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  1. #1

    Default Loricariad Catfish: A Primer


    0 Not allowed!
    Plecos, or more properly, sucker-mouthed catfish, have perhaps the highest number of species of any family of fish in the Amazon basin, with over 780 known to exist in the family Loricariidae, with perhaps a third of them with scientific names. They are by far the largest family of catfish in the world.
    Some are extremely common in the aquarium hobby, some rare, exotic and beautiful. Some are so weirdly formed they are so homely the can be considered cute. All have needs in the aquarium and none can thrive on only the algae in a tank.
    In this primer I'll give a necessarily brief species list of the fish you are likely to find in shops, plus a few that can be found with a bit of searching and are worthwhile because of their looks.
    None of the sucker-mouthed catfish in this list are particularly difficult to keep as long as a few essentials are provided, and all, especially the larger species, are very long-lived.

    Now some species.

    ———

    Perhaps the most common and miss-kept member of Loricariidae is Otocinclus vittatus, of the floating meadows in the Amazon basin.

    Topping out at just over an inch, O. vittatus is imported in huge numbers, but few last long in the average aquarium. Though they are hardy when properly acclimated (drip acclimation, three to four cycles), they are rarely kept in schools of more than six fish like they deserve. They live far longer if kept in a group of their fellows, with more than five years not unusual.

    They are perfect for the planted aquarium, and since they are accustomed to live plants in their natural environment, Otocinclus do best in them. Large-leaved plants like the big sword plants are a favorite haunt, and no fish will clean the top and bottom of the leaves like Otocinclus can. They will prevent algae from forming on the leaves of slow-growing plants like Anubis and Java fern. Their activities will keep plant-choking debris from settling on fine-leaved plants like Cabomba and Myriophyllum. Between a troupe of Otocinclus and a cadre of algae-eating shrimp, your planted aquarium will be algae free as long as that pair of creatures are in your tank.

    They do best in the soft, slightly acid water of planted tanks, but will do fine in pH from 5.5 to 7.5, as long as the water is moderately soft. Temperatures are 70 to 78 degrees, with 75 being optimal.

    They are excellent tankmates for schools of smaller tetras or rasboras. Since Otocinclus are so small, larger fish like Angelfish are out. Most dwarf cichlids are OK, especially Apistogrammas, since they are so mild about breeding. More aggressive dwarves like kribs and Convicts are most definitely out.

    Though they have trouble with the hard, calcium-rich knots of algae on the glass, a troupe of Otocinclus will clear a green-algae covered tank in a day to a couple weeks, depending on the size of the aquarium. When they are nearly finished with the algae, it's time to feed them. Also, since they are starved on import, it is essential to get them feeding immediately, as Otocinclus drop like flies if not properly fed.

    Vegetables are the rule, as the so-called algae wafers are poor fare indeed. Cucumber, Romaine Lettuce and and Zucchini are the big three with them. Cucumber slices can be sunk raw, the Romaine should be crushed so that the inside flesh is visible before clipping it to the side of the tank, and the Zucchini should be blanched until al dente. Any clean, hard or leafy vegetable can be used, so experiment to see what your Otocinclus tribe will take. Iceberg lettuce is useless, nutrition-wise, so don't use it.

    Placing the vegetable foods in the same place night after night is a very good idea, as the Otocinclus group will quickly learn where to go for eats. As they do the majority of their foraging at night, place the foods just before lights out. Check them in the morning as it will be obvious if the Otocinclus have been working on the vegetables. Remove any that remains that evening before turning off the lights, as it's highly likely the Otocinclus will continue to feed on the veggies all day, because it takes a lot of greens to keep the little herbivores going.

    Green algae is easily cultured on stones in a container that gets indirect sunlight and has an ammonia source, like a group of guppies. The stones can be rotated in and out of the Otocinclus tank as the fish clear them. Home-cultured algae plus the vegetables and your Otocinclus group will live long, healthy lives.

    A group of Otocinclus will commonly breed when they are mature in the planted tank if properly fed and kept. If you see tiny single eggs the size of mustard seed all over the glass at one end of the tank, your Otocinclus group has bred. The eggs can be carefully scraped off the glass with a new, sharp double-edged razor blade, catching them as they fall into a brine shrimp net. Breeding tank should have a seasoned sponge filter and be filled with the same aquarium water as the main tank. Tank should be 10 to 20 gallons and bare bottomed. Tint the water with Methylene Blue to discourage fungus.

