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Discussion Starter #1
Sire:



Dam:



My goal is to create a line of melano butterfly VTs to this standard. HM was introduced both to introduce the melano genetics, and to improve the form. I will be selecting three pairs from this spawn and concentrating on a different aspect for the offspring of each. If I cannot find three pairs with the traits that I'm looking for, I will spawn these two again.

All pairs will be selected for general form quality and vitality, and lack of irids. They will be re-crossed in 3 generations.

Line #1 will concentrate largely on quality of melano
Line #2 will concentrate largely on quality of butterfly
Line #3 will concentrate solely on form, with clean color a secondary consideration
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Pair was put together 9/30/2014, and spawned on 10/2/2014.

I used a 10 gallon aquarium partially filled with about four gallons of aged water, and added IAL and some floating plants. When the pair was introduced, they both were ready to go, so the female was released immediately.

Female was bowing and dancing like mad
Male was flaring and strutting

It was a joy to watch. They began playing chase, nothing to serious. Behavior progressed over two days - it took a while for the male to figure out what he wanted. He kept leading the female to the nest, then overreacting and chasing her away. Then when they practiced embracing, he wrapped around her back. I about died laughing.

Then, finally:
 

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I love that confusion in showing the nests. Makes me laugh everytime! Can't wait to see the babies from this and the progressive spawns. :D
 

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Poppa had way too many eggs. A hilarious amount of eggs, in fact. A terrifying amount of eggs. He couldn't keep them all in the nest, not even close, and they were falling as fast as he got them up.

I asked for advice but didn't get a reply for too long, and in a combination of anxiety and curiosity, created an artificial hatchery. THANK GOODNESS, poppa accepted me siphoning some of the eggs out without going berserk and eating the rest. I took maybe a third of what was at the bottom. Probably around 100 eggs.



An artificial hatchery is quite simple. Take a shallow dish, or in my case, not having one, a small plastic QT tank, float it in a larger, heated tank, place the eggs in, and just barely cover them with water. Cover the top of the chamber to keep humidity high. I had to wedge the container to keep it from tipping.



Every 6 hours or so, I very gently agitated the eggs by using an eyedropper to squirt water around, causing them to move and rotate. This was to mimic what poppa was doing in the other tank - taking the eggs out, mouthing them, spitting them back up in the bubbles, picking them up as they fell. Even though the guides mentioned nothing about this (aside from warning that aeration would chill and kill the eggs), I figured leaving them still left opportunities for fungus to grow.

Most of the eggs hatched out, but seeing them and taking pictures was a challenge. I will post more a little later today.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Here's a picture of the hatchery from the side, so you can see the depth. Maybe a centimeter of water.



This is a shot of the hatchery from the top. The eggs are beginning to hatch. Sometimes an egg would dance around, which was quite interesting to watch. Most of the dark ones appear to be dead, but I didn't want to remove them until I was pretty sure the hatching was complete:



Once I was pretty sure hatching was complete (I waited 24 hours), I used an eyedropper to remove the dead eggs, and placed them in a white dish so I could check for fry. None of the eggs that I removed were white; most were a golden brown color. I had to be very careful, and even then sucked up a fry by mistake. He got deposited back in the tank. A few dropperfuls of aged, heated water were necessary to retain water depth.

For some reason, photobucket has decided to eat the picture of the dish and redirect it to something else. :roll:
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Poppa is still tending. His nest has partially dissolved and scattered around, and he's rounding up the eggs and putting them all in one spot:



When hatching began, he got chubby. I was worried, but since there were a number of infertile eggs in the hatchery, I figured he was probably eating dead eggs. Fry began to "hop" from the nest, make a short arc in the water, and then dart back up into the bubbles, so I knew there were plenty in there. I left poppa alone to do his thing.

 

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This is poppa on day #2. He's still getting the hang of things. Sorry for the shaky camera:



As time went on, the number of eggs at the bottom decreased. A slight film developed on the surface of the water, which seemed to help keep them in place.

It was nearly impossible for me to see the fry in the tannin-tinted water. I couldn't see if they were tail down or to the side, because I couldn't see them unless they "hopped" out of the nest.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
They'd spawned Thursday. Poppa was looking suspiciously chubby Sunday night, and I was desperate for quality sleep because I'd been leaving a light on the tank, so we took poppa out. I'm not one for anthromorphizing most of the time, but doing that made me feel like dirt. He moved back and forth in his tank, pushing at the glass in the direction of the fry tank, and darted around. It was clear he was agitated. Argh.

Of course, this morning I can see the fry. And lots of them are TAIL DOWN. But it's too late now, so we'll see how it goes.

