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Blogs

07 March
Fundulus kansae

Fundulus kansae originates from drainages to the north of the Red River of Texas and the Texas-Oklahoma border (USA). They are found in small, loosely organized schools composed of fish of the same general size. The species inhabits shallow, turbid waters over sandy-bottom, with slow to moderate current and elevated dissolved solids. Normally found in shallow (rarely deeper than 15 cm), sandy-bottomed streams; many localities highly alkaline or saline. Fish observed in pools when water temperature was as high as 35°C.  During periods of inactivity, it often lies buried in the sand with only its head showing. This behavior may allow the fish protection from the effects of high temperature by allowing a decrease in metabolism; also, the sand is considerably cooler than the water. Schooling Fundulus kansae, when alarmed, will respond as a unit in flight or concealment; the latter achieved by burying in the substrate.

Spawning season occurs from June to August; spawning observed at water temperature of around 28°C. During the spawning period from early June to early August, there may be three or more separate periods of spawning activity during the spawning season. Each spawning period follows a moderate or heavy rain, which suggests that spawning activity is stimulated by a sudden freshening of the water or a change in water temperature. Males do not establish territories but become aggressive toward each other while spawning and compete vigorously for the attentions of the females; spawning occurs during a brief pairing of a single male and female. The eggs are deposited over sand or gravel and rubble in water less than 10 cm deep; eggs are left unguarded. Fish attains sexual maturity at one year of age, and at a length of approximately 35 mm TL. They became sexually mature in the 2nd summer of life.

Fundulus kansae are omnivorous. Generalist feeder with bulk of diet composed of insects and other aquatic invertebrates; fish consumed diatoms and other plant material when invertebrates are difficult to obtain; when diatoms are few in number, fish consume large amounts of sand as they fed on the available layer of diatoms that grew over the sandy bottom. While adapted for top-feeding, this species will feed on the bottom in shallow sandy streams, primarily ingesting insect larvae, especially those of Chironomidae and Ephemeroptera. Bottom-feeding is achieved when the head is tilted downwards and forced into the substratum past the eye.

A tank with a minimum surface area of 90 cm x 40 cm is recommended for a small breeding group and this should be literally stuffed with woollen spawning mops and/or fine-leaved plants like Java Moss to allow the fish respite from one another. Use of a sandy substrate is required. The tank requires good filtration and clean, fresh water. Lighting should be relatively strong to encourage the growth of algae which provides an additional food source for both adults and fry. Ideally situate the tank in such a way that it receives sunlight for as much of the day as possible. The setup with a breeding group of 8 – 10 fishes works well since no single specimen can be targeted excessively. A higher ratio of females to males is recommended but not essential provided the amount of cover is sufficient. The eggs incubation period varies with temperature but is normally 10 – 14 days with the young fish able to accept Artemia nauplii, microworm and similar foods as soon as they are seen free-swimming. If conditions are satisfactory they grow quickly. Small daily water changes of around 10% tank volume are also recommended to ensure optimal growth rate.

Fundulus kansae are active over a wide temperature range of ~02°C - 30°C and is even known to survive under ice for brief periods. In captivity it certainly fares best when offered a cooler period during winter months since if constantly maintained under warm conditions noticeable reductions in both lifespan and fecundity become apparent. It also seems to benefit from a diurnal rhythm of warmer days and cooler nights and can actually be kept outdoors year round in many parts of the world.

Species Summary:

Scientific Name:

Fundulus kansae (S. Garman, 1895)

Family:

Fundulidae

Distribution:

Drainages to the north of the Red River of Texas and the Texas-Oklahoma border (USA)

Disposition:

Slightly Timid, Semi-Schooling Fish

Total Length: 

80 - 90 mm

Spawning Method:

Egg Scatterer

Breeding Proportion:

Group of Males and Females

Breeding Difficulty:

Demanding

Incubation Period:

10 to 14 Days at 21°C - 22°C (water incubation)

Fry Size:

Medium (can take Microworms and BBS right after hatching)

Sexual Maturity:

12 - 15 Months

Life Span:

2 - 3 Years (depends on food and keeping conditions)

Filtration:

Moderate

Water Changes:

1/3 Weekly

Salt:

1 Teaspoon of Seasalt per 3 Liters of Water

General Hardness:

10 - 20 dGH

pH:

7.0 - 8.0

Temperatrure Range:

10°C - 28°C

Lighting:

Strong Light (a few hours of natural sunlight each day is beneficial)

Diet:

Live and Frozen Food

Keeping Difficulty:

Less Demanding

 

 

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Blogs

07 March
Aphyosemion australe

Aphyosemion australe originates from lowland areas along much of the Gabon’s coastline plus that of Congo which borders Gabon to the south.