    Eggs should hatch within three days at 76 degrees and it'll take two more days for the fry to be free swimming. Feed them algae covered stones and crushed Spirulina flake. Keep the tank very, very clean and change 50 percent of the water four times a day. The Otocinclus fry should be half grown in six weeks.

    ———

    A larger, distant cousin of Otocinclus, is Hypoptopoma gulare, which also frequent the floating meadows of the Amazon as well as submerged vegetation in Peru, Columbia and Venezuela.

    Topping out at three inches, one MUST drip acclimate this species AT least four cycles, as they are quite delicate after the starvation and stress of shipping. Crushed fresh spinach leaves rubber-banded to stones and placed with the leaf on the substrate, just before lights. out will help your H. gulareget back on their feet.

    Well established, however, H. gulare is very hardy. They are also long lived, as the 12 I have were purchased 8 years ago.

    Gulare needs somewhat more roughage than their smaller cousins, so add leaf spinach and kale to the menu. A vegetative pellet containing kelp and spirulina will be taken if a few pellets are dropped in at night. Because they are larger, they need appreciably more vegetative food available 24/7 than Otocinclus do. My 12 can polish off a dozen fist-sized algae-covered rocks in an evening.

    They are affable fish; perfectly peaceful. Tankmates can be small to larger tetras or rainbow fish. To my experience Angelfish will either leave the gulare group alone, or pester them mercilessly, so use these fish with caution.

    A pleasing mix of a brown chocolate in a herring-bone pattern on the back 2/3rds of the fish with a greenish lower area, H. gulare is often called Giant Otocinclus in the trade, though it is of a different Genus all together and not closely related to Otocinclus. Eyes are a brown-golden.

    They are an excellent addition to the larger planted aquarium, especially those with large-leaved plants and driftwood, as part of their diet will be the bio-film on the wood. They are also very good cleaners of plant debris.

    They do best with a moderate linear current in the tank, as their sloping heads are designed to push them down on the algae they feed on in nature, and will be far more active if you provide it. Also, they need no less than 8 mg/l dissolved Oxygen in their tanks. In a planted tank, that's rarely a problem, but aireation should be employed at night to keep O2 levels high. Gulare do not do well in tanks over 7.4 in pH with moderate hardness; the bright neutral to slightly acid softwater tank is what they enjoy. Temps are 75 to 78 and no higher than 79.

    H. gulare is perhaps the most efficient algae eater you can buy, as not much escapes their notice. They won't touch Cyanobacteria, but they will make inroads on black brush and other red algae, and will quickly eliminate diatoms and of course green algae.

    They breed like Otocinclus do, but mine didn't start breeding until they were in their third year. The fry aren't difficult to raise if fed and kept as above, but it is even more desirable to breed these fish as they are rarely imported, as they are such good algae eaters and rare in shops.
    Last edited by Dave66; 07-10-2008 at 07:41 AM.
    When a finger points to the moon, the imbecile looks at the finger.

    Omnia mutantur nihil interit.

    The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go

  2. #2

    Default Part 2


    0 Not allowed!
    A dwarf species of bristlenose cat is Ancistrus claro, of the Claro and Cuiaba Rivers in Brazil.

    Called Gold Marbled Bristlenose in the trade, which describes them perfectly, A. claro females top out at just under 3 inches, while the more ornately-patterned males are only 2.5 inches. Though the adult females are a pleasing mix of brown and yellow gold marbling, the males, when mature, are covered with hundreds of reticulations of flint grey and white gold. Unlike some larger species in the Ancistrus Genus, A. claro males have a modest fringe of tentacles around their upper jaws, while the females usually lack the whiskers entirely. He does develop side whiskers and spiky strong rays of the pectoral fins when sexually mature.

    They do best in groups of six or more, and thus they should be kept that way. I keep mine in a planted aquarium, and they do a great job keeping the glass and plant leaves clean.

    Like all Ancistrus, they are cave spawners. As they are so tiny, caves built into the layout should be quite small; just large enough the male can jam himself in it. He bulldogs his chosen female into his cave, where she lays her eggs usually on the roof. He expels her, fertilizes the eggs, and stations himself under them, fanning the eggs almost constantly to pass Oxygen-rich water over them. He guards both the eggs and the fry, and it may be up to a week before he sees fit to let them out.

