Tag Archive | "tropical fish keeping"

Madagascan Rainbowfish (Bedotia Madagascariensis) female

Madagascar Rainbow Fish (Bedotia madagascarensis)

The Madagascar Rainbow Fish (Bedotia madagascarensis) in found in the clear, flowing streams and waterways on the African island nation of Madagascar north of of Manambalo Creek and the middle and upper Ivoloina River.

Madagascar Rainbow Fish are collected from the small streams and lower stretches of rivers that drain into the coastal lagoons and lakes in the Atsinanana region of eastern Madagascar.

The full range of Bedotia madagascarensis is unknown to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts, however, south of Manambalo Creek and the middle to upper Ivolonia River, the Madagascar Rainbow Fish is replaced by Bedotia leucopteron, and north of the Ivoloina River by Bedotia longianalis, as well as several yet undescribed members of the genus.

Madagascar Rainbow Fish are a shoaling species that prefer living in extremely soft, clear, moderately flowing water that is partially or totally shaded by overhanging aquatic vegetation.   They have been found at altitudes as high as 30,000 feet in clear mountain streams and in black water swamps in low pH, tannin stained water.

Adult Bedotia madagascarensis seem to prefer deeper water habitats where they live in smaller groups of up to several dozen specimens while juveniles tend to congregate in the shallower, marginal zones of their range.

Madagascan Rainbowfish (Bedotia Madagascariensis)

Madagascan Rainbowfish (Bedotia Madagascariensis)

The Madagascar Rainbow Fish (Bedotia madagascarensis) is often confused with and misidentified as Bedotia geayi, which is a valid congener native to the Mananjary River system, immediately south of its natural range.

They are most easily told apart by differences in color pattern, particularly in the unpaired fins, and some morphometric counts.

For instance, in adult male Bedotia madagascarensis, the mid lateral body stripe extends into the caudal fin giving the central caudal rays a black color.    The dark area is enclosed by a silvery white or golden yellow which is surrounded by a broad dark band, and the distal tips of the fins are colored a dark red or bright white.

Bedotia geayi male

Bedotia geayi male

In male Bedotia geayi the mid lateral body stripe extends into the caudal fin to form a distinct spot which is surrounded by a thin, almost translucent border.   The rest of the fin is uniformly red in color.

Male Bedotia geayi also have a red spot on their lower jaw which is absent in Bedotia madagascarensis.   In addition to other morphometric differences in their fins, Bedotia madagascarensis have a longer head and snout.

In general, adult males are much more colorful and have a greater degree of color in the unpaired fins than females.   Females are less colorful and fuller in the body than males, particularly when gravid.

Because they are a peaceful shoaling species, Madagascar Rainbow Fish do best when kept in groups of at least 8 to 12 individuals in a densely planted aquarium of at least 55 gallon capacity, with a sand or fine gravel substrate, some driftwood or bogwood, some floating plants, and a layer of Indian Almond or other leaf litter over the substrate.

All Madagascar Rainbow Fish are intolerant of organic wastes and need spotless water conditions in order to thrive.    A high quality canister or hang on outside filter and 25% to 50% water changes are needed to keep them healthy and disease free.

Madagascar Rainbow Fish can be kept in a community environment with other peaceful species, but they are better suited for a biotope system.   A Madagascan community can be comprised of endemic cichlids such as Paratilapia polleni, Paretroplus menarambo, Ptychochromis oligoacanthus, etc. and a Corydora or two to clean the tank.

Bedotia madagascarensis is an egg scatter that is relatively easy to breed in an aquarium environment.   They deposit their eggs in fine leaved vegetation like Java Moss, Ceratophyllum sp., floating plants, or floating nylon breeding mops.

Spawning can be accomplished by placing a pair or a small group of one male with two to three females into an aged, 20 to 30 gallon aquarium.   Because the males can be quite aggressive with the females during spawning, make sure the tank is planted with some large and fine leaved plants, a few floating plants, and some driftwood roots for refuge.

The females will lay several large brown eggs daily among the fine leaved plants continuously over a period of several months until spawning is completed.   The eggs are attached to the plants by fine threads and can easily be removed each day into a rearing tank or simply left with the adults until the fry hatch out. The parents ignore the eggs and the fry.

The eggs will normally hatch in 6 or 7 days at which time the fry can be offered infusoria, rotifers, paramecia, or a commercial powdered fry food until they are capable of eating newly hatched brine shrimp, usually in a week or so.   Initially, the fry will swim in an oblique positon but in a few days they should start to swim normlly.

Because the fry are extremely susceptible to fluctuations in water parameters, they are considered difficult to raise.   During this early period, avoid performing any water changes for at least a couple of weeks.   Then only make very small changes.

Madagascar Rainbow Fish are not fussy eaters.   In their natural environment they feed on terrestrial insects and other invertebrates.   In an aquarium environment they will eagerly accept live, frozen, and freeze dried bloodworms, Daphnia, brine shrimp, fruit flies, etc. along with a good quality flake or granulated food.

Bedotia madagascarensis are available to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts from specialty fish shops and online from a variety of sources at a moderate cost as juveniles and adults.

Madagascan Rainbowfish (Bedotia Madagascariensis)

Madagascan Rainbowfish (Bedotia Madagascariensis)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 55 gallons
Care Level: Easy
Temperament: Peaceful
Aquarium Hardiness: Relatively Hardy
Water Conditions: 72-89° F, dGH 10, pH 4.5 – 7.5
Max. Size: 4″
Color Form: Black, Red, White
Diet: Omnivore
Compatibility: Peaceful Shoaling Community
Origin: Madagascar, Africa
Family: Bedotiidae
Lifespan: 5 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner/Advanced

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Orange Laser Cory (Corydoras aeneus) pair

Orange Laser Cory (Corydoras aeneus)

The Orange Laser Cory (Corydoras aeneus) (CW 010) is a peaceful Peruvian species that is also known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as the Gold Laser Cory, Orange Stripe Cory, or Peru Orange Stripe Cory.

Orange Laser Coryadoras are found in the upper Amazonian rain forests of eastern Peru in the Upper Amazon, Marañón, Ucayali, Middle Ucayali rivers.

Green Laser Cory (CW009)

Green Laser Cory (CW009)

Although Orange Laser Coryadoras are imported as Corydora aeneus and are a recently identified species similar to the Green Laser Cory (CW009), they could actually be a variant or arguably Corydoras melanataenia.  Only time and the scientists will tell.

Regardless, the Orange Laser Corydora is a peaceful, secretive, shoaling species that do best in small groups when in an aquarium environment. In their native habitat they feed on worms, benthic crustaceans, insects, and plant matter.

Orange Laser Cory (Corydoras aeneus)

Orange Laser Cory (Corydoras aeneus)

Orange Laser Corys are a yellow brown or greenish yellow body color with yellow fins.  They posses a yellow to gold shoulder stripe that starts at the nape of the head and ends at the caudal peduncle.

They have a darker green mid body band that runs along the entire length of the fish to the tail and a gold patch on the operculum.

The tips of the fins in mature males are more pointed than the fin tips in females, which are more rounded.   Females also grow larger and have fuller bodies when viewed from above than males.

Orange Laser Corys are best housed in a densely planted tank of at least 30 gallon capacity with a sand or fine gravel substrate, a few smooth river rocks and overhead rockwork, and some bogwood or driftwood to provide them shelter.   Tall Amazon Sword type or floating plants should be used to diffuse overhead lighting.

Orange Laser Corydora do well in a community tank with other peaceful species of the same size such as Tetras, Rasboras and Danios but being a shoaling species, they do best with at least 5 or 6 of their own kind in a species tank or for breeding.

Orange Laser Corys require clean water conditions and a moderate amount of current in their tank.   A good filtration system and regular 25% to 50% water changes will keep them healthy and happy.

Orange Laser Corydoras have been bred in an aquarium environment.

Adult Orange Laser Corydoras do not guard their eggs.   They are egg scatterers that spawn in open water and attach 1 or 2 relatively large sticky eggs to cleaned stones, plant leaves, or the aquarium glass.    Females will lay anywhere from 10 to 40 or more (2 mm dia.) eggs per spawn which hatch out in 4 days at a water temperature of 78 °F.    The fry become free swimming in another 4 days and are able to consume newly hatched brine shrimp, Moina, etc.

Orange Laser Corydoras are easy to feed in an aquarium environment and will accept a wide range of commercial foods.   Omnivore tablets, granules, quality flake foods, and live, frozen, or freeze dried bloodworms, white worms, grindal worms, brine shrimp, Daphnia, and tubifex are eagerly accepted.

Although wild caught Orange Laser Cory specimens are occasionally available in tropical fish keeping shops, they are not common. They can be purchased online from a variety of sources when they are approximately .75″ to 1.5″ in size.

Orange Laser Cory (Corydoras aeneus)

Orange Laser Cory (Corydoras aeneus)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons
Care Level: Easy
Temperament: Peaceful
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 71-79° F, KH 7-8, pH 6.5-7.2
Max. Size: Males 2.5″ Females 2.75″
Color Form: Brown, Green, Yellow
Diet: Omnivore
Compatibility: Community tanks
Origin: Peru, Pucallpa
Family: Callichthyidae
Life Span: 5 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner

Posted in Catfish, Corydoras, Featured Articles, Freshwater Fish, Tropical Fish KeepingComments (0)

Moina (Moina macrocopa)

Moina (Moina macrocopa)

Moina (Moina macrocopa) is a common freshwater crustacean generically known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as the water flea.   They are found to some degree in all parts of America, Africa, Asia, Europe, and almost every continent on earth.

Moina macrocopa are commonly found in stagnant or very slow moving water that contains large amounts of decomposing organic material.

High concentrations of Moina macrocopa are usually found in stagnant pools, slow moving streams, ponds, lakes, ditches, sewage polluted waters, and swamps holding large amounts of decomposing material.    In South East Asia, Moina macrocopa is grown on a massive scale to specifically handle the high pollution levels found there.

The highest concentrations of Moina seem to appear in temporary bodies of water where optimum conditions exist for only short periods of time.   They are extremely tolerant of poor water quality and fluctuations of dissolved oxygen levels that can vary from almost zero ppm, to super saturated oxygen levels.

The reason Moina macrocopa  survive in oxygen poor environments is because of their ability to synthesize hemoglobin.

Hemoglobin production is also believed to directly affect higher population densities and their ability to withstand high temperatures.

Moina are extremely resistant to water temperature extremes and easily withstand daily variations between 41°F and 88°F (5°C–31°C).  Their high tolerance to temperatures make them a favorite for commercial fish farmers and tropical fish keeping enthusiasts who raise their own live foods at home.

Moina (Moina macrocopa)

Moina (Moina macrocopa)

Like all Daphnia, Moina macrocopa have a pinkish colored body consisting of a head and a trunk.

They have large compound eyes on the side of the head that lie just under the skin, and a pair of antennae that appear to be their main method of locomotion.

The trunk is encased in a carapace that is periodically molted and the open brood pouch, where their eggs develop in female Moina, is located dorsally on top of the trunk.

The brood pouch of Moina is open, whereas Daphnia posses a completely closed pouch.

Moina macrocopa are smaller than their well known cousins Daphnia pulex, and their slightly larger relative Daphnia Magna.

Because Moina macrocopa are smaller than Daphnia pulex, (0.02-0.04 inch) and have a have a higher protein and lower fat content than other Daphnia; tropical fish keeping enthusiasts consider them an ideal live food for the smaller, hard to feed fish species.

Young Moina (less than .02 inch) are approximately the same size or only slightly larger than adult rotifers, and smaller than newly hatched brine shrimp.   The diminutive size of young Moina macrocopa makes them ideally suited for feeding to all types of very small fish fry, and a variety of tiny fish species.

Moina reproduce both sexually and asexually.

Under optimal conditions, Moina populations are all female that reproduce asexually when they are 4 to 7 days old.  Each female will produce from 4 to 22 broods every 1 to 2 days, with a lifetime production of 2 to 6 broods per female.

Under less than optimal conditions (abruptly diminished food supply), more males are produced and sexual reproduction resulting in ephippia (eggs similar to brine shrimp) occurs.

