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breeding pencil fish

Discussion in 'Husbandry / Breeding' started by indyplanted, Jan 14, 2011.

  1. indyplanted

    indyplanted New Member

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    Anybody bred or currently breeding any? I recently acquired 6 Nannostomus espei and 6 nannostomus beckfordi
  2. dw1305

    dw1305 Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Hi all,
    N. beckfordii is relatively easy to breed, and the fry aren't difficult to raise. I used to get fry in the tank with the adults, they aren't very good dithers however as they are much more like a predatory Tetra than the other Pencil Fish.

    I've never had any success with any of the others, possibly because I can't get my water soft enough. N. marginatus spawned freely but I never raised any fry, again this may have been because I didn't remove the parents. If you have wingless fruit flies and mosquito larvae the fish are easy to condition.

    If Ste1200 doesn't answer, PM him as I know he has been successful with a lot more species.

    N. espei remains an expensive species in the hobby, so I would think that it is probably fairly difficult to raise.

    cheers Darrel
  3. indyplanted

    indyplanted New Member

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    Darrel, thanks for the reply. These are set up by themselves in a 50 breeder. Water is very soft(tulip tree leaves/poly bag of peat) and just ambient lighting. I've added a few mops for them. What did you feed your fry for first foods? I'm just wondering how big fry are. I've been using sera micron for my CPD fry w/ great succes. I don't have fry yet but I hope that I soon will. thanks -Bradley
  4. aquaticclarity

    aquaticclarity Moderator Staff Member 5 Year Member

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    The funny thing about N. espei...if you take a look at some of the older literature (specifically Axelrod's 6 book series about breeding fish) espei wasn't that uncommon and is stated to be fairly easy to breed.

    If I have s=time later I'll pull out the book and post the high light tips for spawing them...it will cost you some fry though indy!
  5. indyplanted

    indyplanted New Member

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    Jeff you have been nothing but helpful and nice to me so I'm sure I could manage to give you some fry as lone as I can get them! I'm going to try to get a more next week but depends on what they have available!
  6. peterK

    peterK Member 5 Year Member

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    Well, I don't know if it helps you, but I managed to breed N. marginatus "Broad Stripe" (I don't know its actual name).
    I kept them all alon as 1m+5f. The lived in 70Ltr. tank, and the only furniture there was big bunch of floating fern (Ceratopteris) and some sand.
    [​IMG]
    I think all they need to spawn is thick, fine-leaved plant + acid water. At the time of their most frequent spawns pH was 4.5.

    One of several youngsters:
    [​IMG]
    And my dominant male:
    [​IMG]

    I raised about 4 of them, just 'cos I didn't care that much. Anyway, those fish are really nice to keep and watch, and definitely worth to keep them alone, not just as typical dithers for Apistos. Good Luck with them!
  7. tjudy

    tjudy Moderator Staff Member 5 Year Member

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    I have spawned N. beckfordi, N. marginatus (that is the coral red pencil, right?) and N. mortenthaleri (that is the one that looks like the red coral but is more purple... right)? The key for my success was very dirty mops so that the fry had plenty of food at all sizes. I took a tip from Charles Harrison in St. Louis. He would feed from a microworm culture by dipping his finger liberally into the worm culture media (not just wiping the worms off the side) and swirled a cloud of the stuff into the tank. In this way he was feeding adult worm and anything smaller. I suspect paramecium would be a good food too, but I have not spawned any pencils since starting to use that live food.
  8. aquaticclarity

    aquaticclarity Moderator Staff Member 5 Year Member

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  9. indyplanted

    indyplanted New Member

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    also got some Microrasbora erythromicron when I picked up the pencilfish.
  10. ste12000

    ste12000 Member 5 Year Member

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    Great thread!! i love the pencilfish group and try to breed quite a few, i currently have quite a collection but only work at breeding a few at a time.

    N.beckfordi is the easiest of all to spawn, i setup six 8 litre tanks at a time, insert a spawning grid (a piece of plastic cross stitching mesh) and a small wollen spawning mop, my waters perfect at PH6.9 and very soft out of the tap, N.beckfordi dont need the water changing from this, just make sure its clean. They are placed in the tank in the evening and by midday the pairs should have spawned, the eggs are tiny and are all hatched togeather in a largish container, even with 6 pairs they are not overly prolific, 300-500 can be expected on a good day.

