Breeding Bottom Spawners 

In this article I will present the methods that I use for breeding those species of Aphyosemion and Fundulopanchax that prefer to lay eggs on the bottom of the tank.  (abb. Fp.- latest American scientific name for some larger,  formerly Aphyosemion species, but typically don’t use this name with a European killie keeper- usually honks ‘em off).  Of this group some of the more locally available fish include Fp.gardneri, Fp. sjostedi (Blue Gularis), Fp. filimentosus, Fp. walkeri, and Fp. puerzli.   
The male will usually assume a position parallel to and over the female, kind of nudging her toward the bottom with his chin (is it a chin on a fish?).  The male will come along the female, twist his body slightly “S” shaped leaning into the female toward the bottom and an egg will be laid and may be squirted into the tank sediment with a flick of the male’s anal fin.

 

For this group, a mop made as described in my first article, less floatation device, may allowed to sink and rest on the bottom, or a mop that is twice as long as the water is deep may be floated.  This does have the advantage of letting you decide what your particular species prefers by just looking to see where the eggs are placed. This is an easy way, if the tank lacks sand or peat, to see if eggs are actually being produced.  It also provides access to the mop to observe production, or if desired to pick eggs for storage or shipment to a friend.  Again, mops may be moved to a second tank to allow the eggs to develop and hatch if the species does not require a dry period to develop (more on that later). 
 If no dry period is needed, then there are two other ways of dealing with this fish.  First and easiest for me at least, is to keep them over sand or fine gravel.  I add a little peat to sort of make the gravel a little “fluffier” and maybe less abrasive to the eggs.  I have no reason other than gut feeling, that this really protects the eggs in any way other than providing some protection in terms of absorption of waste products.
After the fish (adults) are in the tank about a month, I just use a tube gravel cleaner siphon to remove the bottom sediment from the tank to a bucket, cleaning the sand of waste material and eggs I hope.  If no peat was used, the eggs are easier to find in the drained sediment.  Just swish a fine net in an S motion in the bucket to stir up the contents and collect solids in the net.  Transfer the net contents to a container of fresh tank water with a clear bottom (2 gal tank or critter keeper works nice for this).  Using side to bottom lighting, look for small round translucent or sometimes developed eggs.
For species not requiring dry time like Fp. gardneri, the eggs may begin to hatch as you watch if they have been in the sand over 3 weeks and have fully incubated.  Undeveloped eggs may be just left alone to develop or placed in another container to continue development.  Many of the floating mop spawners will also lay quite a few eggs in the sand or bottom sediment so don’t just clean a tank and not look before tossing the drained water and sediment.  At least allow it to set in the bucket overnight to see if anything hatches. 
The eggs being located within the sand are usually deterred from hatching until they are disturbed.  This is kind of nice since you can get a hatch of fry all within a 24 hour period and can raise them in a group like the other easy egg layers that produce spawns (just a poke at the cichlid fans).

 

For those that require or do better with a dry period (like Fp. sjostedi, Fp. filimentosus and Fp. walkeri), you just add some clean peat to the glass bottomed tank containing the eggs, stir it up to distribute the eggs in the peat and pour the entire contents through a fine net.  Then squeeze the net hard to remove most of the water.  If the peat is still not dry enough to easily crumble, spread it on a double sheet of newspaper for an hour or two to absorb the excess water.  Change the paper and repeat until after about 2 minutes on the paper, no wet paper results.  Fold the paper in half and use the fold as a trough to pour the peat into a fish bag. Be sure to put a label on the bag (use a label not a Magic Marker to avoid fumes in the bag) with the species and date of collection or you will not know what it is or when to wet it in a month or two (or maybe 3).

 

Fry of many ofthese fish usually are usually larger than the fry of smaller Aphyosemion species and thus can take newly hatched brine shrimp as soon as they hatch.  Care and feeding once hatched is the same as described in Breeding mop spawneres article.

To remove fry from the hatching container which still has peat on the bottom, I prefer to tilt the tank to move the peat to one end, let it settle a bit and slowly return the tank to horizontal. The peat remains atone end of the tank. Now you can remove fry as they appear in the ""clean" end of the ank. If preferred, keep lighting at the "non peat" end and brine shrimp will never foul the peat and you can wait a while till the fry get big enough to net to remove them.
Bill Shenefelt