The switch from asexual to sexual reproduction is apparently stimulated by the amount of food that is available.   A sudden reduction in the food supply will result in an increase in egg production.   This also produces fewer young.

An increase in the food supply results in increased asexual reproduction with a much higher population of females and fewer being produced with resting eggs.

Moina (Moina macrocopa)

Moina (Moina macrocopa)

When Daphnia have very high populations, a dramatic decrease in reproduction results, however, this is not the case with Moina macrocopa.

Moina are easily cultured using any of the methods currently used for culturing Daphnia and other crustaceans in the Moinidae family.

Many Tropical fish keeping enthusiasts culture Moina at home in containers as small as a 10 gallon tank, or even a 5 gallon bucket.

For larger scale production or commercial operations; small ponds, animal watering troughs, plastic wading pools, old bathtubs, tanks, vats, or any large concrete, plastic, fiberglass or stainless steel container can be used.

Because Moina are extremely sensitive to copper, zinc, and chemical pollutants that are often present in tap water, use only bottled spring water or water collected from natural sources for culturing them.

The optimum water temperature for raising Moina is between 75°F and 88°F, at a pH between 7.0 to 8.0.  Low water temperatures and pH levels in excess of 9.5 will decrease the amount of Moina being produced.

When culturing Moina indoors, avoid sudden changes in water temperature and provide them with enough light and gentle aeration  in the form of large air bubbles to break up any surface film.

Aeration also keeps food particles in suspension and increases phytoplankton production which results in an increase in the number of eggs per female, the proportion of egg bearing females in the population, and the total population density.   In outdoor containers aeration is not necessary.

Moina feed on bacteria, phytoplankton, yeast, decaying organic matter, and are one of the few organisms that utilize the blue green algae, Microcystis aeruginosa.

Because Moina primarily feed on phytoplankton suspended in the water column (basically green water and protozoa), and large populations can quickly clear a pond of green water; feeding them green water over an extended periods is not practical.

Some of the other food options available for culturing Moina at home and in commercial applications are listed below:

Alfalfa meal or pellets
Bran pellets
Fresh or dried animal manures
Green water
Infusoria
Mineral fertilizers
Organic fertilizers
Soy flour
Sewage sludge (dried)
Spirulina
Wheat flour
Yeast
Any combination of the above

Fresh or dehydrated manure and sewage sludge is widely used to culture Moina in commercial applications.    To feed the Moina, fresh or dried manure, sewage sludge, bran, hay, and oil seed meals is suspended in burlap type mesh bags in the water column.

The following quantities of listed materials are used per 100 gallons of water initially as food for Moina.     One half to an equal amount should be added in 5 days.

1.Yeast:
0.3–0.5 ounces (8.5–14.2 g) of baker’s yeast.
2.Yeast and mineral fertilizer:
0.3–0.5 ounces (8.5–14.2 g) of yeast, and 0.5 ounces (14.2 g) of ammonium nitrate.
3.Alfalfa, bran, and yeast:
1.5 ounces (42.5 g) of alfalfa pellets or meal, 1.5 ounces (42.5 g) of wheat or rice bran, and 0.3 ounces (8.5 g) of yeast.
4.Cow manure or sewage sludge, bran, and yeast:
5 ounces (142 g) of dried manure or sewage sludge, 1.5 ounces (42.5 g) of wheat or rice bran, and 0.3 ounces (8.5 g) of yeast.
5.Cow manure or sewage sludge, cotton seed meal, and yeast:
Use 5 ounces (142 g) of dried manure or sewage sludge, 1.5 ounces (42.5 g) of cotton seed meal, and 0.3 ounces (8.5 g) of yeast.
6.Horse or cow manure or sewage sludge:
Combine 20 ounces (567 g) of dried manure or sewage sludge.
7.Chicken or hog manure:
Combine 6 ounces (170 g) of dried manure.
8.Yeast and spirulina powder:
0.2 ounces (6 g) baker’s yeast, 0.1 ounces (3 g) spirulina powder.

Add the above amount for the first two days, and every other day until culture is harvested.

For culturing Moina at home;  alfalfa, bran, and yeast are less objectionable to use and works almost as well.

Combine equal parts of a 1 1/2 gram mixture of yeastsoy flour, and spirulina into a glass of warm tank water (to activate the yeast) until fully dissolved.  Stirred into 2 liters of pond or aquarium water and pour the suspended mixture evenly around the culture.

The mixture  produces enough food for an established 80 gallon outdoor Moina culture.

Feed daily during the warmer summer months, and every 3 or 4 days during the cooler months.

Do not overfeed your daphnia cultures regardless of species.

Moina reproduce both sexually and asexually.

Under optimal conditions, Moina populations are all female that reproduce asexually when they are 4 to 7 days old.   Individual females will produce 4 to 22 broods every 1 to 2 days, with a lifetime production of 2 to 6 broods per female.

Under less than optimal conditions (abruptly diminished food supply), more males are produced and sexual reproduction resulting in ephippia (eggs similar to brine shrimp) occurs.

The switch from asexual to sexual reproduction is apparently stimulated by the amount of food available.   An abrupt reduction in the food supply will result in an increase in egg production.   This also produces fewer young that are mostly male.

An increase in the food supply results in increased asexual reproduction with a higher population of females, and fewer produced with resting eggs.

A well fed Moina culture will typically reach densities of 19,000 individuals per gallon.

 

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Tubifex Worms (Tubifex tubifex)

Tubifex Worms (Tubifex tubifex)

Tubifex Worms (Tubifex tubifex) also known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as Sludge Worms or Sewage Worms are a segmented worm species found in the the bottom sediments of rivers, lakes, sewer lines and discharge outlets worldwide.

Of the 16 known species of Tubifex in the genus below,  Tubifex tubifex is the most commercially raised:

Tubifex blanchardi (Vejdovský, 1891)
Tubifex harmani Loden, 1979
Tubifex costatus (Claparède, 1863)
Tubifex ignotus (Stolc, 1886)
Tubifex kryptus (Bülow, 1957)
Tubifex longipenis (Brinkhurst, 1965)
Tubifex montanus Kowalewski, 1919
Tubifex nerthus (Michaelsen, 1908)
Tubifex newaensis (Michaelsen, 1903)
Tubifex newfei (Pickavance & Cook, 1971)
Tubifex pescei (Dumnicka 1981)
Tubifex pomoricus (Timm, 1978)
Tubifex pseudogaster (Dahl, 1960)
Tubifex smirnowi (Lastockin, 1927)
Tubifex superiorensis (Brinkhurst & Cook, 1971)
Tubifex tubifex (O. F. Mueller, 1774)

Tubifex Worms (Tubifex tubifex)

Sludge worms (Tubifex tubifex)

Tubifex tubifex is a true earthworm in the class Oligochaeta which is easily recognized by its red color and mud tubes.

Tubifex tubifex is actually a  freshwater annelid in the family Tubificidae, and is one of the few invertebrates armed with an efficient manner of assimilating dissolved oxygen which allows it to thrive in sewage settling ponds and other bodies of inferior water quality.

Ranging in size from .40 to almost 3.35 inches in length,  Tubifex Worms are most frequently observed with their head segments embedded in mud tubes and their posteriors waving around collecting the limited dissolved oxygen from the currents created by their tail movements.

Tubifex worms selectively digest bacteria that is found in the organic matter of bottom sediment that they inhabitat and can survive in heavily polluted waters by waving their hemoglobin rich tails above the sediment to absorb any available oxygen.

The red color of Tubifex tubifex  (also known also as the bloodworm) is caused by the relatively large supply of hemoglobin which stores available dissolved oxygen in a manner comparable to the human blood system.

Like frogs and many other amphibians, tubifex worms are capable of exchanging oxygen and carbon dioxide through their skin.   In addition, they can survive food shortages and drought conditions by forming a protective cyst and lowering their metabolism.

Tubifex worms are hermaphrodic, but to avoid self fertilization, the male and female organs become mature at different times.

Cross fertilization occurs when two mature Tubifex worms  join their anterior and ventral surfaces together with their anterior ends pointing in opposite directions.   The female reproductive opening of each worm is nearer to the male opening of another worm allowing the penial setae of one worm penetrate into the tissues of other worm and join the two together.   When the sperm of one worm is then passed into the spermathecae of the other worm, they separate and begin to produce egg cases called cocoons.

After the cocoon is formed the Tubifex worm withdraws its body from the egg case using backward wriggling movements allowing the cocoon to hatch.

Although massive balls (colonies) of Tubifex tubifex are occasionally observed in the water columns of lagoons, ponds, streams, marshes, and canals of their range, their natural habitats are usually devoid of the sufficient oxygen needed by their predators to survive, so Tubifex tubifex can “afford” its bright red color without fear of predation.

Commercially, tubifex are available alive, frozen, or freeze dried.   For most tropical fish keeping enthusiasts, tubifex worms are most often used in their freeze dried form as a high protein aquarium food for almost all freshwater species, however as a live food, they are fed to fish, frogs, salamanders, snails, shrimp, crabs, crayfish, turtles, etc.

Live tubifex worms are used by breeders to maintain and condition tropical fish and other aquatic species.   Even the pickiest of eaters will break their fast to chow down on tubifex worms.

Live Tubifex worms are available throughout Europe and many northern areas of the United States, and cultures can be purchased from a variety of sources online.

Tubifex worms are easily cultured by placing them in long, relatively shallow containers, with 2″ to 3″ of thick pond mud at the bottom mixed with bran, bread, and decaying vegetable matter.

The rearing container should be set up to have a gentle, continuous flow of water coming in on one side, and a drainage system on the other side.

When you receive your culture, rinse them thoroughly to remove the excess mud and any dead worms in chlorine free, chilled water (between 40° to 50°F), until the run off water is clear and free of debris .

Place about a .5″ thick layer of  Tubifex worms in the uncovered rearing container with about .80″ to 1.5″ of cool fresh water above the worms.

After the Tubifex worm culture is introduced into the container, it will take about 15 days for clusters of worms to develop, and a few days more before they can be harvested.

As the worms breed and develop into masses, they will come to the surface looking for oxygen and can be removed from the mud mixture in thick masses.   Wash the worms under a stream of chilled water to remove the excess mud.   Never use room temperature or aquarium water to wash the tubifex.

Once harvested and cleaned, Tubifex worms can be kept for several days in the refrigerator at 40° to 50°F if they are washed daily, or kept under cold running water.   It is not necessary to feed them if you do not intend to continue breeding the harvested worms.   When kept under continuous running chilled water, tubifex worms will remain in perfect condition for several weeks.

The occasional collection of wild tubifex worms from sewage contaminated waters that may harbor human pathogens responsible for hepatitis, tetanus, and a few other bacterial diseases has resulted in live tubifex worms being not as common and readily available as they once were to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts.

Concerns by tropical fish keeping enthusiasts about the introduction of parasites into their tanks by tubifex worms has resulted in the development of living, bacteria free cultures by several commercial sources.

In addition, tubifex that have been enriched with nutrients and pigment precursors biologically incorporated during the rearing of the worms has resulted in the availability of  laboratory produced Tubifex guaranteed free of parasites being sold online as de-watered cultures,  packaged on a piece of paper to save on shipping costs.

Many picky and hard to feed species like elephant nose fish, rope fish, AxolotlsDiscus, etc. apparently love the taste of live tubifex worms, however as with any live food, it is highly recommended to feed your fish a varied diet.   Although uneaten worms will not foul your aquarium water, do not feed any more than you fish will eat in about 15 minutes.

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Microworms (Panagrellus redivivus)

Microworms (Panagrellus redivivus) are actually small, round, free living nematodes, that are easy to grow, easy to collect and make a great food for tiny tropical fish and baby fry.

Traditionally, newly hatched brine shrimp nauplii have been used almost exclusively by tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as the initial food for fry however, they die within a few hours in freshwater, and the fry of many fish species find them too large to be ingested.   The most significant drawback to their use is the increasing cost of brine shrimp eggs.

Many tropical fish keeping enthusiasts now feed microworms as an initial diet to their fry, and as a complement to baby brine shrimp.

