Breeding Journal, Species: Dunckerocampus baldwini

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JimWelsh
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Breeding Journal, Species: Dunckerocampus baldwini - Thursday, November 29, 2012 3:21 PM
Breeding Journal DataSheet
This first post should be updated regularly to include new information as events take place or changes are made to your system

General
Species:  Dunckerocampus baldwini
Social Structure:  Group of 7 to start -- eventually two pairs, plus two extra fish of uncertain gender.
Size of Individuals:  5" - 7"
Age of Individuals:  Unknown
Date added to Tank:  11/29/2012

Broodstock Tank Details
Size of Tank:  40 Gallons
Substrate Details:  Bare Bottom
Filtration Details:  Penguin Emperor 400 HOB filter, plus some live rock in the tank.
Water Changes:  As necessary to keep water quality high.  As much as 50% twice weekly, while trying to wean onto frozen foods (lots of uneaten food can accumulate).
Water Temperature:  74-76 F
Lighting:  Low light levels from 16" strip fluorescent light on top of eggcrate on top of tank.
Lighting Cycle:  Manual, usually 9:00 AM to 11:00 PM or so.
Other Tank Inhabitants:  Tisbe on the glass and rocks, Amphipods & Mysids hiding in the live rock.

Broodstock Feeding Details
Food Types:  Primarily enriched few-day-old BBS.  Also live Tigriopus.  Still trying to wean them onto frozen with various frozen cyclops brands, Spirulina brine, Hikari Mysis, Nutramar Ova, etc. as of 13 December 2012.  By 31 December 2012, all of them are taking Ocean Nutrition brand frozen cyclops, some more enthusiastically than others.  I still give them occasional treats of enriched several day old Artemia and/or Tigriopus and/or Moina.
Feeding Schedule:  Several small meals per day.

Spawning Details
Date of First Spawn:  (Pair in Tank #1)  13 December 2012
Spawn Time of Day:  Unknown.  Update:  The spawns always happen in the morning, shortly after lights on.
Dates of Consecutive Spawns:  (Pair in Tank #1): 21 December 2012  30 December 2012, 9 January 2013, 19 January 2013, 29 January 2013, 8 February 2013, 17 February 2013, 26 February 2013, 7 March 2013, 16 March 2013, 25 March 2013, 19 April 2013, 5 May 2013
                                                    (Pair in Tank #2): 22 December 2012, 1 January 2013, 11&12 January 2013, 5 February 2013, 24 April 2013, 3 May 2013
Courtship Details:  Males spend a lot of time being aggressive towards and in generally trying to dominate each other.  Females tend to lurk quietly in the caves.  During egg transfer, female and male align their bodies, and both swim on their sides together, undersides touching, sometimes doing barrel rolls, and/or forming an "X" shape as the female deposits the eggs into the male's pouch flaps.
Egg Size:  Appx. 2 mm
Egg Color:  Light Orange
Egg Count:  Unknown -- first spawn, probably just a dozen or so. Later spawns are 25-30 pairs of eggs in two rows, for a total count of 50-60 eggs.

Hatch Details
Hatch Date:  (Pair in Tank #2)  31 December 2012
Hatch Time of Day:  Night, after lights out
# Days after Spawn:  9
Larvae Description:    Appx. 1 cm (3/8") long, fully developed eyes and tail fins and tiny snouts like parents, able to take copepods of various life stages.
Consecutive Hatch Dates:      (Pair in Tank #1): 8 January 2013, 6 February 2013, 27 April 2013
                                                (Pair in Tank #2): 10&11 January 2013, 2 May 2013


Larval Tank Details
Temperature:  Ambient room temp. - appx. 72-74 degrees.
Size of Larval Tank:  2 Gallon drum shaped glass fishbowl.
Substrate Details:  None
Other Tank Decor:  Rigid airline with opening at 3 o'clock position.
Filtration Details:  Live phytoplankton - appx. 250 ml of dense Isochrysis culture.
Lighting:  Small fluorescent strip light over eggcrate and a few layers of paper towels to diffuse the light.
Lighting Cycle:  24 hours for the first day, then appx. 18 H on / 8 H off thereafter.
Water Changes:  None for the first two weeks or so -- top off for evap. as necessary.  Might remove a very small amount (100 ml or so) to replace some Isochrysis as necessary.

Larval Feeding Details
Food Types:  Apocyclops panamensis, Parvocalanus sp.  As they grow, I have added Nitrokra, Tigriopus, and Moina.
Feeding Schedule:  Constant

Metamorphosis/Settlement
Date of Settlement Start:  Hard to say, but I'll call it 21 January 2013
Days after Hatch:  13
Date of Settlement End:  Hard to say, but I'll call it 28 January 2013
Description of Fry:  Miniatures of parents, but still with some transverse banding.

