Spawning Ancistrus aguaboensis [L-032]
by Charles Drew
I first got acquainted with Ancistrus aguaboensis early in 2013. It was imported by Rivers to Oceans [R2O] in Mississauga, Ontario. The owner Ryan LaLande had brought in a South American shipment and this small interesting Ancistrus was amongst a number of other plecos that arrived. They are a small black fish with small white dots. The dorsal and caudal fins unlike most other plecos are clear except for the fin rays which are black. This makes them easy to identify them from other species. The males have very heavy bristles on the head and nose whereas the females can have a few around the mouth or non at all. There size makes them an ideal fish as they stay just shy of four inches the female of mine is slightly smaller than my male. They come from the Rio Tocantins in Brazil and like the water 73 to 80 degrees F.
When I first took them home I placed them in a 30 gallon aquarium with some other fish. They did not seem very happy in that tank and sat day and night in the flow from the filter. They made me nervous for the fear of losing them so I moved them to a 65 gallon tank with an assortment of other pleco species. Here they adapted and thrived until fall when I found a 15 gallon tank to try and spawn them in. It was no special set up just an inch of gravel on the bottom a homemade slat cave and a chunk of driftwood. Oh yes also a clay saucer with a notch in it to give the female a place to feel secure. As for filtration I used a box filter and an AquaClear mini. They were fed blanched snow peas and Brussels Sprouts along with pellets and wafer. The female especially had a great fondness for frozen brine shrimp which may have helped her develop roe.
After a couple of weeks when they were well settled I started to play with the water and temperature. I started to do water changes using RO water. After a couple of changes I would go back to a change with tap water. This was not getting results so I played with the temperature raising it from the fish room temperature of about 75 to 80. After a week of this I pulled the plug on the heater and changed the water with RO and threw in a few Alder cones. A few days later they spawned. The male guarded the eggs carefully for 6 days. You could see them getting darker each day. Then the eggs were no more and even more down heartening there were no fry either. For some unknown reason he must have eaten the fry on hatching.
Another month or more went by and I followed the same procedure. Finally they spawned again but wouldn't you know it. It was the day before I was going away for three days. That left me a hard decision to make as to remove the eggs to a tumbler or leave them with my not so trust worthy male. If I remove them and a few eggs go bad they would destroy the whole clutch. Since I was not going to be there I decided that the male was a safer bet at least until I got back home. I arrived home late on the Sunday afternoon and the first thing I did was check the tank. Yes he was still looking after the eggs. Rather than take a chance on whether he would eat the fry again or not I removed them to an egg tumbler. In doing so I could see that there were at least ten egg shells indicating that he was either munching or had remove some bad eggs.
After three days in the tumbler and the eggs hatched. There were 14 fry that clung to the sides for another 7 days before they were ready to start feeding. They are presently in a tank with some Cherry Barb fry and are eating baby brine shrimp and crushed flake or any other food they can find. The tank has a sponge filter and a Red Sea nano filter for current. In the mean time the female is filling with eggs and hopefully will spawn again very soon.
At the time of submitting this article the male has looked after the third spawning and I can see hatched fry in his cave. I also found a lone fry presumably from the first spawn swimming happily in the parents tank.
The L-032 is a small and rare Ancistrus in our hobby and is not overly hard to spawn or raise.