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Spotted Congo Puffer Breeding Project Journal


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I have had some success breeding spotted congo puffers but have failed at raising the fry so far. I haven't put much effort in since last spring but I'll be giving it another go. I wanted to created a place to dump all my info and photos so that it's a little more available to people searching on the web since a few people seem to be documenting it pretty well on social media but that tends to not show up in searches. I'll be add more info as I have time. Hopefully my experience can help some others out or encourage people to try. I am quite experienced aquarium keeping but most of my interest has been in plants. I am in no way an experienced fish breeder.

I just collected some eggs for the first time in 6ish months yesterday that should be hatching this Friday.

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Some basic info. I have 3 spotted congo puffers. 1 male 2 females. My first puffer was a female purchased from a local shop. I received a male and female from Preston John after meeting him at a Minnesota Aquarium Society meeting where Cory gave his puffer presentation. There was a pretty considerable size difference between my wild caught female and the 2 I got from Preston but the younger female is catching up in size now. They grow very slowly.

They are housed in an 80 gallon (48"L x 24"W x 16"H). Lots of plants of course with a few different plants emerging out of the water. The water is slightly tannin stained from the wood I used. I don't believe it to be contributing to my success.

I have been able to hatch eggs 4 times so far using methylene blue in a 1 gallon jar with an airstone. Most of the eggs hatch the evening of the 5 day but some seem to lag behind and can hatch several days later. 

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A little bit about how I get my puffers to breed in the first place.

 

Like @Preston John I have found that quantity of food is very important if not the most important. Unlike Preston I am feeding bloodworms quite heavily and supplement with snails. I have yet to be able to see my puffers teeth. I have had no issues feeding all species of snails including MTS which many have rumored to harm puffer teeth. They can chomp them but don't seem to unless they are pretty hungry otherwise the just eat the foot. The puffers do pick at old snail shells and in the gravel so I suspect that might be helpful in keeping their teeth short. 

When I want my puffers to breed I feed 2 or 3 cubes of bloodworms everyday in the morning and toss in some snails in the afternoon. More food seems to help but eventually they get lazy with the snails and that's my feeding limit. Water changes also seem to be helpful as a trigger for me. I've even had my male latch on to the female before I was even done filling the tank. 

With heavy feeding and weekly water changes it seems like they get into a pretty consistent pattern of breeding every week the male alternating between the females. 

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They are egg scatterers. I have watched the female begin eating the eggs before the male has even let go.

I use a small siphon and gravel vac in the areas where they tend to hang out while matting. I then use a turkey baster to suck up all the crud from the bottom of the bucket and run in through my brine shrimp sieve. I've slowly picked them by putting the crud onto a white bucket lid but that takes forever and hurts my eyes so I'm doing it the lazy way hahaha

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23 hours ago, Jack.of.all.aquariums said:

They are egg scatterers. I have watched the female begin eating the eggs before the male has even let go.

I use a small siphon and gravel vac in the areas where they tend to hang out while matting. I then use a turkey baster to suck up all the crud from the bottom of the bucket and run in through my brine shrimp sieve. I've slowly picked them by putting the crud onto a white bucket lid but that takes forever and hurts my eyes so I'm doing it the lazy way hahaha

@Jack.of.all.aquariumsThank you for sharing! Looking forward to seeing your success. From Instagram and recent Aquarium Co-Op video looks like Dean is feeding clams on the half shell and has gotten his male and female to mate.

I started mixing in mussels into my T. schoutedeni diet to see if having a higher fat content will impact breeding/growing.

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Puffer are hatching tonight. I thought they were goners because I saw some fungus but so far 29 have hatched. I'm putting them in 2 different tanks that are super seasoned. I also added a 3rd light up high so I could lower the other 2 lights. I wasn't happy with how my subsurface plants were doing.

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Following along because I too want to one day breed this. I’ve been listening to @Preston Johninteview with @Randyon the aquarist podcast on repeat the past few weeks. I’m several years out from breeding but I’m trying to som up as much as possible. Congrats on the fry hatching, that’s so exciting! Hope you’ve got your live foods ready, based on the interview you’re in for quite the ride. Good luck!

