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Complete Spawning Report: Elassoma Okefenokee

Fish Folk

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(Prepared for BAP in our fish club, Potomac Valley Aquarium Society)

Spawning Report: Elassoma Okefenokee (Okefenokee Pygmy Sunfish)

Submitted by Dave

14 July 2021


I bought two pairs of Elassoma Okefenokee from Jonah’s Aquarium, arriving on March 26, 2021. They went into a 20 gal tall loaded with Rocks, wood, hornwort, water lettuce, and lightly carpeted with bronze crypt. Filtration was powered by two sponge filters. Temperature was maintained at room temp - staying between 68-72.


Here are several short videos of them right off the bat...



Since these native U. S. fish require live foods and would not take flakes or frozen food, I fed baby brine shrimp, and seeded the substrate with loads of live black worms.

When in spawning mode, males darken up and will display attractive blue streaks along their sides. To court females, male Okefenokee Pygmy Sunfish perform an impressive wiggle-all-fins dance to draw them to a suitable spawning location.


My younger son got into them and we made a fun intro video together about them for our YouTube channel...


It was not until May 24, 2021 that I found our first fry.


I fed vinegar eels and baby brine shrimp regularly, assuming that there must be more. On May 31st, I was able to count 6x. Here is a photo showing 4x circled with orange brine-shrimp-filled bellies at night.


Here is a June first video feeding of baby brine shrimp.


On June 14, 2021 I located and counted 5x total fry. Had we lost some? They seem to have an uncanny ability to be come less visible the larger they grow.


They really can be hard to photograph. Here are three photos all taken on July 4, 2021 that show with increasing difficulty how well they can blend into their surroundings...




On July 13, 2021, we decided to tear apart the tank and find them all. Sammy was a great help spotting the little ones with his healthy young eyes. It took us 30 mins, and we found 12x fry. Here is a time-elapse video documenting the search and findings in just 2 mins.


In the end, the greatest challenge is really finding the fry. They were all growing in the tank, but we never saw more than 7x at once.

Water parameters were fairly good, with perhaps a touch too much Nitrate. The pH is higher in this tank than in others of ours due to a large amount of crushed coral added to the pea gravel substrate.

pH - 8.0

Ammonia - 0 ppm

Nitrite - 0 ppm

Nitrate - 30-40 ppm

In my final analysis, I think that these fish are for a certain kind of fish keeper. I enjoyed breeding them! But spent most of my time trying to find them.
Edited by Fish Folk
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Natives are truly for the fish keeper who likes to play endless games of Where's Waldo right? I was so entertained by this thread, even from the beginning when you have the youtube of the adults- "we're camouflage you can't see us". Stands to reason right? These small fish probably have plenty of predators so why wouldn't they be like this? Their fry even moreso. I love it. 

Funnily enough my Black Neons are for me my very own Where's Waldo game as they blend perfectly with the background I have and the green foliage. They even disappear when they face forward. I'm constantly counting them. 

While not intentional I'm totallly into it now, it gives that particular tank a special kind of magic. 

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