To my surprise I stumbled across a huge abundance of information on caring for and breeding plecos when I found plecofanatics.com in 2006. I had kept bristlenose in a community tank when I was a kid but this was another whole level above the information that was available to me as a kid 22 years before. A new world of fish keeping was now at my fingertips and I spent the next 2 months reading almost every post there was on breeding and caring for plecos. Before the internet I would have been lucky to find a book with a handful of pages on breeding bristlenose, but now I was in contact with hundreds of people, breeding hundreds of different types of plecos, all over the world. This was great.
What an amazing looking fish is the L134. It was love at first sight, and when I discovered that they could be bred in captivity, I started to look for my first colony.
On December 12th 2006 I purchased 7 L134s from a bloke who had them in a large and deep 8 foot tank. I collected them from his house and when I first saw them I was surprised as they were the biggest fattest L134s I’d ever seen. They were so fat that when they rested on the bottom of the tank they teetered on their bellies.
On the December 30th 2006 I started up the breeding tank with the aim of having a spawn in no time at all. Boy was I mistaken.
After having read so much I thought it would be a cinch. Just give them optimum conditions and they will breed. I’d read everything there was to read, including the translations from a number of german articles, so how hard could this be?.
Here’s what I did... I initially set them up in a bare bottom tank with a few D shaped caves and some Anubis planted on driftwood. I dutifully supplied them with water changes every second day, and RO water when required (to simulate a rainy season). I fed them well and monitored the tank parameters obsessively. I even kept an excel spreadsheet of daily variables for Temp, TDS, Water change amount, RO water, PH, Black Water Extract (an additive) and even what I fed them each day.
And the wait began....... And I waited and waited.... And waited some more.... Still dutifully obsessing over my fish....
I added river rocks.... 3 months later I removed them.
The tank needed substrate.... then I removed it too.
The caves needed to be changed so I tried different shapes. I built slate caves and cut bamboo caves...
Plants..... was I using the wrong plants? Should they have plants at all?
Music? Believe it or not I played them a thunderstorm soundtrack...
I covered the tank with towels and kept the lights off. I put the lights on timers.
I tried rainy season after rainy season. Long ones, short ones, soft ones, big floods and cold rivers, no flow and high flow.
Power heads on, power heads off. Lights on, lights off
Heaters on heaters off.
And on and on and on it went.....
I tried everything!!!!!
And guess what happened after more than 12 months of work work work?..... NOTHING..... Arghhhhhh....
So herein lies the key to how I managed to spawn my L134s..... I gave up (well not completely, but mostly), and in doing so, I gave my fish the rest and peace they need.
I stopped the daily or weekly water change, I stopped using RO water, I stopped testing for ammo, nitrates, nitrites and the like. I fed them mostly Hikari algae wafers and only occasionally some frozen foods. I stopped obsessing.
And guess what happened? In February 2008 after just 3 or 4 weeks of leaving my fish alone I noticed that one of the males was vigorously fanning his tail at the entrance of the cave. I grabbed a torch and had a peek and there was a very agitated L134 sitting on a bunch of eggs. Over the next 5 months I had another 4 or 5 spawns about a month apart for each. I could tell you what the water parameters were at the time, TDS 100ppm, Temp 27°C, PH 6.5, but I really don’t think that the parameters are too important.
What is clearly important to me, is that the fish need some time to themselves and the less interference with the tank the better.
So here’s a brief guide to breeding L134s and the parameters that my tank had during most of these spawns.
Temp about 27°C, TDS about 100PPM, PH 6.5
Keep lights off.
Feed lots for a week.
Do a 30% water change
And leave them alone.
If nothing happens, then feed them lots for 3 weeks, then do a 30% water change and leave them alone.
Hope this helps those who are trying to breed these fish. Be patient and give your fish the space they need.
Next lesson, “Don’t shine torches in caves”
Any questions, just ask.
Introducing the L134 to their tank on day one.
I used some silicone airline to slowly drip tank water and acclimatise them.
Big fat L134s
Trying different caves
This young fry had a problem with its yolk sac. It later died as the sac kept expanding.
It’s the only fry that has died after leaving the care of the father.
A sibling of the fry above. This one has just absorbed the yolk sac.
Juveniles at about 6-8 weeks
Juveniles 9-10 months old
Female L134 with nice patterns.