickory or walnut, all of which contain a lot of alkali chemicals I am not sure are safe for fish. I leave the stems in the tank until the plecos have stripped them of the bark and underlying tissues they are after.
Now my small colony of Panaqolus albivermis are in their new home, but it will take a few weeks until they are truly settled and comfortable. I will be back with an update about them just as soon as I see some breeding behavior.
If you would like more information about the flash pleco, or any catfish, I encourage you to visit planetcatfish.com . This website contains a huge amount of information about all types of catfish. If you are looking to breed catfish, spend some time in the Catfish of the Month articles, which are mostly breeding accounts, and there is one in there on the flash pleco.
For more information about sponge filters, take a look at the video linked right here. If you want to buy some Poret foam filters, you can go directly to the source at www.swisstropicals.com .
Repashy gel foods, including Morning Wood, and the disc feeders that I use, are available in my Stock Shop. The address for that website is www.tedsfishroom.com/catalog. I may also have some flash plecos for sale, but not all of the time.
If you are keeping this species and want to share your experiences with it, please let us know in the comment section for this video, or in a comment on my blog. The entire transcript from this video is available on my blog site: www.tedsfishroom.com Reading the details may be easier than trying to find a moment in the video.
Thanks for watching TedsFishroom…