for Bottom Spawning Killifish
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Origins. Killies thrive in temporary shallow ponds. They lay eggs in the loose crud on the bottom. When the rains stop, the ponds begin drying. The parents die -- leaving behind their eggs. Because they live in ponds that dry up every year, many of these fishes are known as “annuals.” Some can complete their entire life cycle in as little as six months. In tanks, they live much longer (unless we let our aquariums dry out).
Egg Survival. Eggs of many peat-spawning killies can withstand long periods of “drying”-- really a bit damp. Months later, when the rains come again, the ponds refill. The eggs continue the species.
Small Size. Most of the peat spawners average under two inches in length. This makes them ideal candidates for our home aquaria. Many – but not all killies – will fit right in with most of our community fishes.
Peat Problems. Peat bottom tanks usually turn brown. Large gobs of peat float around in the water. The fish repeatedly stir up the peat. You can’t really filter the tank very well. Why keep these good-looking fishes in murky aquaria where you can’t see them?
Better Method. Use the same small tank. Put your peat in a small, flat deli-type container with a plastic lid. Cut an inch or so hole in the top and snap it on underwater. The fish will quickly figure out how to spawn in these tiny containers.
Peat Source. Look for
peat in garden supply stores. A
small bag will last years. Look for shredded peat moss – not peat humus.
Boil Your Peat. Peat moss floats like a cork unless you boil it. Use a non-stainable container or the peat will turn it brown. Net out the flotsam that won’t sink even after boiling. Dispose of the twigs and other junk.
Alternate Substrate. Try the new coconut fiber media that reptile keepers use. It resembles peat moss in many respects, but absorbs water in under an hour. Works great for breeding crickets, too.
Fatten Your Breeders. Separate your males and females. When you put well-fed breeders together, they often lay eggs the same day. He will keep coaxing her into the spawning site as long as she looks egg-filled. Keep them together until she “skinnies” out. Then separate them.
Polish the Water. During breeding, keep their water clean. Limit their menu. Feed them foods they consume completely. Keep a sponge filter in there at all times. And, if you have one, use a diatomaceous earth filter on their water daily.
Egg Harvesting. Gularis eggs spawned in sand lend themselves to easy harvesting. Pre-sift your sand thru your net before using. After they spawn, wait a day for the eggs to harden, Then run your net thru the egg-filled sand. The eggs will catch in your net. You will want to mix them with a peat slurry to keep them separated.
Egg Storage. Drain the excess water off your egg-filled peat. Pour it into a fine net and gently squeeze out more excess water. Put the moist peat moss on top a stack of paper towels and roll it up. Let it dry a day. Then store the egg-filled peat in small dated containers.
Months Pass. Different species require different incubation periods. Longer incubation periods yield a more uniform hatch. Add your incubated eggs to small containers of aged water. Plastic shoe boxes work great. Have newly hatched brine shrimp ready for the fry to eat. They also eat microworms and powdered dry food. Add a snail for cleanup.
Peat Removal. After a week or so (to allow stragglers to hatch), get rid of the peat. Peat in the water makes it hard to filter the water. Use a net to remove your used peat. Another reason for using the deli cup method for small guys.
Last Word: Killifishes make beautiful additions to almost any community aquarium. LA.
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