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Discussion Starter · #102 ·
ETA: I also let the zebra danios back into the tank in order to spawn once again - which they did with the same gusto as a month ago. Perhaps, I will have better luck raising glo-fish even though I won't be able to sell them:

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Discussion Starter · #103 · (Edited)
I've just come back from a holiday week away from the tanks and I was pleasantly surprised to find no untimely deaths while I was away. Everything was automated, the lighting, the feedings (all dry food) and I discovered three more apistogramma fry I had not been aware of. All seem to be thriving on dry food. The giant among them continues to be "Jumbo", the sole survivor of the alpha female's first spawning. He is fast approaching the size of a small guppy and has apparently forced his way into the middle section of the tank where there is the most room to roam. He has at least two younger sibling companions there. There are two other youngsters in the nursery section from the last spawn and who seem content to stay there. And, there is a little one that has figured out how to survive close proximity with the alpha male in the bachelor pad.

That's six that I was able to identify during the siesta period. There are probably a few more. The sagittaria subulata have evolved into a perfect cover plant for wayward baby fry. I would have to dismantle the entire tank in order to chase every one of them down and I'm thinking the plants present a similar sort of protection against the alpha male.

All of this is perhaps my long-winded way of saying, other than reading up on Diana's baby brine shrimp article, I am done playing helicopter parent.

ETA: I was also hoping to find some zebra danio fry by now, especially as the weather has warmed quite a bit more than the last spawning. But, I wouldn't be at all surprised if they were falling prey to Jumbo who is small enough to ferret out the eggs where he can find them and big enough be a predator on his own.
 

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Discussion Starter · #106 · (Edited)
It's been an extremely quiet week in apisto land. One adult male and two adult females make up one community tank (a large Chinese porcelain bowl) along with 5 zebra danios. Despite the loss of one of the danios a couple of weeks ago, they seem to get along peacefully. Feeding time is pretty competitive with the danios winning most matches.

I try to make sure that the automatic feeder dumps enough dry food for the apistos to get a few bites, three times a day. I think they like the dark cave-like conditions of the bowl. And, much like their experience in the 30 gallon long glass tank, the bladder snail population has plummeted.

Which brings me to the "breeder" tank. A reminder: this was the original destination tank for the two adult males and two adult females. It became a breeder tank when after several spawnings it became obvious that there's a clear time limit beyond which it becomes unwise to keep the fry and adults together. I'd say after about three weeks the parenting instinct begins to wane and the fry basically become cattle.

And yet, it is SO clear that those first three weeks together with adults make a great deal of difference in the baby apisto's development. Compared to zebra danio fry, the apistos are fully capable of foraging for food on their own, probably by Week Two. In fact, I have tried every kind of inert baby food I can think of - First Bites(TM), hydrated BBS, dried daphnia - and nothing excites them. Yet they seem to be ... okay. I read Diana's article on hatching BBS eggs and it seems fairly straightforward, especially for the small number of fry that I have. I will try that next.

The breeding tank is currently divided into three sections, mainly because I have no other place to put the alpha adult male, Thirty-six inches of tank length are apparently not enough to deter a bully from making life miserable for another male apisto. He gets along well with the danios, but the presence of another apisto is like waving a red flag in front of a bull. The internet warns of this sort of behavior occurring during spawning periods. What the internet doesn't tell you is that for this particular species, the a. borelli, the spawning period never stops. Courtship began 48 hours after they were released into the tank and at no time did the ambient temperature rise above 75F.

Stlll, it's hard to hold hard feelings against the alpha male. He is an attractive pet in his own right. He has the personality of a dog in that he follows me around the room, knowing, if he gets my attention that I will squeeze out an extra meal from the automatic feeder. And, as I implied before, his spawning colors of deep purple and iridescent blue highlights are on display nearly all the time.

As far as I can tell, there are approximately 2-3 fry in each section of the tank. So, my estimate of perhaps 10 fry gaining enough bulk to make it difficult for them to squeeze into the "bachelor apartment" was not far off the mark.

The tank is a visual mess. There is green algae on the glass but nothing that can't be scraped off every week or so. I deliberately maintain a carpet of floaters through which I have to poke holes with plastic tubes attached in circles just to sprinkle food through and to let in some light. I leave it this way because every spot in the tank represents a potential food source for the fry.
This is the only angle I'm not embarrassed to show:
Plant Building Terrestrial plant Arecales Tints and shades


Between the light bio-load and the preponderance of floaters and terrestrial plants I invested in early in the tank's design, I have managed to maintain -0- ammonia ppm and 2.5 nitrate ppm for the last two months:
Flooring Paint Gas Font Art


These are the nitrate results for both the porcelain bowl and the breeder tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #108 ·
Breaking News: Diana's No-Fuss No-Muss one cup of water and a pinch of brine shrimp eggs recipe works like a charm. The eggs arrived fairly late yesterday evening, so they really didn't start hatching until a couple of hours ago. I had about 20 minutes before the tank lights automatically switched off in order to pour the hatched naupili through a cloth sieve, rinse them off and dip them into the tank. I'm sure there were a lot of hatched shells mixed in there but overall, I could see a small red cloud that occasionally revealed bouncing bodies within it. It immediately drew the attention of apisto fry that happened by.

