Ancistrus sp. "Gold Form"
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
Ancistrus sp. "Gold
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.
Spawning Behaviour: 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.
Photo Credit: Helen