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Johnson 18's Tank Rack! Several Species!

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This journal will document the building and the keeping of my killifish tanks. While I hope to successfully breed these colorful little fish, I don't want tanks that are set up strictly for breeding. Many people keep Killifish in tiny tanks for breeding, like 2.5 gallons or less(think the little boxes sold for hermit crabs and such), often stuffed full of sphagnum moss or peat, along with no substrate and lights.

While I want these low lech, I don't want them quite that low lech! I will go through and list my thoughts about how I'm planning to set these up. I'm starting with two tanks and may expand from there.

I've never kept killifish, so if you have, PLEASE let me know if I'm messing up!! I'm absolutely alright with more experienced people offering me advice or saying "hey, you're doing this wrong, idiot!!"

EDIT: I've had a lot of questions about Killifish, which I think is absolutely fantastic! I love that this seems to have sparked interest in many people. Unfortunately, I am definitely still learning about these little fish. I will try to answer any and all questions of course! I have also found that the Killifish people are super organized! I would recommend that anyone wanting to learn more about Killifish should check out the American Killifish Association's website. They've got a ton of information, including killifish basics, beginner info, along with good beginner fish recommendations! I'm seriously impressed with these folks, hell, I might even join eventually! hahaha.
END EDIT.

The Killifish: I'm starting with two species of killifish, both are considered to be "easy" killis. I bought both of these species at an auction last weekend where there were at least a hundred of different types of killifish. The two I'm starting with are both non-annual Killifish. I believe both species are plant spawners, so I can leave eggs in the tank versus drying the out and aging before being able to hatch.

The first species is a trio, 1 male and 2 females, of Aphyosemion australe Cap Estrias BSWG 97-24. This is a small species from Gabon, and one of the few Killifish with a common name, the Lyretail Killifish. It's a gorgeous little fish, overall orange with a number of different colors mixed into its patterns! I'm planning to get at least one more trio, if I can, from the same person who donates them to the auction. This trio has proved quite hard to take a picture of as they never stop moving!

I stole this first image off Flickr, it's a lovely little pair.


The second species I have is two pairs of Aphyosemion cinnamomeum Kurume APL 13-35. This species is from Cameroon & gets a bit larger, like 6cm. (Haha!) This is mostly a purple color, with a bright yellow crescent shape in the tail. These fish are currently in my 55 gallon shrimp tank & they need to be moved out asap! While I haven't seen them eating the shrimp, I'm sure the shrimp are at least getting picked on as they're hiding constantly!

This first image is from the interwebs, the rest are in my 55. These fish have been getting more color every day!



The males just a day or two after getting them. They're colors have gotten better but you can start to see the yellow on the fins.



Females:





Tanks: I'm debating back and forth between a pair of 5 gallon tanks or 10 gallons. The 5's are almost certainly large enough, but a 10 gallon tank gives me more wiggle room as far as the water conditions go. I can grow more plants in a 10 gallon tank. As far as dimensions, I've got room for either one & there's no real advantage(room wise) to going smaller(I don't think...) I don't currently have 5s, but I've only got one derimmed 10, so I'm gonna have to buy tanks either way. If you can't tell, I'm leaning towards using 10 gallon tanks.

Filtration: air driven sponge filters! I've already got some of the dual sponge filters. Just picked up an air pump yesterday, it's the same one I use to power the same filters in my 20L Apisto tank. I've got two in that tank & will just be putting one in each of these tanks.

Heaters: idk. The kinds that warm up cold water. Hahaha.

Lights: I've got a variety of lights I could use probably including the clip-on cfl domes for Home Depot, as well as a couple 18" BML Dutch(12in board) with the adjustment knobs to turn them up and down.

Substrate: As I'm mostly just wanting to go low tech, crammed with lots of Crypts, other easy root feeders, & moss, I believe I may go with MGOPM mixed with something to increase the CEC and capped with Black Diamond Blasting Sand. If I get any species that are substrate spawners this will change so that the substrate and eggs can be removed, dried & aged before being rewetted when it is time for the eggs to hatch.

