Re: Breeding Plecos

Hi Everyone,

This is slightly off topic, but it DID happen in my new 120g plant tank, so
here goes...

I spent several hours this morning going over my tank with a magnifying
glass (its amazing what you find yourself doing when its too cold to go
outside). The tank has only been sent up for a couple of weeks (23
December, '96) and so the plants are still establishing themselves. In
SPITE of my use of a large percentage (50%) of R/O water when I initially
set up the tank, and one major (50%) water change last week (so now the
water should be 25% tapwater and 75% R/O), beard algae has shown up.
Probably from one of the plants, but I'm not too worried. Perhaps it will
pull out some phosphate and settle down to an equilibrium situation. I've
scheduled another 50% water change (again, with R/O water) for Monday
night, so maybe that will slow it down. I think we spend far too much time
worrying about algae - the rest of my plants are doing wonderfully, with
the dwarf hygro having reached the top of the tank already. 

I did make a rather surprising discovery, I've got babies! I placed three
dwarf bristlenose plecos (I've never been able to positively identify them,
they look like typical plecos, with the bristly nose, but are only about 3"
long) in the tank when I first set it up and it appears that they really
feel at home. When I was emptying the tank they had previously lived in, I
discovered about 20 rather large adhesive eggs. At first I thought they
were tapioca pudding. But they turned out to be pleco eggs. And I had been
ignoring this particular tank for months. Well, I tried to artificially
hatch the eggs in a small container but they fungused. C'est la vie!

But the plecos were obviously in the mood to continue breeding, as I found
a small (1/2") baby pleco sucking on the glass in the big tank this
morning. When looking for siblings, I started to worry that they might all
have been sucked into the filter system (I use a corner overflow box for
surface skimming and an eheim 2260 canister - it's very powerful). I had a
foam filter sleeve that had a hollow core which just fit over the intake
tube of the eheim, so I had slipped it on to act as a pre-filter to prevent
the canister medium from getting clogged. I find that plant tanks can
produce an amazing amount of plant debris and I like to be able to remove
as much of it as I can before it has a chance to decompose. I find that
bi-weekly cleaning of this prefilter sponge prevents loose plant leaves and
other debris from being sucked into the canister.

Well, it obviously prevented baby plecos from getting sucked in as well, as
my corner overflow box is full of fry. I have counted at least a dozen.
Because of the power of the eheim (its their most powerful canister filter,
as well as their largest), there is quite a bit of current inside the
overflow box as the water spills over the comb at the top and gets pulled
down to the intake of the filter. But the pleco fry don't seem to mind a
bit. Their little sucker mouths hold them firmly to the glass as they can
be seen darting to and fro over the Plexiglas, sucking up algae as they go.
When I look really closely with the magnifying glass I can see the minute
"mowed" paths that they are leaving in the green algae which is growing on
the inside of the overflow box.

I don't think I'll move the fry out of the overflow box for the present.
They seem to be able to get enough food, and the current doesn't seem to
bother them. Plus, my ever-hungry Altum Angelfish can't get at them.

Ain't nature grand!

James Purchase
Toronto, Ontario
jpp at inforamp_net