Grow-Out Tank Details

Temperature:  Appx. 74-76 F
Size of Grow-Out Tank:  Initially, still a 2 gallon fishbowl, but on 16 March 2013, I moved the two juveniles I had into an 8 1/2 gallon kreisel with a 10 gallon sump.
Substrate Details:  None
Other Tank Decor:  None.  I added a couple of lengths of 1/2" PVC pipe to the kreisel.
Filtration Details:  Live microalgae, a sponge filter and ceramic media in the sump of the kreisel.
Lighting:  Ambient room lighting.
Lighting Cycle:  Variable.  Generally, lights are off from somewhere between 10:00 PM and Midnight until sunrise at appx. 6:00 AM.
Water Changes:  In the 2 gallon fishbowl, appx. 1/2 gallon per day or every other day.
Size at Transfer:  For the 2 gallon firshbowl, there was no transfer so N/A.  For the kreisel, the larger, older juvenile was 4 cm, and the smaller one is about 3.5 cm.
Age at Transfer:  The larger one is about 9 weeks old.  The smaller one is about 7 weeks old.

Grow-Out Feeding Details
Food Types:  Various copepods.  I provide them Tigriopus californicus, Nitokra lacustris, Apocyclops panamensis, Acartia tonsa, some Arctodiaptomus salinus, occasional Moina salina, too.
Feeding Schedule:  Continuous.

Additional Information

(No Pictures or Videos in the Section Please)
Miscellaneous Information: 



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<message edited by JimWelsh on Tuesday, May 7, 2013 12:59 PM>

JimWelsh
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Re: Breeding Journal, Species: Dunckerocampus baldwini - Thursday, November 29, 2012 3:29 PM
Thanks to Tal, who put me in touch with a fish collector in Hawaii, and that is how I was able to get these 7 specimens of this species that is rarely seen in the trade!  They appear to be 3 pairs and one individual.  Since I was able to get the fish directly from the wholesaler, they are in very good condition, compared to most pipes that I've otherwise gotten through retail channels.  I actually observed pairing/mating behavior within minutes of them being moved from the acclimation bucket into the quarantine tank!
 
I am quarantining them in a 40 breeder that has a small amount of live rock, some large black ABS pipes, a HOB filter, and a heater.  I seeded the tank with numerous Tigriopus, Tisbe, and Apocyclops, as well as the amphipods and mysids that came in with the rock.  I've got Artemia hatched for them, as well as a full compliment of various frozen foods to try them on.  So far, I've seen a little bit of snicking at the rock and the bare glass bottom, but haven't seen a whole lot of interest in food just yet.  Then again, they have only been in the QT tank for about 3 hours now, and I think they just need some time to settle into their new home.

I'm excited at the opportunity to attempt to breed this species, as they are really beautiful fish, are Hawaiian endemics, are rare in the trade, and depending on what happens with the legal situation in Hawaii in the future, may become even more difficult to get than they already are.
 
Wish me luck with them!
 

GinaReef
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Re: Breeding Journal, Species: Dunckerocampus baldwini - Thursday, November 29, 2012 3:45 PM
Hi, can you send a picture, since this species is not on the species data list.

JimWelsh
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Re: Breeding Journal, Species: Dunckerocampus baldwini - Thursday, November 29, 2012 4:17 PM
Here are a couple of quick-and-dirty pics I hastily took today.  I hope to get some better ones later.
 


Attached Image(s)

GinaReef
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Re: Breeding Journal, Species: Dunckerocampus baldwini - Thursday, November 29, 2012 6:44 PM
Thanks, and good luck

CableGuy
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Re: Breeding Journal, Species: Dunckerocampus baldwini - Thursday, November 29, 2012 8:43 PM
Wow.. those are awesome Jim! GL!
-Adam

matt1001
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Re: Breeding Journal, Species: Dunckerocampus baldwini - Friday, November 30, 2012 1:53 PM
Stunning good luck with them

EasterEggs
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Re: Breeding Journal, Species: Dunckerocampus baldwini - Saturday, December 1, 2012 12:03 AM
Oh they are beauties Jim!  Good luck with them!
Don't let fear and common sense stop you! =]

JimWelsh
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Re: Breeding Journal, Species: Dunckerocampus baldwini - Saturday, December 1, 2012 12:43 AM
It's a slow start, but it's a start:  I saw at least one of them enthusiastically eating frozen Cyclop-Eeze tonight!  Woot!  Several others expressed keen interest, but I saw few, if any snicks from the others tonight.  Hopefully, the others will decide "I'll have what she's having."  (Did anybody get the "When Harry Met Sally" reference?)

