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  1. #1

    Default Anabatoids: A Primer


    0 Not allowed!
    Anabatoids are a group of fishes in the Anabantoidei family that can assimilate atmospheric air, which is an adaptation to survive in Oxygen-poor waters. In fact, Anabatoids are one of the few fishes that can drown if unable to get to the surface to breathe.

    Air goes into a tightly wound, maze-like, cartilaginous organ just above the gills known as the labyrinth organ. Air captured in the organ is spread through the fish by the bloodstream. Only mature fish have this organ; very young fish breath solely though their gills, developing the labyrinth roughly six weeks after hatching.

    There are several sub-families in Anabantoidei; Anabantidae, Belontiidae, Osphronemidae, Helostomatidae and Luciocephalidae. In this primer of Anabatoids, we will cover species from all those families.

    Spawning tanks should be prepared if one wishes to breed the Anabatoids.

    All Anabatoids are old world fishes, with the majority of species from South-East Asia. There are a few in Africa. All these fish need stable, mature aquariums, and planted tanks are advised for most of them.

    Now, the species.



    Ubiquitous when the word Betta is used is Betta splendens, a native of Thailand.

    In nature, B. splendens lives in small, plant-choked ponds, rice paddies, peaty swamps and even in stagnant, polluted ditches. In other words, acidic, low Oxygen environments. Thus, these fish have a highly developed Labyrinth organ, which is why they survive so well in the tiny containers in fish stores.

    B. splendens males are well known to fight each other if kept together in an average-sized aquarium. In nature, where the wild Betta looks nothing like the flowing fins and dazzling colors of the domestic strains, males each stake out a territory, usually under a floating plant. He defends that territory as he tries to attract females, and in the natural climes, each male can have a territory, so there's little to no conflict among males. A Betta tank should be well covered for best results, since they breath better in warm, humid air.

    To this day, there are still male Bettas bred for fighting among some classes of Asian society. They have been selectively bred for more than three hundred years for large heads and just a bit more than normal finnage. A fight is so quick the fish are a blur, and the loser, with fins shredded, retreats and is unwilling to fight further. Much money changes hands betting on the outcomes of these fights.

    The wild Betta splendens is quite attractive in his own way. His body is very dark green, blending toward red near the anal fin, which is red rimmed with black, as are the ventral fins. The dorsal is blue, striped with waves of green, and the caudal fins has bright blue rays with red ground. His fins are a good deal larger and he's far more colorful than the female, which is about a half-inch smaller than his 2.25 inch length. She's a muddy brown unless she's ready to mate; then she dons a yellow cast with black bars. Female Bettas are much more difficult to find, since the males are very much the show.

    Betta splendens is a bubble nest builder, that is, he blows bubbles coated with his saliva into a roughly oval mass. He usually anchors it under or beside a floating plant if he has one, somewhere in the tank if he doesn't. Those nests rarely succeed, so floating plants are a key to home breeding of Bettas. A gravid female approaches, head down, slowly edging toward the male, and if he accepts her, he wraps his body around his mate, sometimes repeatedly, and the eggs (between 10 and 200) are expelled and fertilized as they very slowly fall. When finished, the male chases the female off and he gathers up each egg and spits it into his floating nest. She must have a place, like a clump of plants, to retreat to, and then removed promptly, or he'll kill her. He knows she'll eat her eggs and fry if she gets a chance.

    At 82 degrees the eggs hatch within 72 hours, and the fry hang by their heads among the bubbles. Any that fall are quickly spat back into the nest by the male. Within a week they are free swimming, and must have the tiniest of foods (infusoria, followed by rotifers) for at least ten days, before they can take live baby brine shrimp and microworms. Males must be isolated as soon as they grow a bit, since they will start fighting at a young age. Females can be kept together without problems. Lowering the water level in the fry tank to six inches serves to get the fry and food together, and also is low enough they can start developing their labyrinth organs.

    Domestic Bettas, though their kind developed in very soft and acidic waters, are quite adaptable as to pH and hardness from decades of commercial production, and can be kept between pH 5.0 to 8.0. Wild caught examples, however, must have waters very similar to that they came from. Bettas much prefer floating foods, and it is quite helpful if they get the easily cultured wingless fruit flies occasionally. Stay away from flake foods, since they can easily compact in their intestinal tract, resulting in many unexplained deaths. Pelleted foods that float are a better option. Betta splendens live a maximum of three years, with two years more common. Temperatures should be in the low 80's for general maintenance, and water still, since splendens does not do well in aquariums with powerful filtration.

    Bettas thrive in well planted tanks, since they frequent stands of aquatic plants, if they have them, in nature. A single male can be kept with several females, as long as the tank has many areas where they can get out of sight of him. It's best to have at least five females, so he cannot target one of them with aggression. Floating plants over the main swimming area will make your Bettas more secure and thus active. Tankmates have to be small, like neon or cardinal tetras, and other than cherry barbs, barbs should be avoided as they pick at the flowing fins of the male. Corydoras catfish are good tankmates, but Doradids and things like Pictus cats are ill advised, since they'll eat sleeping tetras, and even the smaller female Bettas.
    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!
    Usually found in his natural form is Betta imbellis, a native of Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

    Called Peaceful or Crescent Betta in the trade, imbellis is found in thickly vegetated pools and streams in nature. The 'Peaceful' name (imbellis meaning peaceful) describes the males, since when kept in a large enough tank, say a 29 gallon, they don't fight, unlike splendens males which are well known as fighters. However, planted tanks are necessary for true peace, so males can have their own 'spot' to court females. Though they dislike crowding, several males can be kept together as long as there at least five females per male.

    Reaching two inches, with females smaller, imbellis males grow into really beautiful fishes. His dark coppery body is marked with bright blue along the lines of scales, with nearly electric blue on his cheeks. His ventral fins are long, deep red and tipped with white. Anal is indigo, blending to blue, and is tipped red. Caudal fin blue with dark rays and the diagnostic rich red crescent on the edge. The dorsal is spade-shaped, and blue-green with dark rays.

    Imbellis needs his water still, as this species dislikes current. Best is clean, neutral, to slightly acidic, water that's moderately soft. Temperatures are 77 to 84 degrees, no lower, and the aquarium must be covered to keep the air above the water warm and humid. Also, like most wild-type Bettas, imbellis is a jumper, meaning a covered tank with all gaps sealed by nylon screen is doubly necessary. These fish are accustomed to other fishes, so can be kept in a very peaceful community tank. Tankmates must be mellow, like neon or cardinal tetras. Corydoras catfish are good, but if one wishes to breed imbellis, no tankmates can be present.

    Given a planted tank that has thickets along the side and back, kept warm in water to their liking, imbellis is quite hardy, living up to four years. Floating plants over the main swimming area give the dim conditions this species enjoys. A dark substrate and background will really intensify the male's colors. Females are more brassy than coppery, unpaired fins are smaller, but are prettily marked with red.

    In feeding they are easily satisfied, though live food, particularly wingless fruit flies (Dropsilia melangaster, D. hydei), given regularly, is very beneficial to these fish. Prepared foods should float, as though they will eat food that sinks (or swims, like Daphnia pulex), they prefer to eat at the top of the tank. Pelleted foods are best, since this species is vulnerable to intestinal blockage when fed solely on flake foods. Small meals should be fed to these fishes two to three times a day. Make sure you don't overfeed; in fact, meals should be very light. Feed smaller portions than you think you should.

    A spawning tank should be prepared if one wishes to breed this species. The water depth is six to eight inches, and a seasoned sponge filter should be used.

    If given floating plants, fishes fed much live food over a week, a slow raise to 86 degrees, and imbellis males will start building bubble nests under or between floating plants. They station themselves under their nests, showing off their finnage and very intense colors, and if a egg-laden female is interested in his display, she'll join her chosen male under his nest, approaching sideways with head down. It may be some time before the nuptial embrace ensues, and the pair may embrace and break away several times before spawning occurs. Adult females can produce up to 200 eggs. Sometimes both sexes gather the eggs and spit them into the nest, sometimes the male chases her away and does it himself.

    Eggs hatch in a day. The fry hang by the heads among the bubbles after hatching, and will be free swimming within 48 hours. As they are tiny, first food is infusoria, Paramecium is best, followed by Rotifers when the fry lose interest in the infusoria, followed by baby brine shrimp and microworms. Lowering the water to six inches in the fry tank serves to bring the food and the fishes together. Also the depth is necessary for the fry to develop their labyrinth organs. After the imbellis fry hit the BBS stage, one can start adding small pelleted foods to the menu. The fry must have very tiny meals often, up to six times a day. Be especially careful to not overfeed them. As usual, the fry tank must be kept clean, partial changes small and frequent, and tank covered for best results.

    For reasons known only to the breeders, this species is also available as an imbellis/ splendens hybrid. Only the more slender and coppery body of imbellis indicates that hybrid, regardless of the expansive finnage of domestic splendens. I call for a boycott of this hybrid, since the pure imbellis is commonly available, and the pure splendens is not. Do not keep the two species together for any reason, since the splendens males will attack the imbellis males.
    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!
    Called Emerald Betta in the trade is Betta smaragdina, from the border region of Thailand and Laos.

    The common name describes both sexes perfectly, with the male possessing most of the color. Topping out at three inches given the space and care necessary, he is clothed in rich red on his body and all unpaired fins. Each scale glitters with a beautiful emerald green. She's a tad larger, her red an orange, and her emerald not quite as intense, but well kept she, too, is a showpiece.

    These fish need water that's below pH 7.0 and is soft. A planted tank, with thickets of plants here and there, and temperatures in the 76 to 82 range suits them very well., the high temp only during a breeding attempt. Floating plants over the main swimming area are necessary, since smaragdina prefers his tank dim. They dislike current, so their aquarium should have many still areas. Males of this species are peaceful with each other when kept with numerous females, say four or five females to each male. More Emerald Bettas you have the more peaceful they are.

    Tankmates can be tetras and other small, peaceful species. The aquarium MUST be tightly covered, all gaps covered by nylon screen, as this species is an avid and accomplished jumper. Males can be kept together, say four to six in a 75 gallon, as long as they each have their space and many females. In such setups they are very peaceful and males stellar. A dark substrate and background markedly intensifies the colors of both sexes.

    In feeding smaragdina is easily satisfied. Small live and pelleted foods will be happily taken, and this species feeds both at the top of the tank and in the water column. Small meals should be given two or three times a day. You can expect three to four years with this species. Given proper conditions, this species is quite hardy.

    This species is a bubble nest builder, usually building his nest under or between floating plants, but will also spawn in caves, if given them, and under plant leaves, meaning more than one fish keeper has been surprised by a spawn. He really shines green when trying to attract a female, it's quite striking. The nuptial embrace is almost tender, and often both sexes collect the eggs. He rarely chases her off. Feeding live food frequently, with daily small water changes, (less than 20 percent) almost always results in a spawn.

    Regardless where the pair chooses to spawn, eggs hatch in a day, with the fry free swimming two days later. The usual infusoria/rotifer/BBS fry feed progression follows. The fry tank must be kept clean and partial changes frequent for best results. Often the parents leave their fry alone, but occasionally they eat them, so it's best to steal the fry and grow them out in in another tank. You may have to separate groups males to different quarters, since occasionally, males dislike being crowded together in a fry grow-out tank.

    Not a rare species, but can be difficult to find, but is well worth seeking out. Thankfully this species is available in his natural, beautiful, form.

    Current genetic science indicates that this species and splendens evolved from the very widespread species imbellis.
    _ _ _

    A jet black beauty of a Betta is Betta persephone, a native of acidic ponds and slow streams of the Malay peninsula.

    What makes these fish worth having is the male. Topping out at a diminutive 1.25 inches, the males, properly kept, can be clothed in an almost velvety deep blue black, with sky blue eyes. Unpaired fins are rich blue with dark rays, and when really well kept, he can have a flush of deep red under the black. To say he's a showpiece in health would be an understatement. His mate is similarly colored, a quarter inch smaller, but her body is much more pale, and can appear rather brown. Her eyes are more green than blue. The better this species is kept the more intense colors are displayed by both sexes. A dark background and substrate gives these fish security.

    What is necessary to keep these fishes is very soft, very acidic water, and a temperature of 75. This species developed in water so acidic, down to pH 4.0, that no aquatic plants were present (more on this later), but with careful and patient acclimation, you can keep them up to pH 6.5 and plant the tank. Obviously, the water must be soft, and filtration through peat moss is helpful. Though persephone doesn't have experience with aquatic plants, they like thickly planted tanks a great deal. The plants also help with stability, which is vital with these fishes. Floating plants over the main swimming area give them the dim conditions they enjoy, meaning this species will be visible all day.

