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How to spawn Bluenose Shiners

20 replies to this topic

#1 Sean Phillips

Sean Phillips
  • NANFA Member
  • Allegheny River Drainage, Southwest PA

Posted 26 April 2015 - 02:34 PM

I'm at the GPASI spring auction and got myself a trio (1M:2F) of Bluenose Shiners (Notropis welaka) for $30 (I got a bit competitive after $20 :) ). Anyway I can either put them in a 10 gallon or a 15 gallon, I'm thinking the 10 right now. I don't really have any idea how to spawn them but the females look very gravid and almost everything at gpasi auctions is spawn-able. So what do I need to do to spawn this trio in a 10 or a 15? What substrate, temp, ph, filtration, foods, WCs, temp fluctuations, etc? My current plan is to put the trio in a 10 gallon bare bottom with just a tray of gravel in one spot with a sponge filter for filtration and weekly 33% water changes, temp of 68-70 and ph of 7.6. Like I said though, that's just my current plan so let me know anything I need to do to spawn these awesome shiners!
Sean Phillips - Pine Creek Watershed - Allegheny River Drainage

#2 Michael Wolfe

Michael Wolfe
  • Board of Directors
  • North Georgia, Oconee River Drainage

Posted 26 April 2015 - 03:18 PM

search the forum and read up a it before you ask such a wide open and potentially controversial question.


essentially you cannot do it in a tank.

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. - Benjamin Franklin

#3 Sean Phillips

Sean Phillips
  • NANFA Member
  • Allegheny River Drainage, Southwest PA

Posted 26 April 2015 - 03:27 PM

Looked it up, seems like they're parasites of sunfish nests :(. Good thing I'll be spawning pumpkinseeds next month :). I'll just use the time until then to ripen up the females even more and then throw them in with sunfish and hope they don't get eaten by the sunnies. Would it be better to separate the males and females until spawning or doesn't it matter?
Sean Phillips - Pine Creek Watershed - Allegheny River Drainage

#4 michifish

  • NANFA Member

Posted 26 April 2015 - 04:19 PM

Small pond and dollar sunfish.

#5 Matt DeLaVega

Matt DeLaVega
  • Forum Staff
  • Ohio

Posted 26 April 2015 - 07:47 PM

Outdoor pond is the ticket. I think any sunfish that cannot eat them will work. PM Brian Zimmerman. Who sold these, and where did they come from?  Wild caught, or captive bred?

 The only people I know that are breeding them are Phil Kusomething, and Brian Z.

The member formerly known as Skipjack

#6 Sean Phillips

Sean Phillips
  • NANFA Member
  • Allegheny River Drainage, Southwest PA

Posted 26 April 2015 - 08:53 PM

Outdoor pond is the ticket. I think any sunfish that cannot eat them will work. PM Brian Zimmerman. Who sold these, and where did they come from?  Wild caught, or captive bred?
 The only people I know that are breeding them are Phil Kusomething, and Brian Z.

Guess I could invest in a Rubbermaid bin. Would 4-6" pumpkinseeds be able to eat these guys? I think they're captive bred but not positive, the breeder was Phil but he wasn't the guy selling them. You don't think an indoor 33 long (48x13x12) with 3-5 pumpkinseeds and a trio of these guys would work to spawn them?
Sean Phillips - Pine Creek Watershed - Allegheny River Drainage

#7 Matt DeLaVega

Matt DeLaVega
  • Forum Staff
  • Ohio

Posted 26 April 2015 - 09:25 PM

I am really not the guy to ask. I think you would have to condition all of them to spawn, and it may work. You know who to ask. I do not think they like hard water. At least that is what I attribute my welaka failure to. I could not keep them alive, let alone breed them. They looked perfect for 4-6 months, then just started dying. No symptoms. Most of the other guys who collected them at the same locality had a very similar experience. Yours however are captive bred, and are likely more tolerant to conditions other than a 6000 gph spring fed pond.

The member formerly known as Skipjack

#8 lilyea

  • NANFA Member
  • Peace River Watershed, Central Florida, USA

Posted 26 April 2015 - 09:52 PM

Sean - the January 2015 edition of American Currents (volume 40, number 1) had an article by Brian Zimmerman entitled: "Pond Culture of the Bluenose Shiner".  In addition to what is posted on this forum, you should find the article to be helpful.  Brian and Phil are exceptions - this is not an easy fish to breed. There are several accomplished aquarist that I am familiar with that have not had success with this species.


