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Detritus, decaying plant matter, mulm, disintegrated catappa leaves

Discussion in 'Husbandry / Breeding' started by TCMontium, Nov 9, 2018.

  1. TCMontium

    TCMontium Active Member

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    Hello,

    Can the detritus/mulm/decaying plant matter/disintegrated leaves or whatever you call it be harmful for dwarf cichlid eggs? Even if the female is tending the eggs (I never tried artificial hatching for dwarf cichlid, not yet)?
    I experienced death of betta and tetra eggs and even larvae if they aren't kept "sterile", for example when I had detritus/mulm in the incubation cup/vial. The plant matter definitely is full of bacteria, fungus, other microscopic creatures and even small invertebrates like copepods, nematodes etc. Therefore, to incubate tetra and betta eggs/larvae I mostly used clean water from the external filter output instead of siphoning aquarium water, even if it seemed "clean". I didn't have more than 5-10% fry loss in those cases where I used water from the filter output.
    Also the Farlowella and Sturisoma breeding articles I read said that the incubation container and even the fry tank/container should be extremely sterile, that it should be cleaned daily when fry are fed. (I didn't read other catfish breeding articles that included artificial hatching or rearing newly hatched fry away from parents, so I don't know how it is with other catfish species)

    So, since these other fish families need a relatively sterile environment for hatching and larvae development, can it also be the case for Apistogramma/Dicrossus/Taeniacara/Nannocara etc., even though many people say they don't remove detritus/mulm in breeding tanks and it even is beneficial for fry to feed from? (not literally from the detritus/mulm, but from the creatures living in it) When I see other breeding tanks, even if they say that there is plenty of detritus/mulm in there, they seem really clean to me. I can't move my hand in the aquarium without making the detritus/mulm float and even the breeding caves usually have some amount of detritus/mulm in them (despite the female's effort to clean the cave).

    ------------ There is nothing directly related to the title of this thread below this point ------

    I have had more than 15-20 failed T. candidi, A. mendezi, A. sp. Abacaxis (“Wilhelmi”) and A. atahualpa spawns in the last 7-8 months. I am only using RO water (6-13 ppm/12-26 microSiemens) for all the aquariums. All aquariums have pH of 5.0-5.5 and some may even be lower than 5.0 from time to time. The conductivity of the aquariums changes between 3 ppm/5 microSiemens to 90 ppm/180 microSiemens from aquarium to aquarium and from water change to catappa addition etc. but it mostly is 15-30 ppm/25-65 microSiemens (I use a TDS-meter and "TDS to conductivity" conversions I make are not exact or consistent, they are approximation with circa 5 microSiemens margin of error, which gets bigger as conductivity goes bigger) . I tried different types of dry food, frozen food and even tried 100% artemia nauplii diet for 1-2 months.

    I have done everything that was advised in forums, breeding articles and books that had to do with feeding or water parameters. And after all that, I still lose most eggs in the first day and there are no eggs left at the end of the second day or at third day of brood care. Therefore I am starting to suspect the shared characteristics of all my aquariums:
    1- plenty of detritus/mulm from tens of catappa leaves per aquarium,
    2- snails (Ramshorn and pond snail Lymnea sp. [or maybe a similar species] (but I definately lost batches that didn’t have any snails on them, I haven’t seen the pond snails around any eggs yet),
    3- relatively low temperature of 24-26 celcius (75-79 fahrenheit) for maybe T. candidi and A. atahualpa (also I have no water movement in aquariums so the temperature at the bottom is even lower, thermometers are of the surface level),
    4- low oxygen levels because I have no working filters, just sponge filters without air supply,
    5- a defect in my RO unit that adds a chemical to the water, maybe silicate or something else that might be found in a RO unit (is there silicate in a typical RO unit? I don't know),
    6- ???...