I attached the clip-on LED lights I had used to hatch the BBS and treated the fry to a rare after bedtime feed.

The narrowly focused beam seemed to concentrate the naupili which only attracted more fry. Frankly, it was the first time in months I had seen as many as six of the apistos gathered at the same time, including "Jumbo":
Water Plant Terrestrial plant Aquatic plant Marine biology

Water Plant Terrestrial plant Organism Aquatic plant


Tomorrow morning I will start with a fresh cup of salted water and start the process again.
 

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Perfect! Baby fish just love nauplii. And it is so good for them. My 100+ baby guppies that won't eat much else the first week.
For convenience, I've started harvesting the whole bottle. I put harvested shrimp in a shallow container with a little tapwater. I feed fish half in the morning and refrigerate the rest for an afternoon feeding. The refrigerated shrimp are still alive and--unlike frozen shrimp-- don't lose the their food value.
 

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Discussion Starter · #110 ·
Perfect! Baby fish just love nauplii. And it is so good for them. My 100+ baby guppies that won't eat much else the first week.
For convenience, I've started harvesting the whole bottle. I put harvested shrimp in a shallow container with a little tapwater. I feed fish half in the morning and refrigerate the rest for an afternoon feeding. The refrigerated shrimp are still alive and--unlike frozen shrimp-- don't lose the their food value.
Yes! Refrigeration definitely helps stretch one harvest into two meals. I rotate two shallow cereal bowls daily now, one to harvest and the other with your recipe "resting" for 24 hours. No cleaning was necessary:
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Looks good!
Hatching a small amount at a time in shallow bowls like you are doing is absolutely perfect for feeding a few precious fish. Easy as pie! There are so many ways to do it that are easier and that work better than the complicated methods you see on the Internet.
I found hatching brine shrimp to be absolutely captivating. And I'm sure your baby fish are thrilled to have fresh shrimp on the menu!
 

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Discussion Starter · #112 · (Edited)
I made The Swap this morning and it went without a hitch. In fact, the one unanticipated moment turned out to be a pleasant surprise. To recap, I began to realize that with two fatalities over the space of six weeks that the porcelain bowl was probably overstocked and that the most sensible way to fix it was to move the 5 remaining danios to the apisto tank, in effect making it a community tank. And, since the latest death involved an apistogramma male, it opened up the way for the alpha male to take its place in the bowl.

I thought that would leave no adult apistos in the glass "community tank" and I rather gleefully removed the last remaining plastic divider, leaving the 30 gallon long tank one continuous body of water for the first time in six months.

But, as has happened so often in my adventures with these fish, one of the females got caught in the net along with the danios and I had no idea. The female apistos are comparatively dull colored, especially compared to the glo-fish and look just like a piece of salvinia caught up in the net. It's only for the grace of G-d that she managed to get plopped out along with the danios.

So, you can imagine my surprise when I caught her out the corner of my eye being pursued by Jumbo! The two have been inseparable. I think it is adorable. It has been clear for weeks that he has little patience with his younger siblings, often chasing them out of the way at meal times. But, with the adult female he seems to have found a peer, or perhaps even, a "mother figure":
Water Plant Terrestrial plant Aquatic plant Grass

Plant Water Leaf Botany Vegetation

Plant Water Terrestrial plant Aquatic plant Grass

Water Plant Fish supply Terrestrial plant Aquatic plant


How the tank appears today:
Front:
Plant Green Light Blue Leaf


Back:
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Discussion Starter · #113 ·
Of course, it only took one day before I realized that having the alpha female in the community tank went against one of my stated goals, i.e., to save a few possible danio fry. It will be a difficult enough task with 8 or 9 juvie apistos honing their hunting skills. Back into the porcelain bowl she went this morning where the sole surviving male can now entertain two mates.
 

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You can get various 'fry' containers that will hang in the main tank and therefore use the aquarium's filtration. I think the one i like best is ziss; i have to look it up if you are interested.
 

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ziss bl-3 is the one i have. This one fits in side the tank; marina also have some that hang on the outside of the tank and use a bubbler to cycle the water through them - they come in different size - the small one is probably suitable for danio fry - the medium i used for some apisto - they are just called marina breeding box. I think ken's fish had them cheap - let me check; no he is sold out. They have them on ebay - you do not want the large one - it is quite large - the medium is probably most flexible.
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aquarium co-op has the ziss bl-3T (not sure what changes between the 3 and T). The bl-2 is just an older model not a smaller version.
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Anyway both the marina and ziss work pretty well - the marina hangs outside so the flow is slower - i used the bl-3 with angels fry which are much more sensitive but of course it takes up bit of tank space since it was inside the tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #117 ·
I looked it up on Amazon. A cunning device. Seems ideal for egg-layers because it has a ready-made channel through which to connect an air hose during the incubation period. And of course, it requires no extra water. I notice on one model there's an extra bit of grating on the bottom. Would that be for eggs to fall through during spawning?
 
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