One Method for Raising Aphyosemion australe BSWG 97/24 Port Gentil
This is a description of the method that has evolved over several years. It is written around the A. australe BSWG 97/24 Port Gentil, and would likely work for similar Aphyosemions, but I don’t have much experience using it with other species.
As a background, I first started raising AUS in 1956 while going to college in Milton, Wisconsin. That’s when I got my first AUS pair, placed them in a 2.5 gal, fed them white worms and shaved beef heart, and in short order, had numerous fry swimming around with the parents. They sold easily to the fish store in Janesville, WI.
Fast forward to the year 2000, I had retired, and ran into Ed Warner at my usual breakfast spot. Hadn’t seen him much since the 50’s and of course, we started talking killies. I dug around in the basement, found the old fish tanks, and Ed gave me some killies to get restarted, but … … … it wasn’t as easy as it was back in Milton. There was something about that Milton water that the AUS just loved! Now, the eggs would fungus easily. Ed had passed away by then, but Ruth Warner gave me a small amount of what she used for fungus. That stopped the fungus problem, but Ruth lives in town and uses city water. I live out of town, have a well, and the different water caused problems. The eggs now dissolved before ever hatching out, thus the search to find the conditions and method to successfully raising these beautiful fish. I have had very poor results when I’ve attempted to pick australe eggs, mostly the problem that what few eggs I was getting were very prone to dissolving, so I have just given up on that.
I next setup a few “natural” tanks, but the results were meager, not at all what I would expect or hope for with this species, so I decided to try another idea, i.e., keep a breeding pair in a tank with one or two mops and plenty of hiding stuff for the female. I tried a number of different standard mops with different colored yarn and different yarn textures. I also tried some “less” standard mops, such as the old “hula-hoop” mop. What I found was there didn’t seem to be any preference to mop color, but the yarn texture revealed a strong preference to softer yarn. The old “hula-hoop” mop was virtually ignored. I also wondered if the fish would just lay their eggs in the hiding stuff, like clumps java moss. Happily, it seems if the female can hide and rest in the java moss, then when she is ready, she comes out and selects the mop for the eggs. This may well be a function of the softer yarn, so perhaps the java moss got more eggs when a hard yarn mop was in the tank?? I ended up with this setup to collect eggs and used another tank for hatching the eggs plus a larger tank to grow out the fry.
I have 4 tanks that I keep a pair of BSWG’s in, each with a mop. Then I also have another tank that I use to hatch out the eggs. What I do is once every two weeks, I pull the mops out of the “hatching tank” and place the mops from each of the 4 breeding tanks into the “hatching tank”. When the fry in the “hatching tank” get a little size to them, I move them to a 29 gal. That is where they are raised, and this tank that has higher conductivity readings. That is because it is a tank with undergravel filters and the gravel is a little larger and must contain some limestone or something, as the conductivity keeps rising slowly. I pull a few gallons of water out of it every couple weeks and replace it with dehumidifier water, which is as pure an H2O as you can get. The conductivity is virtually zero. So, this tank will run from ~350uS up to ~650 – 900uS in a 2 to 3 week period. As I said, this tank is used for growing out. As far as the conductivity of the tanks where the fish are laying their eggs, I have found that if I use water that is lower conductivity, i.e., below 185 uS, I have trouble with the eggs. Actually, they just dissolve. To combat this, I have been using 225 – 360 uS as the range for breeding tanks. The process of just pulling the mops and placing them into a “hatching tank” has yielded the best results. I can add to this by telling you that I tried “harder” water in the breeding tanks and had a much lower yield of egg production. By “harder” water for me, I am referring to my well water, which is something in excess of 750uS.
The way I got to the 250 – 360uS as the level I use to keep the breeders in, is as follows. Back when I was raising my BSWG’s in my well water, I was having very poor luck getting fry. I was told, VERY forcefully, that I needed to get the breeders into much softer water – something in the 60 – 90uS range. Well, the breeders actually did very poorly, some actually dying off, and the rest looking emaciated. By raising the numbers, things improved and as I continued to raise the numbers, I eventually got to the point where egg production dropped off again. From this experience, I have settled on the 250 – 360uS. Actually, when I clean and redo a tank, I do set it up about 250uS. As the numbers increase, most likely from the little salt carried in with the live BBS feeding, I use the 360uS as the indication that it is time to do my housekeeping.
Hope this answers some questions and helps getting more BSWG’s. I’d be very happy to see someone else working with them, as I would hate to see them “lost” to the hobby. For reference, the BSWG collectors were:
Thomas Blum, P.Sewer, H.Weder, R.Gluggenbuehl, July/August 1997, Southern Gabon.