I love to feed fish. I think that we all do. I especially like it when the fish I am feeding are aggressive on the food, and the best food for that is live black worms. Here is a video of several of my dwarf cichlids I have set up in spawning tanks getting a treat. I feed black worms a couple times each week to the fish that can handle them. You will see some Congochromis sabinae and some Nanochromis splendens getting some worms, but those fish only get them every other week or so: and even then they do not get many. The apistos can handle the worms though, and in the immortal words of the incomparable Charley Grimes, ‘Nothing like worms to eggs in a belly.’
The tanks are all 10-gallon set up for breeding. All the structure is in the back, away from the light. The spawning site that I hope the fish use is visible from the front. I use yarn mops in dwarf cichlid tanks for a couple reasons. A fish being picked on can hide very well buried in a mop, and when that mop is mature it will be loaded with infusoria for the fry to eat. I also use wood, magnolia leaves and live plants (potted crypts and free-floating java moss) for structure. The filter is in the back corner, which makes it another place a fish can find refuge under. There is only a little sand on the bottom. Lighting is very dim (which is why some of the video resolution sucks). The magnolia leaves add tannin, but sometimes they make the water cloudy, which you will see in a couple tanks. After a week and a few water changes, however, the tank will clear. I also use alder cones, which add some antiseptic chemicals to the water.
The tanks all start with two pairs or two trios. After a few weeks I will remove any fish that are obviously not handling aggression. By the time fry start to appear, most tanks have a pair or a trio. There is a tank in the video with some A. kelleri, which cannot stay in a 10-gallon tank forever. This is one of the mouthbrooding species, and it gets BIG.
Bob Schneider is one of the icons in the Chicago area aquarium hobby. He is actively involved in the Greenwater Aquarium Society, and participates in most of the club swaps and auctions in from southern Michigan to Wisconsin. Bob raises a lot of Corydoras sp. catfish, and he does it very well in a relatively small fish room. I have several catfish that I have picked up from Bob at various events, so it was a real pleasure to have the chance to see where they were born and raised. Enjoy…
The common name of this fish is all it took for me to want it (I am a bit of a batman fan). The pictures sealed the deal. This is a typical paradise gouramie in just about every way, except that it comes from some pretty temperate climates and prefers its habitat cool. I am probably keeping them too warm, but that will change with I give them the 75 planted tank in the living room. That aquarium stays in the low seventies, and dips into the high 60’s in the Winter. I have a group of six, but these two are the pair. They colored up nicely this week, but I think the water is too warm for them to spawn. Hopefully moving them to a colder tank will help. Cool fish! (literally… LOL).
The most recently completed project in the fish room is a rack of plastic bins for growing fry. I needed more space for small fry, and I wanted to design a system that would be faster and easier to change the water in. The end product is a rack of twelve 6-gallon bins plumbed to permit flow-through water changes. Since plastic bins of shallow water are hard to control the temperature in, the rack is also equipped with under-bin heating. It has been up and running for just about two months, and I am very happy with the results. This project will be presented in two parts. The first covers how to assemble the rack, and the second how to install the bins and water change/heating systems.
I like to leave cichlid fry with their parents for as long as possible, primarily because the parents will do a better job of raising the fry than I will. I also like to spawn cichlids in community aquariums, if possible, so that I can watch the interactions between the parents, their fry and the other fish in the tank. Care mus be taken to ensure that none of the fish in the tank are harmed too much, and the best way to prevent permanent damage is to use large tanks.
This video shows a pair of wild-caught Pelvicachromis pulcher raising a brood of fry in a 75-gallon aquarium. Other fish in the aquarium include an extra male krib, a small group of Melanotaenia vanhuerni rainbow fish and a breeding pair of Hemichromis cf. lifilili ‘Moanda’. I spend a lot of time watching this pair, and what strikes me is how the parents provide the basic requirements that fry need to survive: food, shelter and protection from threats. Enjoy…
A few months ago I was attending a large garden consumer trade show and met an artisan selling a very cool vase that was flat and round like a river pebble. He was demonstrating how they were used to hold up a flower stem… but all I saw were dozens and dozens of really cool spawning caves!
The artist and I stayed in touch, and I offered him a chance to get rid of all the imperfect caves he might have lying around. I also asked him to make some unglazed pots to see if having him produce them for me was something worth his time and effort. A few weeks ago he dropped off a large shipment of pots… over 200 in all! Most of them are the beautiful glazed pots that are imperfect for use as a vase or piece of fine art. The fish do not care! And even these imperfect pots are truly beautiful.
The glazes are all aquarium safe and fired at a temperature to make the pot food safe. No leaching of metal ions from improperly-fired glazes will occur. The colors range from white to black, with various shades of green, brown, blue and grey. Some pots are smooth. Others have a texture to them. There are too many to show each individually, so they are priced in the store by size. You can send me a note if you have a basic color preference.
The holes on these caves are on the tops of the pots. This makes them perfect for sinking into the substrate. I really like the caves because they have a nice small opening with a roomy interior. Dwarf cichlids love them, especially the Pelvicachromis, but also Julidochromis, Parananochromis and Apistogramma. I have Ancistrus sp. plecos that use them too.
These pots will only be available for a limited time. The artist sent me literally 20 years worth of imperfect pots. He told me that he usually crushes the bad ones, but even if he saves them all for me there will not be more than a few dozen available per year. When this batch is gone it will be several months before I get any more. So get them while the last! There is a link to the page in the online store at the top of the right-hand side column.