Wild Card (Dame)
As it turned out, my crowntail decided that she was too good for Venla and would rather alternate aggressively flaring and ignoring my male. I had wanted Wild Card to be Venla's second spawnmate, but on a whim (she's been eating the same yummy frozen foods Jezebel has) tried her out, and she almost immediately vertically barred!
Their flirtation started last night, but the spawn finished mid-afternoon today. I'd put a small piece of bubble wrap face down in a clearing opposite the heater and all of the live floating plants as recommended in every piece of advice I'd ever seen; Venla decided to stick it to the man and build his nest on the opposite side of the tank, directly over the heater.
Thankfully this morning it looked like Wild Card had made him move it a few inches away to the front wall so that they had room to embrace underneath it. They looked so awkward at first I was afraid that they weren't going to get the hang of it, but soon enough they clicked, and eggs started falling! I wasn't there for all of it, but they went for a good few hours, and a good 10-13 eggs were dropped during each embrace once they were in the swing of things. Of course, I won't know how many fry I have until they hatch!
See? As close to the heater as he could get. He's a contrary little fish...
Wild Card and her mating stripes.
The whole thing was more gentle than I'd braced myself for; Venla had a few tears in his dorsal fin and Wild Card has two small splits in her caudal. They're clean, partial splits, so I'm not sure if it came from nips or just flaring and displaying at each other for just over 24 hours.
They spawned in a heavily plant (er, floated) 20 gallon tank, so I'm tempted to try the father in method if a huge number of fry make it to the free swimming stage. I have the time in my day to maintain water quality, keep him stuffed on adult food, and suction up excess food and waste that will accumulate, as well as keep an eye on him and see if he's just culling the poor ones that didn't form well, or is going hog wild and needs to be scooped out.