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Johnny darter breeding

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#1 Snailfactory

  • NANFA Guest
  • Riegelsville

Posted 24 February 2017 - 01:50 PM

So I collected a female johnny darter 2' in the fall to add something to my native stream tank. She adapted to the frozen blood worms and brine shrimp after about to weeks. She has since then been happily eating and fattening up. I noticed a few weeks ago that the area of her belly above the anal fins was orange and she was even fatter than usual. I knew it was eggs so I figured it's unseasonably warm so i would go collect some fish and see if I could find a mate and a few more creek chubs or some dace. I ended up getting some of each including one male darter about 2.5'. This was 3 days ago. So usually wild fish don't eat frozen foods right away for me. which is why I like to keep copepods and amphipods cultured on hand At all times. Well. This male darter was gobbling every blood worm that fell to the ground the morning after being intoduced to the tank, and also making short work of cleaning out a cave and courting the female. He is now in the cave guarding about 10 or more eggs and I'm sure there's more to come.

Now my question is what should I do now? Should I remove the other fish from the tank or should I leave it the way it is? I have quite a bit of cover in the way of rock piles caves sticks and plants, but I'd really like to see some of these fry raise up.

Also is it just me being a novice fish keeper or is it rare that this male went from wild adult fish to captive breeding fish in three days?

P.s. I'll post pictures later, also please help I only have a short time before these things start hatching!

#2 Chasmodes

  • NANFA Member
  • Central Maryland

Posted 24 February 2017 - 05:49 PM

Sorry that I don't have any answers, but that's pretty cool that they spawned right away and that the male is eating!

Kevin Wilson

#3 Snailfactory

  • NANFA Guest
  • Riegelsville

Posted 24 February 2017 - 06:40 PM

Yeah I thought so too I'll post the pics of the nest soon.

#4 mattknepley

  • NANFA Member
  • Smack-dab between the Savannah and the Saluda.

Posted 24 February 2017 - 07:45 PM

I'll leave the rearing specifics to others, but I can say I have had some natives spawn almost straight after being added to their new aquarium home. Christmas Darters and Greenfin Shiners, specifically. Unfortunately, no fry... One theory for this phenomenon is that the fish isn't sure if it's about to die soon or not, so it makes with the spawning in a hurry, just in case...
Matt Knepley
"No thanks, a third of a gopher would merely arouse my appetite..."

#5 sbtgrfan

  • NANFA Member
  • Charleston, SC

Posted 25 February 2017 - 07:20 AM

I've had Seagreens that have spawned right away after being introduced to my tank, before even adapting to home foods. Probably just a time of year/situational thing. Unfortunately for me, I also had blackbandeds in the tank that were there to scoop up every egg that came out. Cool to watch though. 


I think if you want to raise fry you would want to separate all the other fish. I have no experience with Johnny darters nor darter fry, but I would assume they would need something like baby brine shrimp or something similar in size and life to eat. You can always throw something like java moss or a similar moss in there near the cave and hope they take cover in that, which can also provide them with a source of food, but it's not guaranteed life with other predators in the tank. 

Stephen Beaman
Freshwater Aquarist
South Carolina Aquarium
Charleston, SC

#6 gerald

  • Global Moderator
  • Wake Forest, North Carolina

Posted 25 February 2017 - 08:38 AM

Having similar fish in the tank that are already eating non-live foods definitely helps a new-caught fish learn to eat non-live foods.  Doesn't need to be the same species; just similar enough in size and behavior.   There's no parental care after eggs hatch, so I'd move eggs to a separate tank, with a pump or airstone to keep flow around them.  Check the NANFA main website for many articles on captive darter breeding, by Ray Katula and other folks.

Gerald Pottern
Hangin' on the Neuse
"Taxonomy is the diaper used to organize the mess of evolution into discrete packages" - M.Sandel

#7 Snailfactory

  • NANFA Guest
  • Riegelsville

Posted 25 February 2017 - 12:22 PM

Thanks everyone for the replies. I don't know how to reply directly yet cause I'm new to the forum, but I'm formulating a plan now. I have a few days to figure it out. They hatch after 6 to 10 days I thought it was faster than that. But im either going to take everyone els out or take the cave and put it in a new tank. I'll wait another day or 2 cause they are still actively breeding. I'll keep posting updates. Also to the person who said to feed brine shrip thanks but I actually have micro worms that I think should work as well. Haven't met a small fish that doesn't like them.

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