Plants: The plan is to put in lots of heavy root feeders: lots of Cryptocorynes, maybe some of the smaller swords, and probably not any sort of actual carpet plants. It's possible I might give MM a try as a carpet in one. Idk, though. I've got a wide variety of plants so we'll see what ends up in these tanks! I'm going to try and pack them fairly full.


I know this is long AF! If you've made it this far, THANK YOU!! Please let me know what you think of my plan! I'm open to ideas or suggestions! The tanks will hopefully be started today! If not, well, it might be sometime this week.



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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Congrats on the new additions! Hope they do well for you.







Wouldn't that make the Sphagnum moss or peat the substrate?


Thanks! I suppose the peat would, yes. Not in the way we use our substrates though where we could plant things in it..
The sphagnum is stuffed into the tank such as you would do with leaf litter or a breeder tank just stuffed full of moss.

For the substrate spawners, peat is often stuck into a container which is then placed onto the bare tank bottom. The fish will then spawn in it by either running across the top of it or burrowing down into the peat a few inches & spawning there. At that point you can remove the container, drain the water from the peat & store the mostly dry peat in a ziplock bag until the eggs are ready to hatch, which varies by species, at which point you can wet the peat & the fish hatch usually within a couple hours!


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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I just bought four 10 gallon tanks at petco. They've got the $1 per gallon sale going but only for 10,20 & 29. 50% off the 55 & 75... I was going to get 5gallon tanks but for 14.99 ea, I passed.


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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for that information @someoldguy! I appreciate it! I had kinda decided against a capped dirt substrate, in favor of an inert substrate where having to move things around doesn't create any issues. You've just help confirm this for me!
I'd seen A. cinnamomeum listed as a plant spawned some places and substrate spawners in others, I wasn't sure, so this is good to know.

I've got a bunch of Anubias, Java Fern, and moss. I will definitely make use of it. I also have an emersed 55 that is absolutely packed full of Hydrocotyle sp. 'Japan' which I plan to use as a floater. I don't plan on dosing fertz but I may put in a couple root tabs where needed. I guess I'll keep an eye out for cheap 5 gallon tanks for breeders if needed.


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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
In my experience whether this will work depends on what other species you are mixing them with. Killi fry tend to be slow movers, I finally gave up trying to raise them in my community tank and don't introduce them there until they are about one inch.


These will be separated into 10 gallon species only tanks. I thought about leaving the A. Australe in my 20L Apisto tank. Then I picked up 13 Nannostomus marginatus & I figured the chances of survival would be slim to none!

The first killi tank is filling right now. I probably put too many Crypts into the tank, but oh well. Although this tank may initial house the two pairs of A. cinnamomeum, to get them the hell outta my shrimp tank asap, once the second tank is up and running I might switch them around. I pulled one of the sponge filters from my 20L for this tank and swapped it for a new one. I figured that seeding the tank with a sponge filter that already has loads of beneficial bacteria would help it cycle quicker. I also tossed in the sponge filter that will be used on the second killi tank in to cycle too!

This first tank has the smaller Seachem Flourite substrate. I still have about half a bag, I may or may not use it in the second tank.

The second tank won't be getting set up today. Probably gonna be some time this week for next weekend. I will be heading to a local club meeting next weekend & I'm hoping to pick up a second trio of the A. australe! I will be getting a daphnia culture for sure.

I pretty much can't start any other tanks until I finish my shelving units! I just need to sand and paint them. Shouldn't be too bad.


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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Tank #1 has been running for the last day now. I haven't done any sort of tests or anything to start a cycle such as adding ammonia. As I mentioned yesterday, I did place one of the sponges from my 20L into this tank.

I tossed a bunch of random plants in this tank. I hacked a ton of Hydrocotyle tripartita 'Japan' out of my 55g emersed tank that is covered in several inches worth, along with about a random dozen stems. From my 55g shrimp tank I grabbed a bunch of wisteria, a small bunch of narrow leaf Java Fern, a couple Anubias nana & nana petite, and a bunch of peacock moss. I tied the peacock moss on some wood that I already had. While I was at Petsmart, I grabbed two good looking packages of Cryptocoryne wendtii 'Tropica', one of Cryptocoryne undulata 'red' & two echinodorus parviflorus. At this point I'm sure there's way too much [censored][censored][censored][censored] planted in here, but I'll thin it out post cycle. Once it's cycled I'll probably switch some of the plants for things that will work better for Killifish breeding and specifically for the fish I've got.

