Diapterons-what problems?

R. Koubek
P.O. Box 147
South Africa
Tel: 084-335-0101

Measured on a scale of 1 to 10 anybody whose fair experience ranges 6 to 7 can successfully keep and breed them. Now that the Rare Species breeding program of the SAKS has made all Diapteron species available in good numbers it is a good time to pass on some experience. The more so as breathable Kordon bags have given us unproblematic airmail shipment for the two yearly weather windows.

Tank Setup

Diapteron should be kept at 18 to 22, airconditioning may be necessary as the temperature is very important. They are best kept as a single species-there is on exception: the Makokou population of cyanostictum and georgiae can be kept together-in well covered 60×30 ×30 cm tanks.

Air and filtration is not necessary, but constant water changes are. A minimum of 20% per week should be changed. The water should be soft, in the wild habitat the conductivity meter shows no reading. The pH for the growth of young fish is best kept below 7 but lower pH values are not a problem as long as extremes are avoided.

Peat or well rinsed palm-peat fiber can be used as a substrate, Plenty of Java moss and fern should be provided for the females to hide and for male territory establishment. The plants also serve as spawning substrate and supply the first food for the fry.


No problem to get by without pond food. Artemia, microworm, grindals (only small amounts during breeding, too fatty) and fruitflies are adequate. Frozen red mosquito larvae (bloodworms) have caused problems1 . Tubifex is definitely a no no. Ponds without fish are the best source of food as they have no parasites. Ostrich meat, sold for dietry purposes, is very good as it has only 2 to 3% fat content. Beefheart is too fatty.


Breeding groups composed of 3 to 7 individuals show the best results. This is because of 2 reasons: 1) few eggs are laid per female per day. 2) Inbreeding with brothers and sisters is a travesty of genetics. Inbreeding causes the fish to stay small, increase on infertility, weak thin females, bent backs etc... the breeding group has to be obtained from the right source. The best source is from people who collect their own wild fish and provide the correct diet of pond food (Daphniae etc...). The problem is this: you may get your fish from someone who has just managed to squeeze a few young out of a twelfth generation successive inbred fish. In that case you have  ``a problem fish''. No chance for you.

Believe it or not this scenario is from an USA website, proudly reporting problems with Diapteron. That is utter nonsense, do not buy a group from anyone who cannot offer 50 fish per species right away-and buy half grown fish, not failures.2

Interesting, nowdays you may only register your Alsation (German Shepherd) with proof of a DNA test. this way the dog breeders put an end to hocuspocus inbreeding.

To monitor breeding put a mop of acrylic wool into a corner of the tank and check it regularly for eggs. If you find eggs Do not touch them! Put the mop back into the tank. After four weeks remove the fish into an identically setup tank to carry on breeding. Newly hatched fry find plenty of food in the Java moss. When you see them swimming microworm, newly hatched Artemia or sieved pond food can be fed. The usual result is some twenty young fish.

For the next generation you best acquire some more fish to benefit your gene pool.

Some final advice: resist temptation. Your fingers and chemicals are not good for the eggs.

The opinions in this article do not reflect that of SAKS or the Editor unless stated.


1Editor's opinion: Frozen cyclops is a good alternative to bloodworm. it is far more nutrious and represents a more natural diet.

2Editor's opinion: Young fish also ship better than older fish. Given the `short' life span of killies buying young fish is a better idea anyhow.

File translated from TEX by TTH, version 3.13.
On 31 Oct 2003, 15:19.