Of the thirteen currently recognized species of Panagrellus, many are widely used in aquaculture as a live food for a variety of crustaceans and fish species.

Microworms (Panagrellus redivivus)

Microworms (Panagrellus redivivus)

Panagrellus redivivus are approximately 1/16″ long and 50 microns in diameter.   They have a round mouth, a pointed tail, and are barely visible to the naked eye.   Because of their small size and shape, and the fact that they can live in fresh water for 12 hours or more, they are a prime live food source for fish that are too small to eat brine shrimp nauplii..

Panagrellus redivivus are sexually mature in about 3 days and unlike most other nematodes that lay eggs, Panagrellus redivivus produce live offspring.

Female Microworms deliver 10 to 40 young every 1 to 1 1/2 days during their 20 to 25 day lifespan. This means that an individual female will produce approximately 300 offspring during it’s lifetime.   The young grow quickly and triple in size the first day.   During the next three days, they will increase in size 5 to 6 times.

Microworms are easily cultured on a substrate of flour paste, baby cereal, porridge, rolled oats, or the like, with just enough warm water to form a thick paste.   The mixture should have a pasty consistency thick enough to be rolled into a ball.

Evenly spread a 1/2″ to 3/4″ thick layer of a rolled oat and yeast mixture into a flat, shallow, (2″ or 3″ high) covered, plastic food container, with a tablespoon or more of baker’s yeast evenly mixed in.   Make sure the lid on the container has several 1/8 ” holes drilled into it for air.

Sprinkle the Microworm starter culture evenly over the mixture and leave it in a warm, well lit location for a week or so.

In order to produce the greatest amount of microworms, the culture should be maintained at a room temperature of 68-85°F.

As the growing medium is broken down by the microworms, they will start to crawl up the sides of the plastic container where they can be easily harvested as needed.

Microworms (Panagrellus redivivus)

Microworms (Panagrellus redivivus)

Usually it only takes about 3 to 6 days before the surface of the growing medium is populated with a shimmering mass of microworms to feed your fish.

To optimize the production of microworms, simply stir the culture weekly.

As the rolled oats are used up by the yeast and the microworms, the mixture will become thin and soupy.   Although this does not diminish the amount of microworms that are produced, you can easily absorb the excess moisture that has accumulated by placing a small piece of sponge on top of the media.

In about a month, as the growing medium becomes exhausted and starts to turn brown,  microworm production will slow down and eventually cease.   When this occurs, it’s time to dispose of the original culture and start a new batch.

To harvest Panagrellus redivivus, simply scrape a batch off the wall and top of the container with a butter knife or a rubber spatula, or put a paint stick on the media for the worms to crawl onto and then scrape them off.

Typically an 8″ x 12″ culture of rolled oats will produce approximately 1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons of Microworms a day for three weeks or more.

Rolled oats are used in the above recipe because they are inexpensive and much more economical for the large scale production of microworms.

Tropical fish keeping enthusiasts also use the following mixtures to culture microworms with varying degrees of success:

The cornmeal mixture normally produces fewer Microworms than rolled oats and the other mixtures however, when it comes to mass production, they are all more expensive than the rolled oats used for livestock feed.

Most tropical fish keeping enthusiasts who are not into commercial breeding  can produce plenty of microworms using any of the above recipes.

Microworm(Panagrellus redivivus) starter cultures are available from a variety of sources online at reasonable costs.

Like any other live food, vary the diet of your tropical fish to keep them in prime condition.

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Daphnia pulex

Daphnia (Daphnia pulex)

Daphnia (Daphnia pulex) is the most common freshwater species known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as Water Fleas, Moina, or Water Bugs.

They inhabit almost every slow moving, nutrient rich body of water as plankton in open water lakes, living mainly in the upper portion of the water column near the algae rich surface, or attached to submerged vegetation on or near the bottom.   They are too small and weak to survive in strong currents.

Daphnia pulex are used by tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as a food source for their fish and to clear green water and debris from their tanks.   Daphnia pulex are easy to culture, fast growing, super nutritious, and very popular as a live fish or Axolotl food.

Because they are small, cheap, easy to keep alive, and have a transparent shell that makes their internal functions visible, scientists also widely use Daphnia for experimentation.

Daphnia pulex are smaller (.008 to .12 inch in length) versions of Daphnia magna, a larger cousin to Moina macrocopa, and the small cousin to Simocephalus vetulus.

Daphnia pulex

Daphnia pulex

They resemble a land flea in appearance and movement, and like all crustaceans have an outer shell that they molt as they grow.   In the wild, Daphnia pulex will only live about ten to thirty days, but in a controlled, predator free environment, they can attain 10 to 20 growth periods and live up to 100 days.

Daphnia pulex have a transparent, folded, shell like carapace, four to six pairs of flattened thoracic legs that are used to filter algae, bacteria, and detritus, a hook shaped intestine with two digestive cavities, and a posterior ventral opening.

They have large, dark colored compound eyes, two pairs of antennae on their head, and rows of small spikes along the back.

Male Daphnia pulex are generally smaller than females, have longer antennae, and have a modified post abdomen.

Female Daphnia pulex have a brood chamber located between the body wall and top of the carapace that is used to carry their eggs and are larger than males.

Daphnia pulex are prolific breeders and reproduce sexually as well as asexually in a process called parthenogenesis.

Sexual reproduction occurs during less favorable conditions, mainly during the winter months when lower temperatures, overcrowding, less food, and accumulation of wastes is highest.   Males copulate with the females to form fertilized eggs which are then kept in the female’s brood chamber and hatch out primarily as males.

Parthenogenesis occurs during more favorable conditions in the summertime when entire populations of Daphnia pulex consist almost entirely of females.

Parthenogenesis begins when the female molts her carapace as she grows and even without fertilization from the male, develops anywhere from two to twenty eggs in her brood chamber.    The eggs develop into immature females that are released during the next molt.

The young produced in this manner are more well developed than those produced sexually.   Although parthenogenesis is most used for rapid increases in Daphnia growth, it requires more favorable conditions than for sexual reproduction.

Breeding Daphnia pulex:

Daphnia pulex can be cultured in anything that holds water and is suitable for housing fish.   The proper size container depends on the amount of Daphnia you will require to feed your fish.

If you have only a few fish, start with a 20 gallon tank indoors.   If you are a breeder and have several species to feed, an outdoor pond, large cattle trough, fiberglass container, or even a plastic child’s wading pool would be more appropriate.   Anything that will maintain a seed culture for starting and feeding your daphnia will do.

If you are culturing Daphnia pulex indoors, you need to keep the culture from sudden changes in temperature, provide them enough light, and enough air in the form of large bubbles to break up any surface film.   Aeration is not necessary in outdoor containers.

Daphnia feed on phytoplankton in the water column; basically green water and protozoa.   A large culture of daphnia can clear a pond of green water almost overnight, so feeding them green water over an extended period of time is not practical.

Fortunately there are other food options available, the most common of which are listed below:

Dried blood
Green water
Infusoria
Soy flour
Spirulina
Wheat flour
Yeast
Any combination of the above

An equal part 1 1/2 gram mixture of yeast, soy flour, and spirulina mixed into a glass of warm water (to activate the yeast) until fully dissolved, and then stirred into 2 liters of pond or aquarium water produces enough food for an established 80 gallon Daphnia pulex culture.   To feed, pour the suspended mixture evenly around the culture.

An 80 gallon outdoor culture should be fed daily during the warm summer months, and every 3 or 4 days during the cooler months.

Do not overfeed your daphnia cultures, you can always add additional food if they are underfed and monitor the results.   If you have been underfeeding your cultures, the number of daphnia should increase.   The container water should be clear before you feed the culture again. If it is not, you are overfeeding the dapnhia.

Culture Problems:

When conditions are not to their liking, Daphnia pulex will die off.  Daphnia need a pH around 7.0 and the same water conditions as any other aquatic species.   When conditions improve, they seem to mysteriously reappear.

An indication of a healthy culture is when all stages of daphnia are present.    When no juveniles or larvae and only adults are present, it is an indicator that the culture is not doing well.

A sudden culture die off is almost always due to poor water conditions caused by overfeeding.

When this occurs, change the water in the container and let it get green, but keep the sediment on the bottom.   The debris on the bottom contains dormant eggs which will hatch into a new colony, or you can replenish the culture by adding more daphnia.    When the water begins to clear up again, the new culture has regenerated and needs to be fed.

Outdoor containers are subject to dragonfly and mosquito larvae infestations.

Wrigglers eat the same food you are feeding your daphnia and compete with them.   The plus side is that you can harvest the mosquito larvae and feed them to your fish along with the daphnia.

Covering the culture with mosquito netting will solve the winged insect problem

It’s a good idea to always keep several cultures of Daphnia pulex going in case one suddenly dies off.   A quart jar or two houses enough Daphnia to easily repopulate an outdoor pond or an indoor aquarium.

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Brine shrimp (Artemia salina)

Brine Shrimp (Artemia)

Brine Shrimp (Artemia) also known as Sea-Monkeys, is a prehistoric genus of aquatic crustaceans commonly used by tropical fish keeping enthusiasts the world over as a food source for adult tropical fish and their fry.

Brine Shrimp are found in inland saltwater lakes with high salinities up to 25%, which for the most part protects them from almost all predatory wildlife species.

Although several varieties of Artemia exist, all of them belong to a single species under the genus Artemis.

Brine shrimp (Artemia salina)

Brine shrimp (Artemia salina)

Adult Brine Shrimp can be identified by a hard exterior shell, tapered bodies, stalked compound eyes, eleven pairs of feather like legs, and usually do not exceed one half an inch in size.

Brine Shrimp produce dormant eggs known as cysts, which can be stored for very long periods and hatched on demand to provide a live food for crustaceans and tropical fish larvae.   This has led to the extensive use of Artemia in aquaculture and in particular the tropical fish keeping hobby.

Brine Shrimp during their initial stage of development do not feed.   Instead, they exist on the energy stored in the cyst.   When the cyst hatches in the wild, they feed on microscopic planktonic algae.   In an aquarium environment, they can be fed egg yolk, wheat flour, yeast, soybean powder, etc.

Adult brine shrimp easily adapt to wide fluctuations in water salinity and can live without any problem in bodies of water with higher salinity levels than seawater, as well as environments with only one tenth the salinity of marine water.

Both newly hatched and adult brine shrimp provide an ideal food source for tropical fish.   They are high in protein content, easily digestible, and can survive for several hours in a freshwater aquarium full of baby fry.

Brine shrimp cysts hatch in 24 hours at temperatures of 80º to 82º F.   Lower temperatures result in longer hatching times.   Baby brine shrimp have incomplete digestive and excretory systems, which means they cannot ingest or process food.   This means that their bodies are packed chocked full of energy, which makes them a perfect food for baby tropical fish.

Most tropical fish keeping enthusiasts hatch out their own “baby” brine shrimp, and many choose to grow them into adulthood.

Hatching brine shrimp eggs is a simple process and several types of brine shrimp “hatcheries” are commercially available for purchase online; or you can easily make one yourself.

The following examples are constructed from plastic one liter soda bottles and are only one of the many types you can build.

To grow baby brine shrimp into adulthood takes only about 3 weeks.

Fill a growing tank with saltwater that has approximately the same salt content as the brine shrimp hatchery water and locate it near a window or other light source. Install an airstone to provide water movement and a heater if necessary to maintain the water temperature between 65°F to 75°F.

Introduce the baby brine shrimp into the growing tank and for the first 24 hours do not feed them.

Fortunately, brine shrimp are not fussy about what they eat and almost any small food source can be used such as Spirulina powder, yeast, wheat flour, fish meal, soybean powder, egg yolks, or even a commercial fry food.

To keep the water quality in the tank reasonably intact, avoid foods that are easily dissolved in the water and definitely avoid overfeeding.

After 3 weeks or so, the brine shrimp will be large enough to feed to your tropicals.

Simply net them out of the growing tank and rise them off before feeding.

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Vinegar Eels (Tubatrix aceti)

Vinegar Eels (Tubatrix aceti) are harmless, non parasitic nematodes, that many tropical fish keeping breeders feed to smaller fry when larger microworms and baby brine shrimp or smaller infusoria cannot be used.

