by Francine Bethea
A friend and fellow PVAS member, George Richter, set me up with a beautiful pair of Blue Gularis. This species of killifish is one of the largest and most beautiful freshwater fish you will ever see. The males can reach lengths of about six inches and exhibit a kaleidoscope of blue-greens, rust, orange, and yellow dots and splotches. You would have to see this fish to believe it. The female, on the other hand, is a bland tan color and can reach four to five inches.
I recommend the Blue Gularis for several reasons. First off, these fish demonstrate a quality as pet-like as that of an Oscar. The constant stare at your every move once you enter the fishroom can be quite endearing. Come to think of it, their appetite is similar to an Oscar. Although live food is essential, having to culture earthworms isn’t really all that bad. Frozen foods work well, too. So throw out some of the meat in your freezer to make room for a large supply of bloodworms and brine shrimp. In addition, if you are raising other species of fish and have to cull your spawns, the Blue Gularis will take care of that for you, too.
Another reason to give the Blue Gularis a try is to familiarize you with the art of making spawning mops. Searching for acrylic yarn in forest green will win you strange smiles and lengthy conversations with sales people once you explain why you need it. You will also learn that the mops need only be heated in the microwave for 10 minutes to leach out the dye instead of 4 hours on the stove. The mops are just so much more useful when they aren’t frizzy and wavy. Large, thick spawning mops will also serve as protection for the female. The male can be quite determined and relentless in his pursuit to spawn.
Once you’ve got the mop thing figured out, you are ready for the egg picking. The eggs of the Blue Gularis are very easy to spot on the mop. That is, if you know what you are looking for. The eggs are clear, like tiny bubbles, not rosy or cream. Nor are the eggs in a nice adhesive cluster. No sir, you have go through the mop strand by strand. I must say that, once you find that first egg and the count gets up to about 50, you will forget all about that headache you got from eyestrain when you are done.
There are two methods of hatching the eggs of the Blue Gularis. One involves the use of a Petri dish with very fine peat moss to house the eggs. The other method is to water incubate them with the water from the parents’ tank. The peat method takes about eight weeks for the eggs to hatch, whereas, it takes only 21 days for the eggs to hatch in water. I chose the latter because it was easier for me in so many ways. I kept knocking the petri dishes over or forgetting about them altogether. The dish would dry out.
In my research, I learned of using an ice cube tray to place individual eggs. This seemed to be a grand idea at first because it was right down anal alley. Can you visualize rows and rows of ice trays methodically placed on sliding drawers? What a visual spectacle that would have been! However, the amount of trays needed got out of hand. Secondly, the water in the small compartment evaporates rather quickly. I kept forgetting about them. When I did remember the containers I would find one or two survivors. So I resorted to using those Gladware containers instead. These containers allowed the addition of java moss and snails which are beneficial to the newly hatch fry. Any fungused eggs were harder to find, however, because the mulm built up. The water changes for the fry in the containers were done with water from the parents’ tank initially. After a week or so, regular water changes could be carried out.
Once the fry hatched, they were capable of eating Microworms and baby brine shrimp. Blue Gularis grow at a fast rate and soon are able to take tubifex and brine shrimp. These little fish are capable of eating anything that they can fit in their mouths and things that don’t quite fit as well. Soon you will have an exorbitant number of Blue Gularis.
This article first appeared in PVAS’s Delta Tale, Vol 32, # 3