    They can and should be kept in a group, say four females to every male. Male persephone aren't combative unless cramped, so say four or five males with attendant females in a properly set up 55 gallon would be a nice display. You can keep these Bettas in a community tank, but tankmates must be small and peaceful. Rasbora espei school of 24 or more would be perfect. One of the smaller Corydoras species, say Corydoras panda, could haunt the bottom realm, and a group of six or eight would be endlessly entertaining. Stay far, far away from Barbs, save for Cherry Barbs, as tankmates for persephone. They can also be kept as pairs in a small tank, say a 10 gallon, or in a species tank in larger climes. The persephone tank should be very well covered, all gaps sealed with nylon screen, since these fish jump.

    This species is a unique bubble nest builder. As said, the waters they live in is so acidic no floating plants are present, so persephone developed a different site for bubble nest building - caves and hollow logs. Thus the key to breeding these fishes is to build many caves that have a lip at the mouth so the nest can be anchored on the roof of the cave. Some use black PVC pipes instead of hand-built caves, but to my experience, they prefer deep caves carved into driftwood best. I've also had them build nests under the long leaves of large sword plants.

    You can tell when spawning is at hand when a male builds a bubble nest, as always there's a ring of his bubbles at the top mouth of his cave. He stations himself inside and awaits a female. Females inspect the nests, and if it suits them, they indicate it by joining the male in his cave, darkening her colors and taking a head down and tail up posture. The typical Betta embrace follows, and the pair may embrace and break away several times before spawning occurs. Using an egg tube, she expels buoyant eggs, which he fertilizes, as they float up into the bubble nest. Both sexes are very vigorous and aggressive defenders of the nest, and it's best to remove tankmates one night to escape the parents' wrath. As the species is quite secretive about spawning, your first clue they've spawned is when a pair start attacking tankmates.

    Eggs hatch in two to three days at 75 degrees, longer at warmer temps, and are all free swimming in a day, which is when you steal them from the parents. The fry tank should be six to eight inches deep for proper labyrinth organ development. First foods must be infusoria, particularly Paramecium as the fry instantly recognize it as a food organism. Rotifers follow when the fry start to lose interest in Paramecium, baby brine shrimp and microworms after they lose interest in the Rotifers. Adding tiny pelleted foods the same size of the BBS with the shrimp will get it into the youngsters' heads that the pellets are food. Persephone fry grow very slowly, and it can be several months before you have to move small groups of males (remember, they don't like to be crowded) to other quarters. It'll take nine or ten months for the fry to be full grown. I've had persephone live for a bit over 5 years, so say three to five years with this species.

    What's necessary for keeping and breeding them is live foods, since they tend to wash out their colors when fed just prepared. Wingless fruit flies (Dropsilia melangaster) are a perfect live food for them. They will take Daphnia pulex happily, but make sure they have a tiny meal of pelleted foods before adding the live Daphnia so they will be digested properly. Chopped white or Grindal worms are a good live food. Gnat larvae cultured in a water butt and small black mosquito larvae should both be on the menu. They might take half of a defrosted frozen blood worm. It is vital to success with these fishes to feed them live food at least one meal every day of the week. Without live food, this species will pale, refuse to eat, and soon die. Persephone should be fed very small meals two to four times a day.

    A fish of distinction. Fairly difficult to find, but well worth it, since it is critically endangered in nature. Thus it is particularly vital this fish is successfully kept and bred by the home aquarist.
    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


    0 Not allowed!
    Hailing from the island of Malaysia is Betta macrastoma, a large, mouth-brooding Betta.

    Reaching nearly six inches when kept in proper surroundings and fed correctly, macrastoma can be one of the most intensely colored natural Anabatoids available. Males, which are combative with each other, have a long, deeply orange, and in better care, deep red body. As the species name indicates, macrastoma has a big mouth, and a large head in general. The head is marked with black over the eye and over the mouth, with rich red between them. The tail fin is fan like and marked with arches of red and black, and usually is tipped with white. His dorsal is rounded with a black spot in the middle and meanders of red and orange above it. The anal fin is long and reddish orange and the small ventral fins are black.

    She grows to about an inch less and is usually an attractive orange color. Females can and should be kept in groups of at least six, but it will take some time before the ladies develop a hierarchy. After that, they are perfectly peaceful, though the Alpha female does most all the breeding. Because these fish need space to roam, a larger tank is warranted. Something in the 75 gallon size and larger would be best. In smaller aquaria macrastoma tend to hide a lot and soon makes their demise.

    As these fish are accomplished jumpers, their aquarium must be tightly covered, with even the smallest gaps covered by nylon screen. The cover is also necessary to keep the air above the water warm and humid, because if these fish get a whiff of cool air, they will die. It is critical to keep the air above the water warm and humid, I can't stress this enough.

    Macrastoma, though sporadically available captive bred these days since it's quite endangered in nature, MUST be kept in the soft and acidic planted tank, rift with floating plants over the main swimming area, and thickets of plants for both the male and females to hide in. There must be many shady and dim spots in their tank. Though pH 4.0 to 5.0 is best, you can keep them up to pH 6.5 so you can plant the tank. Hardness must be low, and zero hardness is preferable, but under gH 5 is acceptable. Water must be clean and small partial changes regular if you want to have success with these fishes, and the changes, no more than 20 percent of tank volume, must be done only at night to avoid stressing them. Current provided by low GPH power heads is appreciated, and they like leaf littler, so dried Oak leaves are useful. Temperature must be a rock solid 75 to 77 degrees, no more and certainly no less. Stability is vitally important with these fishes, and homes without comprehensive insulation, and central heat and air should skip them.

    In feeding live insects are by far the best. Small crickets and wingless fruit flies are easily home cultured. They will take live white worms and black worms eagerly, since they move. Live Mysis shrimp are good, if you can find them to culture. Frozen foods must be warmed to tank temperature prior to feeding, and only freshwater organisms should be used. Stay away from frozen mosquito larvae and tubifex worms as they spoil quickly nearly as soon as the package is opened. Any frozen food that gets freezer burn should be discarded. Most macrastoma will take prepared food, pelleted foods are best, and they should be fed a small meal of pellets before introducing live food like Daphnia magna so they will be digested properly. Macrastoma should be fed very light meals twice a day, and as omnivores, a pellet containing primarily Spirulina is a good idea. Feeding must be very light, like a cricket per fish. Feed a smaller amount than you think you should.

    In breeding, it's the female who pursues the male. Feeding live food routinely nearly always results in a spawn once the pair are at least six months old.

    Obviously filled with eggs, she approaches the male sideways with her head down. If he accepts her, his colors intensify markedly, and he demonstrates his suitability by opening his mouth wide. She too gapes her mouth, and this routine of gaping mouths can go on for some hours as they slowly circle each other.

    Then, the typical Betta embrace follows as he wraps his body around her and the eggs are expelled. The pair may embrace and break away several times before spawning occurs. The eggs fall slowly, and both he and she collects them. Those she collects are transfered to the male's mouth as they meet head to head. He retreats to a shady spot in the upper part of the tank and dims his colors as he broods the eggs. Though spawning is often successful, the male carrying the eggs full term is not, as most of the time he either eats the eggs or spits them out. My research indicates it's disturbance that causes the destructive behavior, so no noise, no running children, nothing should bother him. As their tank is is my basement, and I'm the only one who goes down there, and the floor is cement, nine times out of ten spawns have been successful and many fry have been raised. Spawns are small, though, averaging about 15 fry. Quiet conditions are incredibly important if you want to successfully breed these fishes. Do not attempt to feed the male when he's brooding.

    Full term is two to three weeks at 77 degrees, and if successful, free swimming fry will be released by him. The fry will stay near the top of the tank and can take baby brine shrimp and microworms immediately. The youngsters should be fed tiny meals several times a day, taking great care not to overfeed. Partial changes should be done nightly and no more than 10 percent of the water should be changed. I change five percent myself. You can keep the fry with the parents, since they wont bother them, and it's better to in my opinion to do so, rather than moving either the parents or the fry, as disturbance of any kind is not a good idea with these fishes. Males must be separated as soon as they start to spar, which usually starts about six weeks after release by their father.

    These fish are obviously not for the community tank and tankmates, if one must, should be Rasboras large enough to not become food but passive enough not to bother the Bettas. A macrastoma group is quite expensive and a serious investment, and successful breeding must be the priority. Though they need certain parameters to survive, given them, they aren't terribly difficult to keep. Like most Bettas, keeping them past three years is both fortunate and the aquarist skilled. One hopes captive raised examples become the norm.

    Obviously one of my very favorite Betta species.
    _ _ _

    Restricted to a handful of streams in Southern Thailand is Betta simplex, a mouthbrooding species.

    A much smaller species than macrastoma, simplex males top out at two inches, females a touch smaller, thus they can be kept in smaller aquariums. A 29 gallon peaceful community tank would be perfect, since this Betta is accustomed to other fishes in its clime. A planted tank with clean, neutral soft water, and a 75 degree temperature suits them very well. Tankmates can include small schooling fish like Rasboras or tetras.

    Males of this species are peaceful but disliked being crowded, so say four of five males and 12 to 16 females in a 55 gallon community or species tank. In the latter, many fry can be raised.

    Simplex means simple, and refers to the simple colors of this fish. Both male and female, with males brighter, are a rusty brown over silver. Males have a wider anal fin. and in exceptional surroundings and care, will be edged in electric blue and bordered in an enameled black. Her anal is smaller and clear. Ventral fins are long and white with the male, shorter and clear on females.

    As above, simplex are paternal mouthbrooders. Females initiate spawning when filled with eggs. She approaches him sideways, head down with black barring down her flanks. If he accepts her, he darkens and intensifies his colors and opens his mouth wide. If she judges his display sufficient, she gapes her mouth and shimmies toward him. Usually that's all it takes and he embraces her and eggs are expelled, though sometimes they embrace and break away a few times before they get down to business. He collects most of the eggs; those she collects are transferred mouth to mouth with him. Females that do not edge sideways toward the male will be chased away, and occasionally she's killed if she persists.

    Holding males then move to a dim corner in the upper part of the tank and resume normal coloration, though perhaps a bit lighter. Full term averages 10 days, and don't attempt to feed the male when he's brooding eggs. The fry are quite small, but most can take baby brine shrimp, so I mix rotifers and baby brine shrimp to get the maximum yield. Spawns average between 12 and 18 youngsters.

    In feeding simplex is easily satisfied, but of course you get better fish and healthier spawns if you feed them small live food often. Wingless fruit flies are good and happily eaten, and they will take live Daphnia and small white worms eagerly. Prepared food should sink slowly, and frozen foods like mosquito larvae are good. Variety is particularly important with these fishes. Small meals should be given two to four times a day.

    This species is threatened in its native range, but is easily found if one searches.
    Properly kept this species is quite hardy, often living past three years. This is a good mouthbrooding Betta for newer folks to try.
    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

    Default


    0 Not allowed!
    Coming from all over Southeast Asia is Betta pugnax.

    Pugnax is perhaps the most unusual Betta, as it's native to swiftly flowing jungle streams in Thailand, Cambodia, Borneo, Sumatra and the Malay Peninsula, while the vast majority of Anabatoids prefer their water still. In its native ranges, this species shelters under aquatic and terrestrial plants that overhang the water. They are also very partial to much driftwood in their aquarium, with plants between the gaps in the wood. They do best in clean, clear water that's soft and acidic, say pH 6.0-6.8 and gH under five. Acidic water is necessary as this species is vulnerable to disease when kept in alkaline waters. Temperature should be in the mid 70's, say 75 degrees, as this species doesn't like much heat. Steady current is a key to keeping this species, so three or four power heads producing a moderate current laterally through the tank will allow the keeper to see natural behavior and a longer life.

    'Pugnax' means 'fighting', so the astute reader knows to not keep males together in all but the largest of planted aquaria. A six-foot tank well planted so the males can keep out of sight of each other would be necessary to keep two in a tank. Pugnax males top out at five inches, females a bit less, and before the reign of splendens was the Betta to have. First named to science in the 1840's, one shouldn't infer that they are colorful fishes. Males are a muddy brown, but if you feed him live food frequently, he'll turn into a nice mossy green, with a bit of iridescence. She's a pale silver, but can deepen to an attractive pastel blue well kept. Females can and should be kept in groups, say four or five to each male. More than that amount and males will be harassed often by females wishing to spawn. Tankmates can include Rasboras that grow to more than two inches long to avoid being considered food. Torpedo-shaped fishes should be excluded for obvious reasons. Barbs are good, like Gold or Checker barbs, but stay away from Tigers as they pick at the Bettas. Loaches are perfect to haunt the bottom realms.

    Pugnax was discovered to have a great fondness for mosquito larvae, and was introduced to several regions for control of that pest before New World Gambusians took the fore. Thus, that's their very best live food. They are problematic to home culture the larvae, but a planted water butt on a deck during the spring and summer will soon have the wriggling larvae in. It takes a deft hand and a fine net to dip them out, but one must develop the skill for obvious reasons. Frozen larvae may work, but you won't get the best color and health without live examples. They will also take live small crickets, the Hydei species of fruit fly, and white and smaller red worms. They'll quickly learn to take the worms right from your fingers.

