Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: San Antonio, TX
Hi. I'm no expert, but I have successfully been spawning and rearing these fish in a 40 long for a couple of years now, so this is what works for me.
Tank mates are albino bristlenose plecos and assassin snails. I recently added some neon blue rasboras and I'm pretty sure that hasn't bothered them.
The tank has a canister filter, not too much current and tons of water sprite and java fern. I cleared the water sprite out once and I didn't see any fry until I put it back in, so the tank is really a mess. I don't know if they were nervous without lots of cover, or if the fry need it for hiding, or if they feed off of whatever grows on it. Maybe a combination of all of that.
I feed them microworms, almost exclusively. Occasionally they get crushed flake, freeze dried daphnia or my homemade food, but they seem to like the microworms best. The fry eat them too. If you've never tried microworms I recommend them. They are very easy to propagate, and cheap.
I used to fish them out and raise them in a 5 gallon, but I was grabbing 3 or 4 every few days and they were sort of a pain to catch, and I lost a few of them. In hindsight I probably should have stuffed their little tank with plants too. At any rate I just leave them in now and the adults don't bother them.
So that's what I do. I would think that if you put them in a bucket crammed with plants and good food you'd have good results. As to them being shy, mine have learned to approach me and look for worms, but it might also be that my population is all tank raised now; I'm not really one for micro managing my fish so if a little guy dies I'll often have no idea, so all of my store bought guys might be long gone.
If you do try the bucket I'd be prepared to leave them in a good while to settle in- I never had any success with a separate spawning tank.