Ancistrus sp. "Gold Form" Albino

Helen Burns

lbino 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.


Ancistrus sp. "Gold Form" Albino

Ancistrus sp. "Gold Form" Albino

Description: 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.

Maintenance: 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 didn’t 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 wasn’t 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 couldn’t 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 wasn’t 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 wasn’t 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 wasn’t 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 7’x 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 Burns



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