Killifish are famous for burying their eggs in mud, but there is actually a lot of plant spawning Killifish species as well. Even though soil spawners and peat spawners are more famous, a majority of the known Killifish species spawn among plants. You will for instance find plant spawners in the genera Aphanius, Aphyosemion, Oryzias, Aplocheilus, Epiplatys, Pachypanchax, Pseudepiplatys, Fundulus and Rivulus. Plant spawners are easy to breed and many species readily spawn in captivity without much coaxing.
Get your plant spawning Killifish in prime breeding condition by feeding them live and frozen meaty foods. You can for instance give them brine shrimp and Tubifex worms.
Suitable spawning sites
In the wild, plant spawning Killifish will place their eggs close to the surface of the water among the roots of floating plants or in thickets of bushy plant species. You should therefore provide your fish with similar spawning sites in the aquarium. The eggs will stick to the spawning site with the help of long filaments and need from one to three weeks of incubation before they are ready to hatch.
Spawning in the normal aquarium
If you want to, you can let your Killifish spawn in their normal aquarium. Some eggs might get eaten by adult fish and large fry can eat their smaller siblings, but at least a few fry will normally survive in a well planted aquarium with a lot of hiding spots. Include plenty of floating plants and a thicket of bunch plants, e.g. Java moss. This is a good method if you do not want to raise as many fry as possible. It will also promote quality, since weak fry will be automatically culled out. A middle road between this method and the egg-removal method is to let the eggs hatch in the normal aquarium but remove the fry to their own fry aquarium.
Using a spawning mop and removing the eggs
This is a popular method among professional breeders since it ensures a high fry survival rate. Place a spawning mop in the aquarium and wait for your fish to notice it. When the fish spawns, they will most likely use the spawning mop as spawning site. Check to spawning mop for eggs every 3-5 days.
Caring for the eggs
If you want to incubate the eggs in a separate aquarium, you can simply toss the spawning mop into the egg aquarium. Most professional breeders do however prefer to pick out the eggs one by one using a pair of tweezers or their fingers. They will then either use the water incubation method or the peat incubation method to hatch the eggs.
Place the eggs that you have picked from the spawning mop in a shallow dish filled with 1-2 inches of water. Use water from the aquarium where the eggs where laid and add anti-fungi treatment. Only transparent eggs should be placed in the incubation dish – eggs that look white, cloudy or fuzzy should be discarded. You need to check the incubation dish regularly and remove any egg that does not look healthy. After a while, fertilized eggs will become darker as the embryo slowly develops inside. After a while, you will be able to see the embryo through the egg shell. In most cases the eggs will hatch after one to three weeks, depending on species and water temperature.
Boil some peat moss and squeeze out the water. Leave the peat moss to drain until it is moist, not wet. Put the moist peat moss in a container and place the eggs that you have picked from the spawning mop on top of the peat moss. As mentioned above, only healthy and fertilized eggs should be included, the other ones must be discarded. Close the container using a tightly fitting lid. (It is a good idea to put a label on the container to remember important facts such as date and species.) When the eggs are ready to hatch, depending on species, it is time to gently remove them from the peat moss and place them in a container filled with 1 inch of water. It will normally take 4-5 hours for the eggs to hatch. If the eggs refrain from hatching, try lowering the water down to ¼ of an inch and blow into the container. This will increase the carbon dioxide level and force the eggs to hatch.
When eggs hatch in shallow containers, the easiest way of getting the fry into a fry raising aquarium is to use an eye-dropper.
Killifish fry rearing
Microworms and newly hatched brine shrimp are suitable first foods for most fry. If the fry is really small, such as the fry from the killifish named Pseudepiplatys annulatus, you will need to start an infusoria culture and give to them. When kept on a nutritious diet, killifish fry will grow really fast. If you do not want them to engage in cannibalism, you have to separate them according to size.
Aeration and filtration will make it easier for you to keep the water quality up in the fry aquarium, but are not mandatory. Small and frequent water changes are always important, but will be even more important in an aquarium without aeration and filtration.
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