Many Hats of Me: Albino Bristlenose Pleco Eggs and Babies!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Albino Bristlenose Pleco Eggs and Babies!

New Shrimp Tank with Plecos (plecostomus)

I decided to try something new and set up a shrimp tank using a 29-gallon glass tank I purchased from Petco during their 1$ a gallon sale. I placed a sponge filter and a red shrimp and 2 juvenile albino bristlenose plecos, measuring 1 inch. Six months later we discovered that we had purchased a male and female pleco. Male plecos grow many bristles on their nose while the female plecos grow few or no bristles on their nose. 


A year and a half later, the shrimp have multiplied into the hundreds and the plecos are now fully grown at 3.5 inches. 

Aquarium Tank Maintenance


My tank maintenance is less than ideal at 50% every 2.5 weeks. Often, I change the water when its starts to turn a murky green and the hair moss starts to take over the tank.

After a particularly long spell of 3 weeks where I didn't do any water changes except topping up evaporated water, my tank was completely thick and green with green water and my java and Christmas moss were almost completely overtaken by the hair moss. I couldn't even see the fish. I did a massive water changes by both siphoning water out and filling the tank with fresh water at the same time until the water turned clear. I pulled out 75% of all the moss, since it was mostly hair moss, and cleaned out the filters. 

I could finally see the plecos and the shrimp clearly. The bad water affected the shrimp population quite a bit, and their color was was no longer bright red but a reddish brown. The plecos seemed unaffected by the bad water.

The following day, I had a wonderful surprise in the tank: the male pleco was behind the moss screen with what looked like a lovely clutch of yellow eggs. 


Albino Pleco with eggs



After taking some videos and photos, I went to my computer to do some research. Apparently, male plecos look after the eggs and young. From the video below, you will notice that the male pleco is constant fanning his fins on the eggs. He also does not leave the eggs at all, even to eat. What a great parent!

The female stomach was a bit red where the eggs must have popped out and she was noticeably skinnier. She must have been carrying those eggs for months. I am incredibly surprised that they bred at all since they actually fight quite a bit in the tank, with the male often chasing the female away from the food. However, if you think about it, one could conclude this "chasing" behavior as natural since the male chases the female (and other threats) away from the eggs.



Male Pleco with the Eggs

What is also surprising is that the plecos mated outside of a cave environment. From my discussions with other fish keepers, plecos are only supposed to breed in caves or breeding tubes, and never on the glass walls. With the eggs at the corner of the tank by the glass, I have an unprecedented (I believe) view of the male and the eggs. :)

Pleco Eggs Hatch

Three days later, I awake to see that the eggs have hatched. Most of the babies are in a big group at the bottom of the tank with Daddy near them. Some have wandered away like this one:




Newly-born Plecos with Egg Sac


The babies were very tiny, about 3 to 4 mm long. The yellow egg sac is still attached to the babies. If you look closely, you can see the little heart beating. I placed a sliced raw zucchini in the tank near the father so that he can eat again and still be near the babies. He spent most of his time chasing away the shrimps from the babies. The mother came close a couple of times, but the father quickly chased her away.

Pleco Babies 16 Days After Hatching



16 day old Pleco Babies

We went to a 16-day trip Canada the day after the Pleco babies were born. I asked a friend to help me do small water changes every two days and feed the shrimp tank while we were away. When we came back, I was happy to see that most of the babies survived. The yolk sac is completely gone, and pleco babies grew to 1 cm in length.

I have stopped feeding the tank with zucchini for now since it seems to cloud the water very quickly. I now exclusively feed the babies pelleted shrimp food: HBH Crab and Shrimp Bites. I can't use most fish food in this tank because the shrimp are very sensitive to copper. 



Father and Mother with the Babies

20 Days later, Most of the babies still congregate in one spot at the bottom of the tank. In the above video, you can see some of the babies attaching to the mother. The father is still vigilante over the babies, but now he no longer chases the mother away. 




As you can see in this photo, the shrimp population has jumped and their color has returned. I am now changing 70% of the water every week to ensure that the water quality is stable with the increased feedings. I hope to sell all of the babies to a local pet store when they reach 1 inch.





More Reading:


My Quarantine Process
For New Aquarium Fish

Aquarium Advice Forum: Plecos

Fishlore Forum: Plecos

Simply Discus Forum

Aquaracentral Forum: Plecos

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