Umm_fish?
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Re: Breeding Journal, Species: Dunckerocampus baldwini - Saturday, December 1, 2012 11:49 AM
Absolutely. Peer pressure is a great way to teach new fish to eat frozen. I hope they'll all be at it within the next couple of days.
 
Good luck with 'em.
--Andy, the bucket man.
"Not to know the mandolin is to argue oneself unknown...." --Clara Lanza, 1886

TamiW
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Re: Breeding Journal, Species: Dunckerocampus baldwini - Monday, December 3, 2012 1:04 AM
Very nice. I will be keeping an eye on this thread for sure. Good luck with them!

JimWelsh
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Re: Breeding Journal, Species: Dunckerocampus baldwini - Monday, December 3, 2012 3:04 AM
Yesterday, I saw very little snicking from anybody.  This morning, I discovered that I had a bit of an ammonia spike (about 0.5 PPM or so) as a result of uneaten food trapped in the filter pad of the HOB filter rotting more quickly than the system could handle.  A very large water change and filter pad change later, they were perking up.  I witnessed several of them snicking one or more of the following:  live Tisbe copepods starting to bloom all over the glass and rocks, 3-day-old enriched BBS, and/or frozen Cyclop-Eeze.
 
I'd like to see them eating more than what I am witnessing, but still, some eating is better than no eating.  I'm still feeling optimistic about this group of pipefishes.
 
I'll be keeping a much closer eye on the status of both the HOB filter pads and the NO3 level in the tank on a bi-daily (twice daily) basis from now on.

JimWelsh
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Re: Breeding Journal, Species: Dunckerocampus baldwini - Tuesday, December 4, 2012 2:11 AM
I've upgraded the HOB filter on their tank to a Penguin Emperor 400 that has been running for months on another tank.  The Emperor 400 is rated for an 80 gallon tank, so maybe this one will be able to keep up on this 40 breeder!
 
I have 5 day old Artemia grown on RGComplete that they are all eating enthusiastically.  I don't know what the problem is with the Cyclop-Eeze -- I saw one of them eating it with gusto the other night, but now I can't get any interest in it or any other brand of frozen cyclops.
 
I do also see a lot of snicking of Tisbe off the glass and rocks during the day.  All seven of them are staying very alert, perky, and healthy-looking. 
 
There is a curious behavior that I interpret as males facing off that usually happens during feedings.  One fish will express interest in a food item, and then another will come right alongside.  Next, both fish lose any interest in the food item, but both "mirror" each other as they curve their bodies, snout downward, and head towards the bottom, until one of them "blinks", and breaks formation suddenly, swimming up and away from the other fish.  I've seen various pairs of them doing this literally dozens of times since I've had them.
 
I saw some stringy, white poops, usually indicative of internal parasites, during the first day I had them.  I've seen no such white striingy poops lately.  I did see what I think are some pipefish poops floating the the water column last night, and they were orange in color, but I'm not certain they were poops (just kinda confident that's what they were).  I'd like to witness them pooping, but no such luck just yet.
 
I did feed a snack of Tigriopus + Apocyclops + a few small Moina tonight, and they seemed to be eagerly eating the live feeds.
 
My plan is to wean them onto frozen like one might do with seahorse fry:  Transition a mixture of live + frozen foods from mostly live to mostly frozen over the course of a week or so.  Plan "B" will be to get them nicely fattened up on live feeds, and then switch them "cold turkey" onto frozen cyclops.
 

Fishtal
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Re: Breeding Journal, Species: Dunckerocampus baldwini - Tuesday, December 4, 2012 2:21 AM
What type of flow do you have in their tank? Chad had good luck getting baby Banggai to eat when adding foods that get blown around a bit by turning on a powerhead during feeding, simulating food movement.
http://www.fishtalpropagations.com/#!home/mainPage
"Making captive breeding easier."

JimWelsh
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Re: Breeding Journal, Species: Dunckerocampus baldwini - Tuesday, December 4, 2012 2:32 AM
I'm experimenting with both having the HOB filter turned on, and also turned off.  It doesn't provide a whole bunch of flow, but it certainly does keep the food moving.  They actually seem to respond better to the live foods with the HOB filter off.  It is definitely worth trying to add an additional powerhead, and see if I get a better feeding response to non-live foods with increased flow.  Thanks for the tip -- I'll try it out.
 
I just saw another thing I'm pretty sure is a pipefish poop in the water column.  What does it say about me that I think I can recognize pipefish poop?  LOL!

