Ancistrus sp. ‘Santa Cruz Forest Preserve’ Breeding Report
Submitted by Patchin Crandall Curtis
The male and female parent Ancistrus were collected by Devon Graham and Patchin Curtis on Thursday, 8/13/2015 in the Santa Cruz Forest Preserve. We hiked out to the back property line to fish in a couple of small streams or brooks that feed into the Rio Mazan.
Latitude: S03 35' 450" Longitude: W072 28' 325" Water temperature: 77.5 Hardness: 6-7 ppm.
We saw lots of Flag Tetras, Blue Tetras, Red-eye Tetras, Darter Tetras, Silver Hatchetfish, whiptail catfish, a few Apistogramma, and abundant Corydoras rabauti. Devon picked up a long, hollow piece of driftwood and the male and female bushy nose plecos popped out.
The Ancistrus pair were kept in a 50 gallon breeder tank for about a year with various tetras. The pair went to live with Jeanette and Andrew Blumhagen for the first half of 2017 while I was in Paris. When they came back home late summer 2017, they were put in a 38 gallon tank with a colony of Blue Emperor Tetras. The tank had a substrate of CaribSea Eco-Complete Red, 4 Cobalt pleco breeding caves (2 small and 2 large), and was planted with Bacopa caroliniana, Crytocoryne wendtii, and Echinodorus tenellus, and Echinodorus angustifolia ‘Vesuvius.’ The tank was also home to a sometimes alarming number of pond snails.
Tank water was maintained at 78o F with a neutral pH ranging from 6.9 to 7.6 and hardness of 4-6d GH and 2-4d KH.
The male chose one of the smaller caves for spawning. It didn’t seem physically possible for him to cram the female in there, but cram her in he did, and she had the scrapes to prove it. There were a few unsuccessful attempts at spawning with a large percentage of unfertilized eggs expelled from the cave by the male. In January 2018, Jeremy Basch noted that the female appeared to be very gravid. In February, 2018 Devon Graham stayed with me when he came to speak, and the male was sitting on eggs. Unfortunately, I learned the hard way that Blue Emperor Tetras do not make good dither fish. There are no fry they can’t eat, even baby plecos with ferocious spines to protect them. Once the first tetra figured out how to eat the baby Ancistrus, it was a massacre. There was nothing I could do at that point except leave the room and let nature takes its course. The next day, I removed the tetras from the tank.
By March, 2018 it was clear that the male was sitting on another batch of eggs. In April, fry started to appear in the tank. I never saw fry until they were a few millimeters long, and the egg sac was long gone. No special attempts were made to spread food around the tank for the fry due to fears of fouling the tank water. Instead, I placed ceramic disks of Repashy Soilent Green, or Community Plus, or Spawn ‘n Grow in a few regular places around the tank so the babies would know where they could go to find food. Some fry were great food foragers right from the start and would readily come scurrying over to where the food was placed. Other fry were skinny and inactive and poor foragers. They seemed to just wither up and disappear within a few days. After a couple of months, I had about 34 robust fry running around the tank which were then raised to juveniles.
Two lots of five each of the juveniles were sold at the JRAS Spring Fling on 3/16/2019, two lots were sold at the PVAS Spring All-Day Auction on 4/7/2019, and the last two lots at the NEC 44th Convention Auction on 4/14/2019.
Andrew Blumhagen is able to verify the spawn.