NANFA-- Spawning of Etheostoma bellum 6-16-2003
Mon, 16 Jun 2003 22:30:30 -0400

I want to write this down before I forget:

I just observed the spawning of a pair of Etheostoma bellum
(orangefin darter) in an aquarium. The fish were collected by Pat
Johnson in Kentucky on his way to the NANFA convention on June 5,
2003. So they were wild conditioned. I observed one spawning act in
between water changes, fish feeding, etc as follows:

The pair were positioned on the substrate in the area of strongest
current. This is directly in front of the powerhead which is
pointing directly at the front glass of the 20 long (12W x 30L x 10H)
tank. So they were right up against the glass as though they were
hoping for more current than they were getting. The tank has an
undergravel filter with about 3 inches of fine (1/16 - 1/8") red
flint gravel on it. The female was buried, head first, with about
the rear half of her body exposed and close to the bottom, such that
her caudal almost touches the gravel. The caudal rays were tightly
clamped together as though to conceal them. She was well camoflaged.
The male lay next to her motionless as I waited. Finally, he darted
away, made a circle and waited nearby in sight of the female. She
wiggled her caudal in brief bursts, attracting his attention. He
responded tentatively. Then they went still again for a while.
Finally, she wiggled again, and he came up along her left side and
came in close, aligned parallel, facing the same direction as his
mate. He then flared his fins and "vibrated" his body, bringing his
vent into close proximity to hers, which was apparently, just at or
below the surface of the gravel. This lasted a few seconds. I
didn't really notice exactly how the female reacted during the
spawning act. I'm supposing she was doing whatever she does to
release eggs. The male then lay still next to her, and I walked off.
A few minutes later, the female has brought her head up out of the
gravel and is apparently resting, in the same place, with the male
touching her. His head is resting on her rear half. Pretty
romantic, huh? :)

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