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Member Since 02 Sep 2020
Offline Last Active Yesterday, 05:37 PM

#367797 Anyone For Chocolates? - Sphaerichthys Osphromenoides That Is.

Posted by Albert on 05 October 2020 - 11:14 AM



It is easy to tell when a fish is brooding.


* The fish becomes reclusive.

* The fish does not eat even though it swims up to the food.

* The throat is extended.


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With the first few spawnings, the fish would not eat for the first few days and then resumed eating after the fourth day.


To me this indicates that the eggs have died.


As the fish continued to spawn every four weeks with the same result, I paid more attention to the water quality and also lowered the pH to below 5. Then brooding extended past the fourth day mark.


Two possible reasons for the failures come to mind.


Firstly, The presence of carbonate hardness. With some Parosphromenus species it has been found that eggs do not hatch in the presence of carbonate hardness. (Source: The Parosphromenus Project website.) This could be the same with chocolates.


Secondly, the bacterial count in the water was perhaps too high. Possibly because the pH was allowed to rise towards 6.


So water was changed more often to keep pH below 5, and the cleaning of debris from the aquarium floor was done more often. Then the chocolates began to brood past the fourth day.


My presumption is that the first four days while the eggs are developing is the critical period when you have to pay attention to water quality.


Next: What to do when the fourteen day brooding period draws towards  a close and fry are expected.

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#367796 Anyone For Chocolates? - Sphaerichthys Osphromenoides That Is.

Posted by Albert on 05 October 2020 - 09:38 AM



Chocolates do best in a shoal; say six or more so you have both males and females.


When you see two fish pair off and begin slow circling on the floor of the aquarium, bellies dragging on the substrate, you may be lucky enough to have a spawning in a few days or less.


These two photos are from video footage I have taken and hosted on Vimeo. Here is the URL; https://vimeo.com/454995348.


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When you see the two fish circle very closely and pause in an embrace, courtship has moved to a new level, and they should spawn within a day or two.


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The spawnings I have watched happen in the evening, between 8pm and 10pm.


Chocolates are not easy fish to video. Every time I moved the camera and tripod to focus on the spawning, they stopped circling, glared at me, and moved to a new location. Chocolates do like their privacy at such times.


Next is brooding.

That is an awesome aquarium, I look at it like its a display.

Nice biotope type aquarium with specific fish and plants! love it

Thanks Jules.

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#367794 Anyone For Chocolates? - Sphaerichthys Osphromenoides That Is.

Posted by Albert on 02 October 2020 - 11:24 PM

Part one; Keeping chocolate gourami alive.


Chocolate gourami have a reputation for being difficult fish to keep alive. Often they do well for a few weeks and then go into decline and die not long after. I have watched this myself on more than one occasion and wondered why.


When one reads the available literature on Sphaerichthys osphromenoides, the consensus for keeping chocolates is soft acidic water with low carbonate hardness. I have found this to be generally so, yet not really enough to keep them alive long term.


I also keep licorice gourami; the Parosphromenus. Licorice gourami are blackwater fish. They are found in peat swamps where the water is stained brown with tannins. Blackwaters are also very soft and acidic, sometimes with a pH as low as 3.


Then one day while doing some research into the native waters of the licorice, I came across one simple piece of information; chocolate gourami can be found in the same native waters as licorice gourami.


That made perfect sense; chocolate gourami are blackwater fish.

Since I keep and breed the Parosphromenus, it was simply a matter of treating chocolate gourami as I do the licorice gourami and it worked.

This is the aquarium where I keep my adult chocolates, the photo taken last night. They also spawn in there. The chocolate gourami sitting on the bottom is brooding, maybe for the eighth or ninth day now.


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This 90 litre aquarium is a research project rather than a show tank. The layout design is rather simple too.


* The substrate is one or two centimetres of creek sand simply for aesthetic reasons.

* A few pieces of old hardwood branches with some Anubias growing on it provides cover for the adult gourami. Indian water sprite covers about two thirds of the surface.

* Filtration is a simple air lift sponge filter with a low flow rate.

* Heater and thermometer.

* A few Indian almond leaves

* The lights are LEDs.

* Food is live grindle worms and brine shrimp, with occasional daphnia and mosquito larvae. Frozen food is blood worms and adult brine shrimp.


The water statistics:


* pH: Normally between 4.5 and 5.5. With a target pH of about 5. The two spawnings where I remembered to measure the acidity occurred at a pH of 4.8 and 4.9.
* GH: is as low as possible.
* KH: is as low as possible.

* Temperature is set to 26/27 degrees Celsius.