Breeding is relatively easy, employing a spawning method known amongst hobbyists as «egg scattering». There exists several different methods of spawning it, and much is down to personal preference. A pair can easily be spawned in a tank as small as 12" x 8" x 8". It's often recommended that it should be spawned in trios, but brood sizes tend to be lower when it's bred this way. This is perhaps due to the fish that is not involved in the spawning activity eating some of the eggs.

Many breeders do not use filtration in killi breeding setups but the addition of a small, air-driven sponge filter is useful to prevent stagnation. The water should be soft and acidic with a pH of 6.0 - 6.5 (although there are instances of this species being bred in water of up to pH 8.0), and a temperature of 21°C - 24°C. Peat filtration is very useful, and also keeping the tank unlit.

The fish should be conditioned on a varied diet of live and frozen foods. Many top breeders recommend keeping the sexes apart in separate conditioning tanks and selecting the best looking male and plumpest female before placing them in the spawning tank. This method allows females to recover between spawnings. Eggs will be deposited either in the substrate or in clumps of vegetation in nature, and the spawning medium can therefore either be a layer of peat moss on the base of the tank, clumps of fine-leaved plants such as java moss or spawning mops. If you're not using peat moss, a bare-bottomed setup is best, for both ease of maintenance and egg collection.

If water conditions are good and the fish are well conditioned, spawning should present no problems. The eggs can be left in the aquarium to hatch with the parents but some may be eaten. If you want to raise a good-sized group, the eggs should be removed. 10 - 20 eggs are deposited daily for around 2 weeks and these should be removed gently as they are noticed. Each pair should only be allowed to spawn for a week or so before being returned to the conditioning tanks, as the spawning process is hard on the fish (particularly the female) and they can become fatigued and weak if left for too long.

Once removed the eggs can be incubated either in water or by placing them on a damp layer of peat moss in a small container (margarine tubs are ideal). In our experience less eggs tend to fungus using the latter method. Whichever you choose, always remove any fungussed eggs as you notice them to prevent the infection spreading to others.

If incubating in water the eggs can be transferred to a small aquarium containing water from the spawning tank to a depth of 1-2 inches to which has been added 1-3 drops of methylene blue, depending on volume. This container should be kept under darkness (the eggs are very sensitive to light) and checked daily for fungussed eggs, which can be easily removed using a pipette. They will hatch in 10 - 20 days depending on temperature.

If incubating on peat moss place the container in a warm, dark place and simply leave it for 18 days, after which the eggs will be ready to hatch. If you are spawning several species or multiple broods it is a good idea to label each container with the date, hatching date, species and number of eggs to prevent any disasters. Hatching can usually be induced by simply placing the eggs in the raising aquarium after 18 days, as the wetting of the eggs generally stimulates hatching. If this fails, blowing gently into the water through a straw or piece of airline can trigger hatching.

The fry are tiny and initial food should be infusoria. If using the peat moss incubation method, the raising tank can be 'seeded' a few days prior to hatching by adding a couple of drops of liquifry or green water. Otherwise add small amounts as required. After 2 days they can be fed brine shrimp nauplii or microworm with the introduction of larger and frozen varieties after 2 weeks or so. The water must initially be kept very shallow but the level can be raised as the fry grow.

Extreme care must be taken regarding water quality in the raising tank as the fry are very susceptible to velvet disease. They should be fed twice a day with small water changes every 2 - 3 days for the best growth.

Species Summary:

Scientific Name:

Aphyosemion australe (Rachow, 1921)

Distribution:

Lowland areas along much of the Gabon’s coastline plus that of Congo which borders Gabon to the south.

