I started about three weeks ago by providing ample food to get the fish into breeding condition. At this point they are kept in my normal local tap water. GH over 25dGH, KH about 8, pH about 7.5. Temperature in the fishroom is maintained at about 78 to 80F. I was hoping it would not be too difficult to discern males from females after the conditioning period. With the glowlights, it was fairly easy to tell which was which. It looked like I lucked out and that my 3 survivors were a male and 2 females.
Females and Male (Females are not super plump in this pic)
As for the Cardinals, it seems a little more difficult. There are some that are definitely plump and must be females, but there are some that seem borderline and could go either way... Arg... Being that it's a bit wishy-washy, I'm not going to attempt to seperate males and females at first, because I'd hate to have a failure because I accidently put two males or two females together. Rather, I'm going to see what happens if I simulate their natural habitat, to see if I even get any spawning activity at all. I'll worry about large spawns later, first I just want to see if they spawn at all.
After about two weeks of conditioning, I added a layer of about 1" deep of peat moss to both the glowlight and cardinal tanks. (Both were barebottom before the peat) If you have dry peat, it's best to boil it first, otherwise it won't sink. I feel this is probably one of the more important additions to the tanks as it serves several purposes. It of course provides surface area for beneficial bacteria and all, but more importantly it serves to:
- Soften the KH of the water
- Reduce the pH to a more acidic level
- Provides a tea colored blackwater effect
- Provides a place for the eggs to fall into to be protected from hungry parents.
- Eggs that fall into the peat will be protected from light.
- Hopefully provides a habitat for infusoria which will be the fry's first food source.
On top of the peat I spread a large clump of java moss as spawning medium. This will also serve to protect the eggs from the parents. This was about a week ago.
Within a day, the water hard turned a tea color, and the KH was reduced to 0. pH was also quite low of course, at least 5 or less. (As low as my test kit goes) The fish seemed a little stressed at first from the sudden drop, but were fine after a day or so. I continued feeding well during this time.
Here's the Cardinal tank after the addition of the Peat Moss substrate and Java Moss. Notice that the sides and back of the tank are blacked out with black background material.
PS: Sorry for the width of the images, but I wanted to show as much detail as possible.