You don't think an indoor 33 long (48x13x12) with 3-5 pumpkinseeds and a trio of these guys would work to spawn them?


No.  I think you will struggle to maintain them, let alone breed them, in a 33 long tank.  If you are asking what has worked or what is expected to work then I recommend that you follow the directions provided and pursue a pond setup for them.  If you are trying to break new ground and learn how to spawn them in a more restrictive environment then that is a different question.  Best of luck with the effort - I truly hope that whatever direction you choose that you have success with this neat fish!

#9 James

  • NANFA Member

Posted 27 April 2015 - 12:10 AM

  I have not spawned these but you'll need more than 3 shiners. I have spawned and raised to maturity other shiners and you would need at least 7 males and 7 females minimum I would think to start off. Thats my lucky number anyway. 40gal breeder is better, and no pumpkinseeds. Build a fake nest. Live feeds. You get the idea.

"meet me in the creek"

#10 Sean Phillips

Sean Phillips
  • NANFA Member
  • Allegheny River Drainage, Southwest PA

Posted 27 April 2015 - 06:18 AM

I really didn't have a choice on the number of fish. There was only one bag of three fish that I didn't want to pass the opportunity of. Since they're so hard to spawn I doubt I'll get them to in my first year of having them but I'm going to try anyway. I'll put them in a 10 gallon (18"x14"x9") water proof makeshift styro box pond with some sand and gravel on the bottom outside with 3 Bluenose shiners and 3 pumpkinseeds (1M:2F). That's if they don't spawn (which I doubt they will) in the 10 gallon they're in now that I'll add a sand bottom to with a small tray of gravel in a corner and some hornwort floating on the top.
Sean Phillips - Pine Creek Watershed - Allegheny River Drainage

#11 Mysteryman

  • NANFA Member

Posted 08 May 2015 - 04:24 PM

I'm the guy who bred them in a tank and figured out the trick to it. Phil expanded on my data and perfected his outdoor pool method.

Hang on  a second, and I'll see if I can find the old article I wrote on it...

#12 Mysteryman

  • NANFA Member

Posted 08 May 2015 - 04:31 PM

Ok, here's my old article on it, and below that I'll post Phil's article.