    Ive never spawned Espei although i have kept them, luckily i live with 20 minutes drive of the UK's best characin breeder, im lucky to call him a friend and have discussed this fish with him, he has bred them.
    Firstly they are very selective, Alan rotated his 20 fish several times before finding pairs that would spawn, once he found pairs he said they were fairly easy to spawn.
    Setting these fish up like Beckfordi would get you nowhere, this fish breeds totally different to beckfordi and spawns under a broad leaved plant, several of the genus do this and when working with one of the rarely bred and rare species its wise to set the tank and give them a option, plastic and silk plants make ideal spawning substrates for these fish.

    The fry are tiny, need infusoria for almost a week before being suplimented with Microworm and eventually baby brineshrimp. I start trying newly hatched shrimp after two days(only a few at a time) if they take it alls well and good, if not continue to pour in infusoria and continue trying the shrimp daily.

    Heres a few pics of the ones im working with right now.

    N.beckfordi Juveniles.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    This next one is Nannostomus eques, this is a plant spawner and the poor pics below show them spawning, can you see the eggs on the leaf?(second pic) The third shows a young fry.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Last one..This is Nannostomus marginatus, i am currently preparing to breed this species, ive not done them yet but they are mop spawners and suppost to be prolific egg eaters?? if anyone continues to be interested in this great thread ill update with my progress/observations in the future.
    [​IMG]
  11. animalmgc

    animalmgc Member 5 Year Member

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    thank you for the lesson and yes please do continue to keep us informed.I to have an interest in pencilfish and its not to far fetched to think of breeding them.A couple years ago it would have been hard to think I would be keeping and breeding Apistos.
  12. indyplanted

    indyplanted New Member

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    Nice write up. I have a 40 stretch hex with swords that doesn't currently have any fish in it. Maybe I'll move the espei into there once i know all are settled in. Supposed to get another group this week if all goes well.

    Ste12000 I would be very interested in your ongoing ventures! thanks, -Bradley
  13. Mike Wise

    Mike Wise Moderator Staff Member 5 Year Member

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    I've never really bred pencilfish, but I have had N. marginatus and Copella bleheri produce fry in my apisto breeding tanks. I did nothing; no special food, water, etc. Once the pencil fry were large enough for a net, I would move them to a grow-out tank.
  14. mummymonkey

    mummymonkey Member 5 Year Member

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    Danio erythromicron are very easy to breed and the fry can be raised with the parents. Just provide a lot of sunken mops/moss and floating plants. Put some marbles or filter noodles on the bare bottom and let them get on with it. They will spawn in tap water for me. Feed the fry on paramecium and vinegar eels.
  15. Chromedome

    Chromedome Member 5 Year Member

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    Red Coral is N. mortenthaleri, the purple one is N. rubrocaudatus, described in 2009.

    N. beckfordi is sometimes sold as "Auratus" Pencilfish, due to a gold form that used to exist back in the Stone Age of aquaria. It is definitely the easiest, I've even had a fry or two pop up in a tank with a small group of adults.
  16. georgedv

    georgedv Member 5 Year Member

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    Well ste12000, have you got an update? I know this was years ago, but your experience with the marginatus is welcome.
    I used platies as dithers, but discovered they were too aggressive. I now have two 10G tanks pH6.7 KH & DH I will know in a few days when my new kit comes in. Java moss covers the bottom and water sprite covers the top. One tank houses 15 beckfordi and the other 15 marginatus.
    I have some questions about this approach verses putting a smaller group in a similar tank and then removing the adults.

    If you read this thread, I would be interested on your experience and ideas.

    thanks
    george
  17. danbb

    danbb Member

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    Same think happened to me. Find some Marginatus fry in macmasteri tank without doing anything special.
  18. Ekona

    Ekona Active Member 5 Year Member

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    Great thread...from another angle, see video below for nice footage of pencil fishes (and a lot of other species) in their natural habitat.

    Maratecoara has several very nice videos of underwater footage of Rio Negro igarapes - lots of ideas for creating biotope aquariums to be seen :)
  19. Tph

    Tph New Member

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    This is probably a common accurance. I have some pictures but they are horrible.
    The story is : first, Mr and Mrs N. Marginatus having some fun; apisto juvie (a 4 month female agassizii ) joining in (having a feast of fertilized (?) eggs). This might explain why a bunch of apisto are surviving in my community tank.
    But, apparently, some Marginatus fry did survive. This week I identified one (third picture). Might be more. Hopefully.

    Attached Files:

  20. rr16

    rr16 Active Member 5 Year Member

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    My Nannostomus beckfordi have been spawning this week and found some newly hatched fry and also some slightly older in the Hydrocotyle leucocephala that grows around the top of the tank!