Coral red pencil fish

Conort2

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Hi guys,

I’ve just picked up a group of coral red pencil fish. Just wanted to know if anyone has had any luck breeding them or any of the closely related species? Information on the internet seems to be rather sparse. Not sure if it’s because these are difficult to breed or there’s not many people keeping them.

cheers

Conor
 

JK1991

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They are not hard to breed. Seperate a male with two or three females with the right water parameters for a few days, you should find some fry a week later.

Make sure there's plenty of moss etc in there to provide enough food for the first few days. BBS after that.

Keep an eye on the males. They are quite aggressive towards another.
 

mort

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I've not personally kept them but they shouldn't be very hard to breed. I love pencilfish and the only reason I don't keep these is that they are very expensive around here (£12-27 each), so a decent sized group would set me back a fair amount. I have bred beckfordi, eques, marginatus and trifasciatus, through very little intervention from me.
The ones I have seen are all local bred near me and I think the vast majority of these are captive bred.
 

Conort2

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Thanks guys. They certainly are feisty for their size, hopefully they settle down.

Think the main issue I’m going to have is wether I have females or not. It’s clear that the bulk of the eight ive got are males but there’s appears to be at least a couple of females, however these may turn out to be immature males. Would love to breed them as they are a pretty expensive fish and only available wild caught in limited numbers. I got lucky and got them for under 9 quid a fish. Still expensive for a pencil fish but much cheaper than I have seen them before! Think I will get a small cube set up for them once they are conditioned and hopefully get these bred and spread around for a more affordable price for people.

cheers

Conor
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
Keep an eye on the males. They are quite aggressive towards another.
They certainly are feisty for their size
Think I will get a small cube set up for them once they are conditioned and hopefully get these bred and spread around for a more affordable price for people.
I've not kept them either, but I wouldn't put them in a small cube tank, even for breeding, I think that a bigger tank would give more hope of escape if things get rough.

In terms of conditioning I would try mosquito larvae, and you may find that they will only eat in the morning and evening. I've raised a few Nannostomus marginatus, again raised is a lie, they raised themselves but I think the spawning pair eat the eggs.

Have a look at <"TomC's website"> he is a Pencilfish fan, and says;.
In my tanks, they live in tanks with pH from 4,2 - 6,5. I see no difference in behavior as the pH varies, except that fry only grow up in the tank where the pH is below 5,5. Others have breed them in pH 6,5. ..........In my tanks they live among floating plants (Ceratopteris cornuta) in tanks where Apistogramma rules in the lower levels of the tank.

Where they share a tank with Apistogramma elizabethae, the water is pre-filtered through peat, very soft, and with a pH of 4,2 - 5,5. Here they breed, and a few of the fry grow up now and then.
cheers Darrel
 

Conort2

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I've not kept them either, but I wouldn't put them in a small cube tank, even for breeding, I think that a bigger tank would give more hope of escape if things get rough.
Ah ok, something to think about then. Was just more for the fact I could have a low ph set up specifically for breeding, would be doable to use ro in say a 30cm cube. RO water is not going to be feasible in their display tank. So far things haven’t been too rough, but it’s early days and the fish are still young. Things could get tougher once they mature.

cheers

Conor
 

alto

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I’d guess a bookshelf aquarium dimension would suit better than a 30cm cube - and not cost too much more in RO

(rainwater collection in London???)

Definitely need some fish photos!
 

mort

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The best thing you can have for pencilfish groups is cover. In my tank that I keep beckfordi in, I have lots of plant growth in the upper third of the tank and this creates line of sight breaks. My group got male heavy at one time and I had ten males out of the group of fifteen but only the more dominant males were seen sparring.
Unfortunately if they are wild caught I think you are more likely to have male heavy groups as the females are seen as less desirable. I'd personally want a ratio of one male to at least 3 females but ideally 4 or 5. With a male heavy group you might be best keeping them in a very densely planted tank just to curb any aggression.

I tend to see the odd fry make it to adulthood by just leaving them but have had surprisingly good numbers when I've done as sparkyweasel mentions and put them in a spawning tank. My method is to heavily feed the parents live food for a couple of weeks and then add a male and single female to the spawning tank with a course net over the bottom for the eggs to fall through. I tried with a spawning mop and moss but they just randomly scattered the eggs. After they have spawned I return the breeding pair and add another, then repeat over a couple of days, until I see I have enough to have a good batch.
 

mort

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These definitely prey on their own eggs and will also devour any fry small enough to be seen as food. I've also seen them constantly harass young fry to big to eat, so again heavy planting or a separate tank is the way to go.
 

Conort2

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The best thing you can have for pencilfish groups is cover. In my tank that I keep beckfordi in, I have lots of plant growth in the upper third of the tank and this creates line of sight breaks. My group got male heavy at one time and I had ten males out of the group of fifteen but only the more dominant males were seen sparring.
Unfortunately if they are wild caught I think you are more likely to have male heavy groups as the females are seen as less desirable. I'd personally want a ratio of one male to at least 3 females but ideally 4 or 5. With a male heavy group you might be best keeping them in a very densely planted tank just to curb any aggression.
The tank is heavily planted so I think they’ll be ok in regards to getting away if needs be. I will keep a look out for more females however they’re not the easiest to find as no one wants to pay that much for a fish that looks like a marginatus rather than a coral red! I will try and get some photos at some point to see what you guys think of the sexes.

Fingers crossed I have some females as I don’t fancy having to purchase many more as they are bloody expensive for a dither fish. I’d pay a load for a l number plec that hides most of the time but when it comes to the rarer tetras and pencils I can’t justify the price as much, stupid I know lol!

cheers
 

Conort2

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Some horrific photos, sorry photography is not my strong point! The last three are of two fish which I think could be females, however they are very small so could be immature males, what do you think?

cheers

Conor
 

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mort

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The last couple certainly look more like female colouration but I guess only time will tell.
 
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