Probably popularized in the USA by Gary Greenwood of Wisconsin, variations of this technique have been used in Europe for some time.  The simple description is to pack a tank with sphagnum peat moss or a variation of Java Moss and allow the parent fish to reproduce until fry are seen swimming at the surface and then remove the parents.

     Many of the more difficult Aphyosemion species can be successfully bred with this technique.  Diapterons and some of the more sensitive members of Mesoaphyosemions such as A. joergenscheel and A. mimbon are often successful using the style.

     More specifically, the popular technique is to obtain “Mossy Be” fiber sphagnum which is a good size as it is packaged.  The sphagnum should be placed in a large container filled with water and allow for it to become saturated.  Sterilization can be achieved by boiling the peat, but I have used it direct from the packaging after it becomes water-logged.

     I have found a ten-gallon tank is a good size to work with, although I have used 5-gallon tanks.  Simply submerge the sphagnum into the tank until it fills the majority of the space.  I use sponge filters in my tanks.  A pair or two can be placed into the tank to start the breeding process. After two weeks I begin searching for fry.  Once the first fry appear, I then move the parents to another tank and allow them to breed there.

    The fry are left in the original tank to grow out.  The smaller ones need infusoria to get a start, but the sphagnum and any floating plants will provide some of this.  Infusoria can also be cultivated (see live foods and feeding) and shortly, baby brine shrimp can become a stable food.  I have found Diapterons particularly like daphnia as adults and the introduction of daphnia into the baby tank provides another source of food since daphnia release tiny naupali also.  Because Daphnia are filter feeders, they also help keep the water clean.  A few ramshorn snail also provide cleaner conditions by eating left-over food and stimulating infusoria growth.

     Some fry grow a bit on the slow side, but 6-8 months should be sexing out.

 Posted by at 12:19 pm



Preparing Peat as a Spawning Media

     Peat Moss is probably the most common spawning media for most annuals.  There are certain requirements in preparing the peat to make it safe for both the breeding pair as well as for long-term storage of the eggs.  Probably the most important step is that of making certain the peat moss you use is sterile and free of any fertilizers.  One way to do this is purchase Jiffy Peat Pellets #703.   

     If you prefer to use a much less expensive process, then a good bulk choice is Canadian Sphagnum Moss available at any large farm business or many large box stores (Walmart, Home Depot, Lowes etc.). 

No matter where you get your peat, it is very important to make certain you remove any contaminants by boiling the peat moss for a period of time.  I use five minutes at full boil.  Yes I have a pot specific for this process.  If you use the sphagnum moss, you will need to use a blender to make the sphagnum into a usable size.  Simply add water to a handful of the moss and put the blender on a low setting, then increase the speed until it easily spins and grinds the moss to a usable density. 

   Pour the blender-ized peat into a fine net, one which will hold the peat moss, but allows the very fine particles to pass through.  Wash the peat with fast water until it runs clear.  Allow it to settle in a large container for a few days.   The peat on the bottom of the container is now ready to be used with your fish.  I remove a small, slightly porous net full of peat and wash it once again before placing it into a spawning container.

    I discovered the bowls like the one to the right in Walmart.  They are made of glass and have no sharp edges and come with a slip on top, easily removed.  I cut a hole in the the top to allow me to add the container to the breeding tank, settle the container on the bottom of the tank and then remove the top completely.  Some peat will escape, but most of it remains in the bowl and is ready for breeders to begin to leave the eggs in the peat.

    Other hobbyists us plastic ‘fishbowls’ as a breeding containers.  They are held down by using marbles of smooth rocks, but I found this to be a pain over the years.   Admittedly, there are certain South American annuals where the larger fish bowls are very useful.  These are species we consider divers like Terrantos dolicopterus vs ploughers such as Nothobranchius species.

 Posted by at 10:11 am
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