Ancistrus – Bushymouth catfish – Breeding

To Ancistrus is regarded as very easy. Normally this fish reproduces by itself and in fact abundantly. If the animals do not spawn despite breeding intentions, a few tricks can help.

Necessary conditions for breeding

Antennenwels Jungfische
Antennae catfish fry after successful breeding © Ivonne Schilling

Wherever the Bushymouth catfish feels well, it multiplies also. For spawning it needs caves, burl wood, slates or clay pipes. Breeding aids which are slightly vertical are preferred. It is important to the animals that the cave is narrow enough and has only one exit, which the male can fill completely with his body size.

Bushymouth catfish, which receive varied live food, usually spawn faster and more often. A pH value around 7.2 and a total hardness of about 11° are considered optimal. A temperature reduction caused by a water change can be an enormous incentive to spawn. For this purpose half of the water in a 25° C warm tank is replaced by approx. 10° C cool. It must be taken into account that the temperature drop of 5° to 6° C can do more harm than good to other inhabitants of the aquarium.

– Reproduction happens quasi from alone –
if possible vertical and narrow breeding dens –
possibly a short-term drop in temperature

The courtship behavior

The courtship of the Bushymouth catfish can resemble a stylized fight. The male nudges and pushes the female again and again. She twitches, moves away, but not far enough to make it look like an escape. Occasionally you can also watch the catfish mating and moving up and down hanging from the windows. Slowly but surely the male tries to move the female more and more towards the breeding cave.

Spawning behaviour

Females ready to spawn can be recognized by their corpulence. Normally the fish are sexually mature after one year and spawn every 4 to 8 weeks. One litter brings 40 to 50 young. If you don’t want to have offspring all the time, it is better not to keep a pair of this species. The female lays the 4 mm large, yellow to orange coloured eggs on the ceiling of the cave or in a suitable hollow.

  • 40 to 50 eggs
  • every 4 to 8 weeks

Brood care and feeding

Only the male takes care of the clutch and is hardly or not at all to be seen during this time. He constantly fans the eggs with fresh, oxygenated water. About one week after the laying of the eggs the young Bushymouth catfish hatch, after another week they are about 1 cm big and already leave the cave. The animals are best fed with tablet food. Later the young catfish can be offered vegetables like peas, paprika, cucumber, carrots or salad. The vegetables have to be divided according to the size of the young catfish and always boiled over before feeding. The supplementary feeding must never be exaggerated. Young catfish should have the incentive to feed themselves partly on algae.

  • Young catfish hatch after 1 week
  • leave the cave after another week
  • can be fed with tablets and vegetables

Rearing of young fish

As a rule, young catfish can stay very well with the adults. However, other fish species in the aquarium can pose a danger. Furthermore, snails can destroy entire clutches of eggs within a very short time. The male also guards the young for the first time after swimming out. After two weeks they spread out more and more and can soon be found everywhere in the aquarium.

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