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Bantam Sunfish Getting Ready to Spawn


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#1 centrarchid

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Posted 23 October 2017 - 09:14 PM

Fish I am watching getting real close.  Male and two females now in 40-gallon breeder.  Females stay near air diffusers eating plankton.  Male moves back and forth between where I think nest will be constructed and females where he bullies them a bit.  Male is becoming more aggressive with each bout.  Other changes also underway.


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#2 centrarchid

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Posted 24 October 2017 - 08:54 AM

Abdomens of females extending even more.  Male working hard to exclude them from area his nest appears to be in.  Before leaving for work I placed a pre-fabricated nest in location I think he has sites on.  Hopefully broods will be present when I get back home from work.


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#3 centrarchid

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Posted 25 October 2017 - 06:21 AM

Still no brood.  40-gallon breeder tank may not be large enough to permit more natural social interactions that lead to proper courting and final ripening.  Male still not dancing.  Partition may be installed shortly.


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#4 centrarchid

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Posted 25 October 2017 - 04:33 PM

First brood deposited by largest female I have spawned to date.  Actual deposition occurred between 0700 and 1500 so may have to get some embryos out and look at them under microscope.  Male made nest site about 10" from location I expected him to use.  It was fun explaining to a 6 and a 4 year-old what daddy was doing and why he kept the mother away.  The male puts a lot of effort into fanning.


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#5 centrarchid

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Posted 25 October 2017 - 09:45 PM

Nest site again demonstrating my camera skill level.  At first I had major trouble seeing any eggs, until I realized the entire nest bottom is solid with with them.  To my eyes nest bottom is decidedly golden and all particles are held together by the eggs.  Brood is huge for a Bantam sunfish.  I will attempt to get a count on prolarvae.  I am betting count will be higher that estimates in literature.


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#6 centrarchid

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Posted 26 October 2017 - 05:45 AM

Area in center of light almost solid eggs.  They are stuck together so tight they hold the substrate in place.

 

EMBRYOS+LUCKY+TO+BE+IN+FOCUS.jpg


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#7 centrarchid

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Posted 26 October 2017 - 09:28 PM

Prolarvae already hatched when I got home at 2000 but were not when I left for work at 0700.  That means hatching occurred 23 to at most 36 hours post-fertilization.  I think time closer to middle of that range.  Yolks are incredibly orange.  Diet related.  The toy microscope I got sucketh big time for imaging the prolarvae.  Still shows color that I will post tomorrow.


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#8 centrarchid

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Posted 29 October 2017 - 03:31 PM

Another female about to produce eggs.  She is blanching loosing her dorsal spot.  Male courting her like a mad dog.  First brood still prolarvae.  All but male and broods will be pulled out today.  Going to try and rear 500 fry.


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#9 centrarchid

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Posted 30 October 2017 - 08:25 PM

The female indicated above produced a brood.  Brood and nest that contains it in a different location from from the first.  First brood still as prolarvae with exodus likely tonight.  Female producing first brood getting ready to spawn again.  Current arrangement not natural as male able to eat enough to keep putting weight on.  Normally male would be loosing weight while engaged in brood care.


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#10 Matt DeLaVega

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Posted 30 October 2017 - 09:07 PM

Golly, These were junk fish near death a couple weeks ago. How did they bounce back so fast? Have you seen this in other Lepomis? Obviously you have some skill, but it cannot all be attributed to conditions. They must have some ability to deal with feast/famine and come back quickly. Is this at all unique to the species or is this fairly normal?


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#11 centrarchid

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Posted 30 October 2017 - 09:13 PM

I do not know.  These fish were not spent reproductively at onset of starvation.  With exception of largest female, breeding size not realized until immediately before food deprivation began.  I have seen Bantams in relatively poor condition in the wild for most of the summer.  Growth during summer also seems rather slow.  Therefore they may be well adapted to limited nutrition much of the time.  They are also easy to keep for up to four years before kicking bucket.  I have a hard time keeping other fish around that long without them putting on a lot more growth.


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#12 JasonL

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Posted 30 October 2017 - 09:49 PM

FWIW I have caught wild male Bantams not much more than an inch long in full breeding colors. In fact, I've rarely ever caught any wild Bantams more than 2 inches and I've caught a good number of them recently.

