Rineloricaria parva, The Whiptail Catfish

Helen Burns

was given my first whiptails from a friend in the aquatic club, six young which he had brought along for his breeder’s team. They were initially housed in a small tank in my fish house but later on I transferred them into one of the tanks in my house, 36x18x18 which housed three juvenile Discus, dwarf cichlids, neon tetras, honey gouramis and Corydoras sterbai. This tank was heavily planted with Amazon Swords and giant Vaillisneria. The parva's stayed hidden most of the time but quite often they would stay motionless on the pieces of bogwood.


Rineloricaria parva

Rineloricaria parva

Approximately one year had passed and theywere definitely large enough to spawn. At this point I did not know the sex ratio of them but I placed a few PVC pipes in the tank "just in case".Unfortunately the only inhabitants in the pipes were the dwarf cichlids. During a re-organisation of tanks I moved the parva's back into the fish house beside some young Apistogramma macmasteri, ever hopeful the pipes went along with them. Within a fortnight there was a pair inside the pipe spawning.


Water changes
  20% weekly, pH 6.0-6.5.
  26c (79f).                          
Filtration, air-driven sponges (this depends on tank size)
Decor: sand substrate, bogwood and spawning sites i.e. small PVC or clay pipe (6" long x 1.5" diameter). Feeding: Lettuce, cucumber catfish sinking pellets and my beef heart mix, which contains peas, spinach and flake.

Sexual difference.
The method I use to sex my adult Whiptails. Placed in a glass container, I use a show tank, as it is essential to be able to view the fish closely from above and also below, the use of a magnifying glass is a great advantage. Examine the pectoral fins and the cheek area. Males have tiny saw-like edging in both these areas, females don’t. I house my breeding parva's in a community tank and at present they are sharing it with Ilyoden xantusi livebeares and various corydoras species. When I notice that the whiptails have spawned this is what I do:

What I Do When They Spawn.
Spawning pair can remain in the pipe for as long as 12 hours. When the female is spent of eggs she leaves the male to care for the eggs alone. From the main tank I take the water and transfer this to a 12 x 8 x 8 tank and I install a small mature sponge filter. I carefully remove the pipe containing the male and spawn, and place into the small tank and then hope for the best, during this maneuver I have never known the male to exit the pipe. The eggs are dark green in colour changing to dark brown as they start to develop and during the brood care, the male continually "mouths" the eggs, I presume that he is turning them and obviously keeping them clean. Remaining in the pipe for the next 6 days he does not eat any food at all. The eggs begin to hatch on days 4 and 5 and they have an enormous egg sac, which over the next couple of days disappears, and then they are free swimming. Average fry per spawning 60.

The father’s job is finished and he leaves the pipe. It is essential to ensure that the male has feeding for several days before being returned to the main tank, so I normally remove him into one of my other peaceful community tanks as soon as the fry are free swimming, then at a later date return him back with the females. The tiny scaled down miniature parva’s like to attach themselves onto the glass and hang like little Christmas decorations.

For their first feeding I place a scalded lettuce leaf or a small slice of cucumber in the tank, always ensure that this is replaced daily with a fresh piece. An additional sponge filter is added to cope with the sudden population explosion and small water changes are carried out daily, I also place a suitable sized piece of bogwood in their tank for them to browse on. After about a week or so I then move them into a larger tank 24"x12"x12". Growth rate seems very slow in the beginning but with a ready supply of food and maintaining the water quality, their growth rate soon increases. From past experience if I do not remove the male plus eggs into a maternity tank when the fry become free swimming they are devoured by the other tankmates.

Photo by author.



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