I've been keeping fish approximately 10 years, and I used to specialise in particular in Lake Malawi cichlids, although I had various other tropical setups including a tang tank, some general trops and a rescue oscar tank. After keeping fish for a few years I got a job working in our local aquatic chainstore. The job helped me to pay the electricity for running 9 tanks at a time (+ breeding tanks) and I also used to get to choose what malawis we ordered in etc.
I never had any intention of buying clown loaches because of the overall size they reach etc etc. but one day my boss asked me to euthanise a couple of very small clowns who had got razorback. They were so thin they were unable to swim anymore and they were being wafted around by the current of the water. Being a softie where clowns in particular are concerned, I persuaded my boss to let me see if they could survive till hometime and I would take them home with me. He thought I was insane but agreed and I came home with my first 2 clowns. I used to have to cup them in my hand and feed them with defrosted discus food and a pipette as they were still too weak to swim, but amazingly they survived. 2 weeks later I brought home 2 more but failed with them, and a couple of weeks after that I suceeded with another 2, so in total I ended up with 4 clowns which I hadn't planned on keeping but would have died otherwise. 6 years later they were not particularly big, (approx 5 " each exc tails) but I figured that considering the start they had had, it was no real suprise.
In time they moved into a 530 litre with 6 rescue synodontis eupterus, 3 bristlenose, various odds and sods (i.e. ends of shoals of things eg 2 x 7 year old harlequins, a 10 year old black neon, a 10 year old pepper cory) and a breeding set of aeneas gold lazer - started with 6 but have 16 now. Then earlier this year I lost 3 of the clowns over a matter of a few months but with no visible signs of why they had died. Everything else was doing ok, still breeding etc, but then the same started happening to the synos and I lost 5 of them too. I was heartbroken as they seemed to recover slightly then sicken then recover again and then after a few days they died. I did all the usual stuff of water changes etc, monitoring the water etc etc, I even wired the tank (aluminium framed) to the radiator incase there was some stray electrical current or something that wasn't earthing, as the synos had started swimming backwards with their heads out of the water at high speed and running into the side of the tank. When the last syno was in the same predicament of lying at the surface gasping, I was really tempted to put her out of her misery, but I couldn't face it as I had owned that one pretty much from the beginning of keeping fish. So I kept on persevering and amazingly she recovered.
Now for the up to date stuff. Having lost 3 clowns and 5 synos, the tank was really too big for what I had left, that and the fact that electric is so expensive now, and our central heating system appears to be leaking under the floor of the room with the tank in, I decided it was time to downsize. I was given a tank on freecycle (a 4' fluval), some of the fish in there (barbus filamentosus and a bolshy angel) went to live with my friend Sue in her 800 litre, I took on the cories, bristlenose, oto, black neon and gourami that were in there. I moved the 4' tank into the lounge, got another tank for the last syno and the bristlenose and started catching fish to move them into their respective new homes. For starters I found 38 x 3/4" bristlenose, so they are currently growing on before I take them into my old workplace for rehoming, I also found a few splinterfry which I assume are cories, but then to my suprise I found a fry, approx 1 cm long with yellow and black vertical stripes.
The old tank had loads of bogwood, and was permanently full of java moss which I used to have to thin out regularly because it would take over the entire tank, but of course it meant that fry had more chance in there, despite the fact I had 6 big synos and 4 clowns too. This fry though confused me as I know clowns do not generally breed in aquariums, I only had 1 clown in the tank for the last 5 months, my tank was run on Stafford UK tap water, which is hard as nails, though the bogwood and java moss in mine made it pretty acidic, and this fry had more of the shape of a barb than a loach. i.e. it's mouth is at the front rather than pointing downwards, though the black and yellow bars looked pretty convincing. I chatted with a friend and she suggested a ruby barb fry, which looked similar but I was confused how it had got in the tank as we had not had new fish or plants etc in there. But it still didn't ring quite right and my gut instinct was that it was a clown still.
Anyway "Oddbert" as my eldest named him is now getting the red colouration on his pectorals and dorsal fin, and another friend who came visiting the other week is pretty convinced it is a clown too. What I would really like though, is to speak to someone who has sucessfully bred clowns in the past so I can see whether their mouth formation changed as the fry developed? It also likes to shoal with whatever is around, not typical behaviour I know, and it shows no fear of the large clown either, although the large clown could swallow it in one if tempted.
It is now living in the 4' tank with the adult clown and a small 2" clown I brought home from work with the "skinnies"* a couple of months ago and all the other fish (oto, gourami, copper harlequins, cories, 2 forktail rainbows, splinter fry from the main tank and bristlenose fry), everything basically apart from the syno and adult bristlenoses which are in a different tank. I will also be moving out the juvi bristlenoses as they get to an inch or more. I will do my best to get some photographs though of this baby, as I am pretty terrible with a camera, but unless I provide pics I'm not sure anyone will believe me!
Sorry for the huge long post, but it's kind of an introductory post too as well as one asking for further information from anyone who might know.
Thanks in advance for any info you can give me.
* I came home with a lot of really ill clowns last time I called in at my old workplace, but despite my best efforts I lost all of them bar one
I have never heard of anyone with Clown Fry in aquaria, but I suppose it is possible. If you could capture the little one in a photo and post it, I think that would be helpful.
http://www.loaches.com/articles/clown-l ... ated-items
I managed to find my mobile phone and charge it, which for me is an achievement in it's own right (I am really not an organised person :S). So please excuse the quality of the photos as the camera on my phone isn't brilliant, Oddbert did not want to stay still, and I am an awful photographer too. I had to press the phone against the glass of the tank to try and cut out reflections.
I hope you can see what I mean though about how at first I thought he couldn't be a clown because of his barb shape, but you can see in some of the photos how he is now getting the red colouration on dorsal and pectorals, and he is beginning to develop a slightly more clown shape than before. I guess until he develops even more and gets to 1"+ in size I cannot be sure, but I have never kept tigerbarbs, or ruby barbs etc etc in the tank, and I hadn't introduced new plants etc either. The other thing that confused me was that the last of my larger clowns was on it's own for more than 5 months after the others died, so I haven't a clue what the gestation period is, but it must be a long time for the fry only to be 1cm long after 5 months since a parent died.
He / she has grown fairly rapidly since moving tank, but of course I am paying more attention to it, and ensuring that it gets plenty of food too. Also although there are quite a lot of fish in here, other than the large clown and the gourami, there is nothing else with a large enough mouth to predate on it, so it seems more confident and is permanently out in the open now, whereas I had no idea of it's existence in the other tank until I started stripping it down.
I hope the links work
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