"Enigma" No More!
The Mystery Solved At Last
By Trey Tabb

When the fishkeeping hobby first began in the United States, the
keeping of America's native fishes was very common, as the selection of
available exotic species was quite limited. As developments in
technology made it easier and more practical over time to import and
keep species from around the globe, interest in north american fish
waned considerably. That's a shame, too, because many of our native
fishes are every bit as alluring as any imported jewel from some
far-flung corner of the earth.
This is a story about one of those fish, the Bluenose Shiner,
Pteronotropis welaka. Discovered over a century ago in Welaka, Florida,
hence the name, this fish has confounded all who have kept it since,
prompting one of it's most faithful fans to coin it's nickname of
"Pteronotropis enigma." Even though the natural history and reproductive
habits of this fish have been studied exhaustively, and despite hundreds of
attempts under every conceivable condition, this fish has almost never
spawned in captivity. The first success came 73 years after the fish was
discovered, a long wait indeed, and that feat was duplicated only a few
more times in the subsequent 35 years, with most of those successes
being either accidental or accompanied by dozens of failures. The
Bluenose, being a North American temperate zone freshwater fish, has a
definite spawning season, of early summer, brought about by certain
environmental cues. That holds true for most non-tropical fishes, and
for a great many tropical ones as well. Temperature, photoperiod, food
availability, changes in hardness or pH or salinity and more can all
serve as the cue, or combination of cues, which bring fish into
spawning condition or even trigger spawning. The Bluenose is certainly
no exception, and conditioning this fish requires months of effort. To
make matters even more complicated, this fish is a "cuckoo" spawner, or
nest associate, which deposits its eggs in the nest of another species,
the Longear Sunfish, Lepomis megalotis. While this fish has spawned in
aquaria some half a dozen times over the past century without the
presence of a Longear nest, it really seems to strongly prefer having a
nest handy.
Although getting this fish into robust spawning condition is
relatively easy, the biggest problem with the Bluenose has always been
the Longears. It stands to reason that providing the conditions which
make Longears spawn would in turn provoke the Bluenoses to follow suit,
but in practice that has proven untrue. In the first place, the Longears
are a lot easier to please, so they may be eager to spawn while the
Bluenoses are not. Another big problem is the fact that the Longears
have a nasty habit of killing the Bluenoses when they are establishing
their breeding territory. In nature, the Bluenoses simply stay away from
the Longears until they see a good opportunity, and then they rush over
to the nest to dump their eggs whenever the nest is momentarily
unguarded. While certainly very problematic, that obstacle has been
overcome in an amusing array of ways ranging from partitions to plastic
sunfish in various attempts. A great many very highly skilled expert
aquarists had tried and failed with this fish, so when I decided to make
my own attempt to get it to spawn, I didn't really think that my chances
of success were very good. However, I did have a theory.
Timing is everything for a cuckoo spawning fish. If the eggs are laid
too early, they might hatch before the host's eggs are even laid,
alerting the host to the intrusion. If they are laid too late, the
host's fry may well eat the eggs, or fungus from infertile host eggs
could kill the intruder's eggs, or the host may even be of the type that
likes to clean and move the fry, which would destroy the unhatched eggs.
Indeed, the eggs have to be laid at just the right time, which means the
cuckoo spawner has to somehow know just when the right moment has
arrived. When I was doing some research on a different species I wanted
to try, the Rainbow Shiner, I learned that it too was a cuckoo spawner,
and that when it's favorite host fish spawns, the Rainbows sprint
upstream to the host nest for immediate spawning. How do they know the
correct moment has arrived? They smell it. When the leftover milt from
the male host fish drifts downstream, the Rainbows recognize the smell
and know that the host nests are ready to parasitize. They ignore the
smell of milt from the other "wrong" species which may also be spawning
upstream. In further research I learned that the introduction of host
species milt can often bring many other cuckoo spawning fish into
breeding condition within a few days all by itself. I thought about the
Bluenose Shiner, and all the times that fish in obvious spawning
condition still refused to spawn, prompting their exasperated keepers to
exclaim "what are WAITING for, you stupid fish?," and I suspected that I
finally had the answer to that question.
I'm very happy to report that my theory was apparently correct. The
addition of Longear Sunfish milt to a tankful of Bluenose Shiners
already in spawning condition will trigger spawning, possibly within
hours! I don't yet know if the introduction of milt alone will bring the
Bluenose into spawning condition, but I certainly hope it does, for as
I'll describe later, conditioning this fish the traditional way is
rather time consuming. It is my hope that some fish farmers reading this
article will find ways to improve and perfect my method, finally
allowing this fish to take its rightful place as a mass-produced hobby
Why all the fuss? Well, just look at the picture. This little beauty
is a dazzler by any standard. The finnage is very unique in shape, and
this fish makes good use of it by flaring up like a Betta on occasion.
The dark blue-black band down the side is punctuated by numerous little
silver scales which shine like a handful of diamonds scattered over a
piece of black velvet. The large, showy fins have a nice pale to bright
yellow color which is shown in good contrast by the black markings
around the edges. Finally, of course, there is that glorious caerulean
blue snout which gives this fish it's common name. The bright blue of a
spawning male's snout is so bright that it can sometimes be the only
thing visible to betray it's presence in the dark, deep murky water it
likes to call home. The female is rather plain in comparison, but comely
in her own way.
Looks aside, this fish has much more to offer as an aquarium species,
but only for those who will give it the care it requires. They usually
adapt well to aquarium life with some care, but just as often as not
they go through a period of adjustment which is very hard for them. This
is not a fish for the novice or casual hobbyist, so far at least, and
even the experts have experienced problems. This fish is a challenge,
but fortunately those who specialize in keeping native north american
fishes thrive on challenge; it is partly why they keep such species in
the first place. Otherwise, this little jewel of a fish is peaceful
toward it's tankmates, lives in schools, doesn't tear up plants but
loves to eat algae, only gets a little over two inches long, is willing
to eat almost anything after some adjustment, and will live under a wide
variety of tank conditions. In short, it is an almost perfect aquarium
fish for those who take good care of it.
This fish lives in the southeastern United States of Florida,
Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. With a distribution like
that, it might seem that the fish is common. However, that is not the
case. This fish is very picky about it's preferred habitat, and while it
enjoys a wide distribution range, it can only be found in a few little
spots scattered throughout that range. The same can be said about all
the nine species in the genus of Pteronotropis, and in fact they share
many other characteristics, most notably the annoying habit of
preferring to live in really hard-to-reach places which can only be
found after a long search. They are schooling fish, but to find more
than a dozen at a time is a rare thing, and it may require a half-mile
walk downstream to find some more, for they only congregate in those
little spots where everything is juuuusst right. Each species has it's
own preferences, and naturally, the Bluenose's preferences are for the
most inaccessible and aggravating places imaginable. While the others
mostly prefer tannic or clear, shallow water with little dropoffs and
waterfalls and sandy bottoms, the Bluenose likes deep, dark, dank, murky
water with mucky muddy bottoms once best described as "fetid mire."
Collecting this fish is a real chore, and it is nearly certainly a lot
more common than officially recognized simply because it is so hard to
conduct fish sampling operations in the areas where it most likely
occurs in greatest abundance.