The wood had not been soaking so of course it immediately began floating. I had a decent little scape going, but with the wood not being buried in the substrate so it could be removed easily when needed. Right now it's got a bunch of stones holding it down. In the long run I am not super worried about the scape. I did want some wood in the tank to help put the fish at ease.

I'm trying to set up this particular tank as more of a long term tank for plant spawners versus just a spawning tank with only a mop or moss. Once my shelving is finished, I will start looking into setting up smaller breeding specific tanks, as well as a couple tanks for raising fry. From what I've seen, I think there will be needed a couple sizes of fry tanks.

Ok. Pics....these are just dumped in no particular order. I will try to come back through and make comments on each pic.

















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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Lovely tank and killies! Is it true they need to be in schools are are they ok on there own or just with a few? Im interested in some clown killies for my 20 gallon as a top dwelling fish, but according to AqAdvisor they recommend schools of them?
I'm planning on keeping them in pairs or trios. Although for some I am planning on getting a couple trios of the same type to keep in a little bit larger tank. One of the species I already have I have two pairs of them, which I am planning on housing together in a 10 gallon tank. Most killies have specific collection points and it is highly recommended not to interbreed them between locations, even with the same species. The majority don't even have common names, but are known by their scientific along with collection data. This can be seen with the ones I've got too, such as the two pairs of Aphyosemion cinnamomeum Kurume APL 13-35. There are several other locations where these have been collected & they should not be mixed. Most species will readily interbreed, though some may produce sterile offspring. For this reason it is also advisable that no more than one species of Killifish be kept in the same tank. If you're interested in knowing more the American Killifish Association has a comprehensive website. I've found it quite useful myself, as I knew next to nothing about Killifish until a couple weeks ago.. I posted a link in the post above this one.

As far as schooling is concerned. I honestly don't know how well they school. My A. australe male has been actively schooling(or perhaps shoaling) with the 13 Dwarf Pencilfish that they are currently begin housed with. The females have been schooling with the Pencilfish, but to a much lesser extent.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Looks like it'll be a pretty good maintenance tank . I'm guessing for the cinnamomeum ? Anyway , once you have the fish in there , and settled for a few weeks , start checking the floaters for fry . You never know and might get lucky .

Might want to get a micro worm culture going before you start any kind of organized breeding .

As I guess you know by now , there's hundreds of species of killies . Don't try to 'collect the whole set' .....

things will get out of hand real fast and you'll burn out . Just play around with 1 or 2 or 3 species .

I'm not sure which species will go into this tank yet. I'm hoping to get my second tank up as soon as possible. You're correct, these will be a maintenance tanks. I'm also planning on setting up fry tanks. I'm still doing research on how to best go about breeding and tank set ups for that. I just wanted to get a couple heavily planted tanks together to start with so that the fish are out of the shrimp & community tanks and into species specific tanks.

I'm getting a starter for a daphnia culture from a local hobbyist this weekend. I will see what other live food cultures I can get locally. You're absolutely correct, I need to have those ready to go before I get serious about trying to breed these guys!

While I'm having fun learning/reading about all the different killies & the various methods of breeding them, I have no plans at this point to expand beyond these two species. Two species is plenty to get me started, if not one too many! [emoji23] If I reach the point where I am successfully breeding and raising these species, I will consider if I've got time or desire to expand to different species.

Thanks for your continued input on this thread. Having someone with Killifish experience provide advice and opinions is extremely helpful!



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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Great advice. When I was going strong I had 25, 5 gal. tanks going with a different killie in each. It can get overwhelming real fast.

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I definitely do not have time for that! No space for more than a couple either! I can't even imagine do the maintenance on that many tanks! Thanks for the words of wisdom!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Johnson18's Killifish Tanks

Somehow starting a conversation with the lady in charge of the fish area at Petco ended with me getting 3 x 5.5gallon tanks for $5.50each.[emoji848][emoji848] This breeding project just got its smaller tanks! [emoji2][emoji2]


Edit: I also picked up a bunch of Java Fern and random Anubias sp. which I stuffed into the 10 gallon, tank #1. Like I said, a bunch of the plants in here probably won't stay. Some will go into the other 10g.

