Practical Fishkeeping (UK) - - TROPICAL -

Sci­en­tific name: Epi­platys dageti Pro­nun­ci­a­tion: Ep-pee-plat-iss


Size: 4.5cm

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

tol­er­ates 18-29°C

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.

Se­ri­ous spawn­ing

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.

Var­ied diet

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.

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