Well, that's quite enough prefacing., so now I'll reveal the details
of how I got this fish to spawn. This will be one of the stranger
spawning accounts ever written, because while I went to a lot of trouble
to set everything up for this little experiment, I wasn't around for the
actual spawning. I currently work as a longhaul truckdriver, and so I
had to enlist the aid of the lady who feeds my fish. Tina, a newcomer to
the hobby, made observations and told me what she observed during
telephone conversations every few days, and I told her what actions to
take based on those observations. I prepared everything that she would
need in advance in order to make things easy for her.
The Pteronotropis species are all very, very picky about water
current, and it's one of the chief factors which determines where they
choose to live and spawn. I decided to use fish caught in a pond instead
of those from a stream, figuring that they wouldn't be as hard to please
in an aquarium. This fish doesn't normally live in ponds, but I knew of
one which was built by damming up a creek, and it was full of Bluenoses
which were doing quite well after many years. I foolishly went alone,
and after about four hours of hard work, I had managed to collect three
males and five females. I took them home and put them in a little 10
gallon tank by themselves while I got their new tank ready.
The tank I used was a 30 gallon "long." I covered the bottom with
pea-sized gravel to a depth of two inches, and then I covered that
gravel with another inch of plain black potting soil, the kind with
nothing added to it. I wet the soil and packed it down pretty hard, and
then I covered it with a thin 1/4 inch layer of smaller grade dark brown
gravel. Then I covered it all with saran wrap, placed a saucer on top of
the wrap and filled the tank with water. It didn't work as well as I had
hoped it would, but the water was a lot clearer when I was done than it
would have been without the saran wrap. In fact, removing the wrap made
the biggest mess, but it would have been worse without that thin layer
of gravel over the mud. I should mention that the water I used was a
mix of two-thirds distilled water and one-third water from the pond
where I got the fish, which I filtered before use. I usually go half and
half, but I spilled a bucket on the way home. As for decor, I used a
whole bunch of fake plants around the back and ends of the tank, leaving
the front clear for swimming space. The filtration was a combination of
an Aquaclear 200 mounted on the back near one end, and a small 100gph
canister filter. The intake for the canister was on the same end as the
Aquaclear, while the output hose was mounted on the other end, pointed
at the opposite front corner, and only one inch down from the water's
surface. I added a little amazon extract as well. All in all, it wasn't
too bad a mockup of the original pond. As a finishing touch I used a
lightstrip from an old 10gallon eclipse hood for illumination, and it
was set over on the end with the Aquaclear, leaving one end brightly lit
and the other much darker. This works very well with other members of
this genus, and they usually tend to stay on the darker end. Finally, I
hooked up a chiller unit to bring the water temperature down for
mimicking winter. These fish need to be overwintered before they will
spawn in the spring. Some breeders have a "cold room" in their house
which serves the purpose, but down here in the south we have to use a
chiller if we want to simulate winter in the middle of summer. The fish
were introduced to the tank before I started to drop the temperature,
and the water parameters were as follows: pH- 6.6, hardness- 7DH, temp-
74F, photoperiod- 11 hours. After letting the fish get settled for a
day, I left specific instructions on a little calendar which told Tina
what to do and when. Over the next month, the photoperiod was decreased
to 8.5 hours per day, and the temperature was lowered to 59-60. A 25%
water change was conducted with distilled water that I had set out for
the purpose. When I got home, things were pretty much right where I had
expected them to be, and the tank was nearly fully in winter mode. I
checked the food supply to make sure that Tina had enough food at the
ready to feed the fish, and enough distilled water for weekly 15% water
changes. The fish were fed the best foods I could scrounge up for them,
in order to help build up their eggs. They liked to munch on spirulina
wafers, and they ate plenty of daphnia and ostracods. Oddly enough, they
wouldn't eat brineshrimp at all, even though many other people who have
kept this fish report brineshrimp to be one of their favorites. I guess
mine were just a bad batch or something. They also ate mosquito larvae,
the smaller the better, and good old Tetra brand flake food. If I had
thought about it at the time, I would have added Cyclop-eze to the menu.
I hit the road again, knowing that everything was just fine and dandy.
Unfortunately, things didn't remain fine and dandy. I had planned to
keep the fish winterized for three months, but Hurricane Ivan didn't
agree. That storm wreaked havoc on my whole fishroom, as well as my
goldfish ponds and numerous other things. Almost everything was trashed
beyond hope, and the power was out for over a week. That of course meant
no more chiller, and by the time I got home, the temperature had already
risen to 66F, a good month ahead of schedule. I got things put back
together and running, and was considering starting all over again, but I
noticed that the fish were looking a lot friskier than they had looked
