Shane's World Right Arrow Reproduction Right Arrow Making beacons, the spawning of L091. • Article © Andrew Coxon, uploaded May 13, 2014

In July 2012, 2 days before my girlfriend and I were due to go on holiday, I was rushing around like a mad man carrying out all my tank maintenance and water changes before I left. I had done all the smaller breeding tanks in my fish room, so this only left the 1000ltr show aquarium which I have in my living room (the big one as I like to call it). This is home to a few large Altums, a beautiful 12” L95 Pink Cheek, 4 x 8” L091's (2 Male x 2 Females), 1 x  7” L27, and a breeding trio of Ancistrussp. L338.

Usually because of its size I leave this one until last as it takes a long time to refill and requires me to stand on a chair and roll up my sleeves to syphon all the rubbish out. I took out roughly 1/3 of the water (via a hose straight out the window onto my lawn) and then connected up the hose which runs through an HMA filter upstairs and started slowly refilling it. After making a couple of adjustments to make sure it wasn't filling too quickly I set about making a well-deserved cup of tea.

When I returned I noticed 2 of the L091 having a bit of a scrap. I watched as they became more and more aggressive, locking mouths and spiralling up and down the tank. I had seen some scuffles over food in the past but had never seen them fighting like this, this was different. It was obviously a male and female fighting. The female was visibly gravid and the main aggressor, I wasn't sure if I should try to break it up as they were becoming increasingly marked from the fight and their fins were getting frayed. Thankfully they stopped just before I had to intervene and the male darted off back into his cave breathing heavily and looking sorry for himself. I finished off topping up the tank and didn't see any more trouble over the next day and a half. Both fish were healing well and I didn't give it much more thought before leaving for my holiday.

Upon returning I switched on the aquarium light and at first everything seemed normal. The Altums rushed over expecting some food and all the usual tails were hanging out of the usual caves - all but one! The largest cave I have is a large clay drainage pipe which is blocked at one end with a piece of slate. Initially I put this in for the L027 or L095 to hide as it's a little too big for the rest of the fish to breed in . . or so I thought.

I noticed the striking orange markings of an L091 tail just poking out so I ran upstairs to find my torch, still not really expecting to find anything. I shined the torch to the back of the cave and found one of my male L091 sitting on a huge cluster of eggs.  (approx. 150). Unfortunately fungus had already started to set in and some of them we're white and furry. Ideally I wanted to leave the eggs with him but decided to retrieve the eggs and put them in an egg tumbler after treating them with some anti-fungus. At this point I took some water measurements which showed the temperature to be 80°F (I am guessing during the water change this dropped to around 74-75 degrees), the pH was 6.8 with a TDS of 92µS.

1
Seven day old fry
2
Nine day old fry
1
Thirty five old fry
2
Eighty five day old fry, at 1.5"

The next few days were pretty stressful. I lost a lot of eggs to the fungus, but eventually the remaining few started  hatching three days after I returned home from my holiday. I ended up with twelve or so healthy wrigglers. They grew at a similar rate to any other wrigglers I've reared in the past and seemed quite hardy. I didn't lose any more over the next few days and they quickly absorbed their egg sacks. The first food I offered them was crushed spirulina tablets and then crushed algae wafers, they seemed to like both.

Both my adult male fish have very distinctive markings on their dorsal and tail fins. I have also noticed that she spawned with the same fish she had a fight with before I went on holiday. This kind of fight has happened two or three times since the spawn last year and the days following always end with a trapping attempt, sometimes for two or three days. Up to now it has not ended with eggs but I am very optimistic that it will happen again and certain that the fighting is part of a pre spawning behaviour.

All twelve fry survived and quickly reached 1.5-2" (within 3 or 4 months). I sold or swapped them with other aquarists. I spoke with a friend recently who had bought some from me and  just over a year on they are 3.5-4”.


There is further information on this species on the Cat-eLog page.

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