Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Nothobranchius albimarginatus

Nothobranchius albimarginatus is an annual killifish from Tanzania that was first collected in 1997 and described in 1998.  So far it is found only in two ephemeral pools near Kiparanganda, but may have a wider distribution.  This is an annual species of fish; the habitats dry up every year and the eggs lay dormant in the moist clay for months at a time and hatch when the rainy season arrives.
N. albimarginatus is what I would call a basic Nothobranchius.  Body coloration is silver with some blue iridescence and scales are edged in red.  There are some red vertical bars on the caudal peduncle and the tail is bright red.  Anal and dorsal fins are yellowish with red markings and a narrow but bright white marginal band.  This coloration is very similar to all members of the Nothobranchius guentheri-group.

One or two pairs of this species can be kept in a 5 gallon aquarium.  I prefer large breeding groups whenever possible and keep a number of fish in a 20 gallon tank. Males spar and display, but damage is rarely done. Water changes of 50-80% are carried out every week.  Salt can be added at a rate of 1 tablespoon per 5 gallons of water, as Nothobranchius are often susceptible to velvet.
Adults are fed a variety of foods including blackworms, frozen bloodworms, grindal worms, frozen shrimp, and baby brine.  They are not picky eaters and have good appetites but don’t like flake or other prepared foods.

Breeding Nothobranchius is a completely different endeavor than you may be used to. Being annual species, they need a substrate to deposit eggs into. In the aquarium, we typically use peat or coir.  Getting them to spawn is pretty easy.  If they adults are well fed and the water is clean, they will spawn.  I personally use a plastic container of some sort (usually a small deli container or margarine tub) with coir.  The adults will spawn in the dish and after spawning you can remove the peat, squeeze out all of the water (you won’t crush the eggs, squeeze hard!) and check for eggs.  They’re pretty easy to find once you get the hang of it.  If you have a good number of eggs, place the peat in a plastic bag and into a stryo box for incubation.  Incubation temperature should be in the mid 70s.  Usually incubation takes 2 months but may be more or less depending on temperature and moisture.  It’s a good idea to check the eggs every few weeks to make sure they aren’t too dry and look for development.  When you see eyes looking back at you from the eggs, you know it’s time to hatch them.

For hatching I will usually put the peat in the same kind of plastic dish that I use for spawning and fill it with water.  The fry will all hatch within 24 hours.  Once the fry are hatched and the coir has settled I will SLOWLY lower the dish into a half-full 2.5 gallon tank with a sponge filter running a light stream of air.  Fry are free swimming shortly after hatching and eat newly hatched baby brine shrimp almost immediately.  I also use golden pearls and microworms as the fry are somewhat small.  I find offering foods smaller than bbs has been beneficial.

Fry growth is quite fast and first signs of sexing out can be seen at 6 weeks.  Males often grow faster than females, so separating the fry as they grow can be beneficial.  Another reason for separating the fry by size is often I’ll get a few dominant males that will slow the growth of other males.  Eventually as the fry mature they all reach a similar size and I put them back into one tank.

Nothobranchius albimarginatus is a beautiful, prolific, and relatively easy species to keep.  It’s a good first-time annual fish as the incubation time is short and the fish are pretty easy to keep.  Annual fish do take some extra work and the fry can be harder to raise than other species, but their biology and life-cycle are pretty fascinating.

Aphyosemion congicum Z82-17

Aphyosemion congicum is a beautiful and not commonly seen species of killifish from a limited distribution in the Democratic Rpublic of Congo.  It’s somewhat unique among killies as the base body color is yellow, gold, or even orange.  There are some dark red to black spots throughout the body and tail and the dorsal and tail fins have broad black marginal bands.  This species probably can’t be confused with any other killifish. It’s not currently common in the hobby and the Kenge Z82-17 strain is the most commonly found.  


This species is found in rainforest brooks and streams and appreciates cool water on the soft and acidic side. I currently keep my water around 120-150ppm hardness and 72 °, I don’t check pH.  I raise fry in straight tap water, which for me ranges from 225 to 350ppm hardness. 

Feeding Aphyosemion congicum is similar to most in the genus.  I feed them a range of live & frozen foods including frozen blood worms, frozen tubifex worms, white worms, black worms, fruit flies, chopped red worms, daphnia, baby brine shrimp and grindal worms.  Fry get baby brine shrimp, microworms and golden pearls and grow rapidly.  This species will take prepared foods like flake or repashy, but only as a supplement.  They will not grow quickly or spawn being fed only prepared foods, and will possibly not eat enough of it to survive.
This is a plant spawning species and breeding is fairly simple.  They can be bred using a spawning mop.  You can pick eggs and incubate them in water or on damp peat moss; incubation takes 14-21 days.  Another way to incubate the eggs is to pull the mop from the tank, squeeze out the excess water, and store in a Ziploc bag.  Keep an eye on the eggs to watch for development.  When using one of the above methods I like to keep the male and female separate for conditioning and then put them together for a day or two for spawning.  This typically gives a larger number of eggs.

