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Going for gold
by Charles Drew (H&DAS)

Over the many years I have been in the hobby I have raised quite a few Bushynose Plecos. Two or three years ago I became aware of an albino bushynose of the Ancistrus family. No one has said for sure what species it is but my guess that it is probably either Ancistrus dolichopterus or Ancistrus temminckii. It is said to have originated in Holland. And until quite recently has been passed around mainly through hobbyists. There is also a pretty albino Gibbiceps Pleco, pond raised in Florida that will grow eighteen inches in your aquarium or at least three feet long in Florida fish farm ponds. Our Albino Ancistrus grows between six and eight inches in length and is a rich yellow in colour. The males grow outstanding branched tentacles on their nose whereas the females have none.

I received my fish from Jim and Linda Brown of the Durham and Region Club just prior to Christmas 2001. They were an inch long and eight in the bag. I guessed their age at about a month. I took them home and placed them in a fifteen gallon aquarium with an Aqua clear mini filter on it. They were fed zucchini and algae wafers which they were fond of. As time went by they were fed some frozen brine shrimp and frozen beef heart formula. They ate and grew and after about six months you could see that I had two females and six males.

At nine months the one female who was larger than the other looked ready to spawn. I waited and waited but nothing happened. A male had taken up occupancy in the half coconut shell, but she was reluctant to spawn even though she was quite fat. I questioned a few people and scanned Planted Catfish on the net. I soon concluded that since the last time I had spawned Plecos my fish room had become warmer. It is now about eighty degrees, obviously too warm for spawning plecos. Also the tank I had moved the pair into did not have a power filter and plecos like a current. The males have a preference for gravel bottoms and their tank was bare. I soon corrected all of the problems. The pair was placed in a fifteen gallon aquarium outside of the fishroom at about 74 degrees with coarse sand on the bottom. Then I went and bought them their own power filter. They then rewarded me with a spawning in less than a week. The male stays in the coconut shell and fans the eggs. Unfortunately he accidentally sweeps some eggs out of the opening. Sometimes one or two at a time or a whole bunch.

Being experienced in this problem I merely sucked up the rather large eggs in a large syringe and put them in a bowl with an air stone and a drop of acriflavine. Every day I picked up loose eggs and after the seventh day the eggs hatched and I continued to pick up the occasional fry which look like an egg with a tail on it.

The yolk sac takes another seven days to shrink to where the fry are ready to feed. When I first tried to feed them in the bowl the water started to foul. I was afraid of losing them so I moved them to a fifteen gallon tank. After a few hours they started to die. I lost seven or eight. I moved the approximately fifty fry back to the bowl. I then sat back and gave it some deep thought. I bought another filter for the tank because the fry liked circulation such as they got in the bowl from the air stone. Also they needed a better, more natural first food. I got up went out to my partially frozen bog pond and brought in a piece of cattail leaf that was mushy and half under water. I placed it in the bowl and in no time at all the fry were on it. The water was changed daily and zucchini and algae wafers were slowly introduced after a few days. A week later I started to add the fry to the tank again a few at a time. They were also given a piece of drift wood to chew on which is said to be beneficial to their digestive system.

Over the next weeks I experimented with foods such as snow peas, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, squash, sweet potato and green beans. All were cooked until soft, then frozen for future use when needed. Their favourite is a toss up between zucchini and cabbage. Sweet potatoes and squash should be fed sparingly because they tend to foul and cloud the water. At the time of writing the first spawning of fry are about an inch and a half long. The second spawning is about an inch long and number about 150 fry. The male at present is again looking after eggs but this time is kicking very few out. I now have to go and pick up more Aquaclear power filters to provide current for more up coming offspring. The male tries to keep the fry in the coconut shell as long as possible. Even a week or more after they are ready to feed. He seems to want to spawn about every thirty days. He must come out at night to feed because he still seems to stay in good shape. The female seems to refill quickly with eggs. I can only say each spawning seems to get larger and better. I have no doubt that these fish will be in the hobby for a long time.

(Aquaworld comment: There is also a fan-tail form available in the Netherlands now, which is Ancistrus dolichopterus. The albino form is also most likely Ancistrus dolichopterus.)

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