Aphyosemion hera "TDK 97/30" by Eric Bodrock
Here is a little story about a "big time" fish. When I showed up at the American Killifish Association (AKA) annual convention in 1998, my interest was stirred up by this dynamite looking Killifish. It is a rather small Killie, growing to only 1-3/8" in length. The body color is a bright iridescent mint green with fluorescent red spots running across the back. The dorsal and tail have the same green color with flares of bright red. Females are also prettier than most Aphyosemions. Their body is a gold to orange color with a dark band through mid body. Fins are short and rounded with a bit of the mint green color in the anal fin. Believe me, if you would see this fish, you would want it, too!
Now, it's Sunday morning and the auction is about to start. There is a single pair on display, soon to be up for bidding. I have my mind set, I'm going to get these fish. They finally come up and the bidding begins. Well over what I wanted to spend to get them, I come to my senses and pull my hand down around $100. Unfortunately, not after "going once, twice, sold!" Someone else got them for $105. Oh well, maybe I'll find them again someday.
A year passes and I never did see or hear a word of these fish again. Next, off to the 1999 AKA convention in Chicago I go. Saturday there is a "Fish Room Sale" where attendees bring fish for sale along with some new and rare species that the host club brings in for the event. While looking through the room before the sale begins, I spy three bags of A. hera "ARK 1-2-96" priced at $25 each. Entry into the "Fish Room Sale" goes by numbers which you get in order as you register for the convention. My number 103! Well, I kept my hopes high and fingers crossed, at least for the first twenty minutes of the sale. That's when word was out that all three bags were already taken. Oh well, maybe I'll never get these fish, ever!
Hours after the sale I catch up with a fellow hobbyist, Chuck McLamb, from Harrisburg, PA. Chuck was bringing some fish that I was to pick up for a friend here in Pittsburgh. While talking to him, he casually mentions that he also brought a few pair of you guessed it A. hera. Out comes my wallet and there you have it, I'm the proud owner of two pair of these elusive fish.
They made the trip home with no problems. Each pair was set up in a 3 gallon plastic tank with a snap on lid. Half aged tap water and half R/O water is used which had a cup of old tank water added to it. A large, dark green mop was floated in the tank which covered half the area. Temperature was about 74 degrees Fahrenheit, pH kept at 6.8. A diet of live Daphnia, live black worms and newly hatched brine shrimp was offered. They seemed to adjust rather well but for a month I didn't see an egg. Finally I started to find an egg or two every couple of days. This went on for another few weeks until production picked up a bit. I let the water changes go, thus allowing the pH to drop some. I think this triggered the higher egg count; at best, maybe 20 eggs a week per pair.
I pull the mop and place it in a clean plastic shoe box. Then another clean mop is placed with the adults. This mop is checked every couple of days and any eggs are picked and added to the first mop. At all times the eggs are kept from any bright lights. Hatch time is around 12 days. Fry are small, around 2mm in size. A pinch of APR along with some green water and java moss are added to the fry shoe box. Rate of growth picks up once baby brine and microworms are added to their diet after a week or so. A size of ½" is reached in six weeks.
The biggest drawback to these beautiful fish is that they like to hide. Any time you want to show them to someone, you need to get a flashlight and go into the tank and stir them, usually out of the mop. It's well worth the effort, for these are great looking fish!