Many tropical fish keeping enthusiasts prefer feeding vinegar eels to smaller fry instead of microworms because of their ability to live in freshwater for extended periods.

Their enticing wriggling action as they swim in the water column makes vinegar eels a preferred food for many mid water fry species. Instead of dropping to the bottom of the tank and quickly dying off like microworms, they can survive for over a week in a freshwater aquarium environment.

Vinegar eels are super easy to raise. All you need is a glass jug, vinegar, water, some food, and a starter culture.

Fill a one gallon glass jug almost to the neck with a 50/50 mixture of apple cider vinegar and water.    Add 4 or 5 marble size pieces of apple along with your starter culture to the jug, cover with a rubber band over a small piece of cheesecloth, and set the jug aside in a dark location.

After a couple of months when you can see a light colored cloud of worms congregating at the top of the culture, the vinegar eels will be ready to harvest.

Below is another one of the many alternate methods for culturing and harvesting vinegar eels:

Although harvesting takes a little bit of effort, it does not require much time.  You will need a food baster, a small jar for the vinegar eels, a small funnel, and some fine coffee filters.

Make a small sieve by placing a coffee filter into the funnel.

Use the baster or a siphon to remove some of the cloudy liquid from the jug and filter it into the small jar.   Repeat until you have enough vinegar eels in the filter to feed your fry.

Pour the vinegar solution back into the culture, rinse off the eels that you filtered out of the culture with some fresh water, and transfer them into another jar filled with fresh aquarium water by reversing the coffee filter in and swishing it around a bit.

You will be able to see plenty of vinegar eels swimming around in the jar ready to be fed to your fry.   Just pour as many as needed into the rearing tank.

Unlike white worm, micro worm, and other cultures that “go sour” after some time, a vinegar eel culture can last more than a year without any special care.

Start a couple of cultures for a backup and you should have enough to take care of as many small fry as you can possibly breed.

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White Worms (Enchytraeus albidus)

White Worms (Enchytraeus albidus)

White Worms (Enchytraeus albidus) are are very easy to raise when kept in the right conditions and make an excellent live food source for a variety of carnivorous tropical fish species.

White worms are relatives of the common earthworm.   They are white, seldom grow over 1″ in length, are free of parasites, are high in fat content, and hate light so much that they will die when kept under direct light.

Optimal conditions for raising white worms are:

  • Cool temperatures
  • The correct amount of moisture
  • Darkness

Generally, white worms reproduce best when temperatures are kept below 70 degrees F.   When temperatures exceed 80 degrees F., the worms will start dying out.

White Worms need food, a cool dark location, and a moist (not wet) substrate to thrive and reproduce.   A dark corner on the floor of your basement would be an ideal location to raise your cultures.

Many tropical fish keeping enthusiasts use plastic containers to raise white worms, however, plastic containers can make it difficult to maintain the growing medium at the correct moisture level.

If the growing medium mixture is initially too wet when placed into a plastic container, it will remain wet and kill your white worm culture.   Plastic containers will seal in the moisture.   On the other hand, too little moisture can dry out the worms.

The culture medium should be just moist enough for you to form a ball in your hand that will not drip when squeezed.

Some tropical fish keeping enthusiasts prefer making small wood “worm boxes” from scraps of 1 X 4 pine boards.   The wood helps to regulate the moisture content of the medium by absorbing any excess moisture and releasing it back into the medium if it begins to dry out.

Two or three small 6” X 6″ X 15” long boxes with a wood, Plexiglas, or glass cover will keep any tropical fish keeping enthusiast supplied with plenty of white worms.

Although mediums for growing white worms vary, potting soil or a 50/50 mixture of peat moss and potting soil are the most popular choices.

Place a 3″ or 4″ layer in a container of your choice, wet the medium with a bottle sprayer, mix thoroughly with a wood paint stirrer, and let it sit overnight.

Remix the medium the next day and lightly pat it down into the container before adding your starter worm culture.

White worm starter cultures can be purchased online, from breeders, aquarium clubs, fish forums, etc.

White worms are not picky eaters.   They will eat almost anything but Cheerios, bread scraps, dry dog food, dry cat food, etc. are most often chosen as a food.

Place the worms at one end of the container and add a small amount of food just under the surface at the other end.  Do NOT overfeed.

Check the container ever other day and if more food is needed, add a bit more.   If food is still in the container after a few days, cut back on the amount you feed them.

All the food should disappear in 3 to 4 days.

When you start a new white worm culture, put a small amount of food in only one location.   As the culture grows, gradually increase the amount of food and spread it out to the edges of the container.   The worms will migrate to the food source.

In about a month, remove a small section of culture media along with the worms to start a second culture.

The white worms will form balls around the food and can easily be removed from the original culture with a plastic fork or spoon.   Scoop up the worms along with some of the media from the original culture and bury them at one end of the second container.

It usually takes about 1 month to grow a good population of white worms in the original container to feed to your fish.

Use tweezers to pick out the white worms from the media or scoop out a mass and place them in a container of water.   They will ball up in the water and can be easily removed free of any growing medium.

You can also place a plastic container lid on the surface of the medium.   The worms will congregate on the underside of the plastic lid and can be scraped off as needed to feed your fish.

Over time, the culture medium will begin to “sour”, but if you manage several containers and periodically add fresh medium to the original batch as you remove the worms and older medium, the original batch will stay refreshed.

Because it takes such a long time to get a new culture of white worms going, it’s much better to replace the medium a little bit at a time and keep several cultures on hand than to start a fresh new culture every time a batch goes “sour”.   Mark the dates on each container to keep track of everything.

When raising white worms, a long, narrow, relatively shallow container is preferable to a round, deep container.   This is mainly because of the migrating tendencies of white worms.

When using a long container, you can “heard” the white worms to one end of the container by placing the food at one end only.   When the worms migrate to the food, the old medium at the other end of the container can be easily scooped out and replaced without disturbing the entire culture.

This is not possible when a round container is used.

Remember that white worms are high in fat content and should not be exclusively fed to most fish species.

Unless your fish are being conditioned for breeding, most tropical fish keeping enthusiasts recommend feeding white worms no more than three times a week.

Unlike live tubifex, black worms, and other aquatic worms, white worms are free from parasites and are undoubtedly one of the best conditioning foods you can provide to your fish.

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White Worm Culture

Live Foods For Killifish

Killifish and many other carnivores in their natural environment feed on live foods like small crustaceans, worms, a variety of insects, and insect larvae.    Although a few species of killifish include algae into their diets, the majority of killifish kept by tropical fish keeping enthusiasts are carnivores that require live foods to keep them healthy and get them into breeding condition.

Many tropical fish keeping enthusiasts have some success switching their killifish over to flake foods but as a general rule, if you are not able to provide them with a variety of live and frozen foods, this species may not be the right choice for you.

A well balanced diet is important to all fish species, especially if you plan on breeding your stock and many experienced aquarists have opted to culture and raise their own food to meet the exact nutritional requirements of their fish.   If you are into breeding killifish or are considering it, you will either need a reliable source for obtaining live foods on a regular basis, or learn how to cultivate your own supply.

Although the following live foods are not exclusive to killifish, they are the most commonly propagated by tropical fish keeping enthusiasts.

  • Black Worms:

Black Worms are similar to tubifex worms and are one of the best foods you can feed to your tropical fish.   Black worms are rich in protein and nutrients, readily available for purchase, easy to raise, and can survive for indefinite periods in freshwater aquariums until eaten by your killifish.   Hardier than most other live foods, Black Worms are not prone to large die offs like adult brine shrimp or daphnia.

  • Bloodworms:

Bloodworms are actually the larvae stage of an airborne insect found in stagnant water ponds and pools.   They are so named because of their blood red color and are used by tropical fish keeping enthusiasts worldwide as a fish food.

Although live bloodworms are sold by some specialty fish shops, they are mostly sold in their frozen or freeze dried form.

Although live bloodworms can be raised in plastic containers with some garden soil, a dark room or closet is preferred.   Either way is a challenge.

First, collect the eggs from a stagnant water pond.   The eggs are gelatinous egg sacs that are usually attached to plants.   When the eggs hatch, they can be fed with powdered foods or farm animal (preferably pig) manure until they mature and can be netted in the dark, when they are most active.

To breed multiple generations of blood worms, allow a few of them to hatch into their adult (fly) stage and they will lay their eggs into the bloodworm container where the life cycle continues. Any escapees will head towards the nearest stagnant pool or pond to lay their eggs where you can continue to collect them.

Bloodworms are known to carry diseases and should be thoroughly rinsed several times to minimize any problems.

  • Brine Shrimp (Artemia):

Live Brine Shrimp are a good nutritional food source that are easy to propagate and are readily accepted by most tropical fish species including killifish.   Baby brine shrimp in particular, are high in protein content, replicate what the fish eat in the wild, and are a perfect food for juvenile and small adult killifish.

Some specialty fish shops carry live adult brine shrimp that are sold by the “scoop” or in small net fulls, but because they are so easy to raise, most aquarists hatch their own eggs for their fish.

Great Salt Lake Artemia cysts (brine shrimp eggs) are readily available in bulk, sealed, air tight containers.   They are best kept at a temperature of 40 degrees F which is why most hobbyists keep them in the refrigerator until they are ready to begin the hatching process.   A variety of brine shrimp hatchery kits are available online from a number of sources, or you can easily make one for yourself with some airline tubing, a small aquarium air pump, a liter or 2 liter bottle, and a small light or aquarium heater.

To keep a constant supply of fresh brine shrimp available, several cultures need to be maintained.   The video below is an example of how you can make a DIY hatchery that will provide a constant supply for fresh food.

Most suppliers of Artemia cysts will guarantee a 90 to 95% hatch rate.
Decapsulated brine shrimp eggs and eggs in different size increments are also available from suppliers. As a last option, you can also try feeding your killifish frozen brine shrimp.

  • Daphnia Magna:

Live Daphnia (Daphnia Magna) also known as “water bugs” or “water fleas” are an excellent live food source that can be cultured or collected from farm ponds.   They live in freshwater, are really easy to cultivate at home, will not foul the water, and will stay alive in the aquarium until your killifish are ready to eat them.    However, they should never be used exclusively as a food source because ingesting too many can act as a laxative to the fish.

Cultivating Daphnia at home is economical and provides a constant source of disease free live food.   Add the egg culture to some fresh aged tank water placed under a light source, and wait 48 to 72 hours for them to hatch.

Hatching Daphnia eggs:

Fill the culture tank with fresh, aged, (preferably green) water, from a healthy aquarium. (Avoid salty water)
Siphon water from the bottom of a healthy tank and collect enough organic matter to start the culture.
Add some pond snails, ramshorn, or corkscrew snails to the tank for cleanup.
Add live plants and a piece of driftwood if desired
Cover the bottom of the tank with natural, rock gravel (not the fake gravel you get from the pet store).
Add a length of rigid tubing to some airline tubing and submerse to create a slight stream of bubbles; just enough to dissipate any surface film in the tank.
Add a strong florescent light above the tank for a minimum of 20 to 72 hours and maintain a water temperature between 60 and 75 degrees F.
The Daphnia should be fed regularly and will reproduce quickly to provide you with an ongoing food source for your killies.

Most suppliers of Dry Daphnia Magna eggs will provide you with food for the culture, an instruction guide, and even a pipette to remove the Daphnia.

  • Drosophila Fruit Flies:

Many species of tropical fish in their natural environment subsist on a diet of insects and seldom if ever get them in an aquarium environment.
Drosophila Fruit Flies are a great way to provide live insects for surface feeding species like hatchetfish, butterfly fish, killifish, etc.   Although they can be purchased from some specialty fish shops, the best way to acquire a constant source is to raise them yourself.

Drosophila Fruit Flies are a flightless species that can be easily cultured in a soft drink bottle with a wide opening.   Purchase a commercial fruit fly medium or make some yourself from equal parts of crushed Cheerios and yellow oatmeal with a pinch of bakers yeast and water.   Put about 3 or 4 tablespoons of the mixture into the bottle with a pinch of yeast and shake up the bottle.    Add about 4 tablespoons of warm water to the bottle, plug the top with a cotton ball, and set it in a warm location for a couple of days to work.   Don’t stir the mixture.