    Wild caught examples may ignore prepared foods, pelleted is by far the best, but if one starts introducing the pellets in a small amount, gradually a larger percentage, over time, one can wean this species off purely live food. It can take several weeks, perhaps more than a month, to get this species to eat just prepared foods for a meal. Meals should be light and twice daily. As above, live food gets the best results, so feeding them live food one meal daily, having the other prepared, is a very good idea.

    When mature at four months, pugnax commonly breeds. In pairs or species tanks many fry can be raised. As per usual, it's the female that initiates the spawning, approaching him sideways, head down, and showing her best blue color. If he accepts her, he gapes his mouth and his green is near luminous. She opens her mouth wide and the pair go into a slow circle, eyeing each other, mouths occasionally gaped, for some time. Suddenly they embrace, and spawning may occur then, or they'll break away and resume circling each other. Eventually spawning happens, and he gathers the eggs and usually chases her away. One should either remove the schooling tankmates or him, since pugnax males are quite belligerent when holding a spawn. He'll retire to a dim back corner in the upper part of the tank, or occasionally under driftwood.

    Full term is two weeks, and males can appear rather wasted at the end of it, but will soon recover when fed properly. The fry are large enough to take baby brine shrimp and are easily raised, but males should be separated when they start sparring at six weeks. Pugnax are quite reliable spawners when well kept, and many fry can be raised. Spawns average about 20 fry.

    An easily found species and quite hardy, often living past three years.
    _ _ _

    From Borneo comes Betta albimarginata, called the White Seam Betta, in the trade.

    A quiet, restful species, albimarginata top out at just under two inches. As the species name indicates, bright white marks the margins of the anal, caudal and ventral fins, which are otherwise dark. Properly kept, males can be clothed in a rich burnt orange and the white edges stand out beautifully. His head is marked in black behind the gills and over the mouth. When younger he can have attractive green reticulations on his head. Females are silvery, with deep blue on the forepart of the body. The better this species is kept the more intense the colors of both sexes.

    A paternal mouthbrooder, this species is perfect for those who prefer peaceful fishes. Males of this species dislike crowding but can be kept together with attendant females. So, four to six males and four or five females per male can be a feature species in a mature planted 55 gallon. Pairs can be kept in a 20 gallon, and as a species tank in larger quarters. Tankmates can be schools of tetras and the like, and barbs should be avoided, other than Cherry Barbs. Tankmates MUST be peaceful, as this species is easily bullied.

    Found in forest streams with a moderate current in nature, these fish are especially suited to the planted tank, as they shelter among aquatic plants near the banks of the streams. Thus, they appreciate the current of a low gallon per hour power head. The pH must be under 7.0 and very soft, as this species commonly sickens and dies when kept in alkaline conditions. Filtration through peat moss is helpful, and the water must be kept clean, which the plants will help with, and partial water changes small and regular for success with this pretty species. Temperatures are 74 to 78, no higher. Stability is vitally important for success with these fish.

    In feeding live food is best, and when newly imported, will probably be the only thing they will eat. Wingless fruit flies, mosquito and gnat larvae, chopped white or Grindal worms and Daphnia should all be available to them, and it may be sometime before they will take anything frozen or prepared. Mixing gradually increasing ratios of similarly-sized pelleted food with the live foods can wean the species off pure live food. But, you'll get better health and color, and a much better chance of a successful spawn, if you feed them live food two out of three meals a day. Feeding must be light, as this species is prone to gorging to their cost. Variety is crucial with these fish, so many different food items should be available to them. Their tank must be covered, since this species is a frequent jumper, especially just after lights out, and gaps, no matter how small, sealed with nylon screen.

    Males put on quite a show when approached by a gravid female. A female, obviously filled with eggs, approaches him sideways, head down, and if he accepts her, he pouches out his throat pouch and starts an elaborate dance to impress her. He swirls around her several times, races up and down the tank, often breaking through the surface, and does many twirling moves, constantly opening his mouth and showing off his throat pouch. If she's impressed, she spreads her fins wide and her egg tube protrudes. Usually, the typical Betta embrace immediately follows. If not, he resumes his dance. Sometimes she accepts him, sometimes she looks for another male. Eggs are expelled and gathered by the male. If it's a first spawn, most times he chases her away, but if the pair have spawned together before, often he allows her to help him gather the eggs, and she stays in his general area while he's holding. He moves to a dim corner in the upper part of the tank to brood the eggs.

    Full term is 10 to 14 days, depending on the temperature, with warmer taking longer. When he releases the fry at the end of his chore, some can take baby brine shrimp immediately, so I mix Rotifers with the shrimp for maximum yield. The fry aren't difficult to raise, and in a species tank, can be kept with their parents, they won't bother them. In larger species aquaria fry show up very frequently. An all together rewarding experience to breed this species.

    When kept in proper conditions this species usually lives past three years.
    _ _ _

    The grand potentate of tropical aquarium fishes is Macropodus opercularis, the Paradise Fish.

    Found in swampy waters in Malaysia, China, Taiwan and Korea, this species debuted at the Paris Exhibition in 1868. Reaching four inches when kept in proper conditions, males can develop into drop dead gorgeous fishes. Macropodus means big foot and describes the tail fin, which can expand with age into quite a banner, wider than the height of the dorsal and anal fins. Flowing tendrils can grow from the top and bottom rays of the tail and the anal fin. Naturally, the male is a rich blood red with several blue-black vertical lines. Tail is red, dorsal and anal dark with red tips. Ventrals long, dark and tipped red. The female is similarly colored, though perhaps a shade lighter, and her tail fin is much smaller. When young sexes can be delineated by the male's larger lips. There are variations in color, both regional and man-made, but my description is of the most commonly available.

    The Parisians quickly found that this beautiful fish attacked and tore the fins of their prize goldfish, banishing Paradise Fish from their tanks. Adolphus Busch, the St. Louis brewer, imported several of this species to the US in 1876, but they soon disappeared from our shores. They reappeared in pet stores in the United States in the years after World War 1, and were commonly available in the 1930's. It was quickly learned how to care for the species.

    Naturally, they live in very soft, very acidic waters dark with tannins from vegetative decay. Decades of captive breeding means opercularis can be kept in a wide span of pH and hardness, but for best results, keep them in slightly acidic (pH 6.8), soft water (gH under 5), since they live and look so much better in it. Soft water is necessary for consistently successful spawns as well. Paradise Fish are adaptable to a point, but don't push it if you want to keep this species long term. A temperature of 75 suits them very well, and Paradise Fish live best in less than "tropical" temperatures.

    Males, which are quite combative, can't be kept together in all but the very largest of planted aquaria so they can easily stay out of sight of each other. Pairs are ill advised, as one will almost always kill the other. Best is a single male with at the very least six females in a species tank of at least 40 gallons. Larger climes are necessary if one wishes to keep Paradise Fish in a community setup, but fish with flowing fins like angelfish or slow moving fish like gouramis are out, since opercularis will pick at them mercilessly to their eventual ruin. Better is larger tetras, danios, or barbs (not Tiger Barbs), that move quickly enough to not become targets. In aquariums, the male will stake out a territory and repel any tankmate that violates it. Usually it's a short chase and rarely is there any damage.

    In feeding live food is of course best, and Paradise Fish are terrifically fond of live mosquito larvae. Small shrimp are a favorite as are small insects like crickets. The vast majority of Paradise Fish will eat prepared foods, pellets are best, and frozen foods that are insect or crustacean based. But, you'll get better color and vigor if you feed your charges live food at least daily, with an evening meal of quality prepared or frozen foods.

    Paradise Fish are bubble nest builders, meaning the male builds a nest under or between a floating plant or under an overhanging piece of driftwood. Feeding live food exclusively for a week with a slow rise to 78 degrees usually results in a spawn. His color is nearly luminous as he tries to attract a mate. A female, obviously egg filled, approaches him sideways, head down. The male may charge the female and will chase her if she runs, but if she shimmies her body as he charges he'll accept her. Usually the embrace happens directly, and between 100 and 300 eggs are expelled and fertilized. He chases her away and gathers the eggs as they slowly fall, spitting them into his bubble nest. She must have a place to hide or he'll kill her, and she should be removed to another tank that evening.

    Eggs hatch within three days, with the fry free swimming soon after. Quite small, Paradise Fish need infusoria for several days before graduating to Rotifers. At that stage the male should be removed since the fry travel widely in pursuit of Rotifers and the male can't keep them close to his area. Baby brine shrimp should be added soon as the fry start overlooking the Rotifers, and microworms are a good transition food, as they often will take small pelleted foods then. Males must be separated when they start sparring at six weeks; females can be kept together without problems.

    A good temperate water species, and one that can be kept and bred in ponds during the warmer months, Paradise Fish are a good one for beginners to try.
    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

  6. #6

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    0 Not allowed!
    Hailing from Thailand and Vietnam is the so-called Three-Stripe Gourami, Trichopsis schalleri. Looking superficially like some Betta species, the common name describes the markings of this pretty fish.

    Also called Croaking Gourami due to the sound the fish makes at night or when removed from the water, from a base of white silver, two blue-black lines radiate from the bright silver-blue eye, and a fainter line runs along the top of the anal fin. Caudal spade-shaped with hundred of silver spots, and is edged in deep maroon. In sympathetic surroundings and at least occasional live food, the dorsal can develop a flowing red filament. Both the dorsal and anal fins are similarly marked and colored, and the ventral fins long and bright white. Reaching 2.25 inches, females a touch smaller, males of the species properly kept, turn into glittering little fishes. She's similarly colored, more plain silver, visually heavier bodied than the male, and in better care, can have an attractive blue sheen. When small it is very difficult to tell the sexes apart. Only the male's longer fins and more defined colors when the fishes are mature can one tell the difference easily.

    There are some variations, but most can be attributed to keeping them in ill-suited water and not feeding them any live food. There are a handful of man-made variations, but in my opinion, they look best in their natural garb. This species is native to plant-choked, acidic waters, thus they do best in soft water, planted aquaria with a pH under 7.0. Floating plants over the main swimming area give the fish the dim conditions they enjoy, and will enable the keeper to see these glittering fish much more often. Otherwise they tend to stay hidden among the plants, save for mornings and evenings.

    A dark, fine-grained substrate will intensify schalleri colors. Temps are 75 to 80 degrees, no lower, and the aquarium must be covered, as this species jumps when startled, like by lights off. Though not especially combative, it's best to keep no more than two males in a three-foot tank, with three or four females per male. The space is necessary so each male can have his 'space' to court the females.

    In feeding, small live foods will give you best results. Daphnia pulex, Artemia naupili, wingless Dropsilia melangaster fruit flies, and micro worms, are easily home cultured and should all be on the menu. Prepared foods should be pelleted and fed sparingly. Schalleri will browse on green algae on firm surfaces, mimicking the aufwuchs they eat in nature. Feeding should be light and two to three times daily.

    When kept at 75 degrees, fed much live food over a week, plus a very slow raise to 82 degrees and Schalleri males will start building bubble nests, usually under or between the floating plants, but occasionally under overhanging plant leaves or driftwood. When a egg-laden female approaches, head down and gradually edging toward the chosen male, he will flare his fins and intensify his colors if her approach pleases him. The embrace is sudden and quick, and the clear eggs float into the nest. She retreats, stationing herself several inches below the nest, and the male gathers any eggs that went astray and releases them into it.

    Eggs hatch in 48 hours at 82 degrees, with the fry free swimming two days later. In a species tank, they can be left with the parents; they won't eat them.

    As the fry are tiny, infusoria is the first food, and it may be up to a week before they can take anything larger. Rotifers follow, then baby brine shrimp when the fry graduate to them. Properly kept (warm, much space, clean conditions), the fry will be half grown in six weeks. For reasons unknown by me, males seem to be much more tolerant of each other when raised all together, while wild caught males are rather picky towards each other when cramped.

    Can be difficult to find your stock of these charming fish, but the keeper can expect up to five years with their charges.
    _ _ _

    Far more widespread than the former is Trichopsis pumilus, almost a miniature version of the above.

    Found all over Vietnam, Cambodia, Sumatra and Thailand, 'pumilus' means small, and that they are. Both the male and female top out at 1.25 inches, thus they can be kept in smaller aquaria. Called the sparkling or dwarf gourami in the trade, the former describes the adult fish perfectly.

    From a glittering blue eye a dark line runs along the lateral line, with broken lines above. The line is bordered by many, many sparkles of bright, and in better care, electric, blue. Fins speckled with small spots of dark green, and are usually bordered by the electric blue. A truly sparkling little fish. Both sexes are very similarly colored, with males perhaps a bit more brightly colored, if the fishes are well kept. It takes a practiced eye to pick out the sexes. As said, it's the shade of color, also the female is visibly heavier bodied than her mate.

    What's necessary to keeping these fishes properly is soft, acidic water; pH 6.0-6.8, and quite soft. Alkaline waters markedly shorten the lives of these charming fishes. Well kept, you can expect easily five years from your charges. Temperatures in the low to upper 70's, say 75 for general maintenance. Stability is vitally important to these fish, so homes without insulation and central heat and air might consider other species. Filtration should be efficient, which live plants will help with, and well maintained, and filtration through peat moss is very helpful. Tank should be well covered for best results, since these fish occasionally jump.