the last time I saw them. The females were plump, and the fins of the
males had grown quite a bit, which they do as spawning season
approaches. Finally, the blue on the males' snouts was intensifying and
spreading. I decided that going backward was probably not such a good
idea, so it was time to let the springtime come to the Bluenoses' tank.
I set up a new schedule of twice-weekly waterchanges and photoperiod
increases of 15 minutes every two days. Then I set up another tank, a 20
gallon high, right next to the Bluenose tank on the end opposite from
the filter. That tank was a very simple setup containing only one single
male Longear Sunfish and an undergravel filter. Then I went to a nearby
sportfish farm run by an aquaintance of mine to get some Longear milt.
He had been hit hard by the hurricane as well, and didn't have any
handy, so we had to milk, or strip, some males for their milt. I took it
home and put it in the fridge, where he assured me it would last long
enough for my purposes.
After that I made a waterchange in the tank myself, this time making
sure to stir up some of the muddy bottom on the end of the tank next to
the Longear's tank. When I was done, a 3 or 4 inch patch of mud was
gone, leaving an exposed pit in the underlying gravel, which looked sort
of like a longear nest. I didn't want the Bluenoses to get accustomed to
the pit earlier and subsequently ignoring it later, so I made it only
after adding the Longear so the Bluenoses would possibly think that the
Longear had made the nest. I checked the various parameters, and found
the following: pH- 6.8, hardness- 6, temp 66, and photoperiod 8.5 hours
per day. I hit the road.
A few days later I called Tina for a status report. The temp had
risen to 67 or 68, the photoperiod was 9 hours per day, and the shiners
were avoiding the end of the tank next to the Longear's tank. That was
excellent news, for it meant that they could see the Longear and were
trying to avoid his nesting area. I told Tina to continue on schedule
and watch for any important developments. In another two weeks the
photoperiod was up to 10.5 hours per day, and the temperature had risen
to 73-74F, and the fish were doing their courtship behaviors. I really
wish that I could have been there to see it. Tina said it was
spectacular, with the full colors, fully flared fins, and the males
doing some head-to-tail full-body shimmy sort of dance toward each other
in an intimidation display. I had her do one last waterchange, a 25% one
instead of the usual 15%, and increase the photoperiod by another 15
minutes. The next day things were looking about the same, so I had her
go to the fridge and thaw the little vial of milt until it was runny,
but not too warm. Once it was ready, she was to put it into the tank, as
early in the morning as she could, and then go back one half-hour later
to shut down the filters, and then go back again one more hour later to
put the piece of cardboard I had prepared in between the two tanks so
the shiners couldn't see the sunfish. I should point out that she was
really starting to get fed up with me by this time, but she was a real
trooper. After that, I told her all she would have to do would be simply
feed the fish, and just flake food at that. She was happy.
About 5 or 6 days later I called to see what had happened. I was very
nervous, but tried not to get my hopes up too much. I couldn't believe
the news when I heard it; the tank was full of little baby fish which
were hanging out at the water's surface along the glass edges of the
tank. YES! YES!! YES!!! My jubilation didn't last very long, though, for
at that moment I realized that I had made a critical blunder. I had not
prepared any food for the fry. I never really expected that there would
BE any fry, and the hurricane cleanup crew had destroyed my golfish pond
full of greenwater. Not that it mattered, really. Water changes were one
thing, but there was no way I was going to get Tina to feed the fry
greenwater, complete with yummy aufwuch scrapings from the aquatic
plants, even if I had it already bottled up and ready to use. That
really annoyed me, too, since the fry of this genus are as easy to raise
as guppies after that first week of greenwater. As for the fry, they are
about 1/4 inch long and have only one half the girth of newborn guppies.
They are remarkably fast and agile swimmers which stay at the surface of
the water, well away from the adults.
When I got home, I checked the water parameters once again, finding
the following: pH- 6.9, temp- 75, photoperiod- 10.75 hours/day,
hardness- 5. I don't think any of these changed much after the spawning,
so that's probably what the parameters were when they spawned. By the
time I got home, most of the fry had already starved to death, and the
adults weren't looking very good, either. Fungus had set in, due very
likely to infertile eggs and dead fry, and it had spread like wildfire.
I was only able to find 6 surviving fry, and they've all since perished.
Tina and my mom estimate that there were about 50 fry visible at any
given time for about a week. I don't know how many times the fish
spawned, but it's common for the other fish in this group to spawn
several times, once every few days, for about two weeks. Those others
are simple egg-scatterers, though, so I doubt that's the case with these
cuckoo spawners. The Bluenose is an avid egg eater, by the way, which
leads me to conclude that they did indeed use the nest I provided them.
If they hadn't, they would have eaten the eggs and there would never
have been so many fry. The large size of the pea gravel allowed the eggs
to fall beyong the reach of the spawning fish.


