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Unexpected Pleco Eggs! AHHH


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A couple years ago I got some L471 Dwarf Snowball Plecos. Today, I found some eggs that had been kicked out of a cave!!! I'm not even sure if they're fertilized or even still alive. Here's a pic of the eggs when I found them: 


I don't have any experience with breeding plecos, but would LOVE to raise these fry successfully if possible, and would really appreciate any advice you guys have! Thank you so much in advance. I have a few questions right off the bat: 

I don't have an egg tumbler but I read that a breeder box can work. So I've made the following set up: 

  • A ziss breeder box, lined with a catappa leaf, an airstone wrapped in a sponge (the bubbles coming out were large, so I was hoping the sponge would make smaller, more spread out bubbles). I positioned some rocks to hold the eggs close to the airstone. I added some cherry shrimps to the box since I read that they can help eat any dead eggs before they get moldy and infect the other eggs.

Here's a pic of the set up with the airstone off since the bubbles were blocking the view. 



Here are my questions:

  1. Does all of this sound sufficient? Any changes, omissions, additions I should make?
  2. The eggs are sitting beside the airstone, not on top of the bubbles. Will the eggs still get the benefits of the airstone or should I find a way to reposition them on top of the bubbles more like an egg tumbler? 
  3. Anything I should do to prepare for when they hatch? Foodwise, I've got frozen daphnia, frozen baby brine shrimp, hichari first bites... I have a lot of different stuff, just not sure what they'll be able to eat or when to start feeding. 

Thank you so much!!! I'll keep you updated! My fingers are crossed and I will try my best to have these babies survive. 

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Congratulations and good luck. Keep the air on high and they are just fine as is. Often the male will kick out any infertile ones beginning to fungus. Often there are some still fertile ones attached. They sacrifice a few to save the group. 

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Thank you @Guppysnail, I'll keep a close eye for any that look unfertilized over the next few days, and remove them if necessary. I checked in the caves with a flashlight for any other eggs and didn't see any, I heard that males can sometimes kick out eggs if they are inexperienced. I'm considering ordering an egg tumbler if you guys think that would give the eggs a better chance of surviving - assuming they are fertilized. 

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The eggs have hatched! Sadly, the shrimps were eating the hatched babies!! I pulled the shrimps out, but I'd already lost 3 babies. So, I started with 17 and now I only have 14.

I used a disposable transfer pipette to remove the remains of the half eaten babies. Quite sad but I'm still hoping for the best for the rest of the babies. Next time, I'll pull the shrimps out as soon as I see confirmation that the eggs are fertilized.  


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Today the fry are dropping like flies! I'm so sad. Every hour there's another one dead. Right now I have 9 left, with one struggling to keep itself upright. 

I checked water parameters and I'm stunned by how high the pH is. I had to use both the regular pH and high pH test to get a reading. In the past I'd had trouble with low KH and crashing pH, so I got in the habit of always putting crushed coral in a bag in the filter. I'm taking that out right now, especially since L471 plecos like softer water. 

Also noticed that the nitrates are too high. 

I'm planning to do a series of small (maybe ~5-10 gallon) water changes throughout the rest of the day until the nitrates and pH come down to a reasonable level. I'll be as gentle as possible. At this point doing nothing feels like a worse choice. I'm not really sure what to do, but as it stands I'm scared they're all going to die 😞

Nitrates: ~10-20 ppm 

Nititres: 0 ppm 

Ammonia: 0 ppm

pH: 8.0

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