    Planted tanks, particularly those with floating plants over the main swimming area, are perfect for these fish. Males aren't combative unless cramped. Best is a single male and four or five females in a three foot tank, or more in larger containers. You could have three or four males, plus the females, in a 75 gallon. Tankmates MUST be small; as small as the gouramis themselves. Rasboras, particularly those in the Trigonostigma heteromorpha/ espei complex, would be perfect. Pumilus, like most smaller gourami species, stay near the top of the tank, so Rasboras would be a good idea for the middle and lower middle of the tank. Remember, tankmates must be small and peaceful.

    In feeding live food is of course best. Wingless Dropsilia species fruit flies are ideal, and they can be easily dusted for color or lipids prior to feeding. See my culture manual in the food forum for culturing information. Pumilus will happily eat Daphnia, but should have a tiny meal of pellets prior to the Daphnia. Foods should float, since that's where these fish mostly feed. Feeding of the live and pelleted variety should be light and twice daily.

    Fed much live food, and a slow raise to the upper 70's, and females will began filling with eggs and males build bubble nests under or between floating plants or more likely under overhanging driftwood. Males station themselves under their nests, and flare their fins and intensify their colors. A egg-ladened female approaches, edging sideways with head down. Males may rush at her, and chases if she runs, but if she stands her ground, he'll accept her. The embrace follows. It may be immediate, or it can be hours before it happens. Adult females produce up to 200 eggs, which float up into the nest. Males track down any that escape. She retreats after spawning, and usually resumes normal activity if the tank is sufficiently large.

    They hatch in two days, and the fry are free swimming a day or two later. As the fry are tiny, infusoria, particularly Paramecium, is necessary as the first food. Rotifers follow, and it can be up to two weeks for the fry to grow enough to take live baby brine shrimp. With care, warmth, clean conditions and live food several times a day can result in up to a 90 percent yield. Males may have to be separated, since when they spawn, males are quite combative with each other. As pumilus is a popular species, home captive raised examples are commonly available. You may hear a cricket-like sound at night in their tank. It's the fishes vocalizing.

    A lovely little species, and quite easily found if ones searches.
    _ _ _

    Far more challenging to keep than the above, but well worth keeping, is Parosphromenus deissneri, the Licorice Gourami.

    There are several species under the Parosphromenus genus, but deissneri is the most commonly available.

    What's necessary is very soft, quite acidic waters, even down to ph 5.0 with zero hardness. Native to black water habitats in Malaysia, and less common in other regions of Southeast Asia, deissneri must have his water still, and very clean. You can keep them up to ph 6.5 so you can plant the tank, but for breeding, it MUST be pH 5.0 to 5.5 and very soft, so a spawning tank should be prepared for them. These fish, which can be quite shy in aquariums, do well when the tank is filtered though peat moss, since it's most commonly found in marshes. Temperatures should range from 75 (better) to 80 degrees. Also, most will eat live food ONLY.

    Why keep such a challenging species? Because, especially when the male is well kept, are drop dead beautiful fishes. The male, which reaches 1.5 inches, from a base of yellow, three dark lines radiate. Rich tan tops the fish, and both the dorsal and anal fin are long and full. Dorsal, black base, rich red, then black edged with bright silver white. Ventrals black, edged blue, and tipped white, and the blue carries to the front of the anal fin, which is otherwise edged in black with red between, and tipped in silver white. The anal appears to flow into the fan shaped tail, which is red edged in black and tipped with bright white. In this species, the male is the show. The female is brownish, her dorsal and anal fins edged green, and is perhaps a touch larger than her mate.

    In shops this species is usually washed out, but when carefully acclimated into proper conditions, in time, he'll develop into a true showpiece.

    Since these are acidic marsh fishes, the light should be heavily filtered through floating plants, as they tend to hide a lot and soon make their demise in brightly-lit aquariums. For general maintenance, keep them in very well planted tanks, with most of the light filtered filtered through floating plants, meaning about two thirds of the tank dim. Filter through peat moss, Canadian peat is the best, and keep them at 75 degrees, pH 6.5, gh 2. In such conditions they are quite hardy, living up to 5 years, sometimes longer.

    Though they are best kept in pairs or groups in species tanks, you can keep them with peaceful Rasboras and the like that are as small as deissneri is. A school or schools of Rasboras, T. espei for instance, will make the gouramis far more visible, as otherwise Licorice Gouramis are very shy, and likely to blush unseen. Pangio species loaches are a good idea, since they are often found in the same conditions Licorice Gouramis are. Unlike most Anabatoids, deissneri tend to stay around the middle of the tank and rarely rise to the surface to breath, meaning their labyrinth organ is less important and they breath mostly through their gills. Their tank should be well covered since these fish have been known to jump.

    As said, they'll eat live food only, especially when newly imported, which most are. Artemia naupili, Daphnia, chopped white or Grindal worm and tubifex, fruit flies (deissneri is terrifically fond of the flies), should all be on the menu. Feeding should be light and thrice daily. If one is very patient, over time, in gradually increasing ratios, one can partially wean them off purely live food, but keep in mind, it can take months. However, wild caught fish will never eat just prepared food, so a mix of live and small pelleted would be as close as you can get in weaning them off live food. In my opinion, one shouldn't try and just feed them live food throughout their lives.

    These fish are cave and overhanging niche spawners, and very secretive about it. Both male and female build the bubble nest. The tank should be extremely slowly raised to 80 degrees and double portions of live food fed to the fishes so the female can develop eggs and a keeper can have a successful spawn. An embrace follows, usually directly after nest building, and up to 100 eggs are expelled and float up into the nest. It may take up to four embraces to get all the eggs out of the female.

    He chases her away, collects any eggs not in the nest, and stations himself under it, repelling any fish that approaches. Eggs hatch in three days, with the fry free swimming three days later. I found it better to remove the male when the fry are free swimming. As the fry are tiny, Paramecium is the first food, followed by Rotifers, and up to a week later, baby brine shrimp. When the fry reach .5 inch you can start separating them into other tanks. Males are only combative when tightly cramped, or when spawning. The fry will be full grown in four months, but the temperature should gradually be lowered to 75.

    Not uncommon, but obviously, not for those with newer tanks or those incapable of keeping them properly. One of the most beautiful of the Anabatoids.
    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

  7. #7

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    0 Not allowed!
    Native to Sumatra, Borneo and Malaysia is Sphaerichthys osphromenoides, the Chocolate Gourami.

    Occurring in swampy waters in its native range, few last long in the average aquarium. However, they are easily kept if one keeps them properly.

    What they need is soft, acidic water, and peat filtration, pH 4.0-6.5, gh 2 or lower, and temperatures between 77 and 81. As an aside, do not keep them above pH 6.5, as they are very vulnerable to bacterial, and disease, infections above that pH. The latter is why they don't ship well, though they are becoming more commonly available in shops. Filtration through peat moss is very helpful with this species.

    They are very sensitive to water quality, so rock stable conditions, and a thickly planted tank to deal with the Nitrate, is necessary to keep this species long term. They WILL NOT survive in tanks with excessive dissolved organics, and will die in droves if Nitrate exceeds 10 ppm. Water changes must be small and frequent. When I kept this species, I changed 10 percent of the water every night without fail.

    They eschew flake foods, and do best when fed 2/3rd's live and a third frozen and emulsified freeze dried. As they are primarily insect eaters in nature, wingless Dropsilia melangaster or hydei species fruit flies are easily home cultured and an ideal staple food. They will also graze on green algae, so a frozen food designed for herbivores could be added to the menu. You may be able to get them to take pelleted foods, especially if they float or sink very slowly. Emulsified in products designed for color, vitamins or lipids can make the pellets, and freeze-dried foods, more palatable to the fishes.

    Though the waters they live in are swampy, they are high in Oxygen, with at least 8 mg/l on average, but during the rainy season that level increases. Running an air stone or stones in a Chocolate Gourami tank, especially at night, is a good idea. Filtration must be gentle, but efficient, so multiple filters may be necessary. Chocolate Gouramis prefer their water still, but don't mind a bit of current from filter outflows. A well-planted tank, with floating plants over the main swimming area, a pH of 6.0, and a temperature of 79 suits Chocolate Gouramis very well. The tank must be well covered to keep the air warm and humid for these two-inch fish.

    Though Chocolate Gouramis aren't brightly colored, they are quite attractive. A milk-chocolate brown covers the fish, and a bright yellow line goes over the gills, another from the dorsal to anal fin, and two broken lines past that. The eye is silver, with a silvery line above. Fins clear brown, with bright edging, and the tail can be lined with red top and bottom. The female lacks the red, her lines are white, and she is somewhat duller in color. Fish rather wedge shaped, but pleasing in both movement and deportment. There are a handful of regional variations of this species.

    Chocolate Gouramis are maternal mouthbrooders, that is, the female broods the eggs. It's necessary that the breeding tank be pH 5.0 and hardness as near zero as possible, since the fry are too small to adapt to a higher pH.

    In a spawning tank, she initiates contact by approaching the male of her choice, and if he accepts her, she starts laying lines of eggs, usually on a flattened stone, and he follows fertilizing them. He then picks up each egg and spitting it toward the female, who has gaped her mouth to receive them. When she has all the eggs, she retreats to an upper corner of the aquarium and broods them, while the male patrols the area defending her.

    Full term is two weeks, and free swimming fry will be released by her, retreating back into her mouth if frightened. They can take baby brine shrimp right off, but not solely on them, since the salt can kill most of the fry. Better is freshwater Rotifers, microworms, and small pelleted foods emulsified in products designed to add lipids. When I kept them, concentrating more on varied freshwater organisms and small pellets, resulted in over 95 percent success. Adult females can lay up to 80 eggs.

    Tank-raised Chocolate Gouramis usually are more hardy, if that word can be used for them, than wild-caught examples.

    A challenging species to keep, but a real sense of accomplishment if one has success with them.
    _ _ _

    Available in many man-made color variations, is the Dwarf Gourami, Colisa lalia.

    Native to slow, heavily vegetated streams in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, Dwarf Gouramis have been in the hobby long enough that it's fairly difficult to find naturally-colored examples. In nature, male Dwarf Gouramis are rich red with bright, nearly electric, partially translucent blue stripes, averaging about dozen stripes on the average fish. Stripes and red in the anal fin, and bright blue spotting in the dorsal, edged red, and which develops a red spade-like extension when the fish is well kept. His throat is electric blue. Ventrals long and feeler-like, bright blue at the base of them, and they can move them in any direction they please. In my opinion the wild-type Dwarf Gourami male is better looking than the man-made color morphs.

    It is quite difficult to find females in shops, since the males are the show, so one may have to search for the females if one wants a more natural setup or to attempt breeding Dwarf Gouramis. She's very light brown over silver, her red and blue striping barely indicated, and she's a half-inch smaller than his two-inch length.

    If wild caught, and even if captive raised, it's best Dwarf Gouramis are kept in soft, acidic water, since they resist disease so well in it. A very soft linear current from very low GPH power heads is a good idea. Though captive-raised examples are adaptable, a pH between 6.0 and 6.8, and a gh under 5 will enable the keeper to experience a much longer life with their charges. Normally Dwarf Gouramis live from two to four years, but in soft, acidic waters and properly fed, they can live easily twice that. I've had them live close to a decade, which isn't bad for such little fishes..

    Dwarf Gouramis are best kept in very well planted aquariums, to mimic their wild ancestors' waters. Best is one male and three to four females in a 3-foot tank. Floating plants over the main swimming area, and dark substrate and background will make the Gouramis more secure and thus visible. Filtration though peat moss can really make the males pop in color. Temperatures are 75 to 82, 77 being the ideal temp.

    Male Dwarf Gouramis are regularly peaceful, but when kept alone, can turn aggressive towards tankmates. Keeping them in groups, one male to a number of females, is more natural, and though he'll designate a territory for himself, most of his concern will be trying to court a female. It's unwise to keep more than one male Dwarf Gourami in the average planted tank, since they will eventually battle for dominance over territory and even egg-laden females. You might be able to make it work in a thickly planted 55 gallon, because with tall plants, they can stay out of sight of each other and peace will reign.

    Tankmates must be passive, and aggressive breeders are most definably out, since Dwarf Gouramis are easy targets for them. Rasboras are good

    Dwarf Gouramis are avid eaters, and will take what you give them, so make sure it's high quality. They have a need for greens like algae, so a pellet containing a large percentage of Spirulina should be on the menu. Pelleted, live and frozen; you give it to them, they'll happily eat it. They deeply enjoy wingless Dropsilia species fruit flies. Feeding should be very, very light and two to three times a day.

    A spawning tank, with water depth no more than eight inches, should be prepared if one attempts breeding Dwarf Gouramis. The tank should be very well covered to keep the air above the water warm and humid, necessary for the proper development of the labyrinth organs of the fry.