TamiW
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Re: Breeding Journal, Species: Dunckerocampus baldwini - Saturday, December 8, 2012 2:42 AM
Petsmart sells a small pump setup that works really well for keeping food in suspension. I've used it with a few broods of seahorses at the bottom of the tank to keep food off the bottom while they're learning that frozen food is edible. I can't find it on their site but I saw one in the store just the other day. They are about $15 and come with a small spray bar attachment. If you flip it so the whole unit is upside down and sprays water across the bottom, it will help keep the food from settling. In a 40 gallon breeder you might need two though.

GreshamH
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Re: Breeding Journal, Species: Dunckerocampus baldwini - Saturday, December 8, 2012 3:30 PM
Quote Originally Posted by JimWelsh


I've upgraded the HOB filter on their tank to a Penguin Emperor 400 that has been running for months on another tank.  The Emperor 400 is rated for an 80 gallon tank, so maybe this one will be able to keep up on this 40 breeder!

I have 5 day old Artemia grown on RGComplete that they are all eating enthusiastically.  I don't know what the problem is with the Cyclop-Eeze -- I saw one of them eating it with gusto the other night, but now I can't get any interest in it or any other brand of frozen cyclops.

I do also see a lot of snicking of Tisbe off the glass and rocks during the day.  All seven of them are staying very alert, perky, and healthy-looking. 

There is a curious behavior that I interpret as males facing off that usually happens during feedings.  One fish will express interest in a food item, and then another will come right alongside.  Next, both fish lose any interest in the food item, but both "mirror" each other as they curve their bodies, snout downward, and head towards the bottom, until one of them "blinks", and breaks formation suddenly, swimming up and away from the other fish.  I've seen various pairs of them doing this literally dozens of times since I've had them.

I saw some stringy, white poops, usually indicative of internal parasites, during the first day I had them.  I've seen no such white striingy poops lately.  I did see what I think are some pipefish poops floating the the water column last night, and they were orange in color, but I'm not certain they were poops (just kinda confident that's what they were).  I'd like to witness them pooping, but no such luck just yet.

I did feed a snack of Tigriopus + Apocyclops + a few small Moina tonight, and they seemed to be eagerly eating the live feeds.

My plan is to wean them onto frozen like one might do with seahorse fry:  Transition a mixture of live + frozen foods from mostly live to mostly frozen over the course of a week or so.  Plan "B" will be to get them nicely fattened up on live feeds, and then switch them "cold turkey" onto frozen cyclops.


 
perhaps use Tigger-Feast as a transition between live copepods and frozen cyclops  If you want to give it a whirl, I have some Tigger-Feast in reserve I could send you.

JimWelsh
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Re: Breeding Journal, Species: Dunckerocampus baldwini - Saturday, December 8, 2012 4:22 PM
Sure, Gresham!  Sounds like a good idea, and certainly worth trying.

GreshamH
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Re: Breeding Journal, Species: Dunckerocampus baldwini - Saturday, December 8, 2012 4:30 PM
I'll have it shipped out first thing Monday

JimWelsh
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Re: Breeding Journal, Species: Dunckerocampus baldwini - Saturday, December 8, 2012 6:29 PM
Cool!  Thank you! 

JimWelsh
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Re: Breeding Journal, Species: Dunckerocampus baldwini - Thursday, December 13, 2012 6:50 PM
Well, on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, I decided to withhold any live foods (aside from the volunteer copepods in the tank), and only offer various frozen foods, to see if the "eat this or die" approach might work.  All it did was make them really, really grumpy.  The males who usually just face each other off started getting much more aggressive, and chasing each other around the tank, snicking at eyeballs, etc.  It wasn't pretty.  Late last night, I caved, and fed them a bunch of Selcon-enriched BBS and live Tigriopus.  I'll take another stab at weaning them soon.
 
There is some exciting news today, though:  I saw one of the males carrying some eggs today!  Woot!  There aren't that many eggs, but it still counts as a "spawn event", and this is a real encouragement, just two weeks after they arrived.  Pictures to come later.
 
 

Umm_fish?
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Re: Breeding Journal, Species: Dunckerocampus baldwini - Thursday, December 13, 2012 7:08 PM
Thumbs up!
--Andy, the bucket man.
"Not to know the mandolin is to argue oneself unknown...." --Clara Lanza, 1886

aomont
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Re: Breeding Journal, Species: Dunckerocampus baldwini - Thursday, December 13, 2012 8:13 PM
Another cool icon on its way !
Anderson.

JimWelsh
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Re: Breeding Journal, Species: Dunckerocampus baldwini - Friday, December 14, 2012 12:59 PM
Gosh, I wish I could take better pictures!  It doesn't help that this guy is quite camera shy, either.  Here we are.  *SIGH*:
 



Attached Image(s)

waldend
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Re: Breeding Journal, Species: Dunckerocampus baldwini - Friday, December 14, 2012 7:20 PM
I can't wait to see these guys for sale in the near future.

