Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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Byron 07-19-2010 06:08 PM

Spawning Farlowella (Twig Catfish)
3 Attachment(s)
I think it is particularly rewarding when fish feel so "at home" that they spawn, particularly when they are a species that are not that prone to spawn in community aquaria. Aunt kymmie had her discus spawn the other week, and that is just what I mean. Today it was my Farlowella, last week the Bolivian Rams [another story for another thread].

I put three Farlowella vittata (Twig Catfish, click on the name to see the profile for info on this fish) in my 90g flooded Amazonian forest setup last year, not knowing if I had male/female in the trio; with my eyesight even a magnifying glass wouldn't allow me to see the "bristles" on the male's snout:lol:. Solely due to their different girths, I had a hunch there were two females and one male. For the past several days one fish has spent a lot of time on the glass beneath the filter spraybar. A bit unusual in itself, since these fish occur in slow-flowing waters and in this aquarium very rarely stay close to the filter flow (which is pretty minimal anyway), although that can be a sign of trouble if they need oxygen. So I kept an eye on the fish, and I thought it looked quite plump.

This morning the pair were on the glass with a clutch of 8 eggs in between; as of a moment ago there are 10 more eggs. I took the attached photos which aren't that good with my cheap camera, but you can see the "plumper" female above and the thinner male below, and the fairly large eggs. I realize now that for the past few days the female has been cleaning the glass in preparation.

The authorities say this is not a particularly difficult fish to spawn, though as noted in the profile feeding the young is tricky. Fry of various fish appear every now and then in this aquarium, though I rarely witness actual spawning routines, since most of these forest fish spawn in the early dawn so it goes unobserved and many scatter eggs in plant thickets; some, like the Nannostomus eques pencilfish deposit them on the underside of leaves and I have several times witnessed that. This is not one of the species that I would have expected to spawn on its own initiative in a large community aquarium.


aunt kymmie 07-19-2010 06:54 PM

Wow. That is so cool. Their eggs look huge, nearly twice the size of what my discus lay. Thanks for shawing the pics. I know exactly how you feel as far as feeling "rewarded". Your rams also spawned? I think there's some serious Love Potion #9 up there in your Canadian waters...maybe you should start bottling it for sale in the states?
Thanks for posting the pics, they are good quality shots!

jeaninel 07-19-2010 07:07 PM

Congrats on the eggs. Hard to imagine all those eggs coming from that twiggy little fish! Good luck with them and hopefully you'll have some hatch. Are you planning to try to raise any of the fry or do you think they'll get eaten by your other fish?

Byron 07-19-2010 07:39 PM

Just now there are 21 eggs, and the female is still quite plump. The male is up on the glass sort of centre, guarding them as he will do. I would expect them to survive to hatching, but then...too many hungry mouths in the tank I would think.

I've had one pencilfish and several tetra fry survive in this tank; they can get sufficient food from zooplankton and remain among the thick plants. These though will be different. Nature will take its course as it always does in my tanks.


Inga 07-19-2010 08:16 PM

I am always in awe of your tanks. They are so beautiful and this one is no exception. Congrats on having your fish so comfortable that they feel ready to spawn. Those are some very interesting fish. So much to learn, I am so glad I have found this forum. You have been a font of knowledge and I so appreciate your willingness to share it.

onefish2fish 07-19-2010 08:22 PM

i think your cheap camera took good shots. thanks so much for sharing, i love when fish breed.

Byron 07-19-2010 08:35 PM

Thak all for your kind comments.

I just spotted in two of the photos one of the group of Characidium fasciatum [prob. sp] hovering there. Just for the record, it is not pondering the eggs, it is pondering me outside the tank. As noted in our profile, this fish is particularly responsive to the aquarist. Every time I enter the fish room, regardless, all five of them are at the front corner, hovering mid-water or sometimes perched on a plant leaf. They want food of course. Once they have settled into the aquarium, this is one species that you never have to wonder if they are all there, they will instinctively come to the front whenever they see (or hear) you. If I sit there without moving for a spell, and then raise my hand to pick up a glass [won't say of what;-)] they will suddenly twitch around to look, no matter where in the aquariu they are, waiting to see if more movement might happen. Highly inquisitive fish. I wouldn't be surprised if some spawning from them occurs in a few months. I'm fairly certain there are male and female, and the other day I was engaged watching three of the males displaying back and forth, somewhat typical characin fashion, but a little different in this species. They challenge one another, one is obviously dominant and darts at the other, who rolls sideways and flutters, then another enters the match. Fascinating world.

iamntbatman 07-20-2010 06:25 AM

Awesome photos! Those really are some gigantic eggs considering the shape of the fish they're coming out of. I almost always let nature take its course in my tanks as well, but I can't help but cheer for the little guys. I hope some make it!

Those darting characin are really cool looking fish. I'll have to keep an eye out for those. I can probably squeeze them in somewhere (especially if I ever get around to reducing the size of this kribensis colony).

LisaC144 07-20-2010 08:33 AM

WOW! And I was thrilled about my Angels...sheesh :roll: . This is incredible Byron. How many eggs did you end up getting in totoal? When those photos were taken, that female looked like she still had a lot left. It will be neat to see if they make it to the free swimming stage. I'm curious to hear how the Farlowella do in protecting their eggs from the other fish. Since they don't swim persay, I wonder if they'll be able to fight off the other fish when they discover the eggs. This will be interesting to follow. Thank you for sharing. I'm looking forward to my own trio of Farlowella in a few weeks or so.

Byron 07-27-2010 01:52 PM

Update and Second spawning
3 Attachment(s)
It has now been 8 days since the spawning last Monday week, and you can see the darkened eggs that are left. Early this morning, the Farlowella spawned again, or perhaps it was the other female (there are 2 females and one male) and the attached photos show the string of new eggs beside the existing, with the male guarding the nest.

According to all reports I have read, a male will spawn with several females in succession if they are ready, even the same day, and guard the nests. He has done a fair job for a fish that really has no aggressive traits.

By the way, the dark dots to the right of the eggs in the larger photo is green dot algae, for those who despair over this; it is absolutely common in many tanks, and with the eggs on this panel I did not scrape this glass last week during the water change, and this is how quickly it can appear.

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