of the "RED LIZARD CAT"
smaller sized, "whiptail" suckermouth catfish are relatively new in
the hobby, first seen here in the
Skip kept them spawning for a
couple of years and placed hundreds into the hands (or should I say
tanks) of hobbyist through out the states.
About a year and a half ago, Skip began downsizing his fishroom
due to some health problems, in the process he ended up losing most of
his adult Red Lizards. At
that point, I decided to hang on to the handful of young I had received
from him, with hopes of raising them up as future breeders for myself.
Skip did manage to save a couple of his adults, which he gave to
me to add to my group.
As the months passed, mine
continued to grow well and put on some nice size.
They will eat just about anything.
My group's diet consisted of frozen bloodworms, frozen chopped
krill, frozen or canned green beans, a little bit of live baby brine
shrimp every now and then and live blackworms, which they seemed to
After six months, with them now at a sexable adult size, I began
my attempts to spawn them. The
males have a brown body with dark markings; also, the shape of the head
is different with them, showing a slightly more pointed "nose".
In addition, when in spawning condition the males will show a lot
of "hair" on the sides and tops of their heads.
The females have a more impressive body color of a dusty
rusty-red. Both sexes reach
the same adult size of four inches (10cm), with the females showing a
bit of a thicker body, especially when filled with eggs.
For my first attempt to spawn
them, I separated out two pair and placed them each in their own bare
tank. I used a
fifteen-gallon aquarium, filtered with a single smaller sized
Hydro-sponge filter. Temperatures
maintained in the upper seventy degree Fahrenheit range.
The pH ranged 6.8 - 7.2 between the weekly water changes.
Several six inch long pieces of one inch and one and a half inch
diameter black PVC type pipe, which were glued to small plates of glass,
were added for them to use as spawning caves.
The pipes are glued to glass so they have a sort of a base, not
allowing them to roll, keeping them in the position you place them in,
preventing foods from getting trapped under them and making them easy to
remove if need be. Well,
after several months, even with both females heavy with eggs, nothing
happened. I tried water
changes, more airflow and varied pH.
My best guess as to why they would not spawn was that they were
simply too young and not sexually mature.
Thinking that it was going to
be easy to spawn them and then being totally stumped, I decided to call
Skip and discuss what he did to spawn his group.
There were a few things we talked about that I think I needed to
do to get them to spawn. First
and probably the most important need is for very heavy circulation with
saturated aeration. Second
is a higher temperature. Third
was cleaner water.
After formulating a game plan, I was ready to try again.
This time I used a thirty-gallon aquarium that was on a higher
shelf so I could keep a better eye open for what was happening in the
tank. In the tank, I added a large Hydro-sponge "V" filter along
with a large airstone. Both
devices were driven by a strong and vigorous airflow, resulting in a
strong current and saturation of the water with air.
Along with the PVC pipes mentioned above, I added a couple of
pieces of cured bamboo for additional spawning sites.
I positioned them on the tank bottom so that the current would
run thru them. The bottom of the tank was bare with the underside
(outside) of the tank painted black to prevent light from entering from
below, for their comfort and security. Also for their security and
comfort, I placed solid "privacy flaps" on the outside of the tank
to prevent light from reaching the spawning pipes.
These "privacy flaps" are made of a solid colored, rigid
paper stock and hinged to the glass with tape across the top so they can
be lifted to view inside the pipes to check for eggs.
Diet remained the same as mentioned earlier.
Water changes continued weekly but with larger amounts changed
each time and their temperature increased to eighty-two degrees
I figure I had eight males and four females at this point in the
group and they seemed to be happy in this set up.
I was anticipating a spawn within a short time, especially since
the females were filled with eggs. They
were active and eating well. Everything
looked like it should have to recreate Skip's spawning set up.
However, the days turned to weeks and the weeks turned to months with no
results. I was beginning to
give up hope on them. Then
one morning, while doing my routine check for spawns, I spotted a male
in one of the pipes sitting on a cluster of about sixty blue-green eggs!
You cannot miss the eggs when you see them; they are about 2.5mm
in diameter and brightly colored.
I immediately set up a two-gallon tank with water from the
spawning tank to use as a hatching tank.
I removed the pipe, without the male, and placed it on an angle
against the side. I placed
an airstone just under the pipe so that a gentle stream of tiny bubbles
passed thru the pipe. I
intended for this to replace the males job of cleaning them, plus I
removed any chance of them being eaten.
The hatch tank was placed in a dark area of my fishroom where no
bright lights could reach it. I
also placed a dark cover over the top to block out light, just for
As the days passed, more and more eggs appeared to go bad.
On the morning of the eleventh day, the eggs began to hatch.
The fry have a large egg sac and scatter about the tank, clinging
to anything. They are light
in color with faint bands and approximately 8-9 mm in total length.
It takes a good two full days for them to absorb their egg sac
and become free-swimming. I
started them immediately on microworms and live baby brine shrimp.
They eagerly accept both of the foods and eat so much that it
appears they have an egg sac again!
Within a few days of feeding, I moved
the fry into a bare ten-gallon tank, filtered with a smaller sized
sponge filter. Almost all
the fry take to the sides of the filter to feed off the material that
the filter traps. After
several more days, green beans and assorted pellet foods were added to
their diet and accepted by them. Rate
of growth is rapid, reaching up to one and a half inch (TL) in just
I have had four spawns up to this time with mixed results.
Twelve survived from the first spawn, about forty from the
second, only two from the third and none from the forth.
I am sure that the low hatch rate is due to contamination of the
spawn by a few bad eggs. I
am now starting to think that it might be better to leave the male with
the eggs, hoping that he will do the job of cleaning the eggs and
prevent the decaying eggs from destroying the good eggs.
Next time they spawn, I will try to move him, along with the eggs
in the pipe, into the hatching tank.
My thoughts on what took me so long to spawn them is one of two things; either they simply were too young or they are a seasonal spawner. Whatever the reason, I am glad they are finally producing young for me. To see a group of the fry together in a tank puts a smile on my face every time!