One of the best sites for finding this fish in great quantity is quite
different from the rest in that it has cool, clear water, which is
alkaline ( pH 7.4 ) and of medium hardness. Apparently a wider range of
water parameters is acceptable. It also seems that the Warmouth Bass
might also be a suitable host if Longears are unavailable, and I'll be
conducting an experiment in the near future to test that theory. I
should also mention that this species is very difficult to transport and
acclimate, so if you should find some, take extreme measures to keep
them very comfy on your way home. A little salt in the transport water
helps a great deal.

Oh, by the way, the Pteronotropis group is currently being reworked, and
it looks like the Bluenose, along with the similar Bluehead, P. hubbsi,
and the Redeye Chub, Notropis harperi, will be placed in their own
genus. This makes sense, since they look nothing at all like the other
Pteronotropis species, or like anything else for that matter. Including
the Redeye in this new yet-to-be-named genus is a bit of a surprise, but
then again it IS awfully hard to tell a Redeye from a young or a female
Bluenose. The other seven fish in the genus will keep the current
generic name.

#13 Mysteryman

  • NANFA Member

Posted 08 May 2015 - 04:33 PM

And now Phil's version, a bit more practical.



Welaka Update

Philip Kukulski, July 2010
Nov 2008 article

A Singular Bluenose Shiner Success

by Philip Kukulski


I have caught Pteronotropis welaka, the Bluenose Shiner, at four different sites in three states in the past five years.  In 2006, I got some from 930 miles away (with stops at Jim Graham’s and Charley Grimes’.)  Other species of Pteronotropis that I have had did well and spawned over Java Moss.  The Welaka got the same set-up, with even better care.  Feeding included more frozen adult and live baby brine shrimp, and occasional treats of sunfish roe.  Sunfish milt was added once to try to trigger spawning.  Over that summer, I checked for eggs dozens of times.  The egg saver (1) was moved, and the bottom of the tank cleaned with a siphon hose.  Water was poured off the wastewater bucket and the last half-gallon was transferred to a clear plastic box.  With light from the bottom, and then from the side, I found rotifers, cyclops, brine shrimp nauplii, baby snails, and planaria, but never a single egg.  By my count; Charley, Leo, Bob, Jim, Carl, Klaus, and myself; 14 years of work produced zero Welaka eggs.


Treating Welaka like other Pteronotropis was a bad assumption, particularly because I make the point that not all minnows spawn in the same general manner.  As well, some native fish enthusiasts expect Bluenose and Bluehead Shiners, and Redeye Chubs will eventually be assigned their own genus.