After a couple of days remove the cotton ball and introduce about a dozen fruit flies along with something for them to crawl on into the bottle.   A wide strip of plastic from an old lawn chair cut to about 1 inch wide and long enough to reach the bottom will do just fine.

In about a week or two you will have adults ready for feeding.   Just remove the plastic strip and shake the adults into the aquarium.

The video below provides a quick alternative to the above method.

Flightless fruit flies, like Drosophila hydei or Drosophila melanogaster can be purchased from specialized pet shops or online from a variety of sources with a commercial medium starter and instruction sheet.

  • Grindal Worms:

Grindal Worms are small white non parasitic worms that are closely related to earthworms.   They are smaller than white worms, growing to a little over 1/4″ in length, and have a nutritional value of about 70% protein and 14% fat which makes them a valuable addition to an aquarium fish’s diet.

Grindal Worm cultures are readily available online from a variety of sources and are normally supplied with an information sheet, a medium mix, and instructions for growing the worms. A substantial quantity can be grown in a container as small as a shoe box.

  • Microworms:

Microworms are easy to grow, easy to collect, and make a great food for small tropicals and baby fry.   Many killifish breeders feed microworms to their fry as a complement to baby brine shrimp as an initial diet.

You can easily grow microworms in a small, wide, 2″ to 3″ high plastic container.   Mix some Gerber’s multi grain baby cereal with a little bakers yeast with enough warm water to form a thick paste that can be rolled into a ball and place it into the container along with the initial starter microworm culture.

Leave the culture in a warm location for a week or so until the growing medium breaks down and the worms are crawling up the sides of the container.   Harvested them by scraping them off the container walls as needed.

In about a month or so production will slow down and the medium will turn brown.   When this happens, start a new batch and dispose of the old culture.

  • Moina:

Moina macrocopa are a smaller version of Daphnia that grow to only 0.02-0.04 inch in size. They are a popular live food for fish fry and small killifish, and have a higher protein and lower fat content than Daphnia Magna.   Moina are cultured using the same methods that are used for Daphnia and are available online from a variety of sources.

  • Mosquito Larvae:

Depending on where you live, mosquito larvae are available seasonally or year round.  They can be collected from ponds, almost any standing water, or even cultured by placing them in a container of green water, but care must be taken to not allow completion of a full life cycle.   Few shops sell live mosquito larvae so they must be collected from slow moving water.

  • Tubifex Worms:

Tubifex worms are an excellent food source but they can carry diseases to your fish.   The tropical fish shops that do sell live tubifex recommend rinsing them thoroughly under cold running water in a shallow container to remove the nasty castings and keeping them refrigerated if they are to be used immediately.

If they are not being used immediately, they should be held in trays of cold running water which removes their wastes.

Frozen and freeze dried tubifex worms are readily available in most tropical fish shops.

  • Vinegar Eels:

Vinegar eels (Turbatrix aceti) are actually free living nematodes that eat the microorganisms in unfiltered apple cider vinegar, hence their name.   Their wriggling movements trigger the natural eating reflex of many species which makes them a frequently used first food for fish fry and adult killifish.

Vinegar eels are extremely easy to culture.   Just mix half apple cider vinegar with half apple juice in a bottle along with your culture and keep the temperature between 65 to 75 degrees F.

In a few days, millions of little vinegar eels will be swarming in the jar ready to be fed to your fish.   Vinegar eel cultures are more stable than microworms and can last up to a year or more, however a back up culture is highly recommended, especially if you are breeding your killies.

  • White Worms:

White worms reach a maximum length of 1″, are high in fat content, and are an excellent food source for all tropical fish species.   They are reasonably easy to raise under the right conditions and are not plagued by parasites like tubifex and black worms.

White worms need a moist substrate kept in a dark location at a temperature below 70 degrees F in order to thrive.   A three or four inch layer of a moist 50/50 mixture of peat moss and potting soil makes an excellent medium for growing white worms.   The moisture level of the medium is the most critical factor.   Too much water will crash the culture and too little water will dry out the worms.

The video below provides an alternate method for culturing white worms.

Because White worms are high in fat content, most tropical fish keeping enthusiasts do not recommend feeding them more than a couple of times a week unless the fish are being conditioned for breeding.

There are other live foods for killifish that tropical fish keeping enthusiasts feed larger species such as “red wriggler” earthworms, Scuds or Side Swimmers (Amphipoda), etc. but the main thing to bear in mind is that a variety of the above foods is key to good health and successful breeding practices.

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Red Striped Killifish (Aphyosemion striatum)

Red Striped Killifish (Aphyosemion striatum)

The Red Striped Killifish (Aphyosemion striatum) is found locally between the lower Mitmele River, in Equatorial Guinea and the lower Ogooué basin in Gabon, including the Mbei, Komo,and Gabon watersheds in western Africa, and is regarded as a good “beginners Killie” by many tropical fish keeping enthusiasts.

The Red Striped Killifish inhabits the freshwater swamps and slow moving coastal lowland rain forest streams and pools in its range, and prefers soft, slightly acidic, dimly lit, water in highly vegetated areas.

Red Striped Killifish (Aphyosemion striatum)

Red Striped Killifish (Aphyosemion striatum)

The Red Striped Killifish is an an attractive non annual species that is relatively long lived.   They have a pike like body shape with an upturned mouth and a dorsal fin that is set back toward the caudal fin, and slightly to the rear of the ventral fin.

The Red Striped Killifish is named for the vibrant red stripes that run laterally along the body flanks of the males.   They also exhibit red spots on the central portion of the caudal fin, and red/blue banding or edging on the dorsal and anal fins.

Red Striped Killifish (Aphyosemion striatum) female

Red Striped Killifish (Aphyosemion striatum) female

Adult males are larger, more intensely colored, and have longer caudal, dorsal, and anal fins than females.

Females are typically a dull brownish/creme color, have clear colorless fins, and are slightly smaller than the males.   Some variants do have black edging on their dorsal fins.

Aphyosemion striatum are best housed in a densely planted bio tope tank of at least 10 gallon capacity, with a dark sand or fine gravel substrate, a small piece of driftwood or two, some floating plants to diffuse the lighting an minimize jumping, and some dried Indian Almond leaves or peat moss on the bottom if you intend to breed the fish.   They do well in lower water temperatures and at room temperatures do not require a heater.

Red Striped Killifish are a peaceful species and are suitable for a community tank environment.   They can be housed with other small peaceful species of Dwarf Cichlids, Rasboras, Coradoras, Tetras, small Loricariids, etc. but need a tightly fitting tank cover to prevent them from jumping from the aquarium.

Aphyosemion striatum are very easy to breed in an aquarium environment.   Although most breeders do not use any filtration in the breeding tank, a small air driven sponge filter is recommended to prevent stagnation.

Select, separate, and condition your breeding stock on a diet of live or frozen foods for a week or so, and place either a conditioned male and two or three females, or a single pair into a small, unlit breeding tank with neutral to slightly acidic water at a temperature of 68 to 78 degrees F.   Use spawning mops, clumps of fine leaved plants like Taxiphylum, or a layer of peat moss on the floor of the aquarium as the spawning medium.

The fish will deposit their eggs in batches of 10 to 30 on the spawning medium daily for about two weeks, but it’s better to remove the fish after the first week.   Remove the eggs daily to a rearing tank or place them on a layer of damp peat moss in a small container.   Remove any infertile or white fungus coated eggs immediately to prevent the spread of the disease.

If you are incubating the eggs in water, transfer them into a small, covered aquarium filled with about 2 inches of soft, acidic water with a pH between 6.0 and 6.5, the temperature between 68 and 72 degrees F with 2 or 3 drops of Methylene Blue added. Keep the tank in total darkness for 10 to 14 days, at which time hatching should commence.

When incubating the eggs in peat moss, keep the container in a dark, warm location and leave it undisturbed for about 18 days.   Placing the eggs back into the tank water is all that is needed to induce hatching.   If they do not hatch when placed back into the tank, blow some air gently into the water through some airline tubing to slightly oxygenate the eggs or put them into a closed container in your pocket and walk around with them for an hour or so.

Aphyosemion striatum fry are tiny and initially need to be fed infusoria, green water, or liquifry.   After a couple of days the fry will be on the surface hunting for food and able to eat Vinegar worms, microworms, newly hatched brine shrimp, etc.

During the grow out period, the fry should be fed twice a day with small water changes every couple of days to maintain water quality and promote growth.   The fry are extremely susceptible to Velvet Disease (Piscinoodinium parasites) during this period.

As the fry grow larger, the water level in the rearing tank can be raised back to its normal level.

In the wild, Red Striped Killifish feed on aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates.   In an aquarium environment they should be fed small live, frozen, and freeze dried Daphnia, bloodworms, blackworms, brine shrimp, and tubifex.   In most cases they will also accept a good quality omnivore flake food.

Red Striped Killifish (Aphyosemion striatum) are relatively common and are available from specialty tropical fish shops and online from a variety of sources at moderate prices.

Red Striped Killifish (Aphyosemion striatum)

Red Striped Killifish (Aphyosemion striatum)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
Care Level: Moderate
Temperament: Peaceful, Shy
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 68-73° F, 5-12°dGH, pH 6.5-7.5
Max. Size: 2”
Color Form: Gold, Brown, Orange
Diet: Carnivore
Compatibility: Biotope and Commuinity tanks
Origin: West Africa
Family: Nothobranchiidae
Lifespan: 3-5 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Experienced

 

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Clown Killifish (Pseudepiplatys annulatus)

Clown Killifish (Pseudepiplatys annulatus)

The Clown Killifish (Pseudepiplatys annulatus) also known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as the Rocket Killie, Banded Panchax, or Clown Killie is a miniature non-annual species found in the slow moving streams in the swamps, savannas, and tropical rain forests of southern Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone,in West Africa.

In the wild, Pseudepiplatys annulatus or Epiplatys annulatus are found in very shallow warm, soft, acidic, slow moving water of their range, among aquatic plants and heavy marginal vegetation that they use for cover.

Clown Killifish (Pseudepiplatys annulatus)

Clown Killifish (Pseudepiplatys annulatus)

The Clown Killifish resembles a miniature pike.

They have an elongated, torpedo shaped body with an upturned mouth and round heads.

The dorsal fin begins just before the end of the anal fin and ends rather far back on the body. They have a spade shaped caudal fin with elongated central rays in adult fish. In males, the rays can be as long as the rest of the caudal rays.

Although there are several wild strains of Clown Killifish available to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts, those from Monrovia, Liberia (Pseudepiplatys annulatus monroviae) are generally regarded as the most colorful.

Clown Killifish (Pseudepiplatys annulatus)

Clown Killifish (Pseudepiplatys annulatus)

Except for some variations, Clown Killifish are cream colored, with four wide, vertical, black bands along the flanks that start just behind the head, and bright spot on top of the head between the eyes.

The dorsal fin in male specimens can be cream, light red, or a bright blue/with red.  The caudal fin in males varies, but is generally pale to sky blue, with the extended middle rays being bright red.

The bright red in some variations can be light orange, yellowish with bright red lines above and below, or even bright blue outlined in red, with bright yellow tips on the extensions.

Depending on the variant, the anal fin in males can be blue, blue outlined in red, fright red, or red outlined in blue. Likewise, the ventral fin can be either clear, a bright red, a bright orange, or a pale red color.

Female Clown Killifish are slightly smaller, less colorful, and have less developed fin extensions than males.  Most females have clear dorsal fins, clear caudal fins with faint orange, red, yellow colored extended rays throughout their length, and anal and ventral fins that are not always clear.

Clown Killifish are small and seldom grow larger than 1.4 inches in length, which makes them a great choice for smaller micro or nano aquarium setups.   They do best in small groups of 1 male to 3 females, 2 males to 6 females, etc. especially if breeding is anticipated.

The Clown Killifish can be kept in a densely planted nano or micro aquarium with a sand or very fine substrate, a small piece of driftwood, and some Indian Almond or other dried leaf litter on the bottom.

