The start of this story began in 1997 at the annual convention of the American Cichlid Association. Although it is exclusively intended to be a cichlid show, a tank of 1' albino Ancistrus was present for sale in the show room. At that moment in time, I couldn't bring myself to pay $16 each and decided to pass on their purchase.
The problem with this decision is that the thought of the fish stayed with me to the point that I had to locate some and have them shipped to me in Cleveland. I was able to locate some at Rocky Mountain Discus who shipped me about 20 healthy albinos. It turns out that I paid the same price as that asked at the ACA show - plus shipping!
The fry arrived in good order and quickly adjusted to my tank conditions. They ate well on feedings of spirulina wafers and sinking aquaculture pellets. Water changes of 50% were done on a weekly basis to promote health and proper growth.
At about 9 months of age, the fish had attained a size of about 2' in length and began to show sexual dimorphism in the presence of bristles on the noses of the males. At this time, I separated the fish into three groups of 3-4 individuals each. Each of these groups was placed in a ten-gallon aquarium equipped with a Hydro IV sponge filter and pots and caves. No gravel was employed so as to allow for easy tank maintenance.
A month or so after separating the fish into groups, I noticed the first spawning. A clutch of eggs had been laid inside a cave constructed from two clay pots. The eggs, however, were quickly dislodged and were found on the tank bottom. Eggs numbered perhaps 20 and were an amber color, typical of the eggs of the normally colored, common Ancistrus. Only two of the eggs hatched, although they disappeared within the next few days. No parental interest was exhibited whatsoever in this first spawning.Subsequent spawnings paralleled the behavior of the common Ancistrus that I also maintain and breed. Normally, about 25-30 amber colored eggs are deposited in a ceramic cave. The male then rigorously tends the eggs. The eggs hatch in about 3 days at about 80 degrees F. The male also defends the fry after hatching. The fry become mobile very quickly and can be seen moving about in the cave two or three days post-hatching. The fry begin to wander out of the cave after a few more days and immediately begin to forage for food. Rather immediately, the fry begin eating the algae wafers and pellets offered them. Growth of the fry appears initially to be very fast, however, it tends to slow after the fish reaches .5 - .75'. Normally, it takes 2-3 months to attain a size of 1.25'.
From a coloration standpoint, the type that I maintain is a true albino with red pupils. The coloration of the body is a very attractive yellow to pale orange. The fry start out a whitish-pink, but begin to show the adult coloration at about 1.25'. This strain tends to develop extensive headgrowths in the males. Many long bristles develop that are quite impressive. To the best of my recollection, these bristles begin to develop at about 9 months of age.
As to the exact species identification of the fish, I am uncertain. I will be forwarding some individuals to Shane Linder for help in their identification. For note, I have read that there are two species or varieties of albino Ancistrus (ref.: Ingo Seidel web article). Seidel indicates that when the two types are crossed, the resultant fry are all brown, not albino. In over five spawnings, 100% of the offspring have been albino with my breeders. I am uncertain as to whether or not a dramatic spawning trigger is required for this Ancistrus species. In discussions with S. Linder, perhaps the trigger is simply copious feeding. Other possibilities are the 50% weekly water changes that are provided and the long hours of daylight (resulting from my late night laziness in turning off the lights!).
Regarding behavior, this species is quite docile in its conspecific interaction. Nothing more than the occasional spat between males occurs. Regarding other tankmates, I have only kept small cichlids with them for fear of damage to the plecos by larger cichlids. The plecos show no interest at all in the cichlids.
Concerning water conditions, I use Cleveland tap water that is typically about pH 7.5 and moderately hard. Nothing special is done to the water. Water changes are done directly from the tap.
In summary, the albino Ancistrus is a colorful and peaceful species that exhibits interesting behavior. Advanced parental care is exhibited that is most interesting to observe. This variety is highly recommended to those interested in Ancistrus and those interested in adding loricariids to a peaceful community tank.
There is further information on this species on the Cat-eLog page.
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