At some point, I want to try the father-in method, but not for my very first spawn.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
At the same time that I took out poppa, I was prepping a 2nd 10-gallon for the artificial hatchery. I lined the bottom, one side, and the back with white paper, and filled it with 4 gallons of aged water. Maybe I can't see the fry very well in the nursery, but darn it, I need pictures of something...

Transferring the fry was terrifying. I'd used all of the same water, so I just floated the hatchery in the tank until I was sure the temperature matched, tipped it, and gently poured them in, all the while using an eyedropper to rinse plastic as it was exposed to make sure I didn't "beach" any fry.

This photo is of about half of the artificial hatchery batch:


Close-up!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
After I was done transferring and removing, I put a few drops of infusoria in each - I have cultured it in a separate container.

INFUSORIA CULTURE:
One glass jar (I used a pasta sauce container).
Tank water from the bottom of a planted tank.
A few yellowing aquatic plant leaves.
Left covered in a sunlit spot for 2 weeks.

The water has turned yellowish green, filled with lots and lots of yummy microorganisms.

I also have a vinegar eel culture:

VINEGAR EELS:
1 jug apple cider vinegar
1/4th apple, sliced
Starter culture
Spring water

- Pour out 1/3 to 1/2 of the apple cider vinegar, and replace the vinegar with conditioned water. I used spring water, because my tap water is bad.
- Add the sliced apple
- Add the starter culture
- Stick it in a cupboard and forget about it (I left the cap cracked so fresh air could get in)

I started the vinegar eel culture on 9/20, and it is now teeming.

In addition to those slow-growing cultures, I also have walter worms and micro worms. The instructions for culturing each are the same. Note, walter worms are somewhat smaller than micro worms, and will be edible when the fry are smaller.

WALTER WORMS AND MICRO WORMS:

Cooked Oatmeal OR Masa Flour OR Wet Bread
Active Dry Yeast
Starter Culture

While most people choose to use oatmeal, I used Masa Flour (corn flour) for my culture medium, because it is said to smell better. Having sniffed what I purchased versus my now mature cultures, I can tell you both that micro worms smell like hell no matter what, and that they smell less like hell with masa flour than with oatmeal. Also, walter worms smell better than micro worms.

- Mix the masa flour with spring water until you get a loose paste. Not too thick, but not liquid, either.
- Spread the starter culture on top as though buttering toast.
- Add just a sprinkle of active dry yeast.

The yeast will naturally liquefy the culture as it goes along, so if you notice your culture getting too soupy, add a small amount of cooked oatmeal or masa flour (depending on what you used), and stir it in. You're not going to hurt your worms.

There's no need to add more yeast.

In 2-3 days, the worms should be crawling up the sides, ready to harvest.
 

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So this is your first spawn? Cool! I'm definitely going to subscribe :)
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Yep, first spawn. Which probably means I'll screw it up somehow. But if I do, hopefully people can learn from it.
 

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very nice. looking good. next time though, i would recommend lowering the water by half. the reason why the male struggles to put all the eggs up into the nest is because of the constant up and down movement that he has to go through to reach the eggs/fry at the bottom and then go back up to the top to repeat. lowering the water will save him a lot of energy and he can focus a little more on the nest. completely sealing the tank with wrap/cover will prevent the nest from breaking up as well.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I had it at around 5 inches. You recommend lower?
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Pretty sure it was 5" - the tank's 12" and that was a little less than half. Unless I am drastically mistaken and it's a 14" tank, in which case it'd be 6".
 

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Yep, first spawn. Which probably means I'll screw it up somehow. But if I do, hopefully people can learn from it.
You'll do great. :-D
I can't wait until I can get my first spawn going... I'm impatient!
 

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ohhhhhhhh the much desired and anticipated potential VT butterfly spawn!!!! i can't wait to see how some of these little dudes turn out!
 

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Defiantly stalking this.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Harvesting Vinegar Eels

There are a lot of different ways on the 'net to harvest vinegar eels. Many guides will tell you to strain them through a coffee filter, but if you do that the smallest of the nematodes will fall through. This is a loss for you, since you need vinegar eels for the tiniest fry, so the smallest ones are the most valuable.

Here's a way to harvest them that allows you to catch even the smallest eel. You will need:

long-necked vessel
filter fiber
conditioned water
mother culture

Filter fiber looks like this:




Pour the mother culture into the vessel you will use for harvesting. If you're using a flask, stop at the point where the neck joins the body. Otherwise, just leave half the neck clear. Stuff some filter fiber in the neck until it squishes firmly against the culture.

Pour conditioned water on top of the filter floss. It should look like this:



The vinegar eels will swim up through the filter fiber and into the conditioned water above. This serves a dual purpose - first, the eels are separated from the vinegar, and second, you get all sizes of them!

You can safely leave the fiber in there until your fry have moved past the stage where you're feeding this baby food.
 
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