JimWelsh
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Re: Breeding Journal, Species: Dunckerocampus baldwini - Monday, December 17, 2012 11:33 PM
Well, as of yesterday, the eggs are all gone from the one male holding them.  I never saw any of the fry.  I am still learning what to expect from these fish.
 
In the last couple of days, I've seen some of them getting MUCH more aggressive towards each other.  Here's what I know:
 
1)  I have at least one female and one male, as evidenced by the spawning event.
 
2)  Aside from unremarkable, "just hanging out" behavior, I have seen three types of interactions:
    A) The "mating" behavior, where two fish are aligned alongside each other, abdomen to abdomen, that was observed only the first day right after they were acclimated and placed in QT.  Upon reflection, I should have immediately snagged that pair out of QT, and set up a separate tank for them, but, alas, I missed that opportunity.
    B)  A behavior I described earlier, where two fish swim next to each other, about 2 cm or so apart, closely mirroring each other, arching their bodies, moving slowly forward, and pointing their snouts downward, until one of them suddenly breaks formation and turns away.
    C)  Another behavior I have seen more frequently recently, where two or three of them will swim around in one small area, more or less all pointing the same direction, but also some doing very quick, tight circling maneuvers, with them all moving their heads quickly to and fro, as if "fencing" with their snouts, and the most aggressive one(s) sometimes (or often) taking snicks at the others' eyes.  Sometimes, the less aggressive one(s) will flee, and be pursued by the aggressor(s).  I watched this behavior go on for a half an hour or more.  When this behavior is going on during feeding, they would rather fight than eat.
 
3)  Now that the one who was carrying eggs is no longer carrying eggs, there is only one of these pipefish that I can reliably tell apart from the others.  That one fish is, overall, larger, and has a slight, irregular "bump" or "protusion" on one side of his/her abdomen.
 
Last night, I sat and watched behavior (2)(C) go on between one group of three fish at the left end of the tank, and another group of two fish at the right end of the tank.  The fish described in (3) above was not a participant in the aggressive behavior, and was hanging out, eating at the right end of the tank.  One other fish, indistinguishable from the others, was also just lurking in one of the PVC caves, minding its own business.  There was one really, really aggressive fish in the group of three on the left end of the tank.  I shooed that really aggressive fish towards the right end of the tank, and it just started hanging out with the (3) fish, and both of them were eating together without fighting.
 
I decided to take those two as a potential pair, and I moved them into another 40 breeder I have set up as another QT tank.  In the last 24 hours, the only behaviors I have seen have been simple hanging out together, and the (2)(B) behavior.
 
Meanwhile, there are two pairs of fish back in the original QT tank that are engaging in the (2)(C) behavior quite a bit.
 
I just don't have enough information yet to draw any clear conclusions based on the limited information I have so far.  I *think* that behavior (2)(B) *might* be pre-spawning heterosexual posturing and sizing each other up, but it also might be pre-fighting same-gender posturing and sizing each other up, as well.  I'm pretty darn sure that behavior (2)(C) is full-on same-gender fighting, but what I'm not clear about is whether only males engage in this or if both males and females will fight this way.  I have repeatedly read online that the Bluestripe males will fight, but I also have personally witnessed Bluestripe females fighting quite fiercely, and have had at least one other person share personal anecdotes about Bluestripe females fighting with me.  I also don't know whether the more timid fish who are less inclined to engage in the fighting and bickering are females, or are just less aggressive in nature, or are less healthy fish, and thus, less inclined to fight.
 
My point is that, based on the increased aggression I've observed lately, I feel like I need to separate the most aggressively fighting fish from each other, and at the same time, try to put male/female pairs together.  That said, I have limited resources in terms of tanks and filtration available, and don't yet know how to sex these fish (unless they are carrying eggs at the time).  Plus, I simply don't know if I have something like 5 males who bicker a lot and 2 timid females, or one small group of males who fight, and another small group of females who fight, and a couple of timid fish of undetermined gender.
 
When the fish arrived from the wholesaler, they were in individual bags, labeled as "Pair #1 fish 1", "Pair #1 fish 2", etc., plus one lone fish.  At the time I received them, I only had one QT tank ready, and was unable to give each "pair" their own tank.  Even if I could give each "pair" their own tank, with all due respect to the wholesaler, I'm not 100% convinced that the "pairs" were actual male/female pairs, since two of them hanging out together but fighting *might* be interpreted as a "pair" when catching and bagging them.  I just don't know.
 
Sorry for the long, rambling post, but I wanted to share my observations and the thought processes I'm going through trying to get at least one happy, stress-free male/female pair to reliably breed for me!
 