That said, I have found them to put on serious growth in a fairly short period of time in an aquarium setting once transitioned to pelleted foods. Have a couple now that are pushing 3.5 inches and were only a half inch a year or so ago. So the potential is there for fast growth if given the chance.

#13 centrarchid

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Posted 31 October 2017 - 06:07 AM

Many Bantams I see do not reach breeding size until they are age-2 which can be as little as 1".  It appears the habitats supporting Bantams are extremely limited in their productivity of the sort that supports sunfish growth.  The Bantams small size may allow the fish to complete life cycle with reduced need for food intake relative to larger sunfishes.  In my haunts, Fliers and Red Spotted Sunfish only seasonally occur in abundance where Bantams occur.  The larger species may move about more to follow eats.


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#14 centrarchid

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Posted 02 November 2017 - 08:49 AM

Female that produced first brood produced another yesterday.  Refractory period 7 days, about as short as I have ever seen in Bantam Sunfish.  Second brood mostly supported by drawing down fat and muscle tissue rather than just by feeding up.  That is OK because I lost entirety of first brood by her.  Male needs to nest in my prefabricated nest so brood can be transplanted into a better larval rearing setup.


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#15 centrarchid

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Posted 10 February 2018 - 10:47 PM

I am getting my 3 adult female Bantams ready to spawn again.  This will be the 3rd batch of spawnings since last spring by these fish.  Each of the previous two rounds had each female putting out to clutches in just under two weeks.  Then they got quite skinny as emphasis switched over to broods.  They got very thin again; one became a literal head job. Starting 3 weeks ago I starting feed to them heavy and weight came back on very fast.  They appear well adapted to poor feeding after breeding season and much more capable than Bluegill at bouncing back.  At some point a real fish biologist will need to explore this as it might be really important to the Bantam's ability to persist in the swamps with all those macrophytes in what is often rather clear water.


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#16 JasonL

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Posted 17 February 2018 - 09:43 PM

Thought I would add some observations to this thread. Tonight I noticed some Bantam breeding activity in my 110 gallon tank which has 2 male bantams and one female bantam. There are other species including Flier, Orangespots, various darters and shiners. My orangespots have bred a few times but this is the first time I've noticed the Bantams engage.

Here is a pic of the male. He is around 4 inches and the biggest fish in the tank. He darkened up tonight quite a bit and does this during feedings sometimes too.

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The female is around 3 inches. Normally she keeps to herself and is a bland silvery color. Tonight she lost her dorsal spot and developed band like markings I normally see in the males.

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Activity observed included a lot of lateral positioning by the female who was often on her side at times being nudged by the male who was somewhat aggressive at times, but not as much as I've seen with Orangespots or bluegill. Tried to get a few pics.

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Think I see a few eggs. They are more opaque than Orangespot eggs which I have also seen in this tank. Did not see aggressive nest building attempts or guarding as of yet by the male. Expect minimal survival given the coexisting species in the tank but thought I'd post these observations nonetheless.

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#17 centrarchid

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Posted 18 February 2018 - 08:15 AM

If I can see any eggs, then it is in the second to last image on the largest rock.  Not a typical spawning site.  Female rolling her back to male (what I call dorsal present) indicates she is being submissive.  Overall appearance to me indicates she is spent.  Does the male hang over nest area fanning a lot?


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#18 centrarchid

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Posted 18 February 2018 - 08:16 AM

Are you going to raise fry?


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#19 JasonL

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Posted 18 February 2018 - 06:58 PM

She is pretty beat up today but readily takes pellets. No nest guarding activity seen by the male. Tank back to normal activity and hierarchy today as well. If there was spawning activity presume it was unsuccessful. Tank not set up for fry survival regardless.

Bantams are interesting fish. The most passive of any sunfish I have encountered including flier and orangespots.

#20 centrarchid

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Posted 19 February 2018 - 07:14 AM

In such a big tank, the male usually does not cause the female harm.  

 

Are you allowing lights to go down completely at night?  That can cause aborting of breeding effort on male side.


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