type fish have never been a favourite with myself
until I was fortunate to see my first Ancistrus
"Golds" at North Lakes Aquatics in Penrith,
April 1997. I was admiring the heavily planted
Discus tank when one by one the Golds appeared. I knew
I had to have some. Four 2" TL Ancistrus "Golds"
were duly purchased. I estimated them to be 4 months
of age. Housed together in a large peaceful community
tank they grew well. By October they had attained a
total length of 4-5". How lucky can you get as
they turned out to be 2 males and 2 females.
sp. "Gold Form" Albino
Overall gold colour, red eyes. Sexual difference,
Females have short thin pointed tentacles on the
snout, males have many longer thicker tentacles
covering the snout.
Tank 45 gallons, this was a community tank hence
the size. Water changes were carried out weekly,
approximately 20% using tap water via Purity on
Tap Unit. The pH fluctuated between 6 6.5,
temperature 26c (79f). Sand substrate and surface
area heavily covered with Indian Fern and Elodea.
Two thirds of the floor area was covered in bogwood
and there were small clay pots for the dwarf cichlids.
Trickle filtration filled with ceramic rings and
covered in filter floss powered by an internal filter.
The tank also had large double air driven sponges
and for the purpose of stabilising the pH, a box
filter filled with coral gravel.
Feeding for the Ancistus was mainly lettuce,
cucumber and shelled garden peas. Occasionally I
gave them some of my beef heart mix, which contained
peas, spinach, catfish pellets and flake, they devoured
this eagerly. There was never a problem with algae
in their tank as they obviously ate any that did
appear. If there were any pots or bogwood in
other tanks that had algae growth on it, I placed
this into their tank and over night, it was eaten.
Tankmates included Cardinal and Rummy Nose Tetras,
Rasbora somphongsi, maculata, Sparkling
Gouramis and sub adult Apistogramma sp. Pandurini.
Getting the "Golds"
to spawn was easy, so easy I didnt know they
had. I had made no prior set up or any changes in
the maintenance of the tank. The site chosen was
an up-side-down 3" clay flowerpot which had
a hole chipped out of the side, this was for the
dwarf cichlids. I had noticed the male had been
inside this pot for a while and after being inside
for a few days I thought it had got trapped, never
thinking what was about to transpire. I slowly lifted
the pot, the male immediately swam away, to my sheer
surprise part of the inner wall was lined with golden
wrigglers, and some had fallen onto the floor of
the tank. My inexperience with Ancistrus
was now very evident. I placed the pot containing
the wrigglers into a small tank, which I had filled
with water from the spawning tank, to this I added
a mature sponge filter with slight aeration to circulate
the water. At time of removal there were approximately
40 wrigglers, which had very large egg sacs, three
days later they became free swimming and by now
the numbers had reduced drastically. I fed these
fry on spinach, lettuce and tablets.
The total success of fry raised numbered only twelve.
Soon after this spawning I removed most of the other
species which were housed in the tank. Rasbora
and sparkling gouramies remained, as they caused
no threat to the Ancictrus. Incidentally
I was having success with these two species spawning
with fry surviving, I believe this was due to the
fact that feeding cucumber and lettuce to the adult
Ancistrus created plenty infusoria to enable
them to survive.
It wasnt long before the same male was ready
to spawn with the second female. I was fortunate
to witness the following spawning behaviour. First
the male would enter the pot, it took some manoeuvring,
as he had to enter sideways. He would spend sometime
inside the pot cleaning the inner wall and time
after time he would come out of the pot, eventually
the female would appear at the entrance. There was
a problem as this female was much larger and although
she tried to repeatedly enter the pot she just couldnt
get through the entrance hole. After the first
spawning I had put a few more suitable spawning
sites into the tank but the male only wanted to
use the same one. Thankfully I was in the fish house
to see the females dilemma. I removed the pot and
carefully enlarged the entrance, also taking care
to remove any rough edges with sandpaper, replacing
the pot it wasnt long before male and female
were inside. The spawning ritual took a while as
the pair were inside the pot for at least an hour
before I had to retire for the evening. The following
day I could see the male inside the pot where he
remained for the following six days caring for his
brood. The spawn hatched on day five, this kept
the male busy inside his confined home. I would
see some of the wrigglers on the floor of the tank
as they hatched and it wasnt long before the
male would retrieve them, and out of my view he
must have been placing them onto the inner wall
of the pot.
Two days after hatching the fry slowly began to
emerge from the pot and by the third day all fry
were free swimming. I never at anytime noticed the
male leaving the pot for food during that time so
I can only assume he fasts for the period of brood
care. The final count totalled 67 golden miniature
Ancistrus fry foraging all over the tank, a
wonderful sight. Neither of the adults caused any
threat to the young and often adults and fry were
sharing the same lettuce or cucumber at feeding
time. These fry remained in the main tank for several
weeks and as their appetites grew it was time to
disperse them to other tanks and owners. When the
fry from the first spawning were 4 months of age
they had attained the size at which I had bought
the parents, therefore I would say that at the age
of 11 months, Ancistus "Golds"
are mature and will breed. The sex ratio of the
twelve first born are 4 males 8 females and I found
that this wasnt evident (to me at least) until
they were six months of age. I have retained eight
from this brood (2 males 6 females) which are presently
housed in my 7x 2 x 2 community
tank in my lounge.When these reach maturity I intend
to give them a species tank (if I can catch them)
and hopefully start the process again, this time
without my interference.