    In breeding a slow raise to 82 degrees. much live food over a week, and males will start building bubble nests under either floating plants, long plant leaves and occasionally even under arching driftwood. His nest is one to be proud of, and can be quite a mound. If he has a female he's spawned with before, she'll help him build it. They'll incorporate fine plant leaves, like that of Myriophyllum or Java Moss, to bolster up the nest. He stations himself under it, his colors near luminous, and will repel any fish that approaches it, save for his chosen mate. He approaches her, gently turns her upside down, and arches his body over her as the floating eggs are expelled and fertilized. He repels her when finished, she should be removed, and he tracts down any eggs that went astray. After all are in the nest, he takes a breath of air and releases a fine spray of bubbles to seal the eggs in. He becomes quite belligerent when guarding the nest, thus a spawning aquarium, so he can have peace and quiet. If more than one egg-laden female Dwarf Gourami is in the tank, he'll spawn with all of them. In a tank with a male and eight females, the nest was chock full of eggs.

    The eggs hatch in two days, with the fry free swimming within 30 hours. The male should then be removed. Infusoria is the first food of the fry, and it can take more than a week for them to grow enough to take Rotifers, and at least another week before live Baby Brine Shrimp and microworms could be added. By the time they are two months old you should be able to pick out the longer fins of the males, and partial them out to other quarters, since male Dwarf Gouramis DO NOT get along very well.

    You should find out where your stock of Dwarf Gouramis came from, since up to a third of those exported from Singapore have Dwarf Gourami Iridovirus, which is always fatal, usually within several months of purchase. If the seller can't tell you where his stock came from, seek out other sellers who will.

    Though female are rare, Dwarf Gouramis are very commonly available in shops.
    _ _ _

    Harder to find than the above, but well worth having, is the Honey Gourami, Colisa chuna.

    Found in India and Bangladesh, Honey Gouramis are a very richly colored Dwarf Gourami, reaching 2.75 inches in aquariums.

    The common name describes the color, a very rich, deep honey color, which is specific to the males, with females a brassy grey with a brown stripe along the lateral line. A deep blue, blending to black, runs from the male's mouth, down his chin, and ending at the lower third of the long, expansive anal fin. Dorsal greenish, but orange and edged white when breeding. Ventrals long, dark, thin and feeler-like. The female is a touch larger than her mate.

    Honey Gouramis are best kept in pairs, or quartets - one male to three females. Frequenting slow streams and ponds that are thick with aquatic plants, it behooves one to keep them in very well planted aquariums, because the the fishes are more secure when they have a place to hide when startled. Floating plants should be over the main swimming area. Water should be very clean and soft and acidic; pH 6.5, gH 2, since they live so much better and longer in it. Filtration through peat moss and a dark substrate and background makes the fishes more comfortable and thus colorful. Temperatures are from 72 to 82, with 76 ideal.

    Tankmates must be very passive, like smaller Rasboras and the like. Honey Gourami males are a bit territorial, but are much more tolerant of each other than lalia are, so with plants blocking the line of sight, several (four or five) males can be kept in a four-foot tank like a 55 gallon.

    Honey Gouramis are gluttonous eaters, so feeding must be light. They are extremely fond of easily home-cultured wingless fruit flies, and deeply enjoy other small live foods. Prepare food should be pellets, and they will also take frozen foods of freshwater origin. Honey Gouramis should also have pellets containing a large measure of Spirulina. The need for green algae is why Honey Gouramis have a reputation of hard to breed. Giving the Spirulina pellets plus considerable live food is key to spawning this species. Feeding should be light and twice daily.

    Honey Gouramis are bubble-nest builders, and the male usually build it under the leaves of a floating plant, or under the large leaves of the large sword plants. Most times his chosen female helps build it. The temperature should be very slowly raised to 82 degrees. A spawning tank should be prepared, as Honey Gouramis are quite belligerent with other males of the species after spawning. The water level should be no more than six inches and a seasoned sponge filter is used. If the tank is a sufficient size, additional egg-laden females can be added, since the male will mate with each one. His bubble nest is far more scattered than the above species.

    When the bubble nest is finished, he spreads his fins wide and enriches his color, attempting to entice an egg-laden female to join him. They touch each other frequently with their long ventral fins. He usually embraces her directly, and the buoyant eggs are fertilized as they rise. Adult females can produce up to a hundred eggs, though it may take more than one embrace to produce them. The female or females should be removed promptly post spawning, since as said Honey Gourami males are very aggressive defenders of the nest.

    Eggs hatch in 30 hours, with the fry free swimming within three days. The male is then removed.

    Tiny, Infusoria is the first food for the fry. If one can find a start-up to culture them, Paramecium is the ideal 'Infusoria' to use. Feeding are small and frequent, up to six times a day. The water should be kept very clean, but as the fry can not adapt to changes in water chemistry, it's best to have a supply of water the same chemical makeup and temperature as that in the spawning tank for daily 10 percent water changes.

    It'll be a week or ten days for the fry to be able to take Rotifers, and about the same length of time before they can manage baby brine shrimp and microworms. The fry will be fully grown in four months, but as males don't like to be crowded together, you'll have to parcel small groups of them out to other aquariums if they start squabbling.

    An uncommon species, Honey Gouramis are an interesting choice for a Gourami species to keep.
    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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    0 Not allowed!
    Looking superficially like a larger Dwarf Gourami is Colisa fasciata, the Striped Gourami.

    A native of slow, sluggish, plant-filled water in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar, Striped Gouramis grow to 4.5 inches. Uncommon in shops but wide-spread in nature, this fish is also called the Banded Gourami.

    The male is the show, though the female is attractive in her own way. From a brown and orange ground, eight sloping deep blue lines mark the side of the male. His cheek is marked with blue, and his fins are long and fairly expansive. The dorsal is edged in white, with its latter half blue and ending in a point that's deep orange. The anal is long and flowing, marked with many stripes of blue and edged in red. In time, the anal fin expands into a richly colored spade shape near the tail. Ventrals are long, orange, and thin, and can be moved in any direction at will. There are a handful of regional variations of this species.

    The female is nearly the equal of her mate. Her body is green silver, and her stripes are fewer, bluer and wider. Her dorsal and anal fins are smaller. Dorsal is based in deep green and clear above, and the anal is deep green striped and edged in rich orange. Ventrals are light green, and the tail is basically clear. Both sexes have deep orange eyes. For maximum color and vitality, live food at least occasionally is necessary.

    To mimic natural conditions, very well plant the tank. Floating plants should be over the main swimming area, substrate and background dark, and driftwood should be used. A fairly timid species, so the more places to hide the more comfortable, and thus visible, they are. Filtration through peat moss is recommended, and they do best in slightly acidic, soft water. Best temperature is 75 degrees, but for breeding, it should very slowly be raised to 82. The water should be still, so multiple low GPH filters should be used.

    Though shy, Striped Gouramis are good eaters. You'll get best color and vitality with at least occasional live food, say two to four times a week. The larger species of wingless fruit flies (Dropsilia hydei), small crickets, white, Grindal and smaller red worms; if you can culture it and it's insect or worm based they'll certainly eat it. Most will take pelleted foods, as to this day, the majority of Striped Gouramis are wild caught. A pellet containing a large percentage of Spirulina will provide the greens they need, but a high-quality pelleted food should be staple.

    Tankmates must be mellow, as though this is a larger gourami species, they are easily bullied. Not even semi-aggressive species should be used. Fish like Checker or Gold Barbs can be used, but Tiger Barbs are most definitely out. One must be very careful in what species you choose to keep with Striped Gouramis. Passive tankmates that keep to themselves makes the Gouramis more secure, but any hint of aggression from a species they will hide continually and soon starve to death. Too pretty a species to keep carelessly.

    To spawn this species, prepare a tank with eight inches of water from your main tank, and add sufficient floating plants so there is little room between them. Use a seasoned sponge filter. Cover the tank well. Feed both male and female much live food so she can develop eggs, for a week. When she's obviously filled with eggs, very, very slowly raise the temperature to 82.

    Soon, the male will started building a loose bubble nest, usually at the edge of a floating plant. The embrace usually follows directly and the floating eggs are expelled and fertilized. They scatter across the water, but no matter, since both the eggs and fry, the latter prior to free swimming, float. The female is removed soon as spawning is finished. Adult female can produce up to a thousand eggs, so either larger or more numerous tanks may be necessary for all those fry.

    The male busies himself in care of the eggs. He'll take a gulp of air, and expel a fine mist of bubbles from his gills. He'll do this all over the spawning tank, and some males will also take sand in his mouth and blow them over the eggs.

    The eggs hatch in two days, and the male should be removed the day after, as the fry are free swimming very soon. Like most bubble-nest builders, the fry are truly tiny, and infusoria must be the first food. It will be at least a week, usually longer, before they can manage Rotifers. Baby brine shrimp should be rinsed prior to feeding when the fry grow enough to take them as the salt on the shell of the shrimp can damage the fry. Microworms are a better choice than BBS and are easily cultured. The fry will be nearly grown in four to five months.

    A very peaceful species, and easily kept in groups; one male to three females. Fairly uncommon, but well work seeking out this lovely species.
    _ _ _

    Though called the Thick-Lipped Gourami, Colisa labiosus, which has normal lips, is our next species.

    Native to Pakistan, India, Burma, Korea and the Malay Peninsula, Thick-Lipped Gouramis (TLGs) are one of the smaller of the larger Gouramis, topping out a just 3.25 inches. Captive bred in Asia by the tens of thousands, TLGs are commonly available.

    Though more moderately colored than the above species, TLGs, properly kept, can be very attractive. The male is topped in rich brown, bottom is more orange with several blue stripes past the belly. His dorsal and anal fins are blueish and both are edged in orange. He develops a red point to his dorsal with age. Ventral fins long, thin, feeler-like and rich orange. The fan-like tail is based blue but is otherwise clear. His mate is clear brownish, belly white, and dorsal and anal fins edged red, with her anterior of the anal fin longer and rich red. A brown stripe is along her lateral line. Her ventrals are the equal of the male's.

    As these fish are found along the banks of heavily vegetated waters, it's best to keep them in very well planted tanks. The plants give these fishes security; without the plants, these fish are highly nervous, will hide all the time, and soon die. Best water conditions are pH 6.0-6.8, gH 2, since the males will be much more richly colored in it, and you'll get between five and eight years with your charges. Temperatures are 72 to 80, the latter when breeding. For general maintenance, keep them between 75 and 77 degrees. If given cover like floating plants, arching driftwood and the like, TLGs are an active, vivacious species.

    TLGS are easily fed, and will take what you give them, but flake foods should be avoided, since when fed solely on them, they can easily compact in the intestinal tract. Better are a quality pellet as a staple, and occasional live food, since the latter is key to better color of both sexes. Say live food like wingless fruit flies (Dropsilia melangaster), White and Grindal Worms, and Springtails (Collembola sp.), which are all easily home cultured. TLG's should be fed light meals. since they are prone to gorging to their cost, two to three times a day. One or two meals per day can be live food, the other(s) a high quality pellet. TLGS should fast one day a week to help void wastes.

    TLG's are one of the easiest of the Gouramis to breed. A spawning tank should be prepared if one wishes to breed them. The water level should be six inches. A season sponge filter is added as well as several floating plants. A likely male is introduced. The temperature should be very slowly raised to 80 degrees. He'll build a scattered bubble nest under or beside a floating plant and darkens his colors. An obviously egg-laden female is acclimated and added, and the embrace usually occurs within minutes. Adult female produce up to 700 eggs, which the male fertilizes as they rise. He chases her away when the spawning is finished, but not very vigorously. She should be removed.

    As both the eggs and young float, the male busies himself with patrolling the area, and producing thousands of tiny bubbles all over the tank. At 80 degrees the eggs will hatch in two days, and free swimming within three. The male should then be removed.

    The first food for the fry must be Infusoria, and in the old days green (algae) water was used. It'll take a week or longer for the fry to manage Rotifers, and a further week before they can take microworms. In the latter half of the microworm stage, one can add very small pelleted foods to the menu. The fry will be full grown in five months.

    TLG's have been hybridized with other Gourami species, particularly the Dwarf Gourami, via hormone injection. I call for a boycott of such animal abuse, and seek out the real C. labiosus, which these days is harder and harder to find.
    _ _ _

    Perhaps my very favorite of all Anabatoids is the Pearl Gourami, Trichogaster leeri.

    Hailing from heavily vegetated waters in Thailand, Sumatra and the Malay Peninsula is a fish of exquisite refinement. They sail through a tank with the grace of swans asleep. In manner they are perfectly peaceful.

    Reaching four inches, from a greenish body, thousands of light colored 'pearls' cover Pearl Gouramis, leaving only from the gills forward clear. A dark line from the lower lip follows the lateral line to just past the dorsal fin. Ventral fins long, thin and silver white. The fish can move the ventrals in any direction they care to. With maturity the male's anal fin develops long tendrils that are tipped black. The male has a pointed dorsal fin, and his mate a rounded one. She has less 'pearls' than her mate, her anal fin doesn't feather out strongly like his, and her dark line not as intense, but in health, both sexes are very good looking fishes. They travel in large aggregations in the wild, so if one has a tank large enough, a group of six or more Pearl Gouramis are a nice display. I've 36 of them in my SE Asia-themed tank, and they glide together en masse through it.

