Peat Spawning Killifish

(1997 by Kaycy Ruffer)

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Killifish: Peat Spawners

I have spawned the following species:

Aphyosemion sjoestedti, Cynolebias nigrippinis (MSL 91/2), Cynolebias brokemani.

I was really skeptical at my attempt at trying to spawn these fish because they were much larger than the other Killies I have spawned and by what I've heard the males are quite aggressive. I gave it a try anyway.

I placed one male and two females in a three and a half gallon tall tank with a "Little Mermaid" filter. I put a one inch layer of prepared peat moss on the bottom.

I expected the spawners to dive into the peat but instead they would spawn on top of it! I left the peat in the tank with the breeders for one month. I removed the breeders to another container without any peat and fed them with tubifex worms for three days before returning them to their breeding tank with a new batch of peat.

After removing the breeders I would add six drops of Amquel and let that stand for thirty minutes. I would then add six more drops of Amquel and three drops at Acriflavin and let this stand for another thirty minutes. I would then collect all the peat in a ten inch fine mesh net and squeeze as much water out as possible and then rinse it for two to three minutes under cool running water. Then I would squeeze out the water as much as possible again. After this I would place the peat, which is now a round ball, into a plastic bag and break it up. I would then write on the bag the type of fish eggs deposited and the date collected. Place the bag in the hall cupboard for one to two months.

At the end of the waiting period I would place the peat into a 2' x 2' x 1' rearing tank with fresh aged water and wait. I would place the bag of peat into this size of a tank because the fish grow rapidly and get to four to five inches within a couple months.

My pH is 7.2 and my water hardness is 7.5 and I keep the temperature at 76° F. As with most Killifish they don't do well in tanks with temperatures higher than this.

I feed my parents live tubifex worms, live and frozen brine shrimp and flakes. (When feeding tubifex, feed the parents well with these worms BEFORE putting them in their spawning tank with peat. I did this once and lost a whole batch of eggs. When I set the peat up the only thing alive in it was a three inch leech! It ate all the eggs!)

The fry are able to start consuming newly hatched brine shrimp almost immediately after hatching. The fry will hatch anywhere from 30 minutes to 48 hours after setting up their peat moss. After the fry hatch it is a good idea to wait till you don't see anymore hatching and then scoop the peat out and prepare it again to be dried again for another week to a month. If after this time there are no more hatchlings then rinse the peat and reuse it again. This can be done for no more than three times.

The main thing I did different from the Blue Gularis with the other two species is I placed 1 pair of each into a one gallon glass drum bowl (on a temporary basis) with a one inch layer of peat moss. After one week I removed the peat. Treated it as I did the Gularis and waited two months. The brokemani gave me at least 100 fry! The nigrippinis gave me about ten fry. (Their first time.)

I tried something that I don't advise. I put two batches of nigrippinis peat batches together to hatch. This was not a good idea since there was too much peat in the bottom of the tank. (Two gallon size). I think with the peat being so deep that it suffocated any fry that was hatching in the lower levels. I definitely won't try this again.

I'm not too worried about this error. That's what breeding, keeping, and watching tropical fish is all about. Observing and trying new techniques. Experimenting. Trial and error.

When you try to keep or spawn a fish you've never had before these above descriptions are exactly what you will be doing.

You have to try different methods till you find one that works for you so don't be afraid to experiment. Who knows, you might even enjoy the new feelings that run through you when you have actually succeeded!

Back to the fish at hand. I was kind of scared to try the substrate spawners at first. Once you spawn one breed the rest are easier.

I was watching my 40 gallon plexi glass tank containing; three pairs Albino Guppies (Poecilia reticulata), ten Sparkling Gouramis (Trichopsis pumilus), fifteen Corydora pygmaeus, one Corydora nattereri, one Corydora paleatus and two pair Cynolebias nigrippinis (MSL 91/2). Theses last species are the ones I had been watching for a couple of days.

The largest male (about one and a quarter of an inch) in full color and the largest female (about one and an eighth of an inch) were constantly together. If they became separated the female would look for the male and be at his side.

Then I noticed something that caught me by surprise and told me it was time to move this pair to a spawning tank with peat moss. What I witnessed was these two were trying to spawn in the single layer of fine gravel I had in that tank!! I couldn't believe my eyes!

I put some prepared peat into a 1 gallon glass drum bowl and then put the pair in it. It was fascinating watching them. I have other Killies but none spawned like these little jewels.

As I watched the male would "flicker" his fins and the female would appear to give no notice. Then the male would dive into the peat as though doing a head stand and start vibrating his body.

When the female was interested she would get beside him and then they would disappear into the peat with a flurry of dust like peat powder flying up around them. A few seconds later I could see them slowly poking their heads out of the peat. After a few more seconds the pair would dart out of the peat and the whole ritual would begin all over again.

It was surely a pleasure to watch these two. He in his suit of a deep blue/brown with green to blue spots glistening throughout his body and fins.

Do try to spawn a pair of peat spawners and watch them. You can purchase peat moss from most pet shops. The directions are clear and easy to use. If your shop doesn't carry it ask them to order it for you. They would be happy to.

I wasn't lucky enough to witness the brokemani. I'm sure they were just as active as these beauties.