The Peacock gudgeon (Tateurndina ocellicauda)
This is a beautiful little gudgeon from Papua new guinea where it inhabits ponds, rivers and forest streams.
In its natural habitat it can be found schooling. Something i have never seen them do in an aquarium.
The colour of this fish could rival many killifish. It has a base colour of pale blue with broken red vertical stripes. On the peduncle you will find a large black eye spot. This is the first thing to colour up on young fish. The fins have some bright yellow and some times a black trim on the anal fin. The caudal fin is also edged in yellow and speckled with red.
Mature males are larger than females and will have a more bulbous head or moderate nuchal hump. This is the best way to sex them and once recognized can be seen from a very young age. Sexing by colour difference is not always accurate.
The first time i seen these little beauties in a book i couldn't wait to get some. The only info i had was the basics. Temp. 22-26c (72-79f). Max size 7.5cm (3"). PH 7.
Unfortunately it was more than a year before i could obtain a small pair no more than 3cm in length.
First attempt to keep this fish.
I placed these in a 60l tank that had plenty of plants, an air driven sponge filter, dark substrate and low light.
The temp. was set at 24c (76f) and pH around neutral.
The day after they were placed into the tank they couldn't be found. There was no sign of any remains in the tank so i figured they were just hiding amongst the plants.
After 4-5 days i came to terms that they were gone. I proceeded to do a water change and clean the filter. When i went to squeeze the sponge i noticed it was hard inside. I knew straight away that's were they were hiding.
I cut open the sponge to find two squashed fish inside. I was absolutely gutted (so were the fish). I went back to the shop were i purchased them and they had none left.
I later learned they like to squeeze in to tight places to breed and this is probably why they were in the sponge. I recon they swam in but couldn't get out again.
Second attempt & first time to try breed this fish.
It was a couple of months before i managed to get some more. I picked out one male and three females. With a little more knowledge of this fish i decided i was going to try breed them. This was one of the first fish i bred so it was going to be trial and error.
I chose a different tank this time. Bare bottom, sponge filter with a cable tie at the bottom to prevent my previous mistake. Again the pH was neutral and the temp. set at 24c (76f). I added some plastic plants, some mopani wood and a hang on breeding net was put in place from the start. This was to keep any young i got in the same tank as the parents. That's if i ever got that far.
I fed them on brine shrimp, grindle and white worms. They dont take to commercially prepared foods very well.
It wasn't long before i noticed the male chasing two of the females away from one end of the tank and the third female by his side. The pair would shimmy beside each other and then break away from each other. But there was no sign of any egg been laid.
The next day the male had done a disappearing act. The two females he had been chasing were still up in one corner of the tank and the other female now looked thinner and less colourful.
The following day my patience got the better of me and i went looking for the male. I found him tucked in to a crevice of the mopani wood. He had been there with a bunch of about 30 eggs. Unfortunately my interference panicked him and he ate the eggs.
Second attempt to try breed this fish.
Not put off by my previous mistakes i carried on feeding them live foods and it was only a day or two before the male selected another female.
The pair moved in to the tight space between the glass and the hang on net breding trap. This is were they seemed to violently shimmy and vibrate against each other.
At last some eggs. Once the eggs were laid and fertilized by the male he chased the female away. He returned to the eggs, lay in the middle of them and start fanning to keep the water circulated around them.
He kept this up all the time except to chase the odd female that might come to close or to snatch some brine shrimp that might come close enough.
I couldn't have wished for a better place for the eggs to be laid. Slap bang in the middle of the front glass perfect for my viewing pleasure.
By day two you could see the eggs develop and by day four you could see the fry wriggling around inside. On the sixth day they started to hatch. It was early in the morning before i was going to work so i left them.
When i returned from work i found the male sitting in the same spot with a fresh batch of eggs and verry few fry in the tank. The fish in the tank had a feast on them once they were free swimming.
The few i managed to collect were floating around the surface of the water and were hard to catch. These were placed in the net breeding trap.
The breeding trap ended up a bad idea. The male would get ragged fins from fanning the eggs and rubbing off the net. The fry would get trapped in between the net and the plastic structure that kept it in place.
Raising the young.
The young were fed on liquifry and microworms for the first week and then brine shrimp. After a month they were moved to a tank to grow on which took a long time. It was three months before they showed any colour and six months before they could be moved on or sold.
Once the appropriate size food was offered and the water was kept clean there was no real problem raising them and very little losses after the first week.
I recently got hold of a young pair of these which i will breed again. This time i will make some changes to the tank set up.
I will use a 20-30L tank. Bare bottom with a sponge filter as above. The water will have a pH of around 7, temp. 24c, low light and i will use two pieces of 3/4" PVC tubing about 3" long. This will be the only decor in the tank and should be used by the male as spawning caves. Both ends will be left open. Once the a cave is selected by the male and breeding has taken place i will leave them for 4-5 days. After that i will remove the tube and eggs without the male to an acrylic breeding trap. An airstone will be placed close to one end of the tube to ensure oxygen rich water flows over the eggs.
While the male has been looking after the eggs i will be feeding the female heavily trying to get her in to breeding condition again. Once the first lot of eggs have been removed i hope the pair will breed soon after so i can raise two lots together.
Once they breed the second time the female will be removed and 4-5 days later then the male will be removed. The second lot of eggs will be left in the breeding tank to hatch and after a month or so i will release the first lot in to the tank and raise the lot together. As they grow they will be moved to a larger tank to grow out.
© www.irishfishkeepers.com - October 2008