I have since read everything I could find on Welaka spawning.  My strategy currently focuses on this synopsis of their natural history: When a sunfish, in a mucky swamp, fans some gravel clean in preparation for spawning, the Welakas dart in, spawn, and leave their eggs in the sunfish nest.


Last November, I got new Welaka.  The next task was to find small sunfish that would build a nest and spawn in a tank.  A February trip to North Carolina coincided with a terrible cold snap, 25F and windy, compounded by eight previous months of extreme drought, followed by heavy rains, so aquatic plants were missing and the water was high.  The NC sunfish were late in spawning and were not yet in the shallows to be caught.


A few months later, Pumpkinseeds were spawning in Michigan.  As Doug Sweet says, “while the maple tree helicopters are falling”.  At the same time, my male Welaka took third place in the GDAS bowl show; he was not yet fully mature.  By the time my Welakas were ready, the sunfish in Michigan were done spawning.


Bill Flowers came through for me.  He gave me his adult Dollar Sunfish that spawned last year.  And the Dollars spawned for me in a 55-gallon tank.  There were also five Welakas in the tank, but no Welaka spawn.  I raised these Dollars, and threw all the adult fish into a 300-gallon pond.  The bottom of a 55-gallon plastic barrel was sunken as a planter with garden soil covered with gravel.  Elodea and pondweed grew thick.  A gallon of soaked peat was added to make the bottom of the pond a little more like a swamp.


While collecting daphnia to feed the fussy young Dollars, I spotted swimming slivers - must be Welaka fry.  I lost about 10 until I learned that catching Welaka fry in a net would kill them.  My solution was to seine the pond with one sweep of a bed sheet.  When there was only 4 gallons of water left in the sheet, I scooped all the water out and into a small tank.  The Welaka fry stayed within two inches of the surface.  I could siphon the mulm and new Dollar Sunfish out of the bottom half of the tank.  In the end, I had 70 Welaka fry.


I did treat the fry like other Pteronotropis fry, except I needed to delay the progression of foods.  Instead of a week of paramecium and vinegar eels, the Welakas got three weeks.  Baby brine shrimp was fed for 2 months.  Finally the Welaka are doing well on flake food.


I distributed a dozen Welaka fry each to four hand-chosen aquarists.  I was looking for people who had done minnows and sunfish, and who were willing to try both together.


There was a third spawn of Dollar Sunfish.  I checked the pond many times, but no Welaka fry.  Next year, I am going to try these F1 Welaka in a tank.  This time in preparation, I will increase the temperature and lighting so the Welaka might be mature by the time the Michigan sunfish are spawning, so sunfish roe will be available for food.  Sunfish milt seems to get the male Welakas excited.  Trey Tab wrote (2) that the tank in which his Welaka spawned had two inches of pea gravel covered by a layer of peat.  I think this swampiness was missing during my first and third Dollar Sunfish spawns.  Next year, sunfish will be in with the Welaka.  I think the sight of the sunfish gets the female Welakas excited.  Egg crate ceiling light cover material will be used to keep the sunfish out of one side of the tank leaving the Welakas a safe area.  Good thing this is a hobby; success is not required.


(1)   http://gallery.nanfa...-4/DSCN1031.JPG

(2)   http://www.nativefis...gma_no_more.php

Sterling Heights, MI


Below are new clues to the captive propagation of Pteronotropis welaka.  Please refer to my previous works: A Singular Bluenose Shiner Success, Fall 2008; “The Bluenose Shiner: Onerous aspects in captive propagation”, NANFA 2009 Convention.


    * Ponds filled mostly with rainwater.
    * Plants in removable containers, planted in gravel.
    * No peat used.
    * Use ceiling light cover egg-crate material to create Welaka escape routes from the sunfish.
    * Live foods bloom (This year I had some daphnia and quarts of Volvox.)
    * Seven two-year-old F1 Welakas were put in the pond with Dollar Sunfish.
    * There were thunderstorms and some bursts of fresh rainwater.
    * Check ponds every third day with a fine net for any kind of fry.
    * When free-swimming Welaka are found (Welakas show some black bands.  Sunfish fry have bodies.) remove the planted containers and adult fish.
    * Use a bed sheet to corral 40 gallons at a time, gather the edges, and partially lift to drain down to 4 gallons.  Set sheet in a bucket and pull from under the fishy water.
    * Bring fry inside to better control environmental conditions.  (Ponds may get too hot, and water changes may kill the Welaka fry.  I think one dragonfly nymph ate a dozen 5 mm Welaka from a 150 gallon pond.)
    * Give the bucket good light to keep the algae growing.
    * Pour the water with the Welaka fry off the top, leaving the sunfish fry in the remaining water.
    * Start with 100% pondwater.  Over the next month, slowly switch the Welaka to regular water.
    * Feed greenwater, vinegar eels, paramecium, powered egg yolk, and/or powdered flake food.  After a week, add newly hatched baby brine shrimp.  Keep adding more and more flakefood.