Fine leaved plants like Java Moss, Cabomba, Riccia, etc. are recommended, as are floating plants like Water Lettuce, Salvinia, or Lemna.   The floating plants reduce overhead light in the tank, provide a place for the fry to hide, act as a natural filtration system for the water, and are a source of micro foods for both adults and fry.   The addition of Indian Almond Leaves, alder cones, or dried leaf litter provides cover for the fish and as decomposition occurs, promotes the growth of beneficial microbe colonies that insure the health of the adults, the eggs, and the fry.

Pseudepiplatys annulatus are sensitive to deteriorating water conditions and should never be introduced into biologically immature systems. They need clean, well filtered water, but do not necessarily need an outside filtration system if 50% weekly water changes are performed.

Clown Killifish are egg scatterers that are quite easy to breed.   In a well decorated, biologically mature aquarium, the fry will usually materialize without human intervention, provided larger invertebrates such as snails or shrimp are not present in the breeding tank, as they will eat the eggs.

To save more fry, place two to three pairs into a breeding tank as described above and remove the medium in the tank every few days to a rearing tank for incubating and hatching. Courting males will exhibit some harmless belligerance toward each other until spawining takes place and eggs are deposited.

The extremely small eggs will hatch out in 10 to 14 days at a temperature of 75 to 77 degrees. The fry are extremely small and will initially feed on the natural production of microbes from leaf decomposition.   Add green water supplemented with infusoria to the rearing tank to help with initial growth. After 3 or 4 days, three or four days, they should be large enough to eat Paramecium and young nematodes. When the fry can be seen swimming on the surface hunting, feed them Vinegar eels or microworms until they are able to eat adult foods.

Adult Clown Killifish require live foods such as white worms, daphnia, brine shrimp, small bloodworms, and tubifex.   Vary their diet to keep them healthy.

Clown Killifish (Pseudepiplatys annulatus) are rarely available in tropical fish keeping shops but can be procured online from specialty dealers and Killifish societies at moderate prices.

Clown Killifish (Pseudepiplatys annulatus)

Clown Killifish (Pseudepiplatys annulatus)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Care Level: Moderate
Temperament: Peaceful, Shy
Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 73° – 78°F, 0 – 5 dGH, pH 5.5-6.5
Max. Size: 1.4”
Color Form: Gold, Brown, Orange
Diet: Carnivore
Compatibility: Biotope nano and micro tanks
Origin: West Africa
Family: Nothobranchiidae
Lifespan: 3-5 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Experienced

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Lyretail Killie (Aphyosemion australe)

Lyretail Killi (Aphyosemion australe)

The Lyretail Killi (Aphyosemion australe) is a non-annual killifish known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as the Golden Lyretail or Lyretail Panchax and is found along the Atlantic coastline of Central Africa from Cape Lopesz, near the mouth of the Ogooué River, Gabon south, throughout the lowland areas of Africa.

This species of Lyretail Killi is peaceful, shy, hardy, easy to spawn, long lived, quite adaptable, and available in several color strains including Albino, Chocolate, Gold, and Orange.

In their native environment, Aphyosemion australe are found in small streams, swamps, and other permanent bodies of water where they feed on small insects, invertebrates, and crustaceans.

Lyretail Killie (Aphyosemion australe)

Lyretail Killie (Aphyosemion australe)

Lyretail Killies are a brightly colored species with flat heads, wide mouths, and extensions on the dorsal, anal, and caudal fins.   Males are larger, more brightly colored, and have more pronounced extensions to their fins than females.

Female Lyretail Killies are smaller, have rounder bellies and are drab compared to males.

Although the Lyretail Killie can be housed in a tank as small as 5 gallon capacity, a tank of at least 10 to 15 gallons is recommended with a dark sand or fine gravel substrate, densely planted with fine leaved plants and a small piece of driftwood for shelter.

A layer of floating plants such as water lettuce, Water Hyacinth, etc. is recommended to diffuse overhead lighting and minimize jumping.

Lyretail Killies can also be kept in a community environment with other shy peaceful species like rasboras, small corydoras, Loricariids, characins, some of the Anabantoids, and smaller dwarf cichlids.

Lyretail Killies are egg scatterers and relatively easy to spawn using several methods.

Most breeders place a well conditioned pair in a small unlit spawning tank,  with an air powered sponge corner filter.

In their natural habitat, Lyretail Killies deposit their eggs in the substrate or in clumps of vegetation.

In a spawning tank, the spawning medium can be either a layer of peat moss on the bottom of the tank, clumps of fine-leaved plants such as java moss in a densely planted tank, or spawning mops on a bare tank.

Many commercial breeders prefer a bare bottomed setup for ease of egg collection and tank maintenance.

The water in the spawning tank should be soft, with an optimum pH of 6.0-6.5, and a water temperature of 70-75°F.

When spawning commences, 10 to 20 eggs per day will be deposited for a period of up to 2 weeks.   The eggs should be removed daily for incubation in either water or a damp layer of peat moss placed in a small container.

The eggs are very susceptible to fungus and should be immediately removed when spotted to stop spreading the infection to healthy eggs.

When incubating the eggs in water, transfer them to a small aquarium using the original water from the spawning tank.  Keep the water depth at no more than 2 inches, and add 2 to 3 drops of methylene blue as a fungus preventative.   Eggs are light sensitive, so keep the tank dark until the eggs hatch out.   Depending on water temperature, healthy eggs will hatch out in 10 to 20 days

When incubating in peat moss, place the container in a warm dark spot and leave them alone for about 18 to 19 days.  Place the eggs in the rearing tank and the eggs will begin to hatch out.  If the eggs do not hatch out within a reasonable time, lightly aerate the water by blowing through a soda straw or length of airline tubing.

After hatching, add a couple of drops of green water or liquifry to the water daily until they are free swimming.   Once the fry are free swimming, they will be able to accept baby brine shrimp.

Fry are extremely susceptible to velvet disease, so small water changes every couple of days are needed to maintain water quality.

Adult Lyretail Killies are easy to feed. They will accept quality carnivore flakes as well as live, frozen, or freeze dried bloodworms, microworms, and daphnia.

The Lyretail Killi (Aphyosemion australe) is available online, from importers, and from specialty fish shops.   Although this species is one of the most commonly kept by tropical fish keeping enthusiasts, they are not a common item in most storefront shops.

Lyretail Killie (Aphyosemion australe)

Lyretail Killie (Aphyosemion australe)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
Care Level: Moderate
Temperament: Peaceful, Shy
Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 70-89° F, 18-179 ppm, pH 5.5-7.0
Max. Size: 2 1/2”
Color Form: Gold, Brown, Orange
Diet: Carnivore
Compatibility: Community and Biotope tanks
Origin: Nigeria, Cameroon, tank raised
Family: Nothobranchiidae
Lifespan: 3-5 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Experienced

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Flagtail Prochilodus (Semaprochilodus insignis)

Flagtail Prochilodus (Semaprochilodus insignis)

The Flagtail Prochilodus (Semaprochilodus insignis) known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts and Brazilians as Jaraqui, is endemic to Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, and Peru.

Flagtail Prochilodus (Semaprochilodus insignis) are quite common and one of the most widely distributed shoaling species found in South America, where they are locally utilized as a food fish.

Twice each year, huge shoals of Flagtail Prochilodus migrate over several hundred miles, foraging on organic detritus that they sift from the sediment along their migratory route.

The start of the wet season sparks the first spawning migration from the nutrient poor black water streams and tributaries to the silt laden turbulent white waters of the larger river head waters where spawning takes place.

During this period, the fish can be seen leaping in the rapids like salmon.   After spawning, the fertilized eggs drift downriver into the nutrient rich floodplains that act as a nursery for the fry, where they feed and grow into juveniles.

Unlike salmon that die after spawning, adult Flagtail Prochilodus return to the exact same spot in the flooded forest tributary or stream where they came from, to feed for the next 3 or 4 months.

The second mass migration takes place during the middle of the wet season.    Adult Semaprochilodus insignis will again travel upstream into the whitewater rivers and tributaries where they remain in the area until the water levels drop.   When water levels begin to rise again, the fish will spawn in the mouths of the tributary that they are currently in, and the cycle continues.

Flagtail Prochilodus (Semaprochilodus insignis)

Flagtail Prochilodus (Semaprochilodus insignis)

Adult Flagtail Prochilodus have a silvery torpedo shaped body, a red and black striped patterned tail, and red to orange anal and pelvic fins.

Semaprochilodus insignis and Semaprochilodus taeniurus both have black spots on their flanks as juveniles and are often confused with each other at that stage.

However, as adults Semaprochilodus insignis lose the dark flank spots that adult Semaprochilodus taeniurus retain.   Adult females are identical to males but have rounder bellies.

Juvenile Flagtail Prochilodus can be housed in a 55 gallon aquarium, however at least a 100 gallon or larger tank is recommended for adults.

Juvenile Flagtail Prochilodus (Semaprochilodus insignis)

Juvenile Flagtail Prochilodus (Semaprochilodus insignis)

Because they are aggressive towards their own kind in smaller numbers, Flagtail Prochilodus are best kept in an Amazon riverine biotope setting in groups of at least 6 or more individuals with a sandy or fine gravel substrate, some medium to large river rocks, and several large pieces of driftwood or bogwood.

Any type of soft leaf live plant will be eaten and are not recommended, but they need a “grow light” or other adequate lighting to promote the growth of algae that they graze on, and a tightly fitting tank cover to prevent them from jumping from the aquarium.

Because they require good water quality, a large outside wet/dry biological filtration system is highly recommended to take care of the biological load, and a powerhead to provide some water movement in the tank.

Flagtail Prochilodus can also be housed as single specimens, or in a community environment with other larger species such as Loricariids, peaceful cichlids, larger characins, knifefish, etc.

Flagtail Prochilodus are egg scatterers that in the wild migrate long distances to spawn in turbulent white water environments.   To date, there have been no reports of them spawning in an aquarium environment, and because of the difficulty in replicating their spawning conditions, it is highly unlikely.

In the wild, Flagtail Prochilodus are primarily herbivores that forage on organic detritus as they migrate.   They have an additional stomach that is filled with mud to aid them in processing the large amounts of organic sediment they ingest.

In an aquarium environment, they will accept algae wafers, most quality dried foods, live, frozen, or freeze dried bloodworms, brine shrimp, Daphnia, and copious amounts of vegetable matter. They will eagerly accept blanched lettuce, cucumbers, spinach, etc.

Flagtail Prochilodus are not a commonly available in tropical fish keeping shops but can usually be special ordered or purchased online as juveniles.    They are usually quite pricey.

Flagtail Prochilodus (Semaprochilodus insignis)

Flagtail Prochilodus (Semaprochilodus insignis)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 100 gallons
Care Level: Moderate
Temperament: Peaceful
Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately Hardy
Water Conditions: 73-84 °F°, 1 – 15°H, pH 5.5 – 7.2
Max. Size: 14″
Color Form: Silver, Black, Red
Diet: Omnivorous (primarily Herbivorous)
Compatibility: Aggressive to conspecifics
Origin: Brazilian Amazon
Family: Prochilodontidae
Life Span: 10 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate

 

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Sparkling Gourami (Trichopsis pumila)

Sparkling Gourami (Trichopsis pumila)

The Sparkling Gourami (Trichopsis pumila) also known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as the Pygmy Gourami or Dwarf Croaking Gourami is found throughout the lower Mekong River basin in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Saigon, southern Vietnam.

Sparkling Gourami are closely related to Bettas and Pseudosphromenus and have a distinct preference for sluggish, still to stagnant environments that are dense growths of aquatic vegetation. They are collected from all types of slow moving lowland habitats in their range from rice paddy fields, canals, swamp forests, peat swamps, small river tributaries, and even roadside ditches.

Sparkling Gourami are often found alongside Anabas testudineus, Betta siamorientalis, Lepidocephalichthys hasselti, Macrognathus siamensis, Monopterus albus, Pangio anguillaris, Trichopsis vittata, T. schalleri, and Trichopodus trichopterus.