With new plants:








Part of the driftwood has sprouted the nasty slime that is often seen on new drift wood. I snatched up some snails from my other tanks and dropped them directly onto the wood! Haha [emoji57] Hopefully they can take care of it before too long! Hell, one of them cleared the area of a dime on its own! [emoji50]

It's not actually those colors, that's the leds.


Now that I've got the three 5 gallon tanks things change a bit as I didn't expect to have those. I'm not sure how that will effect this at the moment. The two 10 gallons of the original plan, will stay for sure.

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Johnson18's Killifish Tanks

I went to the monthly meeting of the Desert Aquarist Society for my first time, which I also joined. It was fun, the guy who bred the A. australe that I have was there. I talked to him about picking up several more. We discussed my idea for a heavily planted tank for them with a few males and a large group of females. He agreed it sounded like a good plan. I was given a second male from the same batch of fry as mine, a guy had bought a group & they all jumped out of his tank but this one.

At the auction I picked up a good size portion of Najas guadalupensis, or Guppy Grass, as well as a bag of mixed floaters and some nice needle leaf Java fern. This tank is seriously stuffed with plants! I need to get at least on more up and running asap.

Also added a bunch of Hydrocotyle tripartita from my 55, along with at least 20 dwarf sag. of varying size. While working in that tank the A. cinnamomeum were looking great! Pictures just don't do them justice!




A couple softball size portions of Peacock moss arrived today. They weren't in the best condition, which I knew to begin with. I tossed them into my 55 so they've got the added bonus of the CO2 injection, which will do them wonders within a couple weeks! Not like I've got room for them in here right now anyways!! [emoji23]

I picked up four nerites: 2 horned, 2 zebra and a spotted. I tossed them in hoping they would make quick work of the small bit of algae on one Anubias I picked up last week and the driftwood fuzz/slime. I don't plan on keeping all four in this tank but will spread them out or move where needed. I guess that's the advantage of having a bunch of tanks.



Front(short end):


Left side




Right side:





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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
Nice photos :) , love the wildness of your tanks


Thanks Nate! These fish are super had to photograph! Not only are they fast little buggers, but their colors are incredibly difficult to capture. The majority of the color on the A. cinnamomeum comes from this iridescent sheen on its scales. I think to get the best pic you'd almost need a mostly dark tank and hella strong flashlight, plus a lot of luck to get the right angle!! The females have even less color normally! I've seen some good coloration during spawning activities though.

Females:




The A. australe Cap Estérias BSWG 97/24 are far easier as much of their color is already there. The females are a bit more difficult, but as they get older they continue to get way more orange. The females do have some iridescent blue spots but neither the males or females compare to the cinnamomeum.









As far as this tank's current layout, I set up a bit of a scape and then have just been piling everything in on top of it. The plants in this tank will eventually be split into two tanks, another 10gallon tank. Along with some plants that I've thrown into my 55 to kinda kickstart/speed up their growth, plus a couple softball size clumps of Peacock moss that I also threw into the 55. Especially with the moss, I'm just trying to get the most growth out of those plants as possible before they're transferred to the low tech systems. Honestly, I'd like the two 10g tanks to eventually end up this packed with growth as it will make the group of fish work better.

I still need to make some breeding mops, both for top and bottom spawning. I've ready several different how-to guides, it seems pretty simple. You basically just wrap a synthetic yarn around an object(book, movie, piece of cardboard, etc.) tie one end & then connect to a floating cork(for top mop,) or leave as is/or weight yarn(for bottom mop.)


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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
I did a water test this evening, the first one since I started up the 10. Not really what I was hoping for...

Killi tank 1
pH 7.4ish
Ammonia 0
Nitrite 0
Nitrate <5.0ppm
GH >20
KH 4
Phosphate 0.5
TDS 615

I don't have a chance to do a WC tonight but I'll do one tomorrow afternoon. Hopefully the wood is waterlogged & I can take the stone out. That should help drop the TDS and GH. I've been thinking about picking up some peat & aging my RO in it for a week before WCs to try and drop the pH some-this might help my 20L too. I'll add a couple IALs tomorrow after the WC. I'd like this tank to have a lower pH and fairly soft water. I could always mix in some Aquasoil Amazonia but I'd really prefer not to.