Another method of spawning them is the method I learned from Gary Greenwood & John Metzger, and the method I currently use.  I fill a 2.5 or 5 gallon tank approximately half full of long fiber sphagnum moss.  Usually I will pre-soak the moss until it sinks before adding the fish.  These “natural” setups get large weekly water changes to maintain water quality.  I feed live/frozen foods daily, and these tanks always get baby brine shrimp as well.

Usually within 4-6 weeks I start seeing ¼” long fry hiding in the moss or hovering just above it.  At this point I set up an identical tank and move the parents.  The fry grow slowly and show signs of sexing out at 6 months.  Once I see a large number of fry in the 2.5 gallon and they have a little bit of size on them, I will carefully remove the moss, small amounts at a time, by hand.  Once most of the moss is out of the tank, I will transfer the entire contents of the tank to a 10 or 20 gallon tank.  At this point I start feeding the fry crushed flake, and grindal worms or chopped black worms if I have them as well as baby brine shrimp. 

I’ve kept this species on two separate occasions now, and the first time all of my fry turned out to be male.  From what I’ve heard, sex ratios skewed heavily towards males are common.  This second time I have a more even sex ratio; possibly from raising fry in straight tap water and at cooler temperatures. 


Due to the skewed sex ratio and slow growth, this species is a little challenging.  It is also pretty demanding about water quality as it will stop spawning if the water conditions are not right and take some time to spawn again even when the conditions are right.  But it’s also very beautiful and uniquely colored and worth keeping around.  

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Kryptolebias marmoratus - The Mangrove Killifish

Kryptolebias marmoratus was first described as Rivulus marmoratus in 1880 by Poey, and later as K. marmoratus by Costa. It is a new world fish that inhabits mangrove swamps and estuaries from coastal Florida through Central America to Brazil and the Caribbean Islands.  Due to the nature of these habitats, it is highly adaptable and can live and breed in water conditions ranging from fresh water to hypersaline. 

Unless you like brownish-grey fish, K. marmoratus is not an attractive fish.  Some people would consider it downright ugly.  It makes up for that by being interesting, for a number of reasons.  Recently scientists have found that it can spend a great deal of time out of water, up to 66 consecutive days.  It spends its time in leaf litter, rotting logs, and mud burrows formed by insects or crabs.  It was considered rare in much of its US habitat as it wasn't being found in great numbers.  Until researches found them by the hundreds in rotting logs.  In the aquarium, if your tank is not full and you have something floating on the surface, you'll likely be able to sneak up on them out of the water.  Mine spends time on the cork for a spawning mop, and occasionally sticking to the aquarium glass. 

K. marmoratus is most famous for being one of only 2 known self fertile hermaphrodite vertebrates.  The other is the closely related K. ocellatus.  This means that one fish is generally a breeding "pair" and while sexual reproduction takes place, offspring are basically clones of the parent.  Males do exist and will sometimes form in aquarium populations.  Formation of males can happen for a number of reasons, but typically they form in response to environmental conditions.  One way to trigger them is to raise the fish in saline or hypersaline conditions.  Males are somewhat more attractive than females, having some yellow in the fins and a light covering of blue iridescence.

I found Kryptolebias marmoratus fairly easy to spawn and raise in a typical mop-spawning killifish type setup.  I use a 2.5 gallon aquarium with a sponge filter, spawning mop, and a tight fitting lid.  Remember that they're found out of water?  They travel by jumping.  A lid with only a hole big enough for an airline is important, otherwise they WILL find their way out. 

As stated, this fish is adaptable to a wide range of water conditions, but water should be fairly hard.  My water is relatively hard out of the tap, and I add some reef salt for this fish.  I typically don't measure it out, just grabbing a clump from the bag, but I usually estimate about a tablespoon.  I perform 80% water changes every week.  Temperature can range from 70 to low 80s for this fish, mine have been breeding fine at 70-72.

K. marmoratus isn't terribly picky about food, but it does need more than just flake food.  Mine gets frozen bloodworms, frozen Mysis, live fruit flies, and live redworms regularly.  This is occasionally supplemented with repashy and flake.  They have a large appetite and can eat quite a lot of food.