Trichopsis pumila are a small peaceful species that is unique in it’s ability to produce sounds, hence it’s common name Dwarf Croaking Gourami.   The sounds are believed to be used in lieu of physical confrontations and during courtship when females produce a “purring” sound to initiate spawning.   Sparkling Gourami, like other Anabantoidei, are a labyrinth species that allows them to breathe atmospheric air during periods of low .

Sparkling Gourami (Trichopsis pumila)

Sparkling Gourami (Trichopsis pumila)

The Sparkling Gourami has a dorsal fin that is set well behind the base of their pectoral fins.  They have a long single pointed spiny pelvic fin ending with a filament, pectoral fins that end in a single spiny ray, and a semi rounded caudal fin.

Trichopsis pumila are a colorful iridescent blue to blue green bodied species that posses a single solid dark stripe along the lateral line of the body and a second stripe comprised of a series of dark blotches above which, depending on the mood of the fish, will darken or completely fade out.   The fins are tinged with red to a brick color and spotted.

Sexually mature male Sparkling Gourami have a more intensely colored pattern than their female counterparts and develop longer ventral, anal, dorsal, and

Sparkling Gourami (Trichopsis pumila)

Sparkling Gourami (Trichopsis pumila)

caudal fins.   Sexually mature females can be more easily identified by placing a strong light behind the fish.   The ovaries in females will be clearly visible below the swim bladder.

Sparkling Gourami are best housed in a densely planted aquarium of at least 10 gallon capacity with a sandy or fine gravel substrate covered by some Indian Almond Leaves or other type leaves, some driftwood or bogwood with Microsorum or Taxiphyllum spp. attached, and some smooth rocks fashioned into caves to provide shelter.

The addition of dried leaf litter encourages the growth of beneficial microbe colonies as they decompose and is a valuable source of food for the fry.   Sparkling Gourami like a well shaded tank, so floating plants like Water Hyacinth, Water Lettuce, duckweed, or Cryptocoryne spp. should also be provided along with a tightly fitting tank cover to keep them from jumping out.   The cover also allows them access to the humid air they need during spawning.

Trichopsis pumila can be housed in a community environment with small peaceful schooling species like rasboras, barbs, danios, small loaches, Otocinclus, Swordtails, Tetras, Endlers, etc. but they do better as pairs or in small groups in a biotope setting.   Do not keep them with small shrimp such as Caridina cantonensis, Neocaridina heteropoda, etc. as they will quickly become a meal. Sparkling Gourami are shrimp assassins that are particularly fond of eating Red Cherry Shrimp.

Sparkling Gourami are easy to breed when maintained alone or in a small group biotop setting.

It is important to provide a tightly fitting cover or some Saran Wrap type material over the tank to provide a layer of warm, humid air for the fry.   This is necessary for the development of their labyrinth organs.

Like Betta Splendins, Sparkling Gourami are bubble nest builders.   Males will build a nest under a plant leaf, under the roots of a floating plant or any other surface vegetation, and will keep the female away from it until the nest is completed.

Spawning usually occurs underneath the bubble nest with the typical embrace of the male wrapping himself around the female.   The milt and eggs are released in a cluster which is then taken to the nest by the male.   The procedure is repeated several times until the female is spent.

The male will tend to the nest and guard it from interlopers until the eggs hatch, usually in 24 to 48 hours, and the fry are free swimming.   The fry will stay in the bubble nest until their eggs sacs are absorbed, usually within 2 or 3 days.

Once the fry are free swimming, the male will lose interest and leave them to fend for themselves.   The parents will usually will not eat their offspring.

The fry require infusoria for the first few days until they can accept microworms, newly hatched brine shrimp, or a commercially prepared fry food.

Small daily water changes are recommended until the fry are able to eat larger foods.

In the wild, Sparkling Gourami are opportunistic feeders that eat insects, small worms and other invertebrates.

In an aquarium environment, they will accept good quality flake foods and plenty of live, frozen, or freeze dried bloodworms, brine shrimp, ghost shrimp, Daphnia, etc.

Although Sparkling Gourami (Trichopsis pumila) are not a common item in tropical fish keeping shops they can usually be ordered from them or online from a variety of sources at reasonable prices.

Sparkling Gourami (Trichopsis pumila)

Sparkling Gourami (Trichopsis pumila)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
Care Level: Easy
Temperament: Semi-aggressive
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 72-83° F, H 18-215 ppm, pH 5.0 – 7.5
Max Size: 1.6″
Color Form: Brown, Blue, Red
Diet: Omnivore
Compatibility: Peaceful community tanks
Origin: Southeast Asia
Family: Osphronemidae
Lifespan: 5-8 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Easy

 

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Parrot Pacu (Ossubtus xinguensi)

Parrot Pacu (Ossubtus xinguensi)

The Parrot Pacu (Ossubtus xinguensi) also known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as the Eaglebeak Pacu is an endangered species found only in the faster moving rapids of the Xingu River basin in the Brazilian Amazon.

Parrot Pacus have been observed in the system from Volta Grande do Xingu in the lower Xingu and it’s intersection with the Iriri River.

The Parrot Pacu is primarily a herbivore that feeds on filamentous algae, plant material, insect larvae, and small invertebrates that they find among the rocks. They are usually found among the crevices in the algae covered rocks that they frequent.

Smaller size juveniles (about 1 1/2″ long) are often found sheltering underneath broad stones in the rapids in large schools of 30 or more individuals.

Parrot Pacu (Ossubtus xinguensi) head

Parrot Pacu (Ossubtus xinguensi) head

Parrot Pacu are brownish in color, ovoid in shape and have a blunt snout.    Juveniles less than 2 ” in length have a mouth that points forward but as the fish grows, the mouth turns downward giving the fish a parrot beak like appearance, hence it’s common name.

Female Parrot Pacu are reportedly much more dominant than males, especially during the breeding season when females will stake out a rocky cave and guard it from other females until spawning is accomplished.    Parrot Pacu are small by Pacu standards and in their natural habitat only reach a length of about 10″.

A single Parrot Pacu can be housed in a riverine biotope setup in an aquarium of at least 55 gallon capacity with a substrate of smooth, water worn river rock, a few larger boulders, and large pieces of driftwood.   They do better in groups of 6 to 8 specimens which requires a tank of at least 200 gallon capacity.

Because they need highly oxygenated, pristine water conditions, an outside canister filter, at least two powerheads, and regular 30 to 50% water changes are recommended to keep them healthy.

To date, there have been no instances of Parrot Pacu being bred in an aquarium environment.

In the aquarium environment Ossubtus xinguensi will feed on flakes, algae wafers, vegetable matter, live and frozen foods like Daphnia, bloodworms, mysis shrimp, brine shrimp, ghost shrimp, small snails, small worms, etc.    They will hunt down larger shrimp and decorative crawfish if housed in the same tank.

Because of the reduction of natural habitat by Dam construction and the difficulty of sampling the species from the large rapids they frequent, the Parrot Pacu (Ossubtus xinguensi) has been listed as endangered, however, recent large scale collecting efforts targeting the rapids throughout the Xingu River basin have provided an abundance of new material that has led many to believe that they are more widespread than reported.

That being said, it is unlikely that most tropical fish keeping enthusiasts will be able to obtain a specimen from their local fish shop, importers or online.

Parrot Pacu (Ossubtus xinguensi)

Parrot Pacu (Ossubtus xinguensi)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 200 gallons
Care Level: Extensive
Temperament: Peaceful
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 77.0 to 82.0° F, 5-20 H, pH 6.0-8.0
Max. Size: 10″
Color Form: Gray, Brown
Diet: Omnivorous (primarily Herbivorous)
Compatibility: Aggressive to small fish and crustaceans
Origin: Xingu River basin
Family: Characidae (Serrasalmidae)
Life Span: 10 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Advanced

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Black Pacu (Colossoma macropomum)

Black Pacu (Colossoma macropomum)

The Black Pacu (Colossoma macropomum) also known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as the Tambaqui, Blackfinned Colossoma, Giant Pacu, Cachama, and Gamitana Blackfinned Pacu is native to the Amazon and Orinoco River basins in South America.

The Black Pacu is a close relative to the Red Bellied Pacu (Piaractus brachypomus) and is the largest characin in the family that in it’s native environment can grow to a length of 4 1/2 feet or more.

Because of their enormous size and tasty flesh the Black Pacu is an important local food source that has been introduced into New Guinea, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Brazil, Venezuela, Cuba, Jamaica, Honduras, Panama, and even accidently into the lakes and canals of the warmer areas of the southern United States.

Because the seeds from the fruit and nuts that they eat pass undamaged through their digestive systems and are spread into other areas of their range as they migrate, Black Pacu fill an important niche in the ecological systems of their native habitats.

Black Pacu are a peaceful, solitary, shoaling species that as juveniles live in the slower moving tannin stained black waters of the flood plains, feeding on small fish, insects, snails, zooplankton, and decaying plant matter.

As they become adults, Black Pacu become more solitary and during the initial months of the flood season will move into the flooded forests to feed on the newly accessible fruits, nuts, and seeds

Black Pacu (Colossoma macropomum)

Black Pacu (Colossoma macropomum)

that drop into the water column.

Except for their dentils, juvenile Black Pacu (Colossoma macropomum) are often confused with juvenile Piranha which look almost identical.

Unlike Piranha which have sharp serrated cutting teeth, the dental structure of the Black Pacu resembles those of human molars, but the easiest way to tell juveniles apart without opening their mouth is to look at the jaw of the fish.

The lower jaw of a Piranha juts out well past the upper lip, whereas the jaw of a Pacu does not.

Black Pacu (Colossoma macropomum)

Black Pacu (Colossoma macropomum)

Black Pacu have a laterally compressed, gray to black body, with spots along the midsection and black fins.

The body of an adult Pacu is very deep and has a slight arch on the back.

Males have a sharper extension on their dorsal fin, a toothed anal fin, and are more brightly colored than the females.   Females are more rounded than males when viewed from the top.

Black Pacu are very hardy, can tolerate a wide range of water conditions, and are disease resistant, which makes them relatively easy to care for however, they require plenty of free swimming space.

Because they expel copious amounts of waste, they need frequent 30 to 50% bi-weekly water changes and a very large external biological filtration system or large pond filter to keep them healthy.

Unless you are an advanced tropical fish keeping enthusiast with substantial means, they are best housed in commercial aquariums or heated ponds.  However, other than their need for space, they are relatively easy to care for.

A huge tank of 600 to 1,000 gallons or more is required to keep Black Pacu in a community setting.   Housing them with small fish should be avoided, but larger slow moving species like Arowana, large Pimelodid, Loricariids, or Doradids catfish, large cichlids, or other large characins can be considered as tankmates in a community environment.

Pea gravel, river rocks, and water worn boulders can be used as a substrate along with a few large pieces of driftwoodor bogwood for decor, however, live plants will be immediately eaten.

Black Pacu have not been known to breed in an aquarium environment.   They are commercially bred in food fisheries through the use of hormones.

Black Pacus are omnivores that in their natural habitat consume fruits, grains, insects, snails, worms, detritus, and plant matter.   In an aquarium environment, they will readily eat most anything that they can fit into their mouths.   A pellet or Spirulina diet augmented with fresh and frozen vegetables will keep them healthy and happy.   They will eat lettuce, spinach, apples, peaches, grapes, bananas, peas, carrots, cabbage, and just about any vegetable matter you can come across with gusto.

Black Pacu (Colossoma macropomum) are readily available in tropical fish keeping shops as juveniles, usually mixed in with Red Bellied Pacus, Silver Dollars, Piranha, etc.   They are also available online and from auction sites at reasonable prices.

Remember that juveniles grow into adults quickly, so be prepared to upsize your tanks accordingly.

