I was fortunate in being given four small youngsters by Dave MacAllister, having seen them at an Open Show in 1999. They were installed in a 24 x 15 x 12 inch tank or for those of you working in Euros, 600 x 450 x 300mm. The water conditions were what is commonly known as North Kent tap! i.e. as hard as nails and pure alkali. Our tap water, obtained from artesian wells, via an enormous layer of chalk, is always in excess of 300ppm total hardness and a pH of 7.5 to 8, although on occasions, it has been known to be even higher. These water conditions are of course ideal for livebearers in general, but useless for most characins and killies. Planting of the tank was non-existent in the normal sense – just a large clump of Java moss. This gave cover for both parents and fry. I believe in feeding as large a variety of food as possible. At least one feed a day is live – be it tubifex, daphnia or mozzie larva in season. I also feed once a day with dried food. Water changes are undertaken weekly when I change about a quarter. It is always replaced with water straight from the coldwater tap. Prior to any water changes, the temperature is around 75°F. Coldwater reduces the temp by 5 degrees or so. Filtration is by a simple sponge filter.
The first young were born numbered just eight. At this stage, I removed both of the original males from the tank to allow A), the small females to grow 'unmolested' and B) to give the fry less 'hassle'. The fry were quite large when born and were able to take chopped tubifex immediately. At about 0.5 inches long, they were passed over to another member of Strood, Mark Nazer, for him to breed - ensuring that we had another source of them should a disaster occur in my fish house. As soon as the fry are sexable, I remove all males and raise them in a separate tank. Immature females when continuously producing fry and being pestered by males (in my opinion), tend not to reach their full potential. It may be argued of course that this is the opposite of what happens in the wild. True, but the ability of fish in the wild to hide away and the volumes of water involved at least help the fish to reach maturity in a better condition. When the fry reach a size of about 0.5 inches, I move them on to a larger tank – usually a 60 x 18 x 18inch. This gives them space to grow and the females at least will get towards show size (60mm). Male fish do not get anywhere near our show size of 40mm. Of all of the males I have raised, not one has made over 30mm. It may well be that when the size was decided, the average difference between males and females of the genus Brachyraphis is 15 to 20mm and this 'rule of thumb' was applied to the new species. My feeling is that a size of 30mm for the male fish would be more attainable. Water conditions and temperature are similar to above. Filtration is by external power filter.
I still have a number of these little beauties in the fish house and am still raising the odd batch of fry. One interesting point that both Mark and I have noticed, is that the broods of fry currently being produced show a preponderance of male fish. Whether this is due to water or temperature conditions one can only speculate.
This is not a difficult species to keep or breed. It is however, one that is well worth the effort and a space in the fish house as they are so different in colour from the 'normal' range of Brachyraphis. In the community tank, they look great but need to be with fish of a similar size and disposition.
© Pete Cottle, 2003. This fact sheet may not be reproduced in any form without the permission of the author.