Scientific name: Epiplatys dageti Pronunciation: Ep-pee-plat-iss
Origin: Ghana, Ivory Coast and Liberia Habitat: Freshwater swamps, some
reportedly found in brackish water Tank size: Minimum 60x30x30cm Water requirements: Variable –
5.5-7.5 ph, hardness 5-15°H Temperature: Ideally 21-23°C, but
Temperament: Peaceful and gregarious Feeding: Takes dried, live and frozen meaty foods, especially brineshrimp, Daphnia, Cyclops and bloodworm. Availability and price: Shop around some well-stocked retailers and you should find some; from £4.50 each
The key is not to house them with tiny fish, as they may consider anything less than half-an-inch long to be dinner
The females remain somewhat muted, but with their brownishsilver body and black markings they have a beauty all of their own.
To bring out their colours, you should provide them with conditions similar to their natural environment. Although they’ll happily live in a community setting with similarly peaceful companions, to bring out the best from them and enjoy their interactions to their full, a species-only tank is the way to go.
Home from home
A 60cm-long tank, with lots of roots and dense vegetation, including some surface cover plants such as Water lettuce, Pistia, can easily accommodate a group of 10. The water temperature should be kept at around 21-23°C, but they will have no problems surviving at temperature extremes of 18-29°C. They’re not fussy regarding water chemistry either – a ph of 5.5-7.5 and low to medium hardness (5-15°H) will suit them just fine. Good filtration – either an internal power filter or an air-driven sponge filter – is essential, but the flow should be kept at moderate to light level.
With the stocking, I would aim for a 1:2 or 1:3 male-to-female ratio, as this will divide the males’ attention between their harem and competitors, resulting in fewer serious confrontations. Males are territorial, guarding and defending their preferred spawning spots – a bunch of Java moss, Anubias roots or an artificial spawning mop – against intruders. When other males trespass on their territory, they rush to the scene to show who’s boss. Mostly their sparring only consists of a bit of fin and gill-cover flaring, as well as flashing their best colours, and ends with the weaker male retreating to a refuge. That’s why a rich vegetation is so important.
Males also use their brilliant colours to entice females to the spawning area and persuade them to lay eggs. This happens frequently, as well-fed Red throat killi females spawn almost continuously, releasing a couple of eggs every day. In community tanks the eggs and the fry will almost surely be eaten, and even in a species-only tank there’s only a slight chance of raising fry naturally.
Very dense surface vegetation can help the fry to survive, but if you
want a sure-fire result the best way is to set up a breeding tank. It doesn’t have to be large, a 10-15 l aquarium will suffice. Place an air-driven sponge filter in the corner, add a spawning mop, fill it with clear water and you’re ready to go.
Heating is normally not necessary, as these fish will keenly spawn even at normal room temperature (21°C). Higher temperatures can lead to a shift in gender of the offspring, resulting in more males. In one of my recent breeding attempts, which happened at 26°C, I ended with 12 males and four females.
I usually place a small breeding group – a male and three or four females – into the tank. Before breeding, the genders are separated for a fortnight, receiving plenty of quality food to improve their conditions. Once in the breeding tank, spawning occurs quickly, sometimes within a few hours.
Some breeders leave the spawning mops in the breeding tank for days, only collecting them at the end of the breeding cycle. As the parents tend to consume the eggs laid, I prefer to take them out and replace the spawning mop every day. The mops with the eggs are then moved to a hatching tank, which has plenty of Java moss.
The eggs, as opposed to those of several annual killi species, don’t need a dry rest period. They hatch in eight to 14 days, depending on the temperature (higher temperatures mean quicker hatching). The emerging fry are relatively tiny, but can feed on liquid fry food or, even better, on the micro-organisms growing on the Java moss. Within a day or two they’ll take microworms and newly hatched Artemia nauplii. From that point on, the juveniles grow quickly and can soon be weaned onto a range of foods.
Feeding the adults shouldn’t pose many problems either. They will happily snap up anything and everything edible, from dry goods (flakes, granules) through to frozen fare (bloodworm, Daphnia, Cyclops), and on to live foods (Artemia, Grindal worm, mosquito larvae). Variety is the key, especially when breeding is on the cards.
The Red throat panchax is a perfect fish for those wanting a breeding project. It’s hardy, relatively long lived for a killi (I have some specimens over three years old) and easy to care for. Give them a try – I’m sure they won’t disappoint you.
Inset: Pistia, Water lettuce Males spar by showing off – rarely anything worse than that.
Fry are tiny when they hatch.
Calm and collected – unlike its namesake, the Golden Panchax.
above: a pair using a spawning mop to lay eggs on.