* A 20% water change per week.

The strategy:


Blackwaters are typically very soft, very acid, with very few nutrients and high in tannins, humic acids and fulmic acids which stain the water brown.


To achieve the very soft water I use reverse osmosis water.


To achieve the acidity I use a product by the Seachem company called "acid buffer". Acid buffer also changes carbonates (KH) into carbon dioxide. The water is prepared a week in advance to age it. Stored in fifteen litre containers, treated with a de-chlorinator, the pH dropped to between 4 and 4.5 and aerated until required. In the containers the pH is stable.



In the living aquarium, the pH naturally rises over the course of time. Within a week or two the pH can rise from 5 to 6. This is probably due to the micro-organisms.  Biological activity using some sulphur in the water (sulphuric acid in the acid buffer) to combine with phosphorus, nitrogen  and so on from fish pee and poop. I am not a chemist but can understand some basics.


The question of removing nitrates, phosphates and so on that build up in the aquarium is achieved partly by the 20% weekly water change, and partly by the use of the floating layer of Indian water sprite which is quick growing and acts as a nutrient sink. Regular cleaning of the aquarium floor is also necessary. A low stocking rate helps here.


When you have a pH below 6, the idea of nitrogen fixing bacteria and conventional biological filtration doesn't really work all that well. The nitrogen fixing bacteria like a pH above 6 according to the research I have read.


So one cannot conventionally "cycle" a blackwater aquarium due to the acidity and softness of the water. My strategy is to put the aquarium together, inoculate it with a glass of water from an old aquarium and then let it age. After a few weeks one starts to see cyclops and other tiny water creatures on the glass, algae begins to grow.  The "empty" aquarium is alive in its own right.


The tannins and humic acids are achieved as the wood and the Indian almond leaves break down. I don't use peat at all, mainly because I don't know where it was mined and what it contains.


An important point to remember is that in very soft and acidic water, many pathogens and other bacteria don't grow well at all. Firstly because the pH is outside their liking and secondly; in nutrient poor water the building blocks of life are in short supply. Bacteria need nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and so on to create the building blocks of life. I think this is one of the important keys to keeping chocolates; biologically clean water. Chocolates probably don't have a strong immune system to begin with.  Perhaps simply because they didn't need to evolve one in their very clean native waters.


Next is spawning, brooding and caring for the fry.

#367793 Anyone For Chocolates? - Sphaerichthys Osphromenoides That Is.

Posted by Albert on 02 October 2020 - 08:49 PM

Ill probably never keep them but I'm still very interested, cool little fish for sure and great photos too. Looking forward to your next post mate, cheers for sharing.

Thanks ice, cool little fish for sure with a few surprising secrets. Perhaps I should say; unsurprising secrets.

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#367792 Intro From The Bush

Posted by Albert on 02 October 2020 - 05:51 PM

There was macrostoma sp available maybe 6 Months ago, but where RRP for around $900 a pair. Regularly check the Aquarium Industries list then call a Local fish store who order through them.


Do you sell the betta fry? wouldn't mind a couple of the albimarginata

$900? (choke cough splutter . . . )

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I have a few albi :)


Sexed pairs about 6 months old. The males are a nice orange when the females get frisky.


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I live outside of Perth and get down to the city once a month.

#367786 Anyone For Chocolates? - Sphaerichthys Osphromenoides That Is.

Posted by Albert on 29 September 2020 - 08:48 PM

'day everyone.


I just became a member and I like the old style forums over social media. So I thought I would share some home grown knowledge of one of my favourite fish - The chocolate gourami.


I say "home grown" because I had to throw out the books to see some success with chocolates.


They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and as they say on the television; "here's one I prepared earlier."


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Chocolates are not really all that difficult to keep, and if you get things right; they will breed successfully. At least they have for me as the pictures show.


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However, the best form of success is when others are successful too.


So, this initial post is simply to wet the appetite of the PCSF resident choco-holics.


Part one will follow over the next few days - I think the best place to start is with water parameters and the aquarium itself. A home for chocolates.


Feel free to jump in and post, afterall; this is discussion forum.

#367779 Intro From The Bush

Posted by Albert on 27 September 2020 - 11:25 AM

'day guys, just a quick into.


Licorice and chocolate gourami, along with a few wild Bettas are my primary interest. One of those people with too many tanks than they care to admit, along with excess fish from time to time.


I like the ol' fashioned forums over the social media; topics don't disappear within minutes and you can find them again.


Oh, and that pic is a male choco brooding eggs.


Attached File  MaleChocBrooding.jpg   283.43KB   2 downloads

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