Retroculus lapidifer courting

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Darrell Ullisch
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Retroculus lapidifer courting

Post by Darrell Ullisch » Fri Jun 19, 2015 2:47 pm

Back in November of 2013 I purchased 10 two inch young Retroculus. These were F1, aquarium bred fish. The species has been a dream fish for me since I first heard of them. I decided to set up a 125 gallon tank to grow them out and perhaps someday breed them.

Initially they were placed in a long 30 gallon tank while I prepared the 125. This first photo shows the group in that tank. This was shot only a month or so after I had gotten them. Their favorite food from the beginning has been Xtreme Cichlid PeeWee pellets. I've also given them live blackworms occasionally, and various flake mixes after they were moved to the 125.
Retros dec 22.JPG
They never sifted the red flint fine gravel, which Geophagus never seemed to have trouble with. However, within hours of being placed in the big tank with a silica sand substrate, the youngsters were diving up to their eyeballs to get a mouthful of sand that was released via the gill covers. I added some Astyanax aeneus as dithers, which eventually proved to be a poor choice.
125 with fish 01.JPG
In August of 2014, I sold three of the ten to reduce the population. It did seem to help, as the remaining seven put on fast growth. When they started getting some size, I noticed the dorsals were being nipped. I suspected the Tetras, and finally removed those just before adding a large driftwood stump to the tank in March of 2015. I also noticed a pile of pebbles in one corner of the tank, which first showed up in November of 2014, turned into a pile across the entire end of the tank, about 4-5 inches wide. The largest fish, an obvious male, was frequently observed taking a mouthful of stones and throwing them on the pile.
Retroculus nest 062015.JPG
Retroculus nest 062015.JPG (179.6 KiB) Viewed 5243 times
I observed the male chasing the other fish about the tank occasionally, but no damage was being done. His fins were also starting to grow out since the removal of the Tetras, though still relatively short due to his youth. Then yesterday I saw one of the others, a rather rotund individual, was trying to approach, and this fish also showed considerable effort at chasing the others. However, the male didn't quite accept her presence, and while he chased her off, she didn't run as hard as the others.

Today I awoke to find the two of them fanning at each other, and none of the other Retroculus were allowed into their third of the tank. She (sex is apparent at this point) showed black ventrals, black lips, and a black chin from the mouth to the ventrals. This color comes and goes, and my efforts to photograph in this state so far have failed.
courting pair06192015.JPG
Color differences between the two seem to be mostly in the facial markings, and overall intensity of blue and red. The female is clearly more yellow than the male, but has not yet dropped any breeding tube. I suspect, and hope intensely, that they are not too far from their first spawning attempt. I'm adding one more photo so you can see the male a bit more clearly. He's about 6 inches TL, and she's perhaps one inch smaller. That makes them about half grown or a little more.
Retroculus male0619201501.JPG
The tank is kept around 82 F., with two small HOB filters and a circulation pump kept near the surface. The water is mostly R/O with addition of some well water to add minerals. R/O is added via a direct line from the unit that feeds slowly into the tank, and is run about 8 hours once a week. (This wasn't possible for a couple of months due to the well not working properly, and a lot of this activity started when the water changes resumed.) The only plant is a piece of Bolbitis stuck in the stump, and tankmates remaining are a small group of Chaetostoma sp. and two young Pterigoplichthys sp. These last two were added in March when the tank with a heavy growth of Algae, which they proceeded to remove down to a bunch of small spots. The pH is not as low as you might expect, as the driftwood was extremely weathered. In fact, I am uncertain of the exact pH, as my meter seems to be off calibration, but I'm certain it is on the alkaline side. Personally, I believe the hardness is more important.

If a miracle happens and they actually spawn, I will post ASAP.
There are two kinds of error: blind credulity and piecemeal criticism. Sound skepticism is the necessary condition for good discernment; but piecemeal criticism is an error. - Egyptian proverb

blackghost
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Re: Retroculus lapidifer courting

Post by blackghost » Fri Jun 19, 2015 2:55 pm

Very interesting. Thanks for sharing and good luck.

:)
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Re: Retroculus lapidifer courting

Post by Bas Pels » Sat Jun 20, 2015 2:42 am

Thanks for this. You must be either the happiest, or the most nervous man in the world. Great effort.

If they were my fishes, I would set up a spare tank for the 5 unmated fishes - from what you wrote, the territory might become much lager in time, leaving the others little or no room to move in.

