Potts Angelfish Spawning
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Prologue: Kathy Potts takes magnifique angelfish photos. She sent me several bunches over time and a half and offered to let me assemble some of them into an angelfish spawning report. I think you will appreciate her photos. I inserted one of mine at the beginning to give us a jumping off point. We'll cover not just the egg-laying process itself but also how to care for the eggs and fry -- the points where most people lose their spawns. LA
Here's the original angelfish from which derived all the others.
They've Come a Long Way Baby: For some strange reason this guy is called a "silver." This is what angelfish looked like for decades -- a striking aquarium inhabitant indeed. Even non-fishkeepers recognize the angelfish. Many assorted colors, fin, and scale types have hit the market since angelfish first appeared. They all spawn together because they're all the same fish Color has nothing to do with mate selection. However, selective breeding has resulted in a rainbow of angelfish colors. I still remember when "golds" first hit the market. Most didn't turn gold until they were about a year old. They also had a tendency to spin over backwards when their lights first came on -- very weird behavior.
Silver Variations. Within the silver barred variety, you may find zebras, blues, and greens. All look pretty good.
Early Colors: One of the
earlier "colors" was the marble angelfish. This color was
(and is) one of
the hardiest. The blush of red/yellow/orange on the forehead
indicates the male in most of the color varieties. You'll also see
a red blotch/spots on the foreheads of the original "wild caught
More Colors: Marble angelfish come in at least two variations -- the dark marbles and the silver marbles. Breed two dark marbles together and the offspring look like mini-versions of their parents. Breed a dark marble with a silver and you get a light marble. Both colors are very hardy. Another variation of the marbles is the half black, smoky, or Sheffield angelfish. Lots of variations pop up when you start letting the adults pick their own partners.
Sexing: Male angelfish tend toward the more colorful side. They're also more likely to have red eyes, a bump on their foreheads, and a smaller gut (even after eating). A pointed breeding tube serves as a more reliable sexing clue.
Post-Golds: Solid gold angelfish appeared early. Then they were crossed with marbles to yield gold marbles. Note that red blush on his head. This head coloration varies a great deal. Some breeders worked to increase the red coloration. Like the solid blacks, the reddest babies appear to be weaker. The original albinos were also weaker. They are much improved these days All these color variations can pop up in veil (a long finned variety) and pearl (a scale variation). Then there's blushers and kois and who knows what else by now? Now let's get into angelfish breeding.
Products of a "mixed marriage."
Start Slow: If you have more time than money, buy six or more young angelfish. You raise them up for a year and let them pair off on their own. The more costly method involves starting with a proven pair -- a bit more costly and not always reliable method. Some refer to them as "mated pairs." Professional breeders just put a male and a female together and find they pair off rapidly when fed well. This also makes their progeny more likely to come out looking the same as their parents.
prefer a very simple breeding set up.
Time to Get off the Baby Food: Once your angels get their wings (you can hear the little bell), you can start adding frozen baby brine shrimp, shredded frozen adult brine shrimp (slice it with a razor blade), powdered fry food, or pulverized flake food. Feed them a variety for best results.
Questions from Kathy Potts. Once I wrote this page, I sent it to Kathy for her approval. Well, she came up with several questions (good questions) well worth including. So, here's her Qs and my As. LA
Q1) At what age do angelfish become sexually mature?
A: Usually one year plus or minus two months. Of course, you don't always know how old they are when you acquire them -- about silver dollar size.
Q2) The breeding tubes usually come down a couple of days in advance
of the actual spawn.
A: Sometimes earlier it starts coming out gradually.
Q3) Will two males also pair off?
A: I've never seen that happen, but probably.
Q4) At what temperature do you hatch the eggs?
A: Somewhere between 70 and 80 F. They develop slower at lower temps and are more susceptible to fungus. Too warm lowers the oxygen level and thus stresses the eggs.
Q5) What is the best way to remove the white dead eggs?
A: If you leave the eggs with their parents, they do all the work. When practicing artificial incubation, use a piece of airline tubing with a piece of hard plastic tubing. Use it as a mini-vacuum.
Q6) When transferring the eggs to another location to hatch, should
you keep them submerged?
A: If you move quickly enough, brief exposure to the air does not hurt them.
Q7) A bare bottom tank is most helpful.
A: True -- much easier to clean.
Q8) How do you use a one gallon incubation jar?
A: Gallon glass jars are getting harder to come by. You fill the jar with water from the breeding tank. Add methylene blue, an airstone. and a heater if needed. If you are dexterous you can add the eggs at this point without exposing the eggs to the atmosphere.
Q9) Do you put a heater in the jar?
A: If you need one to keep the water around 75 degrees F.
Q10) If you have like a 10 gallon tank, could you float bags with their
tops rolled down in the 10 gallon tank with eggs in them? One tank
with multiple bags floating?
A: Probably. Clip each bag to the aquarium lip with a clothespin (do you still see these) or a potato chip bag clip.