 

Black Pacu (Colossoma macropomum)

Black Pacu (Colossoma macropomum)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 600+ gallons
Care Level: Moderate
Temperament: Peaceful
Aquarium Hardiness: Very Hardy
Water Conditions: 74.0 to 82.0° F, 2 – 15 dGH, pH 5.0-7.8
Max. Size: 42.5″
Color Form: Gray, Black
Diet: Omnivorous (primarily Herbivorous)
Compatibility: Aggressive to small fish
Origin: Amazon and Orinoco River basisns
Family: Characidae (Serrasalmidae)
Life Span: 25 years or more
Aquarist Experience Level: Advanced

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Red Bellied Pacu (Piaractus brachypomus)

Red Bellied Pacu (Piaractus brachypomus)

The Red Bellied Pacu (Piaractus brachypomus) locally known as the Pirapitinga, is probably one of the most commonly kept species available to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts.   It is primarily found in the main river channels of the Rio Orinoco and Amazon river basins in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Peru, and Venezuela. The species is locally prized as a food fish and has been introduced into many areas where it is farmed. In southern Florida, they are considered an invasive species and are commonly found in many of the canals, lakes, and rivers of Broward and Dade Counties.

Red Bellied Pacu are a peaceful, shoaling species that prefer shallow, slower moving waters with overhanging vegetation which they target to feed.  During the rainy flood season which occurs between November and February, huge schools of Red Bellied Pacu move into the flooded forests to spawn and rear their young which remain in the flooded plains for the first few months of their lives.

In it’s native habitat, Red Bellied Pacu feed primarily on nuts, fruits, and seeds which drop into the water column, however, they are opportunistic feeders that will eagerly munch on caterpillars, insects, small fish, zooplankton, and crustaceans when fruit and nuts are scarce.

Red Bellied Pacu fill an important niche in the ecological system of their native habitat.  The seeds from the fruit and nuts that they eat pass through their digestive systems undamaged and are spread into other areas of their range as they travel.

Pacu Teeth

Pacu Teeth

Except for their teeth, juvenile Red Bellied Pacu (Piaractus brachypomus) closely resemble the Red Bellied Piranha (Pygocentrus nattereri).

Both posses a distinctive red belly and chest, but the Pacu has a set of crushing chompers that look remarkably like human molars (Left).

Piranha teeth

Piranha teeth

Although they are not aggressive, they have extremely powerful jaws and a crushing bite than cause an absent minded tropical fish keeping enthusiast a lot of pain if they are not careful feeding them or maintaining their tank.

Mature females are identical to males except for their more rounded bellies.

Juvenile Red Bellied Pacu are a shoaling species that lose their red bellies as they mature.   Adults tend to become more solitary and can grow to almost 3 feet in length.   At this stage they are often misidentified with their cousins the Tambaqui (Colossoma macropomum).

Because of their large size as adults, Red Bellied Pacu require a huge tank of at least 600 gallon capacity if they are being housed in a community setting.  Keeping them with small fish should be avoided, but large sedentary species like Arowana, large Pimelodid, Loricariids, or Doradids catfish, large cichlids, or other large characins can safely be housed in the same community setting.

Any substrate can be used but planting their tank is a futile effort as the plants will be eaten.   Choose some river rocks, water smoothed boulders, and a few large pieces of driftwood or bogwood to decorate the tank, but the most important factor in keeping Red Bellied Pacu is to provide plenty of free swimming space.

Because of their large size, Piaractus brachypomus excrete copious amounts of waste which requires frequent water changes and an efficient filtration system.   A large, external, wet/dry biological filtration system or a large pond filter is highly recommended.

Red Bellied Pacu (Piaractus brachypomus) have not been bred in an aquarium environment, however, because they are able to survive in oxygen depleted water and can withstand a wide range of

Red Bellied Pacu (Piaractus brachypomus)

Red Bellied Pacu (Piaractus brachypomus)

water chemistry, they are aquacultured in South America, the far East, and other areas as a food source.   They have been introduced into many lakes and ponds in Thailand and Malaysia as a sport fish.

Wild Piaractus brachypomus are primarily herbivorous that feed on fruit, seeds, and nuts. In an aquarium environment, they will readily accept floating omnivore pellets or sticks along with a variety of fruits and vegetables.

They love lettuce, spinach, apples, peaches, grapes, bananas, peas, carrots, cabbage, and just about any vegetable matter you can come across.

Except for some of the warmer southern States where they are illegal to keep, Red Bellied Pacu can be purchased as juveniles from specialty tropical fish keeping shops or online at very reasonable prices.

Juvenile Red Bellied Pacu (Piaractus brachypomus)

Minimum Tank Size: 600 gallons
Care Level: Moderate
Temperament: Peaceful
Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately Hardy
Water Conditions: 73-82 °F°, <15dgH, pH 5.0-7.5
Max. Size: 36″
Color Form: Silver, Red
Diet: Omnivorous (primarily Herbivorous)
Compatibility: Aggressive to small fish
Origin: Brazil, Columbia, Venezuela, Boliva, Peru
Family: Characidae (Serrasalmidae)
Life Span: 20 years or more
Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate

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Black Band Myleus (Myloplus schomburgkii)

Black Band Myleus (Myloplus schomburgkii)

The Black Band Myleus (Myloplus schomburgkii) known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as the Black Ear Pacu, Black Barred Myleus, Disk Tetra, or Disk Pacu is found in the Nanay River and several other areas of the Amazon River basin, as well as the Orinoco River basin in Brazil, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela.

Black Band Myleus (Myloplus schomburgkii)

Black Band Myleus (Myloplus schomburgkii)

Black Band Myleus are closely related to the Redhook (myloplus rubripinnis) in care and body shape, but they do do not grow as large and are easily distinguished from the Redhook by the single, black, vertical bar on the side of the fish.

Black Band Myleus are a peaceful schooling species that in an aquarium environment are best kept in groups of at least five or more fish.    Although they are generally considered a peaceful community fish that can be kept with other larger peaceful species, housing them with much smaller fish is not recommended.

Because Black Band Myleus inhabit the top and middle areas of the aquarium, they do well with peaceful bottom dwelling catfish, plecostomus, and other doradids.

Black Band Myleus are best kept in an aquarium of at least 55 gallon capacity with a sandy or fine dark gravel substrate, some driftwood or bogwood, a mat of floating plants to diffuse overhead lighting, and some hardier plants like Java Fern, Hornwort, etc. which will need to be replaced on a regular basis, to minimize grazing.

Black Band Myleus need regular water changes to ensure good water quality.   A canister filter is recommended as a good choice for this species to provide the water flow and quality necessary for their well being.

Because Myloplus schomburgkii are skittish and prone to jumping out of their tank when startled, a tightly fitting cover or a thick mat of floating plants like Water Hyacinth is recommended to minimize this activity.

Many tropical fish keeping enthusiasts elect to aquascape their tanks with plastic, fabric, or silk plants in lieu of having to constantly replace the live plants in their aquarium.

Myloplus schomburgkii are primarily herbivores that in their natural environment feed on fruits and vegetable matter that enter the water column, crustaceans, snails, clams, and small fish.   Although they are a peaceful schooling species, like Pacu and Pirranah, they have strong jaws which can inflict serious bites.

In an aquarium environment, Black Band Myleus need a large amount of vegetable matter in their diet.

They do well on a diet of algae wafers, spirulina flakes, omnivore flakes, and live or frozen bloodworms, earthworms, ghost shrimp, and brine shrimp, but their diet should also include regular offerings of cucumbers, peas, lettuce, and other fresh greens.

To date, there have been no reports of Black Band Myleus being bred in an aquarium environment.

Black Band Myleus are available online and from specialty tropical fish keeping shops and as juveniles are often sold as Red Hooks.

Black Band Myleus (Myloplus schomburgkii)

Black Band Myleus (Myloplus schomburgkii)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 55 gallons
Care Level: Moderate
Temperament: Peaceful
Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately Hardy
Water Conditions: 73-81 °F°, <10dgH, pH 6.0-7.0
Max. Size: 4.5″
Color Form: Silver, Black, Red
Diet: Omnivorous (primarily Herbivorous)
Compatibility: Aggressive to small fish
Origin: Northeastern South America
Family: Characidae (Serrasalmidae)
Life Span: 5-10 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate

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Axelrodi Rainbow (Melanotaenia herbertaxelrodi)

Axelrodi Rainbow (Melanotaenia herbertaxelrodi)

The Axelrodi Rainbow (Melanotaenia herbertaxelrodi) known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as the Lake Tebera Rainbowfish is endemic to the Tebera Lake basin in Papua New Guinea.

The Axelrodi Rainbow is found only in Lake Tebera and it’s bordering streams and marshes which are surrounded by rainforest covered mountain slopes.   They are a peaceful schooling species that inhabit the clear, densely vegetated areas of their range and feed on small insects, worms, small crustaceans, and plant matter.

Axelrodi Rainbow (Melanotaenia herbertaxelrodi)

Axelrodi Rainbow (Melanotaenia herbertaxelrodi)

Male Axelrodi Rainbows are bright yellow, occasionally with a greenish tinge, and have a black to bluish black lateral line that begins just before the eye and runs to the base of the caudal fin.   Their dorsal, anal, and caudal fins can be either a red or yellow color.

Spawning males develop an intense blue or white stripe that begins at the first dorsal fin and extends over the nape to the tip of the snout.

During spawning the entire head of the male turns almost completely black and the rest of the body turns a bright yellow with red fins.

Males are always more brightly colored and larger than females and develop deeper bodies with longer dorsal and anal fins as they mature.

Axelrodi Rainbows are a peaceful species that can be kept with other similarly sized rainbowfish, danios, barbs, characins, and peaceful Corydora like catfish in a community aquarium.

Melanotaenia herbertaxelrodi is often kept with Rift Lake cichlids in community aquariums, but because it is a shoaling species, a minimum of at least 6 to 8 individuals should be housed together to bring out their best colors.

Axelrodi Rainbows are best housed in at least a 55 gallon aquarium with a sandy or fine gravel substrate that is densely planted with rather fine leaved plants.  Plenty of open swimming space should be provided for the fish.   Some rocks and driftwood can also be added to the decor, but because Axelrodi Rainbows are quite skittish and subject to jumping out of the aquarium, a few floating plants can be added to the tank to minimize this behavior.   High water quality is necessary to keep these fish healthy, but a strong current is not needed and will undoubtedly benefit the growth of the plants in the aquarium.

Axelrodi Rainbows are an easy species to breed.   They are egg scatterers and will eagerly deposit their eggs amongst the vegetation and substrate, especially on Java Moss.

Condition a group with live and frozen foods until the females are noticeably plumper and the males constantly display their colors with each other.   Remove the fattest female and the best colored male and place them in at least a 30 gallon breeding tank loaded with Java Moss, spawning mops, or other fine leaved plants and slightly hard, alkaline water (pH 7.5) at a temperature of 72-75°F.   This species does not do well in soft, acidic, water conditions.   No substrate is necessary in the tank, and only a small air powered sponge filter is needed to provide water movement and oxygen for the breeding pair.

Spawning can be induced by slightly raising the water temperature in the tank, at which time the pair will lay several batches of eggs daily, for a period of several weeks.   The eggs are attached to the moss by a small thread and although the parents will normally not eat the eggs, it’s much easier raising the fry if you remove the eggs daily and introduce them into a rearing tank.

Depending on water temperature, the eggs will hatch out in 7 to 13 days at which time the fry will need Infusoria until they are able to accept newly hatched brine shrimp, microworms, commercially prepared fry food, etc.   The fry stay close to the surface so keep away from sinking foods.

Axelrodi Rainbows are omnivorous and will eagerly accept live, frozen, and freeze dried foods. Regular twice daily feedings of a quality flake food will ensure that the fish stay healthy and display their best colors.

Axelrodi Rainbows are sometimes available from specialty tropical fish keeping shops and online from importers, retailers, and tropical fish forum members.  They are usually available for purchase  when they reach 2″ to 3″ in size.

 

Axelrodi Rainbow (Melanotaenia herbertaxelrodi)

Axelrodi Rainbow (Melanotaenia herbertaxelrodi)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 55 gallons
Care Level: Easy
Temperament: Peaceful
Aquarium Hardiness: Very Hardy
Water Conditions: 68-79°F, 10 – 15 dGH, pH 7.5-8.0
Max. Size 4″
Color Form: Blue
Diet: Omnivore
Compatibility: Peacerful Community tanks
Origin: Papua New Guinea
Family: Melanotaeniidae
Lifespan: 6-8 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner

 

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