Almost Done

All posts regarding the care and breeding of these catfishes from South America.
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Almost Done

Post by TwoTankAmin »

Last Friday I sold 143 plecos. Since I began my planned retirement from the hobby I have sold all of my breeders save the WC 173. I also have about 30+ F1s as well.

My 3 oldest zebra plecos are going to a retirement tank in CA to live out the balance of their lives. The 8 assorted offspring I should have will be at sellable size by the summer. When they go out it will be the firs time in about 22 years that I will not have a single zebra pleco.

I am negotiating to sell all my remaining RB 236 offspring. My tank of mixed Hypans, my Altums and all my clowns and redline barbs. I am also negotiating to sell the remaining dozen L173 from the tank raised breeders which were the first breeding group to go.

From 20 tanks I will be down to 8 and 6 of them are planted communities. They will be consolidated some over the coming months as they range in size from 5.5 to a 75. I am keeping the in-wall tanks (the 75 and a 30B). They will likely be the final 2 when I reach a point of having 0.

I will have some corys and likely a few young ancistrus (but no breeding allowed). And I recently got 3 dwarf hoplos all male at my clubs monthly auction.

I am not happy about all of this. But nothing lasts forever. Age is a cruel master.
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Re: Almost Done

Post by bekateen »

Thanks for the update TTA. You've done a wonderful job over the years curating your lines, not allowing hybrids to spread as real fish, etc. You've been a resource for so many hobbyists.

When things are working, you want to keep going, but yeah, age has its way, no matter what. Good luck with the scale-down. I hope you find a comfortable peace with it.

Cheers, Eric
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Re: Almost Done

Post by Jools »

Yes, what Eric said indeed. You've been a longtime companion on PlanetCatfish's journey too. I hope that doesn't end quite as soon as your fishkeeping endeavours and the few tanks you are reducing to sound fun.

Cheers,

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Re: Almost Done

Post by Shane »

I agree. Cut down on tanks, but not your activities for the hobby. Too much knowledge would be lost.
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Re: Almost Done

Post by aquaholic »

A yearly admission ticket to your favourite freshwater public aquarium(s) may help? Many are well set up for impaired mobility access. I am able to chat with the curator and often invited behind the scenes at mine.

Or perhaps use a competent aquarium maintenance company to look after what tanks you want to keep?

In my case, I've been setting up larger and larger tanks with automated and self cleaning filters, water change, redundant systems. Not 100% sure if successful yet but I'm getting prepared for the future.
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Re: Almost Done

Post by TwoTankAmin »

MY problem has been the house itself. My brother and I , two old bachelors, share a lovely house we inherited. Out parents built it in 1961 as a summer and weekend place. It is in the woods and has its own private well which is mostly why I have done so well with plecos. But the house has no basement and is not huge. There are two buildings though.

My fish tanks are in both buildings and 4 different rooms. In the summer I have set up temporary tanks which come down in the fall. So, I have no fish room. Ramping up over the years meant every tank had its own heaters, filters etc. Over the last decade I began migrating in two rooms to central air power for the most part. I mostly also duplicated pumps, hoses buckets etc so I had them in both buildings.

And that is what made it hard to keep up now. But I do have a bit of good news. I kept my WC 173 tank and a grow tank with a bunch of their kids. I had a tank disaster in the breeding tank last year due to it getting way overstocked. I lost over 75 fish including one of the breeders. I feared that the surviving 9 breeders and a dozen assorted sized offspring that also survived.

But I was afraid that those survivors might no longer be able to breed as a result of being exposed to insane ammonia etc. levels. I felt I could not sell any of these fish if my fears were realized. So, I decided to keep the fish until I could feel good about whichever way things worked out.

I had a couple of spawns a few months back- I saw eggs in one cave and wigglers in another. Some time later they were no longer there. I did bot know if they survived and were in the tank or had died being more casualties of the disaster. I did spot a single 1 inch fry recently but that was it. Last week I was doing maint. and water changes on the tank and I spotted two 1/2 inch fry. So, maybe things are actually OK.

I know that having WC 173 is not a common thing. I was lucky to be offered the chance to buy by their owner and could not refuse. I have always considered having these fish was a responsibility. So, I am overjoyed to see that are not all sterile.

I plan to maintain them and a grow tank for them for a while longer. In the not to distant future I will pull the tank apart to get a head count. The best part is my main pleco space is set up such that the two tanks I will keep are pretty easy to manage. I can drain them directly into the utility sink and can even refill them directly from my tap.