    In breeding the male dons a deep reddish color on his front lower body. Sometimes, after the first spawn, the male retains the red. With age, males can develop creeping golden areas above the anal fin. It is neither a disease nor is it permanent, but I've had males show that golden color occasionally once they pass their third year, perhaps since I feed live food primarily. A keeper can expect a Pearl Gourami life span of about a decade.

    Though Pearl Gouramis developed in soft, moderately acidic waters, decades of commercial production means these fish can thrive from pH 6.0 to 7.5, very soft to moderately hard. Mine are kept in pH 6.7, gH 2. Temperatures are 72 to 82, say 75 to 77 degrees for general maintenance.

    Since the Pearl Gourami is native to thick stands of aquatic plants, a very well planted aquarium is the ideal place for a group of these charming Anabatoids. Floating plants over the main swimming area and a dark substrate and background, plus occasional live food, and Pearl Gouramis will be beautifully colored.

    As Pearls stay in the upper third of the aquarium (the upturned mouth a sign of a surface feeder), a peaceful schooling species like Harlequin Rasboras (Trigonostigma heteromorpha) would be perfect to fill the middle third of the aquarium, though I keep mine with Checker and Clown Barbs (Puntius oligolepis and Puntius everetti, respectively). To complete the Southeast Asia population, Botia-type loaches could haunt the bottom realm. Botia striata would be ideal, since they grow to just four inches. Do not keep Pearl Gouramis with aggressive or speedy fishes like danios by any means, as they are easily bullied or startled by fast movers.

    In feeding T. leeri is easily satisfied, but high quality food results in high quality fishes. Foods should float, since the top of the water is where Pearls prefer to feed. A quality pelleted food can be staple, but they are very fond of live foods. They'll take white worms (Enchytraeus albidus) right from my fingers, and they are extremely fond of wingless fruit flies ([i]Dropsilia hydei[/]). I suspect Pearls are aufwuchs eaters in nature, as they endlessly pick at the algae-covered stones I put in for other fishes, so Spirolina flakes or pellets can be given to feed the Vegan itch of the fishes. Feeding should be very light, and two to four times daily.

    Feeding much live food during the rainy months (November to February) of their ancestors is key to spawning Pearl Gouramis. You can tell when spawning is at hand when females bulk up visibly as their abdomen swells with eggs. A slow rise to 80 degrees usually results in the males constructing bubble nests between or under floating plants, and courting females.

    It's best to move a likely pair to a breeding aquarium equipped with floating plants with the water no deeper than ten inches. Occasionally the female assists the male in constructing the bubble nest, especially if the pair had spawned together before. Soon after construction, spawning occurs as he wraps his body around her in a crescent, and hundreds, in some cases thousands, of eggs are expelled and fertilized. Buoyant, the eggs float up into the nest. Any that go astray are collected by him and released below the nest. He's not very insistent in driving his mate away from the nest, but may attack her if she approaches it. Both sexes can be removed after spawning and returned to the main aquarium.

    At 80 degrees the eggs hatch within 30 hours, with the tiny fry free swimming three days later. Infusoria, Paramecium is best, is the first food for the fry. They should be parceled out to other aquariums for grow out, as the hundreds or thousands of fry do produce much waste. A single fry tank most likely will become so waste born that the fry all die. The fry tanks much be kept very clean, and partial changes daily to help prevent waste build up and mass fry death.

    The infusoria will be necessary for at least a week, with Rotifers following when the fry start to overlook the infusoria. It can be more than two weeks before the fry grow enough to take baby brine shrimp. At the BBS stage most of the battle is won. You can start adding small pelleted foods to the menu once the fry are nearly through the BBS stage. With care, you can expect a 90 percent, or more, fry yield.

    Feeding should be at least four times a day as much as the fry can consume in less than 8 seconds. You want their little bellies rounded. Home-bred Pearl Gouramis are almost always superior to store-bought examples.

    Nearly bulletproof hardy and certainly beautiful, Pearl Gouramis are a good choice if one has an appropriate tank for them.
    Last edited by Cliff; 03-10-2012 at 08:25 PM.
    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

  9. #9

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    0 Not allowed!
    Available in several man-made variations is Trichogaster trichopterus, the Blue Gourami, a native of Sumatra.

    Reaching five inches given the time and space to do so, the wild or wild-type Blue Gourami is a very attractive fish. A pastel blue body is marked with deep blue striping down to the lateral line in females, longer and deeper blue in males. Belly white, and anal fin prettily marked with deep blue base and yellow spotting. Three dark spots; at the base of the tail, mid-body and black eye iris, give the fish its species name. His blue dorsal fin and anal fin end in a point, the female's are rounded, but both sexes are similarly colored, with more intense blues of the male. Ventrals are long and thin. The original [i]T. trichopterus[/], discovered in the Malay Peninsula in 1928, was a iridescent grey fish that had orange spotting in all unpaired fins. The blue form was found in Sumatra four years later.

    They have been around so long that other color morphs are available, but I prefer them in their natural rainments.

    Blue Gouramis are best kept in soft, acidic water in thickly planted aquariums. In such tanks, properly fed and kept, Blue Gouramis can live for up to 15 years, sometimes longer. PH between 6.0 and 6.8, gH under 5, and 75 degrees suits them very well and will result in a much more intensely colored, much healthier life. Temperature range is 72 to 82, the latter for a breeding attempt. Blue Gouramis, particularly the male, have a reputation somewhat as a bully, usually when it's the only Blue Gourami in the tank. If kept in groups, like a male and four females, is a key to a peaceful tank. Otherwise fish with flowing fins will be attacked, so tankmates must be large enough to not be considered food, and mobile and numerous enough to avoid being targets for aggression.

    Rasboras that grow to more than two inches and larger Tetra species are good, and since they aren't easy targets, Blue Gouramis ignore them. Botia-type loaches, or Corydoras catfish can haunt the bottom realm. Don't keep them with any semi-aggressive species like some barbs and Cichlids, because though Blue Gouramis stand up for themselves, they can be dominated by breeding Cichlids, and boisterous fish like Tiger Barbs. The Blue Gourami tank should be a minimum of 90 gallons, since they do best when given space, and if you keep them in groups, each male with four or five females, which you should, Blue Gouramis are peaceful.

    The Blue Gouramis do best in very well planted aquariums. Floating plants should be over the main swimming area and Blues look very attractive moving through the light and shadow below them.

    Blue Gouramis are good and avid eaters. Since the vast majority are captive raised these days, they will eat anything resembling fish food. One should select a high quality pelleted food for a staple diet. Occasional live food, like wingless fruit flies, springtails, white, Grindal and small red worms, should be given two to four times a week for color and vitality of the fishes. Live food is essential if one wishes to breed this species. Feeding should be very light and three times a day. Feed smaller portions than you think you should. Properly kept and fed, you can enjoy well over a decade from Blue Gouramis.

    Like others of the larger Gouramis, Blues are very prolific. Adult females can produce up to 3,000 eggs. Thus the spawning tank should be quite large, with numerous grow-out tanks should one wish to attempt to breed this species.

    Condition the gouramis with much live food for a week or so. The females will fill with eggs as their abdomen swells. Pick a likely pair, that is, a male flirting with a female, and carefully acclimate them to slightly acidic, soft water in an aquarium of at least 55 gallons. Provide many floating plants, and the water level should be 10 inches deep. Very slowly raise the temperature to 82, and the male will begin building a large bubble nest between the plants. He'll then put on his best colors, and try to temp the female to the nest by swimming toward her, then returning to the nest. She'll nip him on the back when she's ready to go. Males can become quite rough on females, especially if she's not ready to spawn. She'll edge toward the male, and he may chase her, especially if its his first mating. Hiding areas, especially with aquatic plants, should be provide if she needs to hide from him. If not, she'll join him under the nest and he directly turns her over, arches his body over her, and thousands of tiny eggs are expelled and float into the nest. She should be removed promptly after spawning, as Blue Gourami males are quite belligerent post spawning.

    He'll concern himself with blowing bubbles and streams of water over the eggs. He'll gently rearrange them, then usually blows more bubbles to fortify the nest. He should be removed when the fry become free swimming two days after hatching.

    Eggs hatch in 30 hours. First food is of course Infusoria, and it can be some time before they can take Rotifers. Microworms and baby brine shrimp, the latter rinsed prior to feeding, follow. When the youngsters graduate to small pelleted foods, the following week, one should VERY carefully move groups of fry to grow-out tanks at least 40 gallons in size. The water level should remain ten inches in the grow out tanks so the fry can develop their labyrinth organ, which will be complete when they are in their seventh week.

    Of course, fry tanks should be kept scrupulously clean, and partial water changes of ten percent every night. One can expect up to a 95 percent fry yield, and the fry will grow to be more colorful and vital than their parents.
    _ _ _

    One of the most graceful of the larger gouramis is Trichogaster microlepis, the Moonlight Gourami. The common name describes the color of this lovely fish; like moonlight on calm water. A diaphanous iridescent green is over the glowing silver body.

    Moonlights are one of the larger species, reaching up to seven inches given the time and space to do so. In groups, despite their size, Moonlights are among the most peaceful of the Gouramis, though pairs are ill advised, since eventually one will bully the other to death. They move a lot like the smooth cruise Pearl Gouramis do.

    A native to heavily vegetated ponds and slow streams in Thailand and Cambodia, Moonlight males have extremely long, thin, ventral fins, that in mature males, can reach well beyond the tail, while females' rarely reach past the anal fin. Male and females look much alike; it's the males pointed dorsal, while the female's is rounded, and he has a light red tint to the ventral fins that enables one to identify the sexes. The head slopes almost to a point.

    Like Pearls, Moonlights do best in groups of their fellows. You'd need a six-foot aquarium to do so, but a school of two dozen is stunning, especially if the background and substrate are dark. If they are not kept in a group, Moonlight Gouramis are rather shy, and tend to hide a lot, robbing one of the sight of a beautiful species. Best water conditions are soft and fairly acidic, since those are the waters their kind came from. So about pH 6.5, gH between 2 and 5. Do not keep them in alkaline waters, since these are confirmed acidic water fishes, meaning they live far longer in the soft and acidic. Temperatures are 79 to 86, with the lower end best for general maintenance. Properly kept, you can expect well over ten years with your charges.

    The tank should be very well planted, with some floating plants over the main swimming area, since Moonlights are more comfortable if they have a thick forest of plants to retreat to when they feel the need. Tankmates MUST be passive, since Moonlights are easily bullied. Rasboras that grow to more than two inches long are good, as are Botia-type loaches. Other gourami species are ill advised, since nearly all of them are more dominant than Moonlights. Cichlids are most decidedly out. Make dead sure the fishes you buy to keep with Moonlight Gouramis are extremely peaceful ones.

    Moonlight Gouramis are easily fed, though they prefer small live food like the Hydei species of fruit flies, for instance. Since most Moonlights are captive bred these day, almost all will take pelleted foods, so make sure they are high quality. They may nibble plants, so Spirulina flakes or better, pelleted foods should be used to prevent that. A concert of pelleted foods plus live food several times a week will keep your fish in the pink. They should be fed light meals two to three times a day. You want them avid to eat, so feed lightly.

    Spawning Moonlight Gouramis is a very special thing, since most gourami keepers of my acquaintance have yet to accomplish it.

    Prepare a spawning tank of at least 55 gallons in size, the size necessary for the large number of fry this species produces. The water should be eight inches deep, and it must be soft and acidic water if one wishes a successful spawn. A likely pair is carefully acclimated and added. Live food is used to condition the breeders, as the tank temperature is VERY slowly raised to 82. The temperature raising should be over a week or ten days; by then, the female should be filled with eggs. When the temperature reaches 80, the male will start building a bubble nest between the floating plants. After adding the finishing touches, he tries to tempt the female to the nest.

    He is quite the dandy while trying to impress his lady. He spreads his fins widely, showing his best profile, then cruises around her, touching her with his feelers. He swims with her, and if she's impressed, they'll swim together to right under the nest. Not a aggressive suitor, he very gently turns her over and arches his body over her. Up to 2500 eggs are expelled and fertilized as they float up into the nest.

    He's not very persistent at chasing the female away, though if the pair had spawned together before, he often allows her to stay in the area. To err on the side of caution, remove her. Eggs hatch in 30 hours with the fry free swimming 30 hours later. Make sure the 80-degree temperature is maintained, and 10 percent water changes and cleaning debris nightly without fail. Feeding is six to eight times a day and the first food is Infusoria, Paramecium being the ideal organism. It'll be a week to ten days before they can eat Rotifers, and about the same amount of time before they can take microworms, rinsed baby brine shrimp, and Daphnia pulex, the latter occasionally, since too many can result in fry that aren't plump. You can add small pelleted foods to the menu once they hit the BBS stage.

