ARK - Arizona Rivulin Keepers

A Visit to Bill Gallagher's Fishroom

(December 2000)

By Allan Semeit

Bill Gallagher is a well-known killifish breeder and member of the San Francisco Bay Area Killifish Association (BAKA). He has also been a pioneer of new spawning methods. Bill lives in a two-story house on a steep hillside in San Rafael, California. He keeps his fish in a large downstairs room.

The fishroom is long (approximately 25-30 feet) and relatively narrow (about 10 feet). Fish tanks line all of the walls. These are mostly ten-gallon tanks with glass dividers to create three compartments per tank. There are also plastic shoeboxes used to raise the fry. In the middle of the room is a worktable. The room heats the fish tanks and Bill does not use filters or aeration in his tanks.

Bill introduced killifish breeders to several new spawning media during the past several years. One of these was coconut fiber and Bill is continuing to experiment with it. Currently, his focus is shredded redwood bark and he has it in most of his tanks.

There is an article on this website about using shredded redwood bark. Since that article was written, Bill has found stores that offer coarse and fine shredded redwood bark. He prefers to use the coarse variety and prepares the redwood by rinsing it in a colander to remove the 'fines.' After this rinsing, the remaining material closely resembles fibrous peat moss.

Bill has found that his killies really like to spawn in the redwood fiber. He pushes the redwood to the back of each tank to form a clump several inches high. Both plant-spawners and annual killies like to hide in the clump when disturbed. The clump also provides the killies with a sense of security and you tend to see them in the open more often when a clump is in the tank.

Harvesting the eggs is a simple process. Bill collects the clumps weekly in a net, allows them to drip dry until they are moist, and then places the clump in a 'zip-lock' bag. Each bag is labeled with the species name and the projected hatching date. The bag has a hole punched above the zip-lock and Bill inserts a paperclip through the hole so that he can hang the bag on an overhead line he has strung in the fishroom. The bags are placed on the line based upon their projected hatching date. The front of the line has the bags nearest their hatch date. Bill has found that this system keeps him from overlooking bags. Also, the fact that the line is strung high in the room means that the bags are kept warm and this tends to accelerate hatching times. It also allows easy access to view the bags to make sure the spawning medium doesn't become too dry. When a bag reaches the hatch date, the clump is emptied into a plastic shoebox with water and the fry hatch. This has got to be one of the easiest systems I have seen!