 

Fishtal
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Re: Breeding Journal, Species: Dunckerocampus baldwini - Monday, December 17, 2012 11:41 PM
Great observations! Have you asked Matt if he has any observations from the wild that may help you determine the sexes?
http://www.fishtalpropagations.com/#!home/mainPage
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Re: Breeding Journal, Species: Dunckerocampus baldwini - Wednesday, December 19, 2012 5:53 PM
Beautiful pipefish! I am so jealous! I know you said the 40 gallon breeder is a quarantine tank, what size tank will they move to or will you keep them in the 40 gallon?

JimWelsh
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Re: Breeding Journal, Species: Dunckerocampus baldwini - Wednesday, December 19, 2012 7:33 PM
They're probably going to stay in the 40 gallon breeder(s) for the foreseeable future.  The 210 display has my main Bluestripe pair, and the Bluestripes have a reputation of extreme intolerance of other pipefish species.  The 24 nano has another Bluestripe pair.  The 65 has a lone banded pipefish.  Once I get some pairs of the Baldwins established (and dewormed), I may try to house one pair in the 65, but I have to see if they are going to get along with the banded first.
 
So, the pair that I put in the separate 40 breeder seem to be getting along just fine.  They frequently hang out together, but are often also seen at opposite ends of the tank.  The "male" of that pair (the one that was being really aggressive in the main QT tank) has been seen eating frozen cyclops off the bare bottom several times!  Yay!  No breeding activity just yet.
 
Back in the main QT tank, there is one pair of the smallest two pipes who spend almost all of their time fighting.  There is another pair that seem to spend almost all of their time hanging out in one of the PVC caves together, just trying to avoid the conflict, as far as I can tell. 
 
The last remaining one, I'm conflicted about.  Yesterday, he had a stringy white poop that hung on for quite a while, and he was acting a little listless, and kinda (but not really) resting on the bottom of either the tank or his PVC cave.  It is a subtle thing I'm noticing, but I've been watching these fish carefully for almost 3 weeks now, and the way he "carries" himself just doesn't look "right" -- it's kinda like he is "drooping".  But, as of this morning, notice that I'm calling him "he" -- I'm pretty sure he is carrying a few eggs!  I need to check again this evening when I get home to be sure.
 
At any rate, I may have one confirmed male that I can ID now, but that male may be getting sick on me.  I have two fish who fight too much, and need to be separated -- probably males, but I don't know for sure.  I have two fish who hang out together without fighting, but they could be a male/female pair, or they could be a pair of docile females. or.....  again, I just don't know.  I'm going to set up one more 40 gallon tank tonight, and figure out how I'm going to juggle these fish around.

JimWelsh
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Re: Breeding Journal, Species: Dunckerocampus baldwini - Thursday, December 20, 2012 3:50 PM
I got the 3rd 40 Gallon Breeder tank set up last night.  The kinda sick one is still acting kinda sick.  What I saw that I thought was eggs yesterday turns out to look like a swelling right about where the anus should be, so now I'm even more worried about this fish.
 
Meanwhile, as of this morning, one of the two fish who hang out in the cave without fighting is definitely carrying eggs!  So, it looks like that pair is a male/female pair, the sick fish is of undetermined gender, and the two who fight all the time -- I'm guessing they are males.  The two fighters are smaller and thinner than the other fish -- perhaps they are feisty juveniles?  At any rate, I had to decide which fishes to move into the newly setup 40.  I decided to move the two fighters in there, so as to reduce the overall stress level in the tank, and also so as to not stress the breeding pair by moving them.  I'll probably also move the sick fish into the new 40 tonight, but had limited time this morning.

KathyL
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Re: Breeding Journal, Species: Dunckerocampus baldwini - Thursday, December 20, 2012 11:03 PM
Very exciting that you have them spawning already.  Beautiful fish!
check out Kathy's Clowns, llc website:
http://kathysclowns.com
Captive bred clownfish and more
(Wholesale to the trade.)

EasterEggs
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Re: Breeding Journal, Species: Dunckerocampus baldwini - Saturday, December 22, 2012 3:48 PM
Spawning already?!  What is in the water in Angwin, CA?  Congrats!  Great read through your observations too.
Don't let fear and common sense stop you! =]

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Re: Breeding Journal, Species: Dunckerocampus baldwini - Saturday, December 22, 2012 3:57 PM
Thanks, ladies!
 
The sick fish went downhill fast, and was euthanized with clove oil and then cold yesterday.
 
The first pair that I moved into the 2nd tank has spawned as of this morning!  I now have two different males in two different tanks carrying eggs!!!
 
The feisty pair of smaller fish that wanted to kill each other seem to have developed a truce.  Perhaps the lack of any female to fight over has settled them down.  One of them is actively and enthusiastically eating frozen cyclops out of the water column -- he was seen doing this both last night and also this morning.
 