Q11) How many times per day do you need to feed the fry?
A: Absolutely at least once per day. Four or five small feedings per day yield the fastest growth. Don't forget your water changes.
Q12) A good way to get food down to the fry is to take an eye dropper, turkey baster, or a child's medication dropper and add a little food to it and suck up water into it and then shake and squirt towards babies.
A: Or just rinse your brine shrimp net into their tank (the laziest method).
Q13) A new product called "Instant Baby Brine Shrimp" is a good food. Must be refrigerated and will last up to 6 weeks. Dip a toothpick into it and then dip toothpick with the Instant Baby Brine Shrimp into the tank with the fry.
A: Just make sure you feed your fry the live nauplii their first two to four weeks.
Q14) Another new product out now to feed is Golden Pearls and also decapsulated baby brine shrimp. (You can order it from Kens Fish.com a 1/2 lb. of decapuslated baby brine shrimp is running $8.00. For the Golden Pearls it runs 1/2 lb. for $9.95. Will be enough to last for a very long time. What I am going to do is take the 1/2 lb. and divide it up into smaller portions and vacuum seal it, to use later. If you don't vacuum seal it, you can store the excess in the refrigerator and it should last up to a year. The tooth pick method is also a good delivery system for the food to be fed to the fry.)
A: Once again, feed live shrimps at first.
Q15) After becoming free swimming, I have also added a small bristle
nose pleco to help eat the uneaten food.
A: Or a couple mystery snails. Pros raise their baby corys in with their angelfish fry.
Q16) What kind of growth rate can you expect?
A: Depending upon feeding schedule, food type, temperature, size of the litter, water changes, and tank size, you can raise them to nickel size in two to four months.
Q17) If you leave the eggs with the parents, it is a good idea to leave a night light on. It makes the parents feel more secure.
A: It also encourages the fry to eat more often.
Q18) I have heard that it is a good idea to leave the light on with the fry for one week after they become free swimming 24/7. It gives them a jump start so that they can eat 24 hours a day. Not recommended to leave it on after the first week.
A: 24 hour lighting will keep them eating more. I doubt it stresses the fry.
Q19) What did you think about the pictures that I sent you yesterday? Are you thinking about adding them? Also can you tell me about selective breeding? What about inbreeding?
A: Great pictures. I'm adding most of them. Selective breeding just means you pick the parents rather than letting them pair off on their own.. Line breeding mates the male or female with their off spring or brothers with sisters. This will usually set a strain in two generations. Some people consider this inbreeding. If the breeding stock has defects, they will likely pass it to their offspring. Ditto with good traits. Non-related breeding stock results in hybrid vigor. Inbreeding is illegal in humans but livestock and plant researchers do all the above all the time.
Q from LA: What size tank works for rearing baby angels?
A: Bigger the better, of course. The pros I knew made their own tanks out of refrigerator liners. They'd saw out a square in the front and silicon seal a piece of glass on the inside. Put pieces of glass plus sealer on the other miscellaneous holes -- ugly but econo large tanks.
Kathy Potts, Moultrie, GA, October 6, 2010
Larry, I was just wondering if constant spawning with Angelfish is ok? In
the wild they must have a spawning season. Temperature, weather, and
rains should play a role in this creating a period of dormancy thus
giving the female Angelfish time to rebuild and replenish herself.
But in our aquariums, everything pretty much stays constant year
around. This consistency of conditions sets the stage for a constant
breeding frequency. So my questions:
Q1) Will the constant spawning continue year round?
A1: Unlikely. Most pairs go thru a non-egglaying period.
Q2) Will constant spawning deplete the female of vital nutrients?
A2: I doubt it. White leghorn chickens (hens) create 280 eggs per year. (Up from the 200 per year they were kicking out way back when I was building those 20,000 hen houses.) Anyway, when not properly nourished, they just stop producing eggs.
Q3) Will such frequent spawns shorten the female's life expectancy?
A3: When leghorn hens produce way below their required production, low egg production shortens their life. (Leghorn roosters never even get a chance to get started.)
Q4) Should the pair be broken up for a period of time to give them
a chance to reestablish and refurbish their bodies?
A4: I think egg production indicates excellent health. No need to separate them. Healthy single females often produce eggs on their own.
Q5) If so, for how long?
Q6) When reintroduced with each other, will they still recognize
A6: I don't think fish have a very long memory. They'd just pair up again if there were no other options.
Q7) Do Angels mate for life?
A7: No. Swans do. Angelfish are like people.
Q8) If something happens to one mate, will the other find another
Q9) Can you change up pairs?
A9: Yes to breed specific colors.
Q10) If two Angelfish of the same sex pair off, can you break them
apart and introduce other Angels hoping for a new bonded pair?
Hope you don't mind these additional questions? Give me some time and
I will probably come up with some more LOL LOL :-)
A10: It's easier to put a male and a female in their own
tank rather than offering other angels to choose from.
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