Subgenus:

Mesoaphyosemion

Species Complex:

Calliurum Group

Subfamily:

Nothobranchiinae

Family:

Nothobranchiidae

Disposition:

Active, Peaceful

Total Length: 

50 - 60 mm

Spawning Method:

Egg Scatterer

Breeding Proportion:

1M : 1F / 2F

Breeding Difficulty:

Less Demanding

Incubation Period:

10 - 15 Days at 22°C - 23°C (water incubation) and 15 - 20 Days at 22°C - 23°C (semi-dry peat moss incubation)

Fry Size:

Small (require Infusoria as first food)

Sexual Maturity:

6 - 8 Months

Life Span:

up to 3 years (depends on food and keeping conditions)

Filtration:

Moderate

Water Changes:

1/3 Biweekly

General Hardness:

0 - 8 dGH

pH:

5.5 - 6.5

Temperatrure Range:

21°C - 24°C

Lighting:

Moderate Light

Diet:

Live and Frozen Food

Keeping Difficulty:

Less Demanding

 

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Blogs

07 March
Corydoras sterbai

Corydoras sterbai is one of the most popular species of Corydoras due to its attractive markings. Sterba's Cory is distinguishable from other Corydoras species as it has white spots on its head from eyes down to snout. Like many Corydoras species, Sterba's Cory is a shoaling catfish, and thus should ideally be kept in groups of 5 or more. In the wild it can be found in Bolivia and Brazil and thus, wild caught fish prefer soft, acidic water. However, Sterba's Cory is a hardy fish and tank bred specimens have adapted to a wider range of water conditions. However, like almost all fish it will not tolerate high levels of nitrates. Unlike some other catfish they are not good algae eaters, but are good at cleaning up leftover food and detritus from the substrate. Coryodras sterbai are relatively small for catfish, growing to a maximum size of only 60 – 65 mm.

The species name of this Corydoras is in honour of Professor Dr. Günther Sterba, professor emeritus of zoology of Leipzig University, member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Professor Sterba is a professional ichthyologist who nevertheless produced several very popular books regarded as virtual bibles for fishkeepers over the 70's and 80's, translated into English under the titles Freshwater Fishes of the World, Aquarium Care and (with Dick Mills) The Aquarists' Encyclopedia, despite his degree of isolation at that time by virtue of living in the then German Democratic Republic.

A tank measuring 45 x 30 x 30 cm is big enough for a small group of these. Corydoras sterbai will thrive in a tank set up to replicate an Amazon biotope. This would be very simple to arrange. Use a substrate of river sand and add a few driftwood branches (if you can’t find driftwood of the desired shape, common beech is safe to use if thoroughly dried and stripped of bark) and twisted roots. A few handfuls of dried leaves (again beech can be used, or oak leaves are also suitable) would complete the natural feel. Aquatic plants are not a feature of this species’ natural waters. Allow the wood and leaves to stain the water the colour of weak tea, removing old leaves and replacing them every few weeks so they don’t rot and foul the water. A small net bag filled with aquarium-safe peat can be added to the filter to aid in the simulation of black water conditions. Use fairly dim lighting. Alternatively, it also does well in a more standard, preferably well-planted tank. A good maintenance regime is essential with this species as it’s sensitive to deteriorating water conditions. As with all corys, don’t use undergravel filtration and ensure the substrate is kept scrupulously clean. These cats are sensitive to poorly-maintained or dirty substrates and can lose their barbels if kept in poor conditions.

Species Summary:

Scientific Name:

Corydoras sterbai (J. Knaack, 1962)

Common Names:

Sterba's Cory or Sterba's Corydoras

Family:

Callichthyidae

Subfamily:

Corydoradinae

Type Locality:

Rio Guaporé, Brazil

Origin or Distribution:

Bolivia and Brazil

Identification:

Corydoras are identified by their twin rows of armour plates along the flanks and by having fewer than 10 dorsal fin rays. They are most commonly confused with the other genera in the sub-family, namely Brochis, Scleromystax and Aspidoras. It is hard to misidentify this species but it can be confused with Corydoras haraldschultzi, although the latter is a long nosed species where C. sterbai is the dome headed form - the easiest way to tell them apart is that the Sterba's Cory has white spots on its head from eyes down to snout. C. haraldschultzi does not.