    The fry should be moved to other tanks for grow-out once they hit 1.5 inches. All they need his warmth, soft and acid water, space and regular feeding. Given them, you can fledge up to 95 percent of your charges.

    Moonlights are a beautiful, serene species for your next large planted tank.
    _ _ _

    Not only one of the largest of the Gouramis, but also perhaps the most peaceful, is the Snakeskin Gourami, Trichogaster pectoralis.

    Reaching ten inches, Snakeskin Gouramis couldn't be described as colorful, yet they are quite attractive. A dotted black line runs from the gills to the base of the tail on the male. With maturity he develops a nice yellow sheen over his otherwise light olive body. Anal fin long, with an amber edge. She grows an inch or so smaller than her mate, her olive darker, but she has lines of pale gold above her anal fin, which isn't as dark an amber as the male's is. Ventrals are thin and very long in both sexes. Eyes are rimmed silver.

    These fish are widespread in nature and is an important food fish in some Asian countries, thus has been introduced into several countries in SE Asia. It was initially discovered in the Malay Peninsula in the 1840s. Over 90 percent of this species are bred as a food source, so a small percentage is produced for the pet trade.

    These fish are native to slow streams and ponds rift with aquatic plants and little else, thus have a plant nibbling bent. It means in a very well planted tank like they deserve, the plants will be slowly and steadily consumed unless one keeps them fed in leafy fresh vegetables, like leaf spinach and Romaine lettuce. Mashed slightly so the leaf flesh is visible and clipped to the side of the tank. If fed daily leafy vegetables, if sufficient, they'll leave your plants alone. But, softer leaved plants like the Hygrophila species may be too tempting to Snakeskin Gouramis, so keep that in mind.

    With their size, a tank should be at least six feet for a group of these peaceful fishes. Large planted tanks are ideal for Snakeskin Gouramis, and in a 200 gallon tank, you can keep eight to ten of them, since T. pectoralis does like groups of their kind. Best water conditions are fairly soft, slightly acidic water, since they look so much better in it, and are highly resistant to disease. So pH 6.5 to 6.8, and gH under five, and over time more intense colors will appear on these fishes. A keeper can expect well over ten years with this species. Temperatures are 72 to 82, the latter when breeding. A temperature of 75 suits them just fine.

    Though Snakeskins are extremely peaceful and are highly unlikely to consume small tankmates, one should err on the side of caution and keep them with very passive tankmates that grow to more than two inches long, like Checker or Gold Barbs, or Rasboras. Since Snakeskins are so mellow, they can be bullied, so tankmates MUST be peaceful. They should be the only Anabatoid species in the tank.

    In feeding they are rather shy but avid eaters. A high quality pellet can be staple, but Snakeskins should also have one that has Spirulina as the main ingredient to scratch their plant itch. Live food, like the larger species of fruit fly (Dropsilia hydei) and the like are deeply enjoyed and enhances vitality and color, but a key to keeping this species long term is foods from vegetative sources. Snakeskins should have light meals two to three times a day, with one day a week a fast so they can clear their systems.

    Snakeskins are by far the easiest Anabatoid to breed, and they can produce a prodigious number of fry. A larger spawning tank should be prepared, a seasoned sponge filter used, and many floating plants provided. Water depth is ten inches, and a likely male is introduced. Females are fed much live food over time until they are obviously filled with eggs. The spawning tank should be slowly raised to 80 degrees. When the male builds his loose bubble nest, a female is acclimated and introduced, and spawning happens almost immediately. Adult females can produce more than 5,000 eggs, which are fertilized by the male as they are extruded. The eggs, about the size of mustard seed, scatter widely unless floating plants are used, but no matter; both the eggs and fry float. You can remove both parents after spawning if you wish, since neither will eat the eggs nor fry, and the male at no time attacks the female.

    As said, with that number of eggs, the spawning tank should be larger, at least 40 gallons in size. Several other tanks should be available for fry grow out. The eggs hatch in two days, the fry free swimming within two more, and most can take Rotifers right off, so a mix of Infusoria and Rotifers will keep them fed in the early days. It'll be a week or more before microworms (better) or baby brine shrimp can be managed by the fry. They'll be full grown in four months. Snakeskins are such easy breeders, and so prolific, some feed the fry to other fishes.

    By the way, you may see internet accounts of them growing smaller than 10 inches, but don't buy it. Given the space they deserve, they can and do grow that large, necessitating a six-foot tank of a hundred gallons or higher. I kept mine in a 220 gallon tank.

    A lovely peaceful fish for your large planted tank are Snakeskin Gouramis.
    Last edited by Dave66; 08-07-2011 at 08:51 AM.
    When a finger points to the moon, the imbecile looks at the finger.

    Omnia mutantur nihil interit.

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  10. #10

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    0 Not allowed!
    Though amore isn't the point, the so-called Kissing Gourami, Helostoma temmincki, is our next species

    Reaching a foot long in aquariums, and larger in nature, Kissers are native to plant-chocked and swampy waters in Java, Borneo and the Malay Peninsula. It is also farmed in several other countries as it is an important food fish. Almost 90 percent of this species is raised just for food.

    They are a long, svelte species, that in nature are either green or whitish pink. Unpaired fins are shades of the body color. Kissers have a mouth that can recurve out, and is lined with small teeth, and their so-called 'kissing' behavior earns the common name. This species is subject to the heinous practice of dying the whitish form varied colors by injection, a practice I abhor. I encourage a prospective keeper to seek out naturally colored Kissing Gouramis.

    The 'kissing' is two males pushing each other to establish a hierarchy, meaning it's actually a test of strength. Very rarely, if ever, is there any damage, as to my experience, once the hierarchy is established, Kissers are one of the most genial of the Anabatoids. Only when very hungry do they suck on the sides of other fish, as you may see the behavior in internet reports. Properly fed, Kissing Gouramis mean no harm to each other, nor tankmates. Filtration should be large and efficient, since this species produces much waste. Filtration though peat moss is helpful, since these are acidic marsh fishes in nature. H. temmincki do best in soft, acidic conditions, and such conditions essential should one wish to breed this species. Say pH 6.0-6.8, gH 5. Keep them at 75 degrees for general maintenance.

    Kissing Gouramis should be kept in groups, since they are so much more peaceful in them. Eight or more can be the feature species in a 200-gallon aquarium. Tankmates can include mid-sized barbs like Checker and Gold barbs. Avoid Tigers since they can harass the slowly cruising gouramis. As long as the tankmates are large enough to not be considered food, and peaceful enough not to bother the gouramis, they can be included.

    As below, Kissing Gouramis have a decided need for vegetables. Leafy vegetables should be rinsed and clipped to the side of the tank. They'll eat most fruits, save for those high in citric acid, like oranges. They like firm melons like cantaloupe and honeydew. Kissers will also happily nibble green algae cultured on stones. Feeding them sufficient amounts of fruits and vegetables daily will keep them from consuming your plants, since this species looks great in the large planted tank. They'll eat other foods, so pelleted foods can be used, but make sure the fishes get the greens for the most part. Feeding should be twice daily.

    Breeding Kissing Gouramis is a very special thing, since it's an extremely rare occurrence among home hobbyists. A spawning tank at least 40 gallons in size should be used, a seasoned sponge filter provided, and many floating plants to cover the majority of the tank. The water depth should be 10 inches and be soft and acidic.

    Live food for a week or ten days to condition the fishes. Transfer a likely pair, that is, a slender male and obviously egg-laden female, to the spawning tank. Continue the live food as you very slowly raise the temperature to 82. Spawning behavior soon ensues. Both male and female nudge each other and they usually swim around the tank together for some time. 'Kissing' checks compatibility, then the male blows a few scattered bubbles under a floating plant, and the female joins him under the nest. He turns her upside down, arches his body over her, and thousands of tiny eggs rise into the floating plant. As spawning usually happens just after daylight, one must be on his toes and remove both parents post spawning, since they may eat the eggs and would certainly eat the fry.

    Eggs hatch in about a day, with the fry free swimming two days later. Tiny, you'll have to offer infusoria, Rotifers and rinsed Baby Brine Shrimp, since the fry vary widely in size. Meals should be given several times a day, as you want their little bellies rounded. Keeping the tank clean and about a 10 percent water change every night, and the fry should be more than an inch long in five weeks. You'll have to move groups of fry to other tanks for grow-out because of the large number of fry a Kissing Gourami pair can produce. The fry will be adults in eight months.

    Not a rare species, but an interesting one should one have an appropriate tank for them.
    _ _ _

    A popular food fish. and introduced into several Asian regions. is the Giant Gourami, Osphronemus goramy

    The name 'Goramy' is the only "true" gourami species, as that's what the natives call this fish. Calling other species "Gouramis" is an old, old error, and so entrenched into popular aquarium culture.

    This is the largest of the gouramis, reaching more than two feet. Though native to swampy waters in Indochina, India, Malaysia and Indonesia, it is farmed by the hundreds of thousands in several Southeast Asia countries as it is somewhat of a popular delicacy. In India, it is dried and eaten like jerky. Baked, the flesh is white and flaky. In the aquarium, they prefers temperatures from the low 70 to low 80s, the latter should one wishes to attempt to spawn this species. Keep them at 75 degrees; in that temp they live quite well. The water should be fairly soft and acidic, since these are swamp fishes. Filtration should be very efficient, and partial water changes regular, since as they grow Giant Gouramis become very messy fishes. Filtration through peat moss is preferable, as it increases colors and vivacity.

    The adult size of Goramy necessitates a very large aquarium to keep them; an eight-foot aquarium in the 300+ gallon range would not be too big. They get along great in groups, but their 28-inch size means the group should be no more than eight. When they mature, the male develops a bump on his head and his head narrows to a point. Adult female lack the bump, but their head narrows like the male. A group is almost essential, as in pairs or smaller groups they can be rather boisterous with each other, and once a bully develops, he'll attack others of his kind relentlessly.

    Why keep such a massive Anabatoid? They are an attractive and peaceful species kept in a proper group. Colors can be as individual as a fingerprint, and vertical banding can be white, brown, red, or anything in between. Mostly its browns and whites with red on the fish, but in any guise, they are quite good looking. The tail is stumpy, but Giant Gouramis cruise together quite smoothly. Ventrals are quite long and somewhat thicker than most Gouramis. Dorsal long, and anal very full. Males and females look much alike; his pointed dorsal fin enables one to identify the sexes. You can expect up to three decades or more with this fish.

    In feeding they have a decided vegetative preference, though they'll eat other kinds of pelleted foods. They are confirmed herbivores and live plants, save for floating ones, will be eaten. They will eat any leafy vegetable and most melons, legumes and fruit, but don't like acidic fruits like oranges. Fed veggies daily in sufficient quantities is key if you want to keep Giant Gouramis from eating your plants. Vegetative food is necessary for these fish to mature properly. Occasional live food can be small shrimp like Gammarius species and red worms. Do not for any means feed them live fish. Giant Gouramis should be fed three times a day, with light meals; a lean horse for a long race, as it were. Big-bodied, Giant Gouramis can weigh more than 30 pounds when adult.

    Home breeding is extremely rare due to the adult size of the fish. If one wishes to try, the spawning tank should be large; I used a 200 gallon tank. Plants and twigs and such should be provided, as the male will use them in the construction of the bubble nest. The water should be quite soft and acidic (pH 6.0-6.5, gH 2), and much live food used to for a week to condition the breeders.

    Select a likely pair, which will be the one that have gone off by themselves. Move the pair to a spawning tank,

    The spawning tank should be fourteen inches deep, and a seasoned sponge filter is used. Continue feeding the pair live food as you very slowly raise the temperature to 82 degrees. Once the temp hits 80 the male, and sometimes with the assistance of the female, builds a massive bubble nest, up to two feet across and six inches high. He bolsters it with pieces of plant and suitable twigs. He'll court his chosen mate, and soon she'll join him under the nest. Large as they are, spawning is fascinating as they tenderly touch each other with their ventral fins. The tank depth is necessary so he can gentle turn the female on her back and arch his body over her.

    Adult female can produce a huge number of eggs, up to 10,000 in a single spawn. The eggs, which float, are fertilized, and any that miss the nest are gathered by the male and released into the nest. He seals them in with a fine mist of bubbles, and the female should be very promptly removed, since the male becomes highly aggressive in defense of the nest.

    The eggs hatch in a day, with the fry free swimming within 30 hours. The male should be removed one night, since his mass and waste would doom the fry. The spawning tank should be kept dark as light can damage the fry. Despite the size of the parents, the fry are tiny, and demand infusoria for first food. It's be up to a week before they can take Rotifers, then microworms and rinsed baby brine shrimp. When the fry grow to an inch long, you'll have to move good sized groups to grow out tanks. I used a quintet of 40 gallon tanks. The fry will hit a salable size in about two months, which by then they should be two inches long.