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Re: Breeding Journal, Species: Dunckerocampus baldwini - Sunday, December 30, 2012 2:33 PM
The six remaining fish are all doing well.  Two of the males, the one in tank #2 and one of the pair of males in tank #3 are reliably and enthusiastically eating frozen Ocean Nutrition brand cyclops out of the water column.  All of the other fish are eating it, too, but more grudgingly.  They mostly eat it off the bare bottom, after it has settled there.  That is what the enthusiastic males did at first, too, so I'm optimistic that all these other fish will come around and start snicking it out of the water column soon.  I have been doing very little supplemental feedings with live things lately.  They haven't gotten any enriched Artemia for probably about a week now (although I'm keeping the Artemia cultures going, just in case I need to resort to them to prevent starvation).  I have added some live Tigriopus to both tank #1 and tank #2 about two or three days ago, but it wasn't much, as my Tigriopus cultures are pretty depleted from the previous weeks of harvesting to feed these guys.  I do watch each fish at each feeding, and make sure that I'm seeing enough snicking to satisfy me that they aren't starving.
 
I have witnessed a strange thing going on with the males who are holding eggs.  The number of eggs they are holding dwindle day by day.  On the day they spawn, they might be holding perhaps a dozen eggs.  The next day, it will be maybe 8-10.  The next day, only about 5-7, and so on.  As of yesterday, the male in tank #1 was holding only one last egg.  As of today, the male in tank #2 was holding only 3 eggs.  I don't know what is happening, but I assume that either the eggs are infertile or they might be dropping off due to poor nutrition on the part of the parents.  I doubt anything is eating them, although I guess that is a possibility.  I have tried turning off pumps at night after lights out, and I've looked with a flashlight, but haven't seen any fry yet.  I've also tried turning the pumps off at, say 4:00 AM, and looked shortly before dawn, but again, I've found no fry yet.
 
This morning I awoke to a pleasant surprise:  The male in tank #1 is holding what looks like an abdomen quite full of eggs!  It has been 10 days since the last time that pair spawned.  He is carrying himself in a slightly curved posture, as though he is protecting the eggs.  Perhaps he is not used to having his pouch flaps open, and needs to "stretch" them out before he is comfortable straightening out, or something.  He otherwise looks quite healthy, although I haven't seen him eat yet today.  Here is is picture today:


 
EDIT:  The pregnant male has held this odd, curved posture all day.  Since he usually only eats off the bottom, which requires him to roll over close to 180 degrees until he is almost upside-down to snick food off the bottom, his curved posture makes this difficult to do.  This evening, I have seen him finally doing this, so at least he is eating a little.  During these feeding sessions, I've been able to peek at his eggs, and it looks like there are two rows of eggs.  Here is a close-up of the picture I took earlier today, showing 29 eggs in a row, so if they are all doubled in the two rows, that makes appx. 58 eggs he is carrying:


 
<message edited by JimWelsh on Monday, December 31, 2012 1:55 AM>
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TamiW
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Re: Breeding Journal, Species: Dunckerocampus baldwini - Monday, December 31, 2012 5:05 PM
I may know what's going on with your eggs. At least one, possibly two species of pipefish they've confirmed the male will absorb the eggs for nutrition. I strongly suspect we're going to find this is true of all syngnathids at some point. Here is an article about it: http://www.thaindian.com/...fspring_100298654.html
I don't have a link to the original paper handy though I did look at it when this news first came out. I thought they had found the same thing in a second species, but I'm not 100% sure on that.
 
Considering they're still pretty new and may not be eating as well as they should be, if they can reabsorb eggs, then that's probably what is happening.

JimWelsh
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Re: Breeding Journal, Species: Dunckerocampus baldwini - Monday, December 31, 2012 5:24 PM
Very interesting, Tami!  Thanks for the link.  It does make a lot of sense.  Guess I'll just have to make sure they are as well fed as possible (which, of course I'm trying my darndest to accomplish). 

This morning, the pregnant male in Tank #1 still has what looks like a full compliment of eggs.  I did get a good look at his underside, and it does look like they are packed in there in two rows.  He still isn't eating as much as I'd like to see him eat, but he is eating, and more so today than yesterday.  He still is carrying himself in that arched posture today.

The male in Tank #2 still has what appears to be 3 eggs attached from the spawn 10 days ago.  They have darkened considerably, and I'm hoping the they might hatch tonight, and I might finally get a chance to see some fry, even if it is just one or two or three of them, from this species.

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Re: Breeding Journal, Species: Dunckerocampus baldwini - Tuesday, January 1, 2013 12:55 PM
Chad Vossen's larval snagger is a wonderful thing!
 