    In a tank full of small tetras or rasboras, the eggs and fry can be left in the tank. Just make sure to keep them fed. Crushed Romaine lettuce leaves are ideal, as is leaf spinach. Just rubber-band them to stones and place them around the cave with the leaves on the substrate, a few inches from mouth of the cave. I've raised dozens and dozens of young A. claro that way.

    A. claro are excellent algae eaters for the planted aquaria, though they should be fed as above with vegetables. Mine are particularly partial to peeled and cored apple and cucumber. They take to algae-covered stones right away.

    Most available are wild caught, so they aren't cheap. However, home-breeding them can be a lucrative undertaking, as even small ones are golden and brown, and quite attractive.

    ———


    Incorrectly identified in books for decades is Panaque cochliodon, the Blue-Eyed Panaque, of the Cauca and Magdalena Rivers in Columbia.

    This fish is commonly known as P. suttonorum or P. suttoni in books, but that species is restricted to the Lake Maracaibo basin in Venezuela and fish exported from that region are beyond rare. To my knowledge the real P. suttonorum has yet to enter the hobby, and is only superficially similar to the true Blue-Eyed Panaque; P. cochliodon.

    No matter. Once seen, the Blue-Eyed Panaque will never be forgotten. A velvety jet black beauty with sky-blue eyes, P. cochliodon is a stunning centerpiece for the large planted aquarium.

    A shy, retiring, gentle fish, the Blue-Eyed Panaque reaches just under a foot in total length. They do best in slightly acid, soft water, but can tolerate water up to pH 7.5 and moderately hard, though the body color will fade to a muddy brown. Not really a tropical fish, one should keep the Blue-Eyed Panaque no higher than 77 degrees. Seventy-two degrees is optimal, making them the perfect catfish for a tank containing the ornate Danio species that have entered the hobby in the last five or six years, as well as a school of White Cloud Mountain Minnows.

    For a larger sucker-mouthed cat, P. cochliodon is long rather than wide. They share the large heads of the genus, but the body is quite svelte going back to the large tail fin.

    A tank should be planted along the back and sides, leaving some swimming room in the front, as though they are sedate, passive fish, they do roam at night looking for plant debris and small crustaceans to eat. Panaque cochliodon MUST have driftwood in the tank. Cochliodon means having spoon-shaped teeth, which Panaques use to eat sunken wood. Wood is an EXTREMELY vital part of their diet, so though you may have to replace driftwood that your Blue-Eyed Panaques have gnawed right through occasionally, you can enjoy the beauty of these fish for decades, as they are particularly long-lived.
    A gentle, steady, linear current though the tank provided by pumps will help duplicate the slow rivers they come from.

    As well as the wood, hard vegetables should be a large part of the Blue-Eyed Panaque's diet. It isn't necessary to blanch the vegetables - Panaques have the dentation to eat Zucchini raw with ease. Cellulose-rich fruit like apples are good. Pears are richly enjoyed. Any solid fruit is good, as well as squash, spinach leaves, Romaine lettuce, and countless other fresh, clean vegetables can be used. If your Blue-Eyed Panaques don't eat it, try one of the standards next.

    They ignore most pelleted foods, but one designed for herbivores with kelp and spirulina may be taken by them. Prepared foods must be a tiny percentage of their diet.

    When first introduced, imports of Blue-Eyed Panaques are almost always starving. To get their digestive systems up to snuff, rubber-band two leaves of fresh spinach to stones with the leaf on the substrate the first night for each fish. If the leaves are skeletonized in the morning, your Panaques have eaten, and half the battle is won. Start with more leaves and perhaps a peeled and cored apple the next night, and wait until your fish is up on the glass to inspect the stomach. If sunken in a bit additional food must be added. If the stomach is flat or better pouched out a bit, you can continue the amount of food a night, but start adding vegetables to the diet within a week.

    Fruit and vegetables should be placed in the tank at night, as that's when the Blue-Eyed Panaques look for food. As they can eat a good deal during the evening, if all is gone in the morning, add to the portion the next night. Only when there's a little left in the morning will you know how much your Panaques need to eat in a night.

