Categories
Dwarf Cichlids Spawning Reports

Spawning Apistogramma Cacatuoides

By Paul Parks

The Apistogramma cacatuoides, commonly called the cockatoo dwarf cichlid because of the male’s long dorsal rays, is an egg laying, South American dwarf cichlid from the Amazon River basin. They are a curious species that can be placed in a community tank with similarly sized fish, although, I bred mine in a species only tank. Generally, the male and female have natural bronze tones and black accents. But commercially bred strains have red or orange fins. I worked with the triple red variant which can be identified by the red on the male’s dorsal, caudal, and anal fins. The females may get some color on these fins as well, but they lack much of the line-bred colors. When the female is ready to breed, she will be a brilliant yellow with vivid black markings. During breeding, the parent’s colors are more vibrant and intense. The female was 1.25” inches and the male 2.5”. Both fish were approximately eight months old and this was their first spawn.

The breeding setup was a sparsely planted 10-gallon aquarium with several line-of-sight breaks. The pair was comfortable in this size tank and neither of them showed any aggression toward each other. Java fern and java moss were provided for cover and to offer young fry additional surfaces to graze on microorganisms. Several locally collected oak leaves were placed on the sand and allowed to move freely with the current. The sand was a 50/50 mix of play sand and general-purpose sand. Large, medium, and small terracotta pots laid on their sides provided some caves and line-of sight breaks. For breeding there was a 1” CPVC pipe laid on the bottom. One end was capped and had several small holes drilled in the cap to promote water flow through the cave. The other end had a 1” x ¾” coupling to reduce the entrance diameter to the cave. The cave was then positioned lengthwise in the tank to take full advantage of the water current created by the Hamburg Matten Filter (HMF). At the base of the HMF was a small box filter with fine floss to remove suspended debris. A small portion of aragonite sand was behind the HMF to promote water hardness stability. The result was a stable environment that maintained constant parameters of pH 6.9, GH 3, KH 3, and nitrates less than 30 parts per million.

I used Raleigh tap water for all stages of breeding and rearing the fry. The water was treated with Seachem Safe mixed directly in the aquarium with adults and fry present. I routinely performed 50% water changes weekly until the fry were born. Once born, I switched to 25% water changes. After six weeks I continued with 50% water changes. The water temperature was maintained at 74 degrees Fahrenheit. Cooler water holds more dissolved oxygen but does not promote fast fry growth. This is a compromise that should only be accepted if you know the species can safely live in the cooler temperature.

The male and female entered the cave to spawn. Once spawning was complete the female stayed in the cave to defend approximately 25 pink eggs. This is a small clutch of eggs for A. cacatuoides, but this is a young pair and their future spawns may have 100 eggs or more. She left the safety of the cave to eat providing she didn’t have to venture far from the mouth of the cave. Occasionally the male would go near the entrance of the cave, but I never observed him trying to go inside. From spawn to free swimming is usually 8-10 days depending on water parameters. On day nine post spawn and in the cover of darkness, the mother and her brood disappeared into the leaf litter and java fern. Both parents guarded the fry. However, the fry stayed closer to the mother as she provided care at the micro level picking stray fry up in her mouth and returning them to the brood so they could forage for food together. The father patrolled the perimeter of the tank and spent much of his time flaring at the German blue ram fry in the adjacent grow-out tank.

Initially, I left the fry in the tank with the parents because I enjoyed watching the fry and parents interact with each other. Leaving the fry with the parents is risky since many dwarf cichlids will consume their fry when they are ready to spawn again. I usually pull the fry when I observe the parents begin to prepare their spawning site. In this case, the parents showed no sign of aggression towards the fry or preparing the cave to spawn again. The parents did not show interest in eating the fry before I moved them to a large, Marina breeder box. I think this was in part to the parents being fed a balanced diet. The fry ate the same food as the adults providing it was crushed into small pieces. They are not picky eaters and can be fed a combination of flake foods, Fluval Bug Bites, and baby brine shrimp two times per day. They will grow to approximately .375” to .5” in their first two months and will be ready to spawn in five to eight months.