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Woke up today to find even more babies. There are around 68 at this point. I lost accurate count around 50. This is the most I have hatched by a lot. Not sure what changed. Maybe I just got lucky when I gravel vacced and got a lot more eggs.

I spread the babies out between a couple more tanks than originally planned as an experiment. I also don't want to over crowd the tank that has shown success before.

I did spot one that managed to hatch in the main puffer tank which is pretty fun to see but I doubt it will survive.

It's hard to really show how tiny they really are but here are a couple photos from this morning. The larger snails in the photos are still very small. Smaller than I would use to feed the adult puffers.

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Edited by Jack.of.all.aquariums
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So far the babies seem to be doing alright. It's really hard to count how many are alive but I can see quite a few hanging around the lighted area. 

 

I started a 4 gallon jar for a paramecium culture since my other one has done nothing for a few weeks now. I'm hoping the tanks they are in can provide enough for a week while I wait for the culture to grow. 

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The baby puffers are 5 days old now. Looking around I was able to spot 11 of them.

Put a few pipettes worth of paramecium in now that my culture has a decent amount. A sample of water from the tank showed there were a decent amount of paramecium in the rearing tank before I added some.

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47 minutes ago, MaxC said:

@Jack.of.all.aquariums thank for more updates! How often per day are you spot feeding the paramecium?

First time was today. I'm attempting a much much more hands off approach than Preston. Mostly trying to grow paramecium and whatever else in the tank that they live in vs trying to feed constantly. 

24 minutes ago, Jollypop4321 said:

Very interesting.  Those babies are tiny!!! So they are so small they can’t take bbs?    How about micro worms?   They are so very easy to culture and keep.  My baby guppies go crazy for them.  
 

 

Yeah they are super super tiny. When I had some make it to 30 days old brine shrimp were still way to big. I haven't tried micro worms but I know@Preston Johnhas.

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Babies seem to be doing fine still after a week in the main rearing and in the smaller black water tank I'm trying too. I'm guessing I have atleast 15 but it's really hard to see them.  I'm feeding the tank spirulina algae, yeast, green beans, various fish foods, and a few squirts of paramecium culture. The goal being to feed all the life in the tank vs trying to directly feed the puffers. 

Photo attached is the main rearing tank.

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Edited by Jack.of.all.aquariums
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I’m super interested in seeing how the “hands off” approach goes. Making nature do the work in the tank vs out of the tank seems more ideal, with a combo of both probably being the most ideal. I’m attempting something similar with my celestial pear danio fry. I’m not culturing infusoria or paramecium so I did my best to overfeed the tank to grow it (I ended up getting hydra but it’s fine 😅) I look forward to further updates on how it goes for you!

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7 minutes ago, Steph’s Fish and Plants said:

I’m super interested in seeing how the “hands off” approach goes. Making nature do the work in the tank vs out of the tank seems more ideal, with a combo of both probably being the most ideal. I’m attempting something similar with my celestial pear danio fry. I’m not culturing infusoria or paramecium so I did my best to overfeed the tank to grow it (I ended up getting hydra but it’s fine 😅) I look forward to further updates on how it goes for you!

I had to kill the hydra in my tank because I watched it kill a fry in a previous batch. I used SL Aqua Z1 it worked on the hydra and planaria. I thought it wiped out all of my snails but it seems to have only killed the mts as the other snails must have just retracted into their shells for a bit. First time any "natural extract" type product actually did what it said. 

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Atleast 5 of the puffers have made it to the 10 day mark in the main tank. I saw 4 in the blackwater tank a few days ago but haven't seen them since. That tank is really challenging to see in though. Some like to hide more than others. One has grown noticeably faster too. I'm continuing to add various foods to the tank. My paramecium culture has really taken off so I just take a pipette and give the tank a few squirts near where I know the puffers like to hang out. I'm hoping to add some emergent plants to really make sure the water is as clean as possible. 

Previously I've only have 2 puffers make it to 30 days and most have died before 10 days. I'm hoping it is a good sign that I'll have a few make it for the long haul. 

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Haha I haven't tested the parameters of the tank at all. I'm not overly concerned with adding some low quality water since it's pretty minimal and the tank is basically 85% plants and algae. The tank doesn't get water changes because I'm terrified of sucking up a baby. I'll do some water tests later though.

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