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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
The 10 was fully cycled(a couple weeks ago) I finally put some fish in it today, but not the ones I was planning on!! At the Desert Aquarist Society meeting today I picked up a trio(m/f/f) of Aphyosemion sp. "COFE 2010-23" which a gorgeous little non-annual Killifish. The male is already showing some amazing colors! I haven't yet taken any pictures of them but here is a good representation of what a breeding male looks like.



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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
I once was going to breed Aphyosemion australe. Breeder told me that the fry will starve in a tank, for they can't get to the top. He puts cotton mops in the tank and then puts the mops in a food container with moss. Perhaps since you have plants at the top the fry will live in there.


I've talked to a few long time killifish people and done a lot of reading only on the AKA website and pages linked from their site.

Some people say a heavily plant tank will be ok but they encourage feeding a variety of live food & keeping it a species tank. Many with planted tanks suggest that the build up on detritus and such on the bottom of the tank will help promote some smaller live foods within the tank such as infusoria that fry will be able to feed on. This is the preferred method in Europe. It seems that in the US this is a little practiced method.

Here it is common practice is to put the adult pair together in a breeding specific tank with spawning mops for a short period of time, like a week or so & then separate the sexes. The eggs should be collected and stored in the preferred method(water or peat incubation storage) and period of time based on particular species. After the correct amount of time has passed the eggs are then submersed in a hatching container, often a plastic shoe box. At this point you either offer them appropriately sized live food immediately, or move them to a larger fry rearing tank with the same water & then feed them.

Either way the fry end up in their own grow out tank, often a 20g which is way larger than the adults will ever see. Moving the fry into their own tank allows you to offer them specific food directly without worrying about the adults or the fry not finding their own food. The fry can then grow in this same tank, depending on species as some as are more than eager to eat there siblings from a young age. Separate hatchings are not to be mixed in even if they're just a few weeks apart.

Obviously, both methods have there pros and cons. The heavily planted tank method used in Europe produces far fewer offspring, but those it does produce are often far healthier and robust. The method used in the US produces much higher numbers of offspring, but they are often much weaker fish. Either way the fish should be culled to keep a high quality line of fish.


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Discussion Starter · #28 ·
Great find! I have a pair of Aphyosemion sp. "COFE 2010-22", which are a pretty hard to find. They're super shy right now, but they're starting to color up. Keep the updates coming!


That's awesome! I was just looking at all of the different fish collected on that trip! I'd love to see your fish & hear more about your set up, especially if you're actively breeding them!


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Discussion Starter · #34 ·
Agreed, you don't have to kill something just because you are culling from your breeding group. You often see groups of males for sale, they'd go great in a community tank. While I don't plan on doing so, I've got not issues with euthanizing culls. Some folks don't have the resources to keep them or anyone to give them to who won't decide they should go back into a breeding group. It's one thing to sell shrimp culls for a man made(artificial selection) cherry shrimp, but most killis are variants that are only found in one specific location. Many are no longer found in the wild due to development in the area they come from. So it becomes a matter of keeping the strain healthy and looking like the original fish. It's often not about selection to coolest looking fish, or the fish that has a neat pattern that differs from the original, the goal is to breed the fish that are the best representation of the fish originally collected from that specific location.


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Discussion Starter · #35 ·
Interesting read. I like this method best.



So first you are going to wait till tank is full of plants?

Thanks! I will be doing a bit of both methods. Since I am new to the killifish hobby I'm just trying to learn all I can and gain as much experience as I can!

Um, this 10 gallon tank is seriously packed full of plants! There are areas that no light reaches the bottom of the tank while directly under the 18" BML that is sitting on the glass lid! I actually plan on splitting the current plant mass into another 10 and some of a 5!

These were exactly one month ago. Everything has been growing great & I've added quite a few more plants to it! Probably at least a dozen more Java ferns-mostly needle leaf, trident & windlov. Several Crypts, some random stems that needed a home, a bunch of different floaters, more dwarf sag & another huge bunch of Hydrocotyle sp. 'Japan'....