    If the tank is large enough - 200 gallons and up - Blue-Eyed Panaques can be kept in small groups, say five or more, as long as there's space and out-of-line-of -sight hiding places for all. Aquarium breeding is unknown, but it is suspected that they breed in sunken hollow logs with the male guarding eggs and fry, so it might be possible in a large enough aquarium. See the successful breeding account below.

    A beautiful fish and one of my favorites.

    ———

    A good deal larger and just as distinctive is Panaque nigrolineatus, the Royal Panaque of the Guarico River in Venezuela.

    A rich chocolate milkshake brown fish, black stripes run from nose to tail. But what makes them truly distinctive is their eyes. In exceptional specimens the eyes can be blood red, but the usual is a medium red. The brown is striped with black on all fins.

    Called the canoe eaters by the natives, Royal Panaques have the same spoon-shaped wood rasping teeth as above, as do all Panaque species, thus need the exact same menus as the Blue-Eyed Panaque, as well as the large pieces of driftwood to harbor under and eat.

    Male Royal Panaques top out at 15 inches, the females 16 inches, and both sexes are much heavier bodied than the more gracile former. I've a 15-year old Royal Panaque in a 350 gallon aquarium, as though smaller, younger fish tend to hide a lot, full grown adults do not. He is lord of all he surveys in that tank, and a cold war has been going on for years between he and eight adult Sturisoma festivums, as Royal Panaques can be quite territorial. To give you an idea how large bodied Royal Panaques are, that fish weighs nearly three and a half pounds. His nick name is the 'football with fins'.

    Large examples like to rearrange their tank occasionally, so make sure all stones are well anchored, as it's possible a tank could be broken by a tumbling rock so seat rocks deep in the substrate. Don't ask me how I know this.

    Unlike the former, Royal Panaques rarely tolerate others of their kind. That said, they have been bred in home aquariums, a large PVC pipe subbing for a hollow log. The water level should be lowered to 20 percent and slowly warmed to 80 degrees. Water changes are suspended for two weeks and a seasoned sponge filter is used. After the two weeks, filtered rainwater that's five degrees cooler should be used to refill the tank. Lots of vegetables and meaty foods like white fish flesh are added immediately after refilling the tank. The pair usually spawn within a week.

    Male expels the female, and guards the eggs and fry. The youngsters are more than an inch long at birth, making them easy to rear. The single time I read of the spawning report seven or eight years ago the yield was 32 youngsters.

    It's possible this method would work with other species of Panaque, but I've not tried it.
    When a finger points to the moon, the imbecile looks at the finger.

    Omnia mutantur nihil interit.

    The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go

  3. #3

    Default Part 3


    0 Not allowed!
    ———

    A simple black and white fish and the subject of many foolish rumors and sporting a ridiculous high price in the US is Hypancistrus zebra, the Zebra Pleco of the rapids in the Rio Xingu, Parα, Brazil. The appearance of this fish caused a craze for quite some time, and is only now starting to ebb.

    A pure white ground with wavy horizontal black lines on the body and diagonal and vertical lines on the head describe this 3-inch fish. Unlike most of the fish in this list, H. zebra is a confirmed carnivore, that is, they eat meaty foods like frozen bloodworms and Mysis, live California black worms, and other live and frozen foods of animal origin. As they are deliberate feeders, one must make very sure they get enough to eat, when tanked with fast-eating tetras and the like.

    They are best kept with one male with three or four females each.

    Though they are best in water conditions are the slightly acidic and soft conditions they come from, H. zebra has been kept and spawned in all sorts of different levels of pH and hardness. They must have a good, linear current in their tanks, and the water has to be warm - 78 to 86 degrees, with 82 degrees optimal. They can be kept in a planted tank with dark substrate and background, where they stand out beautifully, but the good current should run through the main swimming area in the front of the tank for their benefit.

    Oxygen levels must be kept at 8 mg/l for these fish, since they come from the well Oxygenated water of the rapids.

    The price on these fish are in the hundreds of dollars each, as demand far outstrips supply. They aren't difficult to spawn and raise the fry at home, though it does take time, as they are the best sucker-mouthed catfish to make money on.