Disposition:

Peaceful Community Fish

Total Length: 

60 - 65 mm

Sexing:

Females are more rubust. The male has more of a streamlined body while the female is more rounded when viewed from her side. Easiest to view from the top. While breeding the female will be carrying the eggs with her ventral fins.

Lifespan:

10 – 15 Years

Furniture:

Shade provided by overhanging rock work, arching bogwood, tall or floating plants are all that is required. Ideally substrate should be sand, but rounded gravel will suffice.

Spawning Method:

Not too difficult, will breed as per any Corydoras species giving a good diet and water conditions, and water changes of a lower temperature to induce spawning. Two males to one female or one pair. Setup could be a 45 X 30 X 30 cm tank with sand or bare bottom with Java Moss, Java Fern and a sponge filter, adding if you like a power filter for extra aeration and circulation of the water all leading to a hopefully successful spawning.

Eggs Incubation:

3 - 5 Days at 24°C

Filtration:

Strong

Water Changes:

1/3 Weekly

General Hardness:

1 - 15 dGH

pH:

6.0 - 7.0

Temperatrure Range:

24°C - 28°C

Lighting:

Moderate Light

Diet:

Live food, frozen and high quality flake foods

Keeping Difficulty:

Less Demanding

 

Corydoras sterbai readily accepts a wide variety of prepared and frozen foods. Flake food is a good staple diet (which will only be consumed once it has fallen to the bottom) as are sinking pellets/wafers. They relish live and frozen foods such as bloodworm, daphnia and mosquito larvae, but ideally should only be fed such foods once a week due to the high amount of protein in them. It is often problematic to feed Corydoras in aquaria with fast feeding mid-water fish such as tetras as flake and sinking pellets are consumed by such fish before they have hit the bottom and sometimes, even while lying on the substrate. However, this problem can be overcome by placing pellets and flake on the aquarium substrate in caves or under bogwood, or other such areas which are not regularly frequented by mid-water fish.

The compatibility of Corydoras sterbai is one of their main selling points as with all other Corydoras species as they are very peaceful catfish and can be kept with other peaceful fish. They should not be kept with overly aggressive bottom dwellers, particularly if there is competition over substrate space as there would be in small tanks or tanks with a large amount of «furniture». Ideal companions would be similar sized tetras or particularly, dwarf cichlids. Ideally Corydoras sterbai should be housed with a fine substrate such as sand or gravel in order to avoid doing damage to their delicate barbels. However, large gravel will suffice as long as it is not sharp edged. Their only other requirement is that shade be provided for them, by means of overhanging rock, large leaved plants, arching bogwood and/or caves. Breeding is not too difficult; good diet together with repeated water changes and drops of temperature are usually sufficient. However, raising the fry is not easy due to its high sensitivity.

Reproduction:

Corydoras sterbai is generally considered one of the easiest Corydoras to spawn and a good choice for the beginner. Set up the breeding tank (45 x 30 x 30 cm or similar is a good size), with either a bare bottom, sand or fine gravel substrate. Use air-powered sponge or box-type filtration as fry won’t be sucked into these and provide some clumps of vegetation such as java moss. A temperature of around 24°C and a pH of 6.5 should be fine. Filtering the water through peat is useful, as is the use of RO water. It’s always better to have a higher ratio of males to females when breeding corys and 2 males per female is recommended. Condition the group on a varied diet of live, frozen and dried foods. When the females are visibly full of eggs perform a large (50 - 70%) water change with cooler water, and increase oxygenation and flow in the tank. Repeat this daily until the fish spawn.

It’s worth observing a couple of notes on general cory breeding at this point. Many species are seasonal spawners, breeding during the wet season in their native countries. This occurs at the same time of year as the UK winter, so if summer breeding attempts are failing, it may be worth waiting until winter before trying again. Additionally, it can take several years for certain species to become sexually mature, so be patient. Finally, different tactics may sometimes be required, such as timing of water changes, oxygenation levels etc. It’s also been suggested that the addition of water from a tank containing spawning or just spawned corys (this can be the same or a different species) may induce spawning behaviour in some of the more «difficult» species. It’s likely that this can be attributed to hormones released by the spawning fish acting as a chemical trigger. Basically, if you aren’t having any luck, don’t be afraid of trying different approaches.

