remember the Spring meeting 1994 at Alzey with pleasure for two
reasons. Firstly, I met the main speaker, Frank Schaefer with whom I
had already corresponded. Frank spoke about the group of fish which
made me become a member of 'ZAG Labyrinthfish' . I had been engaged for
about 5 years in breeding 'Peacock-eyed Bushfish',Ctenopoma weeksii which was then still called C.oxyrhynchum. The talk Frank gave and the questions that it posed, made me write this article.
the years of breeding this fish, I made some notable observations which
I must definitely mention. I had a group of 3 males and 4 females in a
community tank of about 450 litres. This aquarium was supposed to have
an Asiatic character. I was at that time a lover of large barbs so I
had 11 Puntius everetti, 7 Puntius filamentosus, 6 Puntius arulius and 5 Mystus catfish. But over a period, fish from other parts of the world found their way into the aquarium. First south American catfish (Ancistrus, Dasyloricaria)
and eventually, Bushfish from Africa. These fish were given to me by a
member of our group and with them, the foundation of my hobby of
anabantoids was laid. Later Paradisefish (Macropodus opercularis) kissing gouramis (Helostoma teminckii) and Cimbing Perch (Anabas testudineus) were added.
I got the Bushfish, they were about 5 cm long and during 1 year they
grew into pretty, 12 cm long fish. The genders could be easily
differentiated. The females were always a little fatter and on the
males you could see the 'thornfields' behind the eye and on the root of
the tail if you really looked. After I observed their courtship and
spawning behaviour in the community tank, I decided to breed them in
earnest. The water values were the same as Berlin tap water and the
surrounding countryside; 17-24 dGH, 7-12 KH, pH 7-8. The aquarium was
not specially heated, it stood against a chimney breast and the
temperatures were 21-25°C.
100 litres of he water was changed on average, every 3 weeks. The fresh
water came straight from the tap and for a time the temperature went
down to 12-16°C for a short time. Only just after the water change was
the aquarium heated. I had the impression that my big barbs and the
Bushfish showed greater vitality and better willingness to spawn thanks
to this procedure. Only the Kissing gouramis resented the water change
every time but even though they suffered from the sudden fall in
temperature, they always recovered.
male and female who were ready to spawn were fished out of the
community aquarium and put in a thickly-planted 150 x 50 x 40 cm tank.
During the first years, all went normally, as one reads about it in the
popular literature. Especially, one has to mention that they didn't
always spawn immediately, at best it happened the next day and at
worst, after 3 months. Trials with different temperatures showed that
spawning nearly always took place when the temperature was about 24°C.
spawning started between 1800 and 2000 with false pairings and finished
between 2200 and 2400. The pair was then fished out and returned to the
community tank. Only about 40% of the eggs were fertilised and because
of that, I had to use an antibiotic against fungus. I cannot say
anything about the timing of eggs or larvae, as I made no notes and I
didn't think it was of interest to me.
main problem, as usual with anabantoids, was what food to use on the
young fish. The aquarium in which the fish were raised was thickly
planted and each free-swimming young fish found for itself, the darkest
place under a leaf and nothing could persuade it to come away! Only
when live food was introduced, which danced up and down in front of the
little fish's mouth, was it tempted to feed. I always fed them slipper
animalicules (Paramecium) or finest sieved pond plankton. After a week,
the young slowly started to find food for themselves and they were also
fed some 'Mikro'. Even if they refused dried food, I put a little in
each day and when they were about 1 cm long, they greedily ate large
quantities of everything, including dried food and they grew very
quickly with frequent water changes. the temperature in the aquarium
was a constant 24°C. I mention this because a change to higher
temperatures led to disaster, even if other breeders could not confirm
this. On one occasion, I had about 50 young Dasylocaria filamentosa which
were about 2 cm long and which I put in with some young Bushfish which
were about half this size, because I had run out of room. I now slowly
raised the temperature to 26-28°C and lost about 90% of the Bushfish.
Later attempts to raise the temperature also led to high losses.
the later years, I observed a lot of variations from 'normal behaviour'
in some of the pairs. The following observation may have something to
do with the increased age of the fish. It started with a late spawning
at night. I felt it was very late and that the fish wouldn't finish
spawning until after midnight so I left the fish together. The next
morning, I noticed that there were fewer eggs left and that they fell
upon the eggs and gobbled them up greedily. I am now coming to the
question raised in Frank Schaeffer's talk about egg eating by
free-spawning Bushfish. Personally, I could not say if this applies to
all Peacock-eyed Bushfish. For spawning, I always fished the pair out
of the community tank and I did not know if I'd put them together
earlier but, of course, I always used the best and prettiest fish to
breed with. The 'egg-gobbling' was seen more and more, the older the
abnormal behaviour that I observed in the later years was also
repeated. The spawning started just as in other observations with the
male pushing into the side of the female. After the fish had got rid of
about one-third to one half of her eggs, the male started to get
disinterested. It went so far that he disappeared into the thicket of
plants and could not be persuaded out again. After that scenario, the
female became more and more active and later even aggressive. Now the
male was being butted and then chased very roughly through the
aquarium. Because I feared for his life, I put both fish back in the
aquarium with the other fish. Maybe I should have paired the older
female with a younger male. After all, I had fish from other spawnings.
had no time for further experiment because of the political events of
1989 and I had to pull back a bit on my hobby. I gave the fish to an
acquaintance and it does not look as though I could take up the
breeding of Bushfish again in the near future. Even so, I should be
pleased to see a greater interest in these rather neglected anabantoids.
Translated from 'DER MAKROPODE' by Mrs R. Armitage (Wyneken) and reproduced with permission