    The spawning tank should be strewn with varied sizes of dark, rounded river stones and heavily filtered, with up to 8 times tank volume turnover per hour. Five or six air stones should be running and placed where the bubbles are distributed by the current.

    Many small stone caves can be constructed with the mouths of the caves facing the current. They may spawn in them, or the tight gaps between the rounded stones, or both. Substrate can be sand or the tank can be bare bottomed.

    The male will jam his head (males have larger heads than females) into the mouth of his chosen cave and it's up to a gravid female to convince him to move for a moment so she can lay her eggs. She rushes out, he rushes in and fertilizes the eggs. It may take the pairs a few tries to get the spawning routine right, but when they do, you can expect about a dozen eggs per spawn.

    The eggs will take a week to hatch, and about 2 weeks to absorb their eggs sacks and begin feeding. The fry will take meaty prepared and frozen foods right away, and baby brine shrimp are taken with gusto by the little zebras.

    The slow growth of the fry and the small number of eggs is why demand always outstrips supply. It can take three months for the fry to reach a salable size of an inch.

    Rumors swirled around this fish for months that it was extinct in nature. It was nothing but foolish hyperbole, as they are quite common in their home waters; the warm, frothy waters of the Xingu rapids.

    ———

    Available in most all fish stores are one of two species sold under the name 'common pleco', with their adult sizes an unpleasant surprise to unknowing fishkeepers. Both species are available in the natural and albino color forms.

    The two species are Hypostomus plecostomus of Suriname and the Orinoco basin, which grows to a foot in total length, occasionally up to 14 inches with age. The other is Pterygoplichthys pardalis from all over the Amazon watershed, and they reach 18 inches, though some adult females push two feet. The latter is a far more common 'common pleco' as they are farm bred in the 10's of thousands and are the species that the two national chain stores stock.

    Both species are disgustingly hardy and extremely long-lived, with 25 years at least, probably more. The two I had (a 'gift' from my unknowing sister) were in their mid-20's when they died due to the effects of a two week power outage due to a severe ice storm.

    H. plecostomus is a chocolate brown with large black spots on the body and small to tiny black spots on the head. The dorsal fin has seven rays, while P. pardalis has at least 11 rays, giving an easy way to determine which species of 'common pleco' is for sale. H. plecostomus is quite adaptable with a pH range of 6.0 to 8.0. Temps are 68 to 86 degrees.

    H. plecostomus is a true omnivore; they will eat what you give them, but 70 percent of the food should be vegetation-based for their continued health and color. A large piece of driftwood should be provided as a 'home base' for your fish. The tank can be planted, but keep the plants around the back and sides to allow maximum swimming room, as H. plecostomus isn't the most graceful of swimmers, and would be a 'bull in a china shop' in a thoroughly planted tank. Low growing foreground plants can be used, and of course floating plants are OK and recommended, as you'll see your H. plecostomus more during the day.

    Adult males can develop a pinkish color on the strong rays of the pectorals with age. It's perfectly natural. They are slightly territorial with members of their species, but in a large enough tank with several hiding places that isn't usually a problem. Squabbles are brief and cause no damage.

    Breeding of H. plecostomus hasn't been reported in the aquarium, as it is assumed they breed in male-excavated caves in the muddy banks of rivers, but the fish also occur in rock-strewn streams with stone banks, so they must be able to breed between gaps of rock and/or log 'caves'.

    °°°

    P. pardalis is the giant species of the commonly-found Loricariads, and can be one of the most attractive, if given time and space to grow up.

    You only need to look at the dorsal fin to identify this species, with nine to 14 dorsal fin rays, unlike H. plecostomus, which have no more than seven. In the large chain stores, nine out of 10 times it is P. pardalis. They are a nondescript black fish when young, but it's when they grow up that more colors present themselves.

    Especially if kept in outside tanks for the mild part of the year, females are grey spotted, and males, called 'Snow King Plecos' in the trade, have black and bright white in alternating waves on the body. The colors are at their best when adults pass the maximum size.

    Despite their 18+ inch size, P. pardalis ignores the vast majority of tankmates, though other benthic fish may be chased from their territory. In feeding they are easily satisfied, but for their own good, 70-percent of the food should be plant based, with frozen (better) and prepared foods the other percentage. As for pH and hardness, they are highly adaptable. Mid 70's to 84 is the temperature range for this species.

