fwd: angelfish breeding

From: Denney, Richard
To: 'Tony Lim'
Subject: re: angelfish breeding
Date: Wednesday, November 20, 1996 2:45PM

Congratulations. You must have conditions satisfactory for amorous 
angelfish. I have had some success rearing multiple broods of angelfish 
since mid-September, when like you I found that I had a breeding pair. The 
first sign was that the pair persistently chased the other fish in my 29 
gallon tank behind rocks and wouldn't let them come out. I quickly set up an 
emergency 10 gallon tank to take the overflow fish, including one adult 
angel now dubbed "lonesome", and let the parents do their thing. The first 
batch hatched successfully (two days to hatching, but the fry remain bound 
to the leaf, or other substrate, and five more days to the free-swimming 
stage). Out of this first batch of about 150 eggs, I got about 50 free 
swimmers. I fed them newly hatched baby brine shrimp, as the books say, and 
things looked good until on the third night after becoming free swimming, 
the babies disappeared. The parents (probably the male, I am told), probably 
ate them.

This happens. Your turning off the light at an inopportune may or may not 
have been the reason. Most breeders try to minimize disturbance of breeding 
pairs to reduce the liklihood that this will happen, but pairs differ in how 
"scitterish" they are. Mine are used to my oggling at them and feeding them 
frequently, and don't seem to be disturbed by my presence. The tank is, 
however, heavily planted with lots of shadows and hiding places.

A week later, another batch. Consulting an excellent web site 
(http://pages.prodigy.com/CA/lordbyron/angelfish1.html), I elected to try to 
remove the fry after hatching (but before they became free swimming) to 
another 10 gal tank. I used MarOxy antifungal medication, as recommended on 
the Web, and a sponge filter in a bare tank. I managed to get some to 
survive. To make a long story short, the parents continued to lay every week 
or two after eggs were removed.  I had some, but not many survivors when I 
tried to rear the fish separate from the parents. Most mortality occurred 
within three days of the fry becoming free swimming. Rearing the fry 
separate from the parents is not a trivial task. The problem is feeding them 
sufficiently, without fouling the water in a bare tank. (Incidently, don't 
put any gravel in the tank. I did at first, and most got caught in the 
gravel almost immediately upon hatching.) Since you have to feed regularly 
two or three times a day with newly hatched baby brine shrimp, it is very 
difficult to keep the tank adequately clean. Anything but a sponge filter 
sucks the fry up. (Sometimes you can recover them from a box filter!) I of 
course got high nitrates, and had to change about half or more of the water 
every day in an attempt to keep the rearing tank minimally clean. However, I 
now have seven 2 inch angels from one batch, and about 10 1 inch angels from 
a second batch. These are doing beautifully in my 75 gallon, heavily planted 
(and gorgeous) tank. (This tank been going about two and a half months and 
also has 20 cardinal tetras, four SIA's, ten Oto's, and two mollies.)

Three weeks ago, the parents layed yet another batch in the 29 gallon. I 
decided that if I was to rear more angels, the parents were going to have to 
do most of the work. (I was willing to hatch the brine shrimp every day, but 
all this messing around with separate, dirty tanks and continuous water 
changes was too much.) So I let nature take its course. I added MarOxy 
fungicide to the main (29 gallon) tank daily while the eggs were incubating, 
to fight fungal infection. Nevertheless, the majority of eggs became 
infected. However, the parents rescued about 25-30 fry, which hatched and 
became free-swimming. About 23 of these have since grown into the cutest 1/2 
inch angelfish you ever saw. No angelfish caviar! It is very satisfying to 
see them school around the parents. So far, the parents have done exactly 
what they should have. I subsequently read in a book somewhere that it is 
worth giving the parents a few shots at rearing the fry themselves. It is 
not uncommon for them to eat the eggs or fry, especially if they sense 
something is not right, but rear subsequent batches without incident.

Concerned about the heavy feedings with baby brine shrimp, I have monitored 
ammonia, nitrate and phosphate levels in the 29 gallon tank, but have not 
had a significant rise in either. (It is heavily planted, and I have a 
Whisper box filter with a well-aged foam bacteriological filter insert. The 
tank typically does not exhibit detectable phosphate or nitrate readings.) 
Apparently the plants and filter have thus far been able to handle the heavy 
feeding without excess nutrient buildup. I have continued to do weekly water 
changes of about 30% as before. So far, so good. I might have had more 
problems had the hatch been more robust (say 200 to 300 swimming fry!).

It has been a fair amount of work, but I now have about fifty growing fish. 
Fortunately, three aquarium shops in the region have expressed interest in 
taking my overflow. I am obviously going to have to get rid of most of them 
or my tanks will suffer from a severe overstocking. I am definitely going to 
let the parents do the work from here on. The scary thing is that the owner 
of Village Tropical Fish in Houston said that the offspring may themselves 
start pairing off in as little as six months. Oh my, won't that be a circus? 
Breeding pairs anyone?

Good luck, and check out that web site.