But I have no illusions as to how long I can keep up with this. I am thinking maybe one more year or so since there will only be two more tanks than originally planned. I will have to replace the central air pump with a smaller one as I only need 8 outlets.

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Re: Almost Done

Post by DBam »

I really appreciate getting to read about other people's experiences in the deeper places of the hobby. Hearing you say you felt a responsibility to raise rare fish stuck out as particularly interesting. As much as there is disappointment to hear you're reducing your hobby, it's understandable. Your experience makes me wonder what kind of perspective it has given you; what kinds of things were major turning points in your hobby, what things brought you deeper into it, those kinds of things.
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Re: Almost Done

Post by TwoTankAmin »

I have thought about what Dbam wrote above for some time now. I just sold off the last of my RB 236 offspring as well as my tank of "mystery" hypans (I had no clue what species they were and it was several not just one.) I now have two zebra fry and my WC 173 and offspring left. They will all be gone in the next year.

I can say this about my journey as a fish keeper. When I was setting up my first tank I had a set of rules. Two of these were that I did not want any of those ugly fish that I saw stuck to things with their mouth. This was an ignorant choice. I did get one thing right by accident. I did not want to spawn anything, but I also felt that is was important to have both sexes for any fish I would keep.

Like all of us who first enter the hobby, I was pretty ignorant. This was especially true when it came to water parameters. What I did know wast that I had decent water from our well. I have never needed to use dechlor. What I did not know was that my water would be pretty ideal for spawning a lot of the species who were from softer water.

My first pleco to spawn were my LF bristlenose, I did not even know this was happening as it was a community tank and the fry were on the menu. That is until one day I actually spotted a tiny ancistrus on a leaf. A breeder from whom I had been buying corys convinced me to pull a cave with a dad and eggs and hatch them. Who knew I was heading down a path I never anticipated.

One other factor contributed a lot toward where I am today, That was the Baensch Aquarium Atlas. It had in depth information and pictures of a lot of fish. I would spend hours going through the pages and spotting really neat looking fish I thought I would like to keep. But further reading usually ruled out the species because it needed different parameters, got to big for my tanks or did not play well with others.

But, as I found fish that would work in my tanks and water parameters. I made up a wish list. The top of that list contained zebra pleco and Beta Imbellis. I eventually got both species. I managed to buy my first serious plecos for breeding when I was given the chance to buy a breeding colony of 13 zebras and a number of their offspring. I had to break into my IRA to get them. Considering what I had spent I was extremely nervous about it all.

About two weeks after I brought the zebra group home I got my first spawn from the Alpha. Two weeks later the number 2 male spawned. This pair of males continued to give me a spawn every two weeks for the next 7+ months. Then they went on hiatus for about 3.5 months and the whole thing resumed.

The thing about this all was it was not me who was responsible for this betond two factors. The first was the parameters of my well water. I had nothing to do with this, it was just luck. In fact, I used to tell people that my well water contained a natural fish aphrodisiac. The second was my dedication to doing good tank maintenance and for feeding quality food. This meant a lot of frozen as I did not make the jump to live which I knew was the best.

Over the years I came to believe the following. Fish naturally want to spawn. Many of them will do so as long as we do not do things which might discourage or even prevent spawning. Water parameters matter but most of us live with whatever come out of our taps. Mine were ideal for a lot of softer water species. Next, the layout of the environment we provide also matters a lot. We will not succeed in spawning plecos in a bare bottom tank with just a few caves, they need a lot of hiding places for a number of reasons.

I also learned early on that, for me, the best thing was to do only species tanks. I think that was a good decision for the Hypans I kept. The next thing I learned was it paid to observe my fish. With the zebras this meant I learned that the alpha male is not usually the biggest. Rather it is the toughest. So my biggest was the number 2 in the pecking order. I realized that lots of cover was beneficial. Zebras and other smaller plecos often need to hide out of view of rivals etc. So my tanks became set-up so there was a ton of cover available to the fish, but a lot more work for me when I needed to catch them.

But here is what I consider to be the most important thing I learned over the years. Nature is a lot smarter than I am when it came to working with the plecos I have. Nature gives fish certain traits over time. One of the more important goals is the preservation of a species via reproduction. To this end nature has given the fish the ability to figure out two things. The first is the best spot in the tank where i have p;aced a lot of caves is not something I can figure out, But my fish can. If I gave them a number of options, the alpha male was going to end up the best location.