Breeding this fish isn't terribly difficult.  You have an advantage of having to please only 1 fish here, no incompatible breeding pairs!  They lay eggs in plant matter, gravel, or in my case a spawning mop.  In the mop eggs are usually found near the top, as tight to the cork as the fish can get them.  I pick eggs daily and place them in a dish with chlorinated water, I change water on the eggs every day until I see development.  This cuts down on the number of fungused eggs, which I remove as they appear.  Eggs hatch in 14-21 days and fry are able to eat newly hatched brine shrimp immediately. 

As the eggs hatch, I transfer the fry to a 2.5 gallon aquarium, half filled with aged water and a clump of java moss or najas.  I feed baby brine and microworms daily.  After the first week I raise the water level a little every day until the tank is full.  At the end of week three I start doing 25% water changes.  After the fry surpass the 1/4" mark, these water changes are increased in quantity to 80% per week.  Fry growth is moderate and juvenile fish should start laying fertile eggs in 6 months or so.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

MAS Fish-O-Ramma - 1/12/14

Looks like I'll be bringing some things along to the MAS Swap. Here's a list of what I might bring, all are limited to 1 or 2 groups & some I'm not decided on yet, so if you're interested in something send me a message.

Ameca splendens

Xiphophorus xiphidium Rio Purificacion
Lyretail swords, brick red - short-fin males are albino geno
Girardinus metallicus (possibly all females, 1 is a possible male)
Characodon lateralis Los Berros
Black Moscow Guppies
Endlers
Apisto cf alacrina F1
Sciaenochromis fryeri Albino 1m/3f group
Xystichromis phytophagus breeding group
Male Pseudotropheus saulosi
Male Gephyrochromis lawsi
Cherry Shrimp

Live Foods:
Microworms
Wingless Fruit Flies
Redworms

I also have a 55 gal tank, tops, & stand. $125 OBO pre-pay via paypal only... I'm not dragging it along if it's not paid for. Very clean, water tested in November and will test again before selling. Pics available.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Nothobranchius sp. Caprivi Strip

Nothobranchius sp. Caprivi is an undescribed species from Namibia, specifically from the Caprivi Strip which is a tract of land that separates Angola and Zambia from Botswana.  They were originally discovered in the Chobe River floodplain by Van der Waal during investigations carried out between 1973 and 1977.  It was found in only 3 of 39 locations sampled. 

To my knowledge the first importation of this fish was in 1995 when it was collected by Watters, Wood, and Ipple.  These fish were found at the Gunkwe locality, one of the original collection sites.  They were collected again in 2000 or 2001, but this location did not become widely distributed in the hobby.  It was collected once more in 2007 from a location called Salambala.

N. sp. Caprivi is very similar to but distinct from blue forms of N. kafuensis.  The body is nearly solid iridescent blue, with irregular red vertical bars.  The dorsal fin is heavily marked with red, the anal and caudal fins feature black marginal bands with blue and red submarginal bands.  Females are a light silvery-grey and may have some fine dark markings on the body.

One or two pairs of this species can be kept in a 5 gallon aquarium.  I prefer large breeding groups whenever possible and keep a number of fish in a 20 gallon tank. Males spar and display, but damage is rarely done.

Water changes of 50-80% are carried out every week.  Salt is added at a rate of 1 tablespoon per 5 gallons of water, as this is one species that velvet has been a problem with in my fishroom. 

Adults are fed a variety of foods including blackworms, frozen bloodworms, grindal worms, frozen shrimp, and flakes.  They are not picky eaters and have good appetites. 

Breeding is carried out in typical fashion.  If they adults are well fed and the water is clean, they will spawn.  I personally use plastic container of some sort with peat or coir.  I don’t have a problem with the container floating, and don’t weight them down.  They are a prolific spawner, and eggs can be collected weekly.  Incubation temperature should be in the mid 70s.  The 95-1 strain often hatched in 3-4 months, but the newer Salambala strain seems to have a longer hatching window.  I often hatch a small number of fry at 3 months, and then a large number hatch at 7 months. 

Fry are somewhat small, but can eat newly hatched brine shrimp.  I also feed microworms when I have them as well as golden pearls and decapsulated brine shrimp eggs.  As they grow they also get grindal worms and flake food.

Fry growth is quite fast and first signs of sexing out can be seen at 6 weeks.  Males often grow faster than females, so separating the fry as they grow can be beneficial.  Another reason for separating the fry by size is often I’ll get a few dominant males that will slow the growth of other males.  Eventually as the fry mature they all reach a similar size and I put them back into one tank. 

