As a few forum members (particular shout out to Grubby) have asked for more info on the breeding of peacock gudgeons, I thought I’d put together a breeding thread. I apologise for the quality of the photos but my camera phone is the best I can do at the moment. I wanted to put in some more photos too but was limited by post rules.
First of all, a few notes on keeping them. I’ve found keeping peacock gudgeons to be very easy and rewarding. They have a range and intensity of colour matched by few freshwater species, interesting courting and breeding behaviour and are suitable for keeping and breeding in smaller aquaria. Despite some reports, I have found them to be very unfussy, accepting dried food, like flake and pellet, frozen or live. Mine have accepted every food that I have offered them, provided that it fits in their mouths.
I haven’t found them to require any special care, just clean water. If your ammonia and nitrites are nil and you keep the nitrates down there shouldn’t be any problem. Since I haven’t lost any fish, I can’t really say I’ve made mistakes worth learning from and can’t really say what their limits are. I’ve always kept my nitrates below 50, but I’ve been keeping them for about 5 months without incident, so they can probably handle nitrates a bit higher. A pair of peacock gudgeons can be kept and bred in a 2ft tank. Mine have co-existed peacefully with guppies and bristlenose catfish. I have kept them with cherry shrimp and have found that, provided adequate java moss and food is provided, the cherry shrimp population remains stable or increases. If more than one male is kept in a tank of less than three feet, they will probably fight but it usually just results in fin damage and their fins grow back rapidly. As they only fight for dominance and breeding rights, death from fighting is unlikely. A temperature of 25-27oC is best but mine survived a heater failure and temperatures well less than 20oC for a couple of days.
Now to breeding:
#1 – Sexing: Make sure you’ve got a male and a female.
Male peacock gudgeon
A female with a swollen golden belly – a sign that she’s ready to breed. This one layed 80+ eggs the next day.
#2 - Conditioning
To get them ready for breeding, they need good conditions and good nutrition. Keep the nitrates low and give them a high protein diet, live food works best but frozen works too. Blood worms and brine shrimp are a favourite. When your female has a swollen golden belly like the one above, she’s ready.
#3 - Laying
Once the female is in condition, the male will know it. The male chooses a breeding site, cleans it and keeps other males away. When ready to breed the male will chase the female around, flare his fins, nudge her with his body and lead her to his chosen breeding site. It’s important to include suitable breeding sites. Bristlenose caves work, so do upturned flowerpots with a hole or you can use lengths of 12-20mm diameter pvc pipes. Anywhere that the male can protect and fan his eggs will be fine. Guided by the male, the female will find a location, lay her eggs and then leave. The male will fertilise the eggs and stay to protect the eggs and keep water flowing over them. This keeps the eggs fungus free.
(A blurry gudgeon tail surrounded by blurry eggs)
#4 – Brooding
Once the eggs are laid, remove all the other fish from the tank or remove the breeding site with the male in place and relocate to another tank.
Some males will be good brooders and some will be bad. Some of my fish have protected eggs for the whole brooding period, fought gravity to stay with them and became despondent when separated. Others abandoned their eggs after a couple of hours. If you have a good brooding male, don’t remove him until just before the eggs hatch, he’ll remove unfertilised eggs and fan the others to keep them fungus free. You can help by pipette feeding so he doesn’t have to leave to eat. Once fry hatch and start to move, dad’s protection ends and they’re just food to their parents. If yours is a deadbeat dad, and abandons eggs prior to hatching, remove him immediately. The eggs will need to have water circulated over them until they hatch or they will go fungal. This can be achieved by placing an air stone just outside of the opening to the breeding site. It doesn’t need to be high pressure, just as long as water is moving over the eggs, they should stay clean.
#5 - Egg development
It usually takes 3-5 days for the eggs to hatch depending on water temp and conditions. The stages of egg development are as follows:
Clear eggs with yellow yolk
Grey eye dots and tails visible
Black eye dots body and tail shape visible
Look like a little transparent fish in a sac
#6 – Fry
Fry will hatch with yolk-sacs attached and lie on the bottom of the tank. At this point they are TINY. http://i1259.photobucket.com/albums/ii555/guppi7/Photo0098.jpg (dots on the bottom of a breeding box are newly hatched fry).
They can move in short bursts but will sink quickly. After 1-2 days, depending on development and the amount of time taken to use up their yolk-sacs, they’ll become free swimming and will then need food. Start with very small amounts at first. Fresh food is best, preferably live. For the first few weeks very small food is required. Green water, Infusoria and Vinegar Eels are good early foods. Microworms, baby brine shrimp and crushed dry foods can be introduced as they grow. They developed in the following stages for me:
Colour – black dot on tail 3-4 weeks
Black edges on fins for some 5-7 weeks
Yellow colouration to fins 8-12 weeks
(A batch of roughly 2month old fry)
http://i1259.photobucket.com/albums/ii555/guppi7/Photo0141.jpg (close up from same batch)
Red colouration to fins of some 8-12 weeks
Red and blue body colouration 8-16 weeks
Tail colouration 8-16 weeks
As they develop, you will probably notice some with defects, most commonly, bent spines/tails. From my experience, these deformities can affect 0-10% of your fry. Culling is a matter of personal discretion but selling without disclosure or any breeding from fish you know to be deformed hurts the breeder, the buyer and the reputation of the species.
The parents aren’t very effective cullers, by the time you can tell that they’re deformed, they may be to big for the parents to eat. Fortunately, my empire gudgeon “Rancor” and my purple spotted gudgeon “Sarlacc” are experts at solving this kind of problem.
They should have good colouration and can be fairly reliably sexed by the time they reach about 2cm long and are often sold at 2.5 – 3cm.
Well, I think that’s about it. A big shout-out and truly epic thank you to Dave Wilson of Aquagreen for the provision of some high quality peacock gudgeons, getting them onto the import list and sharing some information on feeding.
If you’re in the Brisbane area, I will have some juvies available for sale in the next month or two. Thanks for looking, I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and that you can see why I love this beautiful and underrated species.