Next, nature also wants offspring to be the strongest and healthiest. This means the top males should spawn with the top females. This would make it most likely to produce the strongest/best offspring. Again, I am not able to decide whop should spawn with whom, but the fish know this. So, I preferred to work with the fish in groups rather than to usurp the decision making process by selecting a pair or reverse trio and spawning them in this configuration. That would basically be me replacing nature by choosing who would spawn with whom.

Of course, the commercial fish breeding outfits are usually geared towards a maximum output.

Over the years I believe I have been able to observe a number of things in terms of my fish. Some of the lessons have not been easy on me or the fish. A perfect example was my early success with zebras. I began to think I had some special skills in terms of getting my fish to breed. And that made me lazy. It is a lot easier to feed commercial sinking sticks than live, or frozen and especially Repashy. I feed this in smaller pieces which I spread all over a tank. My thinking is their are fewer food fights or fish that get nothing when I feed this way. But it is more work for me.

Thankfully CatCon (their pleco breeding seminar) and Ingo Seidel and Dale Ernst showed me where I went wrong and why diet matters. In fact, our choice of what to feed our fish has a great deal to do with there ability and desire to spawn.

Unfortunately, age slows us all down sooner or later. I have reached the point where I cannot keep up with all the tanks any longer. It is not right for me to keep fish for whom I cannot give the proper care they need. So, I have been selling them all to others who, hopefully, will go on to spawn them. I am a sucker for the B&W Hypancistrus for the Big Bend of the Rio Xingu. So they were the one I chose to keep. Also, the fact that they are endangered or became so mattered.

When I was breeding the zebras in 2006, I knew they might no last in the wild due to the damming of the river. I was not sure of this but I felt is was likely. If one is to believe what Leandro Sousa has said, the zebra population in the wild is now on the edge. If too many more are lost, there is the risk the population will not survive. But since I got my first spawn there have been several large scale breeding operations which are pumping out zebras in large numbers. So, even if this species does not survive in the wild, it should live on in aquariums across the world.

I do have one last confession to make. Rare means more expensive. While my goal was never been to make a ton of money, I have always wanted to get my investment back and to pay for my overall hobby costs. Close to half of my tanks have been planted communities. I learned from the bristlesnose that getting many spawns of large size of inexpensive fish was more of a problem than a blessing. I always lost money and time rehoming them and the cost involved was negative to me.

One box of zebra offspring brought me more income than many bristlenose. Plus. I was working to get my offspring into the hands of people who wanted to spawn them if they could. The other part of this was the sale of the zebra kids got me the money I need to get the next species. I never could have imagined I would have to pay $1,000 a fish for wild caught 173s. As far as I knew they were not removed from Brazil after the export regulations were put into effect.

One last observation here. From the first time I spotted a tiny swordtail fry looking up at me through the floating plants, I reflexively learned to do the "happy fish dance." Little did I realize that it would be just as excited when I heard back from a buyer that the fish I sent them had spawned. It also made me do the happy fish dance.

I am not an expert on catfish by any means. I know what I do about a limited number of species specifically but not a lot about catfish in general. I have always kept corys, but once bitten by the pleco bug, I stopped working with the corys. I have also been lucky to have many of the fish I have kept spawn. I credit my water and feeding good food. I am more lucky than skilled for sure. But I do not care since it resulted in fry. I hope those who have gotten my fish have enjoyed them as much as I have.

Sorry for the long post, but somebody sort of asked.
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Re: Almost Done

Post by bekateen »

Very nice history you have there TT. Thanks for sharing.

Until we meet again, Cheers,
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Re: Almost Done

Post by aquaholic »

I would not presume to know your life and priorities but I have become full time carer for both of my elderly parents (both circa ninety years age) for the last 3 years which has expanded my view of life beyond the fishroom(s). One thing I have come to appreciate is the mental health aspects and inherent 'zest for life' aspects a passionate hobby can bring to someone. So TTA perhaps don't close that fish hobbyist door just yet?

A fish room can easily be built (if that's what you want)? Wheelchair or disability access easily incorporated for example. Adding a 10,000 raintank onto a glass tank is relatively easy and would significantly increase the tank total volume to perhaps one fully automated water change per year possibly?