    To my knowledge they haven't been bred in aquariums, but they are bred by the hundreds of thousands in the muddy banks of ponds at fish farms, particularly in Florida. Also, in my research, I've been unable to confirm that they occur in areas without muddy banks.
    When a finger points to the moon, the imbecile looks at the finger.

    Omnia mutantur nihil interit.

    The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go

  4. #4

    Default Part 4


    0 Not allowed!
    ———

    Patterned like the sticks of driftwood they shelter on is Farlowella acus, the Twig Catfish of the wild, plant and wood-choked streams around Caracas, Venezuela.

    Reaching just under 6 inches in total length, F. acus is quite attractively patterned on close examination. A creamy, yellowish under side is topped with a rich chocolate brown stripe that runs from the rostrum (nose) to the tail. The fish is topped with a yellowish tan.

    Twig Catfish have a reputation to be lethargic, phlegmatic fishes who soon make their departure from the average tank. Properly kept, nothing could be further from the truth.

    F. acus' territory are the snags that form in the bends and eddies of swiftly-flowing streams and rivers. Floating branches and sunken wood collect in this eddies, making an instant feeding ground for F. acus, where they feed on the algae and bio-matter that forms on the submerged wood. The trick, therefore, in keeping these fish, is to provide a well-planted aquarium with a good amount of driftwood, and provide a moderate linear current throughout the tank. Provided with the a good linear flow through the tank and the high Oxygen levels of planted tank, your F. acus will come alive, actively rasping on all surfaces in search of algae and the bio-matter on the driftwood. It is essential, however, that you aerate your planted tank at night to keep the Dissolved Oxygen level high, as like canaries in a coal mine, F. acus will be the first to die if the O2 level is depressed below 8 mg/l as it often is when the planted tank keeper doesn't run air stones at night.

    It's inadvisable to keep F. acus in an unplanted tank, but you might have success with them with the current and three or four running air stones in the tank.

    Water must be clean and clear and with no less than 8 mg/l of Oxygen. Given proper conditions, Twig Catfish are remarkably long-lived for a small, thin fish, with 15 years or more not uncommon. Their best pH range is slightly acid, say 6.8, up to 7.4 and temperature between 73 and not over 78 degrees.

    You can certainly keep F. acus in groups, in fact, it's recommended to keep them in groups of at least five individuals. When I kept them, I had 14 in a 200 gallon planted tank and they became my favorite fish with their active lifestyle and rather attractive looks. Tankmates should be tetras and Corydoras catfish, as barbs and danios tend to nip at these fish, as they can't seem to resist the flowing fin extensions F. acus develop, particularly the males, upon adulthood. As for Cichlids, Rams are OK, though they prefer water considerably warmer than F. acus can tolerate.

    In feeding, algae is the very best food for them, and is easily cultured on rounded stones. Frozen foods like shrimp given two or three times a week and a vegetative pellet or even flake will be avidly eaten. Algae is 70 percent of the diet.

    F. acus is commonly imported, though the similar, but the darker colored F. vittata often shows up and is often miss-named in shops as F. acus, but they are obviously different species if you know what to look for. In F. acus, the back is light colored and his rostrum is straight out and is relatively short. In F. vittata the back of the fish is medium brown, and the rostrum is long, thin, and bends upwards.

    F. acus is quite the secretive breeder, as I've never seen them breeding and never found eggs, but half-grown youngsters show up in a school of Twig Catfish fairly frequently. Perhaps someone can elucidate on the breeding methodology of these fishes.

    ———

    Called Whip-tail Cats in the trade, our next and last species is Rineloricaria lanceolata of the Amazon basin.

    R. lanceolata is perhaps the more rarely available than the commonly available species, but well-worth seeking out due to their looks.

    Hailing from the upper Amazon River tributaries in Peru, R. lanceolata looks like a fleshed out Twig Catfish, with a wide fore-body narrowing to a long, thin second half to the tail, which, like all Whip-tails, has a long extension of the top ray. They are attractively marked with blotches of medium brown on a silvery whitish base. With age, those markings can intensify to a rich, almost reflective black, in fact, the whole body can be clothed in velvety, glistening black. Fins are always smartly spread and attractively patterned. The dorsal fin is often up, and is straight and high in the males, and lower and rounded in the females.