 Nothobranchis sp. Caprivi is a beautiful, prolific, and relatively easy species to keep.  It’s a good next step after keeping some of the easier species with shorter incubation times. 
 

Background

Nothobranchius furzeri is an annual killifish found in Mozambique and Zimbabwe. It occurs in small freshwater pools south of the Save River and north of the Incomati River, and inhabits basins of the Limpopo, Changane, Chefu, Mazimechopes and Vaneteze rivers. It is commonly found with N. rachovii and N. orthonotus. North of the Save River, N. furzeri is replaced by the recently described N. kadleci.
N. furzeri is a fairly robust species, growing to 3”. The body color is generally light turquois with a red reticulation, although solid red strains exist. The anal fin is red, and the caudal has a black margin with a red or yellow sub-marginal band depending on locality.
It is often stated to be the shortest-lived vertebrate species with a life span of 12 weeks in nature. However a 2005 paper by Michael LePage found the coral reef pygmy goby Eviota sigillata lives only 8 weeks. In the aquarium, N. furzeri can live up to 6-8 months, but shows signs of decline around 5 months.
Aquarium Care
Like most species of Nothobranchius, N.furzeri will tolerate a range of conditions with a preference for neutral to moderately alkaline water

with a temperature range of 75-78 F. Salt may be added to the water at a rate of 1 tbsp per 5 gallons up to 1 tsp per gallon. I generally find this unnecessary as long as the tank is kept clean. I change 50% of their water every 10 days and haven’t had problems with velvet.
Keeping N. furzeri does pose some challenges compared to other species of Nothobranchius. I’ve found to be most successful with them I need to keep them in a larger than typical aquarium. I keep most of my nothos in groups in a 20 gal long. N. furzeri is kept in a 33 gal. Both sexes can be aggressive. If they are raised together in a group, they seem to do well. But if they are separated for a short time, they must be kept separate and supervised during spawning. They also eat quite a bit more than other species. I feed them live black worms, frozen bloodworms, and chopped red worms and cocktail shrimp. Ideally they should be fed multiple times per day. Feeding has been the biggest challenge with keeping this fish for me.
Breeding and Raising Fry
N. furzeri is a prolific breeder and getting them to spawn doesn’t present any difficulties as long as they are well fed and have clean water. Peat and Coir both work well as a spawning media, I use a fairly large amount in a margarine tub. They can be messy spawners and using a dish with a hole cut in the cover may help.
 
Incubation typically takes 5-7 months. I’ve hatched large numbers of fry as early as 2 months so it pays to check the eggs monthly. I typically will hatch fry in a large margarine tub, which I will lower into a ½ filled 5 or 10 gallon tank depending on how many fry have hatched. Fry can take newly hatched brine shrimp nauplii on hatching. The fry tank is filled daily until full after the first week. After that I do 80% water changes weekly. They grow very quickly, showing signs of sexual maturity at only 4 weeks. For me, females initially grow more quickly than males, which catch up and surpass the females in size.
Nothobranchius furzeri has become one of my favorite killies. It’s somewhat challenging, but not so difficult it can’t be maintained long-term. With a little extra care and attention, they can be easily kept and are very rewarding.

Golden Pearls - An Excellent Fry Food


I’ve been using an excellent dry fry food for very small fry called Golden Pearls since 2004. I use the 50-100 micron size, as a comparison Artemia nauplii are around 400 microns. It’s been great for tetras, bettas, danios, rainbows and of course killies. It worked great for small killi fry like E. annulatus and N. janpapi. I also feed it to larger fry. A little goes a long way. I bought ½ lb in 2004 from Brine Shrimp Direct and have just gotten through the first ¼ lb package. Keep what you aren't using in the freezer to extend it's shelf life.

Here’s the description from the BSD website:

"Golden Pearls is a revolutionary new larval diet that has successfully replaced live Artemia nauplii in marine fish hatcheries in Europe. A patented processing technique (agglomeration of micro-encapsulated particles) results in feed particles or "clusters" that resemble raspberries under the microscope. Golden Pearls have tiny air pockets that keep the feed particles in the water column, not on the bottom of the tank. Golden Pearls mimic live brine shrimp nauplii."

Available in Seven particle Sizes

· Diatom Replacement: 5-50 microns

· Diatom Replacement: 50-100 microns

· SS Rotifer Replacement: 100-200 microns

· LS Rotifer Replacement: 200-300 microns

· Artemia Nauplii Replacement: 300-500 microns

· Instar V Replacement: 500-800 microns

· Baby Brine Replacement: 800-1,000 microns