There are many very experienced fish keepers on here. Many start by having fish breed for them. Some are astute enough to have the fish breed when they want the fish to breed. I think captive fish breeding for rare species is quite advanced looking back at fish keeping the last 150 years.

Keeping rare exotic fish in Australia poses it's own set of legal and ethical issues. I have turned full circle as a breeder and strive to produce non viable fish offspring in efforts to protect the Australian environment yet satisfy the fish collectors yearning. Manipulating DNA at the egg development stages to encourage triploidy by pressure treatment.
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Re: Almost Done

Post by TwoTankAmin »

If only it were that simple. My brother and I, both bachelors. live in a very nice spot in the woods. Out parents built the house, tennis court and then a semi-detached guest house/storeroom and pool. The house was intended for weekend and summer use as we lived in New York City which is misery in summers. The house was never built to be a family p[ermanent residence but for us it is perfect.

So,There no basement, there are two building joined by covered walkways. There are vautled ceilings and smallish rooms. So, My tanks cannot ne centralized, I have them normally in both buildings amd in 4 different rooms. in the summers I set up more tanks outside on a terraces screened in on 3 sides.

I have duplicate almost all my equipment so I am moving it between the 3 spaces as little as possible. I have long hoses and pumps and a collection of rubbbermaid gal. cans and one 32. I am about 5'4" inches and a35 pountd and old. I have a bad back, bursitis and the naturally dry skin on my hands with the additions of 24 years in water, all the time have me able to drop glue.

I cannot keep up with it all at the required level. The most demanding tanks were the plecos breeding and grow tanks. I am almost done selling all but the WC 173 and they wuill only last a bit longer. The planted communities are easier to manage but some require me to work on them on a step ladder. Sooner or later that means broken bones I do not need. I already have an aritifial hip.

And this hasn't even touched on what having been slowing down but also very lucky at spawning plecos, the fish just kept multiplying. And they paid the price for my not being able to keep up. That WC 173 group was spawning regularly. I knew there were manu offspring accumulateing.But I had other stuff going on and I let things go to long. And then one day doing tank work in the room where they are I decided to change pthe plan and do their tank,

When I sat down on the stoll and turn on the light to go to work I was greeted with a nasty bottom cover with dead fish. The upshot was I pulled out about 75 dead fish from recently free swimming fry right up to short of the breeders. Some of the ones not yet rotting had their rear 1/3 bright red. Some of survivers also did. One big breeder looked awful; as did two sub-adults. Big water changes, big vac, rinsed media and stuffed both hang ons with PolyFilter. I also hit the tank with dechlor. I use it to detox ammonia as my well water doesn't need it.

The nex morning the breeder and 2 juvies were dead. they were the final losses. So left in the tank were 9 breeders and about a dozen assorted size offspring that managed to survive. This was all my fault.

So, I knew I could not sell any of the survivors as I had no clue of their actual condition. I had no reason to believe I did not sterilize the breeders or all of them. So I decide to just hang onto them, treat them well and see. It took a while but I have had a couple of spawns by 2 males. I have spotted small fry now and then. I will be moving them out the to storeroom tanks so all the tanks in the room in which their tank no is will be shut down and sold.

I will not set up more tanks, only take them down. I will not be selling at weekend events, it is more work that I am willing to undertake. I did not do the NEC for the first time in years and am not planning to be at CatCon in VT. either. Maybe next year. I need to close down another 6-7 tanks before the end of the summer and sooner if I can. The plan is to keep about 5-6 going for a while but to be down to even fewer before I get much over 77. A cpiple of smaller planed tanks understocked can last a while but that is it.

I am not active on social media bu I am still on a few surviving forums like this one. So it isn't like I am turning off. But to quote Little Feat (from Old Folks Boogie):
And you know that you're over the hill
When your mind makes a promise that your body can't fill
Also,
.....in the popular syndicated column of Leonard Lyons in April 1960, Boldface has been added to excerpts:[1]
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Re: Almost Done

Post by aquaholic »

I was not advocating for continuing with your current set-up which clearly isn't Fit For Purpose already, rather implementing something designed to be more manageable with the anticipated mobility concerns - while you are still able. Starting with a clean slate is a great oppourtunity. Putting a fish room in the basement isnt something I'd ever recommend for example but our climates differ.