    It takes extra large aquariums to keep this species, but ones who want the largest of the family need look no further.
    _ _ _

    Coming to us from tropical West Africa is Microctenopoma ansorgii. the Ornate Ctenopoma.

    Native to small, plant choked tributaries in the Congo Watershed, Ornates are quite small, about 2.5 inches, and one of the most attractive member of the family, all called bushfish.

    In a cylindrical body, from a tan over silver ground, several dark lines bisect, angling diagonally in the long, expansive dorsal and anal fins. Deep orange, red in some specimens, is between the diagonal lines. The head is more silvery. Ventrals are short and light colored. The female is almost the equal of her mate. She's a bit lighter in body color, her stripes fewer and barely indicated, only distinct in the dorsal and anal fins. In some populations, red is between the stripes. The caudal fin of both sexes is basically clear. There are several regional variants of this species, some more colorful, some not.

    This species should be kept in well-planted tanks, since it shelters among plants along the banks of the streams they come from. Provided with driftwood as well will make them right at home. Best conditions is clean, well-filtered water that's soft and fairly acidic, to mimic their natural waters. Though they are adaptable to a point, they live and look so much better in pH 6.5 to 6.8. gh under 5. They will also breed in such conditions, not in others. Temperatures range from the low 70's to 80, with 77 ideal.

    Like all Ctenopoma species, Ornates are ambush predators. They'll stay in a fairly hidden spot, and wait for food to swim by. The larger species have such capricious mouths, they can suck in any food item that swims by. This species has such a small mouth, it's more of a plankton eater. Ornates are far more active than its larger relatives, meaning it's more visible to the keeper. But like all of the family, Ornates stalk their prey just like the big boys. They should be kept in groups, since it's more natural for them. A male (or males, in larger tanks) with three to five females each is the proper ratio.

    Live food give best results with this species. Black, Grindal worms and small red worms are a favorite with them, but with more active tankmates, one may have to target feed the Ornates. Most will also take pelleted foods, especially if they are emulsified in products designed for lipids, since it makes pellets much more tasty for them. One out of ten of them might take flake foods, but pellets are a much better option. Feeding should be light and three times a day, especially if using live food, since it makes them far more avid to eat, are more active, and is necessary for egg development in females.

    Tankmates should be large enough to not become food, but passive enough to not bother the Ornates. Barbs (not Tigers) and Rasboras are good. Corys are often chased by this species, so Botia-type loaches are a better option. Ornates totally ignore fish too large to eat.

    If kept in the soft and acid and a slow raise to 80 degrees, Ornates will breed for you. Though few have caught them in the act, the male blows a few large, scattered bubbles, usually under a floating plant, occasionally under arching driftwood. A likely female approaches, and he flips her over, arches his body, and up to a thousand floating eggs are extruded and fertilized. She is usually chased away, as will any fish that approaches the nest. A spawning tank, equipped with floating plants and sponge filter would be necessary to purposely breed this species. Both male and female should be removed when spawning is completed.

    Eggs will hatch in a day, with the fry free swimming two days later. Quite tiny, their first food must be infusoria. Rotifers follow, followed by microworms and very small pelleted food. Males dislike crowding, so if you see fry sparring with each other during their sixth week, you'll have to move the males to other aquariums. Come to that, the spawning tank should be large, 40 gallons and larger, due to the enormous number of fry. They'll be full grown in four to six months, depending on the space in which they are kept.

    One of the most popular of the family, Ornates are an unusual and attractive species.
    _ _ _

    Larger and with a far larger mouth is the Leopard Bushfish, Ctenopoma acutirostre, which hails from the Congo River water system in Western Africa.

    Reaching six inches in aquariums, and up to eight in large tanks, a light orange body is liberally marked in dark spots. Depending on where they were collected, Leopards can have circular spots in a regular pattern, oblong spots that are less distinct, or tiny spots all over the body, or any other size or pattern of the spots. The most popular are large, dark polka dots. The head is long and comes to a point at the large mouth. The eye is particularly big, denoting a nocturnal hunter in their native land. Dorsal and anal fins long and spiked as the rays extend. Both sexes look much alike, but with maturity, the male has spiking on his cheeks. The better this species is kept the more intense the markings.

    This fish is laterally compressed and rather pancake-shaped. With the spiked finnage, often a hunting technique is use as he orients and bends his body like a leaf. The large mouth folds out like a trumpet to suck in food. This species has a reputation as semi-aggressive, but that reputation is in error. Though they will naturally eat any fish that fits their mouth, they don't bother other fishes as long as other fishes leave it alone, as Leopard Bushfish will defend their chosen hiding spot.

    And that's the key to keeping them; very well planted tanks with many caves and hiding spots built into it. More hiding spots the more peaceful Leopard Bushfish are. It will take up to two years for them to reach maximum size, longer sometimes, depending where the fish were caught.

    Water conditions should mimic where they come from; clean neutral to slightly acid waters that are moderately soft. So 6.8 to 7.0, and gH 5 to 7. They appreciate a temperature of 75, in a breeding attempt it is slowly raised to 80. An ideal Leopard Bushfish tank would be of 40 gallon size, larger for more of them, since they need room to roam, and very well planted. As they are nocturnal hunters the light over the main swimming area should be filtered by floating plans. This fish, which easily learns to eat in the daytime, looks very attractive moving through the green and light of floating plants. They often hide in their chosen spot, and emerge when hungry or when food is added. Some specimens are very visible all day.

    Tankmates should be at least half the size of the Leopard Bushfish. Congo Tetras are good, grow to four inches, and are found in the same river system. They should be at least three inches before the Bushfish is added. The trick is finding fish that don't intrude on its space, are too large to eat, wont eat your plants, and wont harass the Leopard Bushfish. They should not be kept with any Cichlids. You can keep Leopard Bushfish in groups, eight at least for a good chance of a compatible pair, but they must be added all at once, since they will attack any of their kind added later. Obviously it'd take a six foot tank to keep such a group that's at least 100 gallons in size, with larger better. Remember, they need room to roam, so the space is necessary.

    Feeding should be light, twice a day and they are very fond of meaty live food, like red and meal worms. They'll eat any shrimp, and watching them stalk prey is a sight few will forget. Most will take pelleted foods, and the odd one will take flakes, but live and frozen foods several times a week, daily even, will result in much better color, vitality and long life. As they are slow, deliberate feeders, one may have to target feed this species.

    A breeding tank should be large, have soft and acidic water, and be equipped with a seasoned sponge filter. As Leopard Bushfish are very long lived, it can be at least five years before they are sexually mature. Leopard Bushfish can live past 20 years easily.

    Live food is given more often during the rainy season of their ancestors, which is from November to February. The water should be very soft, even to zero, a pH of 6.0 to 6.5, 80 degrees, 10 inches deep, and many floating plants added. The tank must be very tightly sealed to keep the air warm and humid for the youngsters' sake. Some use cling wrap. A few places to hide is provided. A likely male (one can tell when he starts moving toward the females) is carefully acclimated and added to the spawning tank. Sometimes he builds a loose bubble nest under a floating plants within a day, sometimes in days or weeks. When he does, an obviously egg-filled female is added at night, and spawning should occur the following morning. Adult females can produce several thousand eggs. Both sexes should be remove directly after spawning.

    With that number of ova, one must have several tanks available for fry grow out. Eggs hatch in two days and the fry are free swimming very soon after. Infusoria is the first food and they'll be ready for Rotifers in two days. Two days later they can take microworms and baby brine shrimp, the latter rinsed lightly before use to remove the salt. Frozen and small live provided as the fry grow rather rapidly. You must feed them small meals at least 8 times a day, 10 if possible, or predation will occur amongst the fry. They'll be better than two inches in three months, and ready for sale in another month. As they are a popular species that's uncommon in shops, home-bred youngsters are an easy sale, since they look like miniature adults.

    Though they have certain needs in the aquarium, Leopard Bushfish are quite hardy, and a good long-term pet.
    _ _ _

    Though they can be challenging to keep properly, Luciocephalus pulcher, the Giant Pikehead, is our last and most unusual Anabatoid.

    Native to soft and acidic black and clear water streams in Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia and pristine waters in parts of Thailand, Giant Pikeheads are the only confirmed piscavore in this list, though in captivity they'll happily consume other suitable live foods. They are long, thin, prettily marked fishes. A ambush predator, Giant Pikeheads can fold out their mouth an amazing amount, up to a third the fish's length. They tend to lurk in space, but can move lightening fast when prey swims by, using that unusual mouth to suck in the unfortunate creature.

    What makes them challenging to keep is their water conditions, and a extreme sensitivity to dissolved toxins like Nitrate. The water must be soft and acidic, down to pH 4.0 and zero hardness, and it must be very clean and very stable. With great care in acclimation, you can keep them up to pH 6.5 and very well plant the tank, since plants make them more secure, but hardness must be negligible, and zero is preferable. Substrate and background should be dark, even to black. Temperatures are 72 to 79, the latter if one wishes to attempt to breed this species. The temperature cannot exceed the low or high of the range. They do best at 75 degrees. Their tank must be rock solid stable, any vacillations in temperature or dissolved organics can kill them.

    A Pikehead tank should have the main swimming area covered with many floating plants, since they enjoy dim conditions. Filtration through peat moss is helpful and very nearly essential. The tank must be very well covered, with all gaps covered by nylon screen, since these fish are infamous as jumpers. I had one leap nearly six feet from its tank into a planted tank I was breeding guppies in. More than half the guppies had been consumed before I found where the Pikehead went. As tap water is quite unsuitable, one must either have an endless supply of distilled water or a top quality Reverse Osmosis/Deionization unit if one wishes to keep L. pulcher.

    Giant Pikeheads are very attractive. The long body and pointed head are marked nose to tail with a gold line, which is bordered with black. The low slope of the nearly flat back is glittering gold. The dorsal fin is relatively small and well back, almost to the caudal peduncle. The tail is fan-like and marked with arches of brown, and the anal fin is bifurcated, and also marked in brown. Ventrals are long and thin with lovely bases. The golden eye is the only thing that breaks the gold and black stripe. Sexes look very much alike, it's only the female's visibly deeper lower body when they are mature that enables one to delineate the sexes.

    They tend to prefer the upper level of the tank, among tall plants if they have them. You can keep Giant Pikeheads in groups of at least eight, but one must have a 200 gallon planted tank to do so, since they need the stability and room to roam, as mature males have territories. Tankmates must be chosen with great care. The Giant Pikehead can swallow a fish a third of the Pikehead's eight-inch length. Also, since they are very easily bullied, no Cichlids or semi-aggressive species can be used. Since they ignore bottom feeders, Botia-type loaches can be used, and they enjoy the same water conditions. Most of the larger gouramis would be fine, but since Giant Pikeheads stay most often at the top of the tank the gouramis must be at least four inches long. The larger barb species would be OK, and in the large tank you must keep a group of Pikehead in, a good-sized school of Clown Barbs would be nice display, and since the male barbs grow to nearly six inches, they'd be perfectly safe with Pikeheads. Giant Pikeheads completely ignore fishes too large to eat.

    In feeding it should be meaty. Worms are good, the size of worms based on the size of the fish. Younger specimens take chopped Grindal worm, larger ones white worms, red worms and California black worms. Adults will take a worm right from your fingers. Other foods can include meal worms, small shrimp, and the like. Most will also take pellets, but if newly imported, it's unlikely they will unless very gradually mixed in a slow progression of ratios with a favorite live food. They'll also take frozen foods, as they have a live food smell, so make sure you only use freshwater organisms. Feeding should be light and twice daily, and the feeding technique is dropping the food a few inches in front of the fish. The Pikeheads will lunge to consume it, it's quite striking first time you see it.

    I got Giant Pikeheads to breed for me exactly once. I drove the pH of the spawning tank down to 5.0 with zero hardness, and fed the Pikeheads live fish for a week during the rainy months over their range. I used floating plants and several flat rocks since I read that the species was a paternal mouthbrooder. I started the attempt in November of 2000. The females in the group started to increase in girth as they filled with eggs, and the males all colored up beautifully. I moved the most colorful male and the female he seemed most interested in to the spawning tank in the evening.

    Almost immediately the male began flaring his fins, arching his body, and gaping his prodigious mouth. The female appeared to be impressed, and started laying lines of tiny eggs on one of the stones, with the male right behind her fertilizing them. I had to go to work so I didn't see the transfer of the eggs into the male's mouth, but I found him in the left back corner of the spawning tank under a floating plant brooding eggs, according to the bulging of his chin pouch. The female was on the other side of the tank acting unconcerned. I removed her that night, returning her to her regular tank.

    The male held for nearly two weeks, but one day his throat pouch was normal size, so it was obvious he'd eaten the eggs. My group of eight never showed breeding behavior again. Someday I hope to establish another Giant Pikehead aquarium, and give the attempt to breed them another go.

    A lovely, unusual fish for those up to the challenge of keeping them.
    _ _ _

    Thus ends the Anabatoid Primer. Anabatoids are beautiful, fascinating fishes, and something to consider in your next aquarium.
    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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