Spawning Plant Spawning Roloffias...the Easy Way
by Ray Wolff
My favorite African type of killifish are what was once known as Roloffias, but that was wrecked when they had to go and assign them all new names. This group of killifish include the soil spawning Callopanchax, and the plant spawners (who will also spawn in the substrate) Scriptoaphyose-mions (the little ones) and Archiaphyosemions (the big ones). I have tried several methods with Scripto's over the years. Only one is easy, and produces a good amount of young for me. I will devote this article to my easy method with Scriptoaphyosemions and adapt it to Archiaphyosemions at the end.
Picking eggs from mops is fun, if you are dealing with fish with large eggs such as Rivulus and Fundulus. Otherwise it can be a pain. Siphoning eggs from gravel and looking for them in the bottom of the container follows that rule. The problem I found with picking Scripto eggs was that they would not hatch well, and when they did the fry seemed like they might be food for the paramecium, rather than the other way around. Forget baby brine shrimp all together. I was getting tired of feeling lucky if I managed to get a pair out of several dozen eggs. A tough way of keeping a species going in my collection.
At first, it happened by accident. I had some nigrifluvi in a small 2.5 gallon tank which was stacked with mops top to bottom, a layer of gravel and a foam filter. I was cleaning the tank when I noticed some small fish darting around. I pulled out the mops all together and there were nearly a dozen half grown fish in with the adult pair. I thought this is pretty good. While cleaning I also found some fry that had hidden in the gravel, along with eggs. I judiciously decided put them back in the tank. I concluded that the logical thing to do was to set up the Scriptos in this manner, but in an environment that was a little more appealing to the eye.
Here is what comprises my set-ups. Five gallon tanks with a inch or two of dark brown gravel on the bottom. A foam filter with just enough air flow to disturb the surface. Next I put a ball of java moss in the back on top of the filter. In front of that I plant some cryptocorns. And on the surface have some water sprite floating. This is roughly the same set up I use with pygmy sunfish and have the same results. I want to explain why I do these things. the benefit of the gravel is two-fold. I have found all mop/plant spawning killies (that I have kept) will also bury their eggs in the substrate. The gravel also creates surface area on which small organisms will live. These in turn will feed the fry. It also offers a place for fry to hide during the day. At night the fry will float up and be seen around the tank with a flashlight. The water sprite serves the same purpose on the surface. The java moss also does the same in the mid-water. The crypts are just added because they add to the aesthetics of the tanks.
Here is why I think it works. The adults feel secure, the eggs and fry have plenty of places to hide. The fry have plenty to eat immediately upon hatching. I am not sure, but think the large fish may cull bad ones. I have not had any bad young fish turn up using this method. The best thing is, its so low maintenance. No picking mops, no checking incubating eggs, etc. When I get enough young in the inch or just longer range, I move them out to other tanks to start the process over.
A word about Archiaphyosemions. Archies seem to like to eat their fry, at least the ones I have do. I use the same set-up as I do with the Scriptos, but after two weeks, I separate the male and female into other tanks. After a week or two of recouping, I put them back together in another tank. I keep this kind of assembly line going, and it seems to be working. This can probably be used on the Scriptos, for even better success, once fry are seen.
Give this method a try. It not only works for killifish and pygmy sunfish, but badis, small cichlids and sunfish. It probably works with any smaller fish.
I should also discuss diet. I feed the adults: white, black, and grindal worms, earthworm pieces, baby brine, cyclops, ramshorn snails, flakes and small pelleted foods. When I know fry are in the tank I will add green water, paramecium and vinegar eels. I use flourescent lights to light the tanks, they are on for 14 hours a day. The temps in the tanks run about 75 degrees, but can span from 68 to 78 degrees depending on time of day and year. Ramshorn snails serve a dual purpose. They are food for the fish but also serve as excellent scavengers. Obviously they must not eat enough eggs or fry to have much effect on production.