Do you have a fish bucket list? Being mindful that bucket lists can be harmful as well as beneficial?
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Re: Almost Done

Post by TwoTankAmin »

I need to make sure any fish and tanks I am keeping a bit longer can be kept to my usually standards. I just had my carpenter in last evening to see if we can redo my inwall sat-u[. It is a 75 over a 30B (this is no dry and empty). The 75 is high enough up that I must use a 3 step ladder to work on it. Ladders and old age are antithetical. So, I am willing to spend $1,000 to redo the set-up which would lower the 75 by 1 foot and remover the 30B.

I am then planning to rearrange my bedroom to remove 5 of the tanks and replace one with a 40B I have with a stand. I will try to keep one of mu bathroom tanks as they are easy to maintain. Finally, I will keep the pair of WC 173 tanks out in the other building. I have a utility sink there and I can drain tanks directly into the sin with a siphon or a small pump. I can also refill tanks directly from my tap with no special treating needed as it is well water and no chlorine/chloramines.

I have really enjoyed becoming additicted to keeps fish in glass boxes. However, from the very fist tank and fish I have tried to respect the lives in those boxes. Every one, no matter how it arrived in the tank, is my responsibility. A proper environment, proper feeding and treatment of the fish are 100% my responsibility. If I cannot provide them with the best possible conditions then I should not have them.

Wiping out all those unique and valuable 173s was a big flashing warning sign. It happened because I can no longer keep up with the needed maint. schedule.

Considering I have C.O.P.D. (smoked fro 45 years before quitting), triple bypass in 2019, a back problem that needs surgery which I will not do and finally bursitis in shoulders and hips is definitely natures way of telling me very loudly that better slow down. And for sure that 173 disaster was my mind making a promise my bought did not fill.

I have written three articles for a general site om "cycling" related issues. I had promised to do a 4th installment dealing with using seeding bacteria and/or using live plants to help establish, accelerate or maintain a "cycle." I must have 100 or more bookmarked research papers on this and related issues. And I am not a scientist. In fact, I never took chemistry in either high school or college. I did physics and geology. So I had to learn most of what I have on my own and by talking with actual scientists when I was stumped.

This site became one of my favorites because of the folks here had not only the hands on experience needed, but you also have the degrees which indicate you busted your butts to become well educated. I came to fish very late in life and the time had long passed to go back to school.

I decided not to do The NEC event last month and was not planning to do CatCon in VT. But I may change my mind. Every weekend event I have attended since my first one at the OCA on 2002 or 03, I have either been a vendor or a room seller. At the events I was lucky to meet a lot of the well known names who speak at them. I must have driven Hans-Georg Evers crazy one Friday evening when he was the opening night speaker at the NEC weekend. I was just getting into zebra plecos and his presentation was on them specifically. After he was done, I was like a little puppy dog following him around and asking questions. He was very nice about it. And since then I have manged to meet and or correspond with a number of folks with a literal alphabet after their names. To this day I am still amazed that such folks are willing to engage with me as I am a rank amateur.

And If I had $1 for every fish keeper I have told to come to this site for information and help, I would be a lot ricjer. I think instead I donated those dollars. As long as I can I will continue this practice.

So I will not try to mention all the names of people connected with Planetcatfish who have contributed to my knowledge and success at what I did. I am afraid I would leave somebody out due to OBS (Old Brain Syndrome). But most of you know who you are and I thank each and every one of you.

@Jools
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Re: Almost Done

Post by Jools »

Thanks Chris for your kind words.

Cheers,

Jools
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Location 2: Mt. Kisco, NY
Interests: Fish and Poker

Re: Almost Done

Post by TwoTankAmin »

The good news is the WC 173 are spawning and I can spot small fry and bigger. So I am keeping them and a grow tank for them as well for a bit longer. I have 21 in the grow tank now. I will find out what I have in the breeder tank in the near future as I intend to move the fish to the fish space where the grow tank is. I used to be an all pleco area but two tanks are m t, 2 more will be before August. That will leave just the two L173 tanks.

There is no way I can keep my clown loach group. But I can hold onto the sidthimunki. I have had many of them for almost as long as the clowns. So, I will keep 2 or 3 of my planted community tanks. The plan is for a 75, a 40 or 50 and then either a 25 or a 29 gal. I will have corys for sure and then mostly small fish and lighter stocking. Between that and plants I should be able to do less maint. and maybe a bit less frequent water changes.

And if I have only one tank where there might be fry, that makes life much simpler. I figure I can handle 4 or 5 tanks for at least another year or two. :thumbup:
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