    Topping out just over 3.5 inches, R. lanceolata are excellent catfish for the mid-sized planted tank, and can easily be kept in groups. Since they are small, a dozen in a properly maintained and established well planted 55 gallon tank would not be too many, and are quite attractive as the troupe work on the leaves of the plants and often rest on them, all fins and spindly body draped over the leaves.

    Their pH range denotes the changing of the seasons in their native waters. They can live from pH 6.0 to 8.0, and moderately soft to moderately hard. But you'll get the best color and vitality in bright, clear water that's neutral to slightly acid and with the gH at 5. Temps are 77 to 82 degrees. Mine lived for seven years at 78 degrees.

    They are vegetable and algae eaters, though meaty foods can be provided three or for times a week, like bloodworms and Mysis shrimp, as they have needs for the small crustaceans they eat as they rasp on algae. Blanch the Zucchini, slice the cucumber and smash the Romaine and Spinach leaves for them. Green beans were a favorite of my fish.

    I'm not aware of any home breeding of these fish, but I suspect that's because people buy too few of them for a proper chance for a suitable pair. I assume they are breeders on hard surfaces, like flat rocks, as other species of Rineloricaria are. In the years I kept this species, if they did breed, I never saw any evidence of it. Some are cave breeders, so narrow diameter PVC tubing can be secreted around the tank for these fish to attempt to breed them.

    ———

    There are literally dozens more species of Loricariidae that appear in shops in all shapes and sizes. I encourage you to research and explore these fascinating fish when planning your next aquarium, as all have special needs to thrive.

    Dave
    When a finger points to the moon, the imbecile looks at the finger.

    Omnia mutantur nihil interit.

    The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go

  5. #5

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    Great article....very informative...thank you...

    Special request to mods...could we sticky this...pleeeeez???

  6. #6

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    Still a great read. I know you and I have discussed the Loricariad family at length in the past but it is nice to get all that info into one place.
    BTW, did you ever get your A. claro to spawn? When you and I talked about them a couple of years ago you were hoping they would but where not extrememly optomistic about it.
    Considering a Marine Aquarium? A Breakdown of the Components, Live Rock, Cycling a Marine Tank

    "The capacity to learn is a gift; The ability to learn is a skill; The WILLINGNESS to learn is a choice." - Unknown

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by ILuvMyGoldBarb
    Still a great read. I know you and I have discussed the Loricariad family at length in the past but it is nice to get all that info into one place.
    BTW, did you ever get your A. claro to spawn? When you and I talked about them a couple of years ago you were hoping they would but where not extrememly optomistic about it.
    They did in the fall of last year, and haven't stopped since. When I built the 75, I had claro in mind as the feature species, so I built little caves into the layout in hopes they would eventually breed.
    They started in the fall of last year, and they've haven't stopped since. Out of the six was one pair, and they breed every five weeks like clockwork, at over 30 eggs each time. Found out that the tetras and corys in the tank ignore the babies, so instead of stealing the eggs like I have been, I just feed the fry in the tank, and when they get large enough, I net the youngsters out and put them in a grow-out tank. So in my claro post, when I said I've raised dozens feeding in the tank like that I mean dozens and dozens of them.

    Dave
    When a finger points to the moon, the imbecile looks at the finger.

    Omnia mutantur nihil interit.

    The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave66
    So in my claro post, when I said I've raised dozens feeding in the tank like that I mean dozens and dozens of them.

    Dave
    That's what I get for skimming. LOL I totally missed that. Do you sell them to you local reef club?
    Considering a Marine Aquarium? A Breakdown of the Components, Live Rock, Cycling a Marine Tank

    "The capacity to learn is a gift; The ability to learn is a skill; The WILLINGNESS to learn is a choice." - Unknown

  9. #9

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    Great article Dave!

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by ILuvMyGoldBarb
    That's what I get for skimming. LOL I totally missed that. Do you sell them to you local reef club?
    They've gone to my experienced friends in the club, a decent pet store about 2 hours from me, and some long-time national and international contacts. Always end up with a few extra after a spawn, so there are claro groups in all eight freshwater tanks since I don't have the heart to cull them.

    Dave
    When a finger points to the moon, the imbecile looks at the finger.

    Omnia mutantur nihil interit.

    The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go

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