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Darrell Ullisch
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Re: Retroculus lapidifer courting

Post by Darrell Ullisch » Sat Jun 20, 2015 12:00 pm

I think the available territory is limited by the large stump I have in that tank; the start of the stump is the marker where they start chasing the others. It is difficult for them to see past the stump, and it is also the reason I can't really remove the others, as catching them without disturbing the pair is essentially impossible. Definitely easier said than done.
There are two kinds of error: blind credulity and piecemeal criticism. Sound skepticism is the necessary condition for good discernment; but piecemeal criticism is an error. - Egyptian proverb

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Piotr Koba
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Re: Retroculus lapidifer courting

Post by Piotr Koba » Sat Jun 20, 2015 4:15 pm

As can be expected from adult Retroculus - magnificent fish. Fingers crossed.
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Darrell Ullisch
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Re: Retroculus lapidifer courting

Post by Darrell Ullisch » Mon Jun 22, 2015 8:27 am

This morning the female's belly is flat, and the two of them are guarding a small gap in some pieces of red slate that appears to be filled with pebbles. The wierd part is that the place they are guarding is off to the side of the huge pit that they dug! I cannot see anything that looks like eggs, but I'm not certain that means anything.

No question that she laid eggs, apparently during the night. Now I have to wait and see if any wigglers show up. I hope that I will be pleasantly surprised in a few days, but I'm not too hopeful. It was their first time, anyway. Biggest concern for me is that the pile of slate is a favored hangout for the various small Loricariids in the tank.
There are two kinds of error: blind credulity and piecemeal criticism. Sound skepticism is the necessary condition for good discernment; but piecemeal criticism is an error. - Egyptian proverb

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Re: Retroculus lapidifer courting

Post by Mark Smith » Mon Jun 22, 2015 10:57 am

If memory serves me correctly, Lee Neuman, who spawned a species of Retroculus, indicated that they bury the eggs with a shallow later of sand?

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Darrell Ullisch
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Re: Retroculus lapidifer courting

Post by Darrell Ullisch » Mon Jun 22, 2015 11:28 am

Yes, Weidner reports the same, but also reported stones being placed on top of that. According to a second hand report I recieved from the guys who sold me the fry, the breeder said they put coarse gravel and stones on top of the eggs, and the wigglers were seen working their way out of this pile. I wonder if Lee had any coarse gravel in the tank, or if he just had a sand substrate. Mr. Neumann, you out there?

They are loosely guarding this spot, there is sand and gravel in there, so there may well be eggs that I cannot see. Still a lot of digging going on. We'll find out in a couple of days.
There are two kinds of error: blind credulity and piecemeal criticism. Sound skepticism is the necessary condition for good discernment; but piecemeal criticism is an error. - Egyptian proverb

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Re: Retroculus lapidifer courting

Post by Bas Pels » Tue Jun 23, 2015 1:40 am

The name 'lapidifer' means stone-carrier, and refers to their habit of searching for stones in order to use in their nest. As cover & protection of the eggs.

Obviously, when described, nobody knew what the stones were for, but it was noted hey were found above pits of stones, in a very sandy area - hence the name

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Darrell Ullisch
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Re: Retroculus lapidifer courting

Post by Darrell Ullisch » Tue Jun 23, 2015 8:53 am

Well, they are no longer guarding anything, so if there were eggs, they are gone. I noticed that the other five kept trying to get into the hole, and it was too much for them to hold off all of them. I can now move the extras, or the pair, which might be easier.

It was the first time, so I pretty much expected something would go wrong. I do believe they will spawn again, as I know I have given them the right conditions. But I really, really wanted it to work this time!!! :(
There are two kinds of error: blind credulity and piecemeal criticism. Sound skepticism is the necessary condition for good discernment; but piecemeal criticism is an error. - Egyptian proverb

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Re: Retroculus lapidifer courting

Post by Oceanica » Tue Jun 23, 2015 3:44 pm

Might it be worthwhile getting an aquarium divider which you can use if your pair get 'busy' again? I use an acrylic divider with my Satanoperca mapiritensis and it works really well. It gives the brooding pair peace of mind - they immediately start releasing the fry so the babies can eat - without me needing to move the parents or their tankmates. When my pair(s) are not brooding / rearing fry I get the divider out. It may well be that your Retroculus had their fry eaten by tankmates as soon as they became free-swimming. This is what happens to my wild Angels. Mouthbrooders clearly have an edge when it comes to fry protection.

Bas Pels
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Re: Retroculus lapidifer courting

Post by Bas Pels » Wed Jun 24, 2015 1:41 am

what a pity.