I had one joint spawn (6/6/2010), and then reset the Welaka and Dollar Sunfish into another pond and got a second (6/22/2010).  Each spawn produced over one hundred Welaka, which are being raised indoors.  These fish are being distributed to experienced North American native fish breeders with the hope of learning more about the requirements for propagating the Bluenose Shiner.

#14 Sean Phillips

Sean Phillips
  • NANFA Member
  • Allegheny River Drainage, Southwest PA

Posted 26 May 2015 - 05:22 PM

Not sure if this is spawning behavior or just aggression. But, I transferred the trio to a 5.5g (16"x8"x10") with pool filter sand substrate, a small dish of pea gravel, vertically cut piece of PVC cave, sponge filter, and hornwort in it right next to a window that gets several hours of direct sunlight. Temp is running 78-82 F amd the male very recently (past few days) has been chasing around and lightly nipping at the females. Any thoughts?
Sean Phillips - Pine Creek Watershed - Allegheny River Drainage

#15 Sean Phillips

Sean Phillips
  • NANFA Member
  • Allegheny River Drainage, Southwest PA

Posted 26 May 2015 - 05:23 PM


One of the females is also very gravid as you can see from the pictures, the other female not so much.
Sean Phillips - Pine Creek Watershed - Allegheny River Drainage

#16 Mysteryman

  • NANFA Member

Posted 27 May 2015 - 10:57 AM

Wow, she's really loaded!

That water is pretty warm, isn't it? I would guess too warm, but I don't know for sure.


My advice is to find a sportfish farm, you know, one of those places that grows fish for stocking into ponds, and see if you can get some Longear, Dollar, or Warmouth milt. It doesn't take much.

#17 Sean Phillips

Sean Phillips
  • NANFA Member
  • Allegheny River Drainage, Southwest PA

Posted 28 May 2015 - 11:07 AM

Well around here the only sunfish people breed for ponds are bluegill and the nearest farm for them is 3-4 hours, there's one maybe two in PA that breed pumpkinseeds but they're 5-6 hours away.
Sean Phillips - Pine Creek Watershed - Allegheny River Drainage

#18 Mysteryman

  • NANFA Member

Posted 28 May 2015 - 04:02 PM

Hmmm...  well, that's a problem. Maybe you can catch and milk your own locally, but it's a big pain. Alternately, you can maybe find a farm somewhere in the South which can ship you some. If they know WHY you want it they might be more amenable.


First things first, though: his nose isn't even blue! Try to make your fish happier. Cool them off a bit and give them a 20% water change with pre-aerated distilled water. That tends to make them friskier.

#19 Sean Phillips

Sean Phillips
  • NANFA Member
  • Allegheny River Drainage, Southwest PA

Posted 28 May 2015 - 07:59 PM

It's hard to see from the picture but the male most definitely has a prominent blue nose. It's very hard sadly to keep the water cool because the tank is lit via direct sunlight for half of the day, I'm currently floating an ice pack in it for the next few hours to cool it down and I think I might make that a daily thing to keep the water cool from now on.

Oh and not sure if I want to know but how do you milk sunfish, is it the same way I'm thinking?
Sean Phillips - Pine Creek Watershed - Allegheny River Drainage

#20 Mysteryman

  • NANFA Member

Posted 29 May 2015 - 12:26 PM

Well, it's kinda tricky to do, and harder to explain.

You take a male, and hold him with a light pinch just behind his anus with one hand. Then you apply pressure a couple of inches in front of the anus, and rub backward toward it. If that doesn't work, try a little twist action while you do it.

It's not pleasant or especially easy. I watched a guy do it like it was almost as easy as pushing a button, but my own success at it wasn't so good.

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