Last night was the end of day 9 (if the day of the spawn is day 0) for the three remaining eggs on the male in tank #2.  I turned the pump (HOB filter) off at lights out, waited about an hour, and then set the snagger.  Jacquie and I rang in the New Year with some champagne.  After about another hour, I checked the snagger.  Nothing.  Turned the light on the snagger off, turned the HOB filter back on, and went to bed.
 
About 4:00 AM, the dogs woke me up, and so I went and checked the snagger again.  This time, I saw two pipefish fry in it!  I don't know if I just missed them somehow the first time (too much champagne?), or if they actually were somehow snagged during the night.  I had already prepared everything necessary to set up one of my 2 gallon kreisels (Clean fishbowl -- check; airline ready -- check; 250 ml of dense Isochrysis ready -- check; 1 gallon of dense Apocyclops culture ready -- check; light with eggcrate and paper towels -- check), so I was able to quickly siphon them out of the snagger together with 2 gallons - 250 ml of parent tank water, set the airline, added the Isochrysis and sieved Apocyclops, and set the filtered light on them.
 
In retrospect, I should have taken advantage of their being in the snagger to take pictures of them, because getting pictures of 2 tiny fry in a 2 gallon fishbowl made "green" with Iso and with all the distortion the irregular glass of the fishbowl does is almost impossible!  Still, I'm going to post the three best (still absolutely horrible) pictures I got of one of them this morning to ring in the new year with a Hatch Report on this species!
 



 
 
And, yes, Dad is holding an abdomen full of eggs this morning, so now I have two males each holding appx. 50 or so eggs!  I'm really excited!

The next step is to find out if Apocyclops is as good a first food for this species as it is for Doryrhamphus excisus.  I don't really expect to get much success from just these two fry, but still, I'm going to raise them as far as I can, and watch them as closely as I can, to learn as much as I can in preparation for the larger broods to come.  I do recall that the Bluestripes did somewhat better with Parvocalanus as a first food than they did on Apocyclops, and I'm ready to deploy Reed Mariculture's plan of ordering a batch of Parvocalanus just in time for them to arrive on hatch day, if necessary, to see these through, if I find out that they don't do well on Apocyclops.

EDIT:  Looks like I actually snagged all three fry.  I didn't realize it before, but I now see three fry in the fishbowl.  Chad's snagger rocks!
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EasterEggs
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Re: Breeding Journal, Species: Dunckerocampus baldwini - Tuesday, January 1, 2013 5:21 PM
Excellent Jim, congrats! Cute little things!  You may get to confirm your New Years' Resolution early in the year!
 
Fyi, the day of spawning is day 1.
Don't let fear and common sense stop you! =]

JimWelsh
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Re: Breeding Journal, Species: Dunckerocampus baldwini - Wednesday, January 2, 2013 12:27 AM
First day observations of these 3 fry:  They are longer than Doryrhamphus excisus fry, and are more inclined to expend energy swimming into the current.  They remind me of the time a couple of years ago when I received a male Dragonface pipefish in a shipment, and there were dozens of fry in the shipping bag with him.  I tried to raise those in a similar fishbowl kreisel, but they all died after just a couple of days.  I never saw any of them snick anything.  I remember that they were all swimming furiously into the flow from the airline I had set up.  They had this very quick, snake-like S-shaped squiggle that would thrust them forward for about 1/2 second or so.  These 3 fry today had a similar swimming pattern earlier today.
 
I turned the air on these 3 fry down from about 2-3 bubbles per second to more like 1 bubble per second, and they stopped the quick squiggle, or at least that has made it subside substantially.  I have also seen several snicks from these 3 fry today, now that I have turned down the air.

I have hope that these 3 fry will continue to live long enough to teach me still more about how to properly care for Dunckerocampus baldwini fry.

JimWelsh
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Re: Breeding Journal, Species: Dunckerocampus baldwini - Thursday, January 3, 2013 2:31 PM
All three fry are still alive at 60 hours post hatch!  I see them actively hunting, and occasionally snicking.  The one I was able to examine with a magnifying glass this morning appeared to have a full gut.
 
The pair in Tank #1 are more finnicky eaters than the pair in Tank #2.  I see the Tank #1 pair eating very little frozen cyclops, and very grudgingly.  I admit that I have spoiled them recently with enriched artemia and Tigriopus.  Perhaps I just need to be really mean, and let them get really hungry.  The pair in Tank #2 continue to eat well, and the male reliably and eagerly eats frozen cyclops out of the water column.  The female still takes hers off the bottom, but has been seen spending more time chasing the ones in the water column, but still rarely snicks at them.
 
Both pregnant males are still holding abdomens full of eggs, and the eggs don't appear to be disappearing.
 

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