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Darrell Ullisch
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Re: Retroculus lapidifer spawning

Post by Darrell Ullisch » Wed Jul 08, 2015 4:41 pm

Video of the Retroculus SPAWNING! Eggs are not visible during the process, but I added a couple of still shots of the 2-2.5mm eggs at the end of the vid. I shot the vid in the wrong mode, and the movie making software compressed the image laterally. I can't find a setting to change that, unfortunately.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCQ3NIQcjYo

When I saw them moving the eggs to another pit, I took a siphon hose and went in to remove a few of the eggs. The adults panicked, and scattered a bunch around, so I siphoned what I could find. An hour later, they had gathered the rest of the eggs together, and started burying them in pebbles. This works perfectly, as I now have about 50-60 eggs to hatch artificially, while leaving them guarding a few less than that.

My biggest concern is the other fish in the tank, second is the maturity of the male. He was certainly making enough passes to fertilize eggs - if he is fertile. Having pulled a number of them will let me find out if he is mature, I hope.
There are two kinds of error: blind credulity and piecemeal criticism. Sound skepticism is the necessary condition for good discernment; but piecemeal criticism is an error. - Egyptian proverb

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Re: Retroculus lapidifer courting

Post by Darrell Ullisch » Thu Jul 09, 2015 10:31 pm

Eggs left in the tank were gone the next morning. The eggs I removed looked all right after about 30 hours, though it's hard to say because they are coated with sand particles. I placed them and some sand in a 5 gallon tank with a heater and an airline agitating the water heavily. The eggs resemble mouth brooder eggs, but the adults did not pick them up. Still hoping that they will hatch. So far, so good.
There are two kinds of error: blind credulity and piecemeal criticism. Sound skepticism is the necessary condition for good discernment; but piecemeal criticism is an error. - Egyptian proverb

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Re: Retroculus lapidifer courting

Post by Darrell Ullisch » Fri Jul 10, 2015 10:53 am

Found out I was using an old movie maker program, here's the video with the proper perspective.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YloF-BEhaCM
There are two kinds of error: blind credulity and piecemeal criticism. Sound skepticism is the necessary condition for good discernment; but piecemeal criticism is an error. - Egyptian proverb

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Re: Retroculus lapidifer courting

Post by Florent » Mon Jul 13, 2015 1:31 pm

Great to read your post. I hope you will manage to have some fry.

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Re: Retroculus lapidifer courting

Post by Darrell Ullisch » Mon Jul 13, 2015 9:18 pm

The eggs were not fertile. I'd say it will take some time for the male to mature adequately. For now he's just shootin' blanks. I'll keep pulling some eggs every time I see them, though.
There are two kinds of error: blind credulity and piecemeal criticism. Sound skepticism is the necessary condition for good discernment; but piecemeal criticism is an error. - Egyptian proverb

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Re: Retroculus lapidifer courting

Post by Darrell Ullisch » Mon Aug 24, 2015 12:49 pm

They spawned about 5? days ago, I think. I once again pulled eggs, yesterday saw some fungusing eggs in the container, figured I had another infertile batch. This morning I went to the fishroom to see if they were all bad, and guess what I found:

WRIGGLERS!!!

Moved about 25-30 with tails showing, though only about half of those were visibly wiggling. Sorted through the rest of the eggs, still about 40-50 unhatched after removing all the fungused stuff. I will watch those closely for any more hatching.

Eggs were in a 1 gallon drum bowl with a strong aeration running from an open line. Temperature was about 84F due to being on a high shelf, no heater required. Good eggs and wrigglers were moved to seperate containers with clean water from running tanks, as the water in the bowl had started to get cloudy.

I have not yet tried to get photos of the larvae, hopefully will do that later today.

According to Weidner, the next stage - raising fry - is the difficult part. Extreme cleanliness is supposed to be necessary. We shall see if I can manage to keep them healthy.
There are two kinds of error: blind credulity and piecemeal criticism. Sound skepticism is the necessary condition for good discernment; but piecemeal criticism is an error. - Egyptian proverb

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Re: Retroculus lapidifer courting

Post by Darrell Ullisch » Mon Aug 24, 2015 6:05 pm

Here's some photos. Last is eggs in the nest from 5 days ago, see them? They are in the red square. Well camouflaged, aren't they? Added another half dozen wigglers from the unhatched eggs I pulled earlier.
Attachments
Retroculus larvae4.JPG
Retroculus larvae1.JPG
Retroculus eggs in nest.JPG
There are two kinds of error: blind credulity and piecemeal criticism. Sound skepticism is the necessary condition for good discernment; but piecemeal criticism is an error. - Egyptian proverb

rene.decquir
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Re: Retroculus lapidifer courting

Post by rene.decquir » Tue Aug 25, 2015 6:33 pm

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