31 May 2021 Submitted by Dave McGrew
My first introduction to Killifish came quite recently when fellow PVAS club member Bob Bock began to upload interesting and instructive videos on various subjects to his YouTube channel . He uploaded an introduction to killifish commonly kept in the home aquarium, and we exchanged a few messages back and forth about them. Meanwhile, my son Ben had been finishing up a PVAS BAP project on Brilliant Rasboras. We did not have a long term plan to keep them, and arranged to make a trip out to drop them off for Bob — who was interested in keeping them. He offered me a trio of Fundulopanchax Scheeli (Emerald Killifish) from a line he had been breeding, along with a mop for spawning them. Ben was wrapping up some other projects, so these became my project. For some time, I just enjoyed watching them, determining what parameters they seemed to thrive at, and figuring how to establish their environment. Bob kept in touch, and invited me to join in several monthly Zoom Meetings with MAKO - Mid Atlantic Killifish Organization - of which several other PVAS Club members were also part of. Being new to Killifish keeping, I gleaned as much information as possible about breeding them. Following some ideas presented from different members in MAKO, I was able to find a few eggs in the mop, and successfully hatched out my first two killis in a hang-in specimen container, suspended in the parent tank with an air stone, java moss, and a single neocaridina. The shrimp was added in with the eggs for the purpose of eating any fungused over eggs. Although the use of shrimp this way is not a commonly cited method, I’ve found it works reasonably well. The shrimp do chow down on infertile or fungus-laden eggs, while seeming to leave fertile eggs alone. Now, some killifish are soil-spawning, and require an elaborate damp peat storage process for eggs prior to hatching. These Scheeli, by contrast, are pretty easy. Once mature, they just spawn daily in the mop and eggs can be pulled out as desired. Pulling eggs is a nightly activity at this point. When spawning regularly, between 5-10 eggs are pulled each day. Eggs can be preserved either in damp papertowel, in shallow bowls of tap water (chlorine helps to fight fungus build up), or dropped directly in a cycled tank to hatch. Eggs hatch in a few weeks.
The first official BAP batch of killis came from about 20 eggs dropped into a large specimen container suspended inside another aquarium to match temperature. It took several weeks for any to hatch, and several more weeks to get a good count. Eleven had successfully hatched. These continued in the specimen container for some time longer, and were eventually transitioned over to a net breeder to eliminate regular water changes. But I kept pulling eggs, and realized that eventually I needed to set up a system for hatching batches. I designed a simple rack of clear jugs uniquely cut to allow easy carrying. Each one was fixed up with a small sponge filter and airline, java moss, a few alder cones, and a single neocaridina shrimp. These were kept at room temperature (ca. 70-degrees Farenheit). Before long, I had also set up a small 2.5 gal. tank as a breeding project as well. Killis began hatching in all containers. Scheeli fry need to feed on tiny foods for the first week or so. The first food I feed is vinegar eels combined with a dash of finely powdered fry food (sera micron or new life spectrum fry starter). My process for collecting the vinegar eels is to fill an 8 oz. mug with water, and add about 1 tsp. of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate). This is to counteract the acidity of the vinegar eel culture. I draw out about 10 ml. and thoroughly mix into the water + baking soda. After this, I add the dash of fry powedered food, and mix this all together. I only feed this sparingly, as the fry as typically kept in a hatching container with ample java moss and sponge filters with come alder cones. After a week or so, they can be fed on some newly hatched baby brine shrimp. Once fry reach about one month maturity, I have a 20 gal. long aquarium set up to serve as a species-only Scheeli colony. I’ve added the BAP Eleven fry, plus several other batches as well. The smaller fry are probably still three months away from maturity at this point.
For this BAP submission, here are details: Fundulopanchax Scheeli (Emerald Killifish) Date hatched / counted free-swimming was March 5, 2021 Number of fry counted was eleven. No fatalities occurred to these. The 10 gal. spawning tank contained one male with two females. It was planted liberally with wisteria, had two small sponge filters running, and there was a large conch-like shell in the center we brought back from the NC Outer-banks several years ago. A few alder cones were added and a small catappa leaf. The temperature of the spawning tank stays in the mid 70s, but the suspended specimen - container where the eggs hatched was kept at between 80-84 degrees Farenheit. Water is changed weekly from our city tap water source Care is taken to completely cover the tanks, since killis tend to be notorious jumpers Basic Water parameters were measured at the end of the BAP project: Breeding Tank ... 10 gal. 74 degrees Farenheit 2x sponge filters Spawning mop 1x large shell Wisteria Fry Colony Tank … 20 gal. long aquarium 81 degrees Farenheit 2x sponge filters Wood Coconut hut Wisteria algae Duckweed 7.8 pH 0 - Ammonia 0 - Nitrite 50 ppm Nitrate