    Sorry for all the long and useless writing. I opened this thread to answer the first question and anything that had to do with detritus/mulm from decaying catappa leaves and aquarium plants, but I suppose I am trying to also get other advises/critics on my breeding struggles/methods too.
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2018
  2. dw1305

    dw1305 Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Hi all,
    I'd try adding Schwarz-Erle (Alder) "cones" (Alnus glutinosa), they are a better anti-microbial than Terminalia catappa.

    I'd also add a heater and some some air to the sponge filters, is there a reason why you haven't been using them at the moment?.

    cheers Darrel
  3. TCMontium

    TCMontium Active Member

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    Thank, I will try alder cones.
    I do have heaters, I just kept the temps low because at least for T. candidi there are reports of fry being too small to eat artemia nauplii if they are incubated at a temperature above 25-26 celcius. In Cichlid Atlas Vol. 1 it is said that incubation at 23 celcius resulted in relatively big fry that accepted artemia nauplii after they began free-swimming. But many other sources/people recommend 26-28 celcius for candidi and many do not mention any rejection of artemia nauplii, so I guess these higher temps should be better than 23-26 celcius?
    I do mot have the sponge filters running simply because I do not have enough air pumps and the ammonia, nitrate etc levels are normal, the fish loads in the aquariums are low. I was planning to buy new air pumps after fry hatched but I suppose I can just buy them right now anyway. Although even in my aquariums that do have functioning sponge filters the temperature still seems 2-3 celcius higher at the top level than the bottom. I don’t know how much the oxygen levels at the bottom would rise if the water is relatively stagnant even with the sponge filters running (that’s probably because my aquariums have their surface covered with floating plants, disturbing and minimizing the current/surface movement caused by air bubbles).

    Did you ever breed dwarf cichlids in aquariums with bottom pretty much covered in a layer of detritus/mulm?
  4. ButtNekkid

    ButtNekkid Active Member

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    Hi,

    My tanks has their bottom covered in detritus/mulm from leaf litter. Never had a spawn fail because of that. Think of nature.
    I have had spawns from cacatuoides/Nijsseni/hongsloi/abacaxis.
  5. Mike Wise

    Mike Wise Moderator Staff Member 5 Year Member

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    Obviously you haven't seen my program about breeding apistos. Otherwise you would know about the "cess pool" method of breeding apistos. In nature most apistos live and breed in thick layers of decaying leaves (leaf litter), so mulm is a natural part of their biotope. I used a similar set-up using a thick layer of mulm in part of the tank. The fish would dive into it and females would appear regularly with fry. Although unsightly it had an advantage that the fry had a lot of micro-organisms to feed upon from the start. This is a photo of a Wangenflecken-Apisto tank I photographed in 1988.
    upload_2018-11-9_9-13-40.png
    I wonder if the low oxygen is one of the problems you're having. These fish come from slow flowing streams that have a relatively high oxygen level.
  6. gerald

    gerald Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Lots of mulm in my tanks too. Slow-decaying old leaves should not be a problem, but leaves that have not previously been submerged might deplete O2 during the first week or two, causing eggs or fry to die if there's not enough circulation. You can pre-soak the new leaves in a jar of water to eliminate the initial "BOD" (biochemical oxygen demand) spike when they first start to decompose.
  7. ButtNekkid

    ButtNekkid Active Member

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    Hi,

    Never thought of that initial BOD spike. I sometimes add a lot of leaves on one sitting. Thanks Gerald!
    Mike W, care to share more pictures?
  8. ehsanabria

    ehsanabria New Member 5 Year Member

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    Do you have youtube page? or website?
  9. Mike Wise

    Mike Wise Moderator Staff Member 5 Year Member

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    No, never felt the need for either. Just call me a Luddite.:) I do have some articles on TomC's site: http://apisto.sites.no (a great source of information).
  10. Apistolyfe

    Apistolyfe New Member

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    where can I find this breeding program?
  11. dw1305

    dw1305 Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Hi all,
    It is just a technique where you use a well established tank to provide feeding opportunities for the fry. Have a look at <"Buckelkopf's"> and linked threads.

    cheers Darrel

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