I have another pair of Apistogramma cacatuoides I keep in a 75-gallon community tank and they are thriving. The key is to provide plenty of plants, caves, and driftwood for all species to feel comfortable. Locating the cockatoo dwarf cichlid from a local pet shop can be challenging. I highly recommend searching for a reputable breeder in your local club.

Paul Parks is a fish enthusiast and active member of the Raleigh Aquarium Society Breeder Award Program. He can be contacted by going to www.FishManiac.com or following him on Instagram @FishManiac_com.

Categories
Livebearers Spawning Reports

Spawning Zoogoneticus Tequila

By Paul Parks

The Zoogoneticus tequila, commonly called Tequila splitfin or Tequila fish, is an inquisitive, livebearer from west-central Mexico the that deserves a chance to win your praise. They are a relaxed, inquisitive species that can be placed in a community tank, although, I kept mine in a tank with a few juvenile bristlenose catfish and nothing else. Generally, the fish is drab with bronze and olive tones. But when they get excited, both the male and female will turn a dark charcoal gray. During breeding their color turns to black. The male’s anal and dorsal fins are tipped with white and the caudal fin has a vivid orange stripe along the edge. The females do not have the tipped fins or the orange stripe. Mature females grow approximately two inches, which is half an inch larger than males.

The breeding setup was a heavily planted 10-gallon aquarium with plenty of line-of-sight breaks. I would have preferred a 20 long but they were occupied with other breeding projects. Guppy grass covered the tank from top-to-bottom and left-to-right. A medium portion of anubias provided a nice hide in the corner and three medium terracotta pots laid on their sides provided some caves and line-of-sight breaks. The last hide was a rock garden at one end of the aquarium approximately three inches wide by two inches tall. It was made of small and medium river rocks stacked on top of each other and allowed an adult free zone for fry to hide. The entire rock garden was positioned at the base of the Hamburg Matten filter. This naturally allowed the circulating water to gently move the fry to the rocks until they were mature enough to find cover on their own. The remainder of the tank was covered with a thin layer of Safe T Sorb and aragonite sand. The result was a stable environment that maintained constant parameters of pH 7.2, GH 3, KH 3, and nitrates less than 30 parts per million.

I used Raleigh tap water for all stages of breeding and rearing the fry. The water was treated with Seachem Prime mixed directly in the aquarium with adults and fry present. I routinely performed 50% water changes weekly until the fry were born. Once born, I switched to 25% water changes. After six weeks I continued with 50% water changes. The cold water out of the tap was 80-84 degrees because of the summer heat. Tequilas are a cool water fish preferring water in the 68-74 degrees range so refilling the tank took a few minutes longer than usual to ensure the much warmer tap water was a gradual change. The fish were not stressed with the gradual increase from 74 degrees to 76-77 degrees. Without a heater in the tank, the temperature slowly fell back to 74 degrees and naturally fluctuated one degree from day to night.

I left the fry in the tank with the parents because the plants and rock garden provided enough cover. Additionally, the parents did not show interest in eating the fry. I think this was in part to the parents being fed a balanced diet, and the fry are considerably larger at birth than most livebearers. The fry ate the same food as the adults providing it was crushed into small pieces. A combination of various flake foods, Fluval Bug Bites, and baby brine shrimp were fed 2-3 times per day. They are not picky eaters. It’s important to note that leaving the fry with the parents for the first few weeks was risky since many livebearers will opportunistically eat their fry. Also, the tequila’s gestation period is approximately 60 days so if the parents eat a spawn it’s a long wait for more. The fry double in size from approximately 10 mm to 20 mm in the first two months of life and will be sexually mature at approximately three months old.

Locating Z. tequila locally can be challenging. I purchased my pair from a member of the Raleigh Aquarium Society, Neil Frank, that no longer breeds the species. I highly recommend searching for a reputable breeder in your local club or online from a skilled breeder. I grew the colony and transferred it to a private aquarist. I hope they enjoy and continue to grow the colony.

Paul Parks is a fish enthusiast and active member of the Raleigh Aquarium Society Breeder Award Program. He can be contacted by going to www.FishManiac.com or following him on Instagram @FishManiac_com.