In my 55 I've got two softball & one tennis ball size clumps of Peacock Moss I plan to put in one of my of the upcoming killifish tanks. I've been hoarding and growing it out for at least a month now for the larger clumps and probably almost 6mo on the other.

The moss collection is visible in this pic, there's a bunch of A. barteri var. coffeefolia somewhere under there!



I've been stashing all the plants I can over the last month & a half! Not to mention the sponge filters, air splitter valves & tanks. I fully plan on having some quality tanks for this breeding project.


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Discussion Starter · #37 ·
Thus have 3 tanks. I don't like to have more than 2 tank .

Wow. I wish I could maintain that! I've currently got a set of 55, 20L and 10 planted and running full of water, along with the same three sizes running as emersed tanks! I'm about to set up a few more tanks for killis breeding, a 40breeder blackwater and hopefully my new Mr. Aqua 60p that's been sitting around for like 6 months. I'm also planning to swap out the emersed 55 and 10 for a 40b and maybe another 20L. Besides the 6 tanks currently in use I think I've got I 25 tanks not in use at the moment. Hahaha. The number in use at any one time seems to wax and wane, as I get busy with other things or relocate to a different house, and such.



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Discussion Starter · #40 · (Edited)
Well, alright, soooo much has changed since my last post!! My racks are built & currently have five tanks set up on them!

A couple of the tanks are my old emersed 20L & 55g, these two will be broken down & the plants restarted into one tank. I still haven't decided what size tank I want to use for this, although the odds are good it'll be the 20 long. My main issue with the 20L is my lighting options. I've got a T5HO that is the correct size but the bulb choices for 30" lamps totally suck!

The third tank on my racks is my 40 breeder emersed Cryptocoryne tank. This tank has it's own journal here.

The next tank is a 5.5g tank with a small group of Gertrude's Spotted Blue Eye Rainbowfish, Pseudomugil gertrudae. I believe there are 8 of them in total, 3 males & 5 females. In order to get the water to the correct parameters, the bare bottom tank has been slowly filled with IAL leaf litter which has basically turned it into a bit of a blackwater tank. There are a couple decent size Anubias, a large bunch of Hygro difformis & a couple inches worth of Salvinia minima, duckweed & another random floater on the surface. The tank is lit by an 18" BuildMyLED Dutch lamp. I've also got a few stems of Plectranthus verticillatus (Swedish Ivy/ Swedish Begonia), as well as Philodendron cordatum. The rainbows breed on a daily basis, while I haven't seen any juvenile fish, it's most certainly just a matter of time. There are definitely enough plants and leaves for any young to hide in. I don't expect offspring to show up in large numbers but I don't see why they won't grow over time.

















The last tank on my rack is the 10 gallon tank that the majority of this thread has covered. Although there have been a few changes to the stocking of this tank since my last post.

Left side


Front


Left side


Right side


The original trio of Aphyosemion sp. 'cofe 2010-23' killifish have done well. There are at least two juveniles that are pushing 0.75". One is most definitely a male, the other looks to be a female. I don't spend a ton of time staring at the tank so it is highly likely there are more juveniles I have yet to find.

The females




Male






Juvenile








Over the last three or so months I have added close to 50 red cherry shrimp to the tank. The majority of which have been Sakura grade, though some are most definitely not. The first batch of shrimp had 3 or 4 nice looking females who quickly became berried. At this point they have given birth & many of the newer females are now berried. I've been pleased to see that none of the fish have shown any interest in the shrimp, even the baby shrimp! I'm sure it is possible that some of the newborn shrimp become snacks. The RCS colony is quickly becoming established which is exactly what I have been hoping for!















The most exciting change to this 10g is the recent addition of a pair of young Apistogramma urteagai! I purchased these at the auction at our local club meeting, the Desert Aquarist Society. These Apistos may not stay in this tank in the long term but I figured it was a good place for these little fish to start. At the time of purchase, they were less than 0.75" but greater than 0.5" in length! They're an absolutely beautiful little Apistogramma species! Nothing like many of the line bred species such as the double & triple reds/oranges but I find many of the wild type species stunning! These fish might end up in the upcoming 40 gallon black water, although if that's the case I will probably see if I can acquire at least one more pair.

Google image


In the bag






Pair in the gap just right of the sponge









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