If the fish decide to spawn, they will usually lay their

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Blogs

07 March
Austrolebias nigripinnis

Austrolebias nigripinnis originates from temporary pools of the Lower Paraná and Uruguay River basins in South America.

For breeding purposes the aquarium size should be at least 10 – 15 litres for a pair or trio (1 male and 2 females). This fish is not aggressive, although there might be an occasional aggressive male that might need to be separated from the group. Austrolebias nigripinnis are quite prolific spawners if conditioned and fed well. These species tend to be more of a diver type of spawner than a plough type. Coir or peat moss is the preferred medium but any other suitable type of spawning substrate can be used. A spawning container can be used inside the breeding tank if desired. In case of breeding with more than one male you also should provide more than one spawning container. Every male must have one and you will see they show nice territorial behaviour to attract females into their own spawning place.

The eggs are small in size, from 0.9 to 1.0 mm, and can withstand much abuse. The eggs are a little bit adhesive and can be seen in a peat moss with some effort. Please note that the eggs incubation period of Austrolebias nigripinnis can be as long as 3 - 5 months and even longer, depending on temperature, peat moisture, and other factors. You need to be patient and to check the eggs every 2 - 3 weeks for the embryo development. You may need to re-wet them several times in a few week periods. You may have some eggs of this species with incubation period much longer than listed in the table below with a good hatch rate thereafter. Wet the eggs only when they are fully developed. Eyed-up eggs are a sure indication that the eggs are fully developed. When you hatch the eggs do frequent water changes for increased fry growth rates. The fry are medium in size and can be fed with BBS or Microworms at birth. If you maintain the water as recommended and diversify fry’s food, they can be sexed out in about 4 to 5 weeks, and ready to breed at 5 – 7 weeks. This species can be easily bred and maintained as long as you act in accordance with all the recommendations.

This is a cold-water annual killifish. They can live well at really low temperatures at 8°C - 10°C. They will do just perfectly well in a little pond or a simple plastic container in your garden during summer months, at such conditions their colours will be amazing, they will be perfectly healthy, they will be very prolific spawners. The optimal temperature to keep and breed Austrolebias nigripinnis is from 18°C to 21°C. A few hours of indirect natural sunlight each day is beneficial in any case. Don’t keep them in water warmer than 21°C as it will short their lifespan. Always make sure the fish is in clean water, always boil peat very well before using it for spawning. Austrolebias species are very sensitive to water quality.


Species Summary:

Scientific Name:

Austrolebias nigripinnis (C. T. Regan, 1912)

Subgenus:

Argolebias

Clade (Species Group):

Clade A3 (Austrolebias Alexandri Species Group)

Original Name:

Cynolebias nigripinnis

Family:

Rivulidae

Subfamily:

Cynolebiatinae

Origin or Distribution:

Lower Paraná and Uruguay River Basins in South America

Disposition:

Peaceful and Timid

Total Length: 

30 - 50 mm

Spawning Method:

Substrate (Coir or Peat Moss) Divers

Breeding Proportion:

1M : 1F or 1M : 2 F

Breeding Difficulty:

Less Demanding

Incubation Period:

12 - 18 Weeks at 18°C - 22°C

Peat Wetness:

Semi-wet

Fry Size:

Medium (baby brine shrimps can be fed right after hatching)

Sexual Maturity:

5 - 7 Weeks

Life Span:

12 - 18 Months (depends on food and keeping conditions)

Filtration:

Moderate (Very Low Current)

Water Changes:

1/3 Weekly (Important!)

General Hardness:

0 - 5 dGH

pH:

6.5 - 7.0

Temperature Range:

18°C - 22°C

Lighting:

Moderate Light

Diet:

Live Food (Bloodworm, Tubifex, Artemia, Daphnia, Grindal or White Worms, etc.)

Keeping Difficulty:

Less Demanding

 

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