NANFA-- spawning welaka

Christopher Scharpf (
Sat, 20 Sep 2003 21:21:41 -0400

> I looked on the nanfa website for info about P welaka and found a couple
> of report of breeding them. I cannot find the reports at the moment,
> but both were from some time ago. As I recall, the fish was being bred
> so that it could be distributed to the hobby. Yet here it is, 10-15
> years later and we're still having the same discussion.
> Does this mean the fish will never be bred?

P. welaka *has* been bred.

One of the first (if not the first) reported spawnings of P. welaka was
published in an early issue of American Currents. Anthony Terceira (1975)
reports placing two pairs of P. welaka into a 15-gallon aquarium with
"natural gravel," a thick cover of water sprite, and one corner densely
planted with foxtail. An airstone was "bubbling at a rather fast rate in the
middle of the tank to provide maximum circulation of the water." Within two
weeks the shiners had spawned and "scattered their eggs throughout the dense
cover . . .". Although it's possible that Terceira's shiners spawned in the
plants, it's also possible they spawned over the gravel and that the eggs
were disbursed into the dense cover by the "rather fast" bubbling of the
airstone. Terceira removed the parents and raised the fry on infusoria.
After the six days they became free-swimming and were fed paramecium and
newly hatched brine shrimp.

Also in American Currents, B.G. Granier (1998) reports P. welaka "scattering
eggs all over the substrate of the tank." Tank conditions emulate those in
the wild - soft water, pH 6.4 to 7.0, water temperature 10-25.5C (50-78F)
- and live foods help get adults into spawning condition. Not reported in
that article are two potentially significant observations: Immediately after
spawning, the shiners assume a nose-down position and quickly eat their
eggs; and attempts to spawn them in bare-bottom tanks failed (B. G. Granier,
pers. comm.).

The most detailed protocol for spawning P. welaka is in the book American
Aquarium Fishes. Place 10-15 individuals into a 29-gallon tank with slight
current, plants (or some other structure) around the sides, and an open
middle area covered with coarse gravel or pebbles. Feed the fish on live
foods for eight weeks, then lower the temperature to 18C (65F). Move the
females to another aquarium, continuing to feed them live foods. After
another eight weeks of conditioning, return the females to the tank with the
males and slightly reduce the current. Spawning should take place within a
few hours. Turn off filters since the eggs are easily scattered into the
current and drift throughout the tank. Remove the parents and begin
conditioning them for several more rounds of spawning. Eggs hatch in 2-4
days, depending on the temperature. Eggs may also be collected in spawning
mops or pebble- or marble-filled spawning trays for hatching in separate
nursery aquaria. Keep turbulence to a minimum as it interferes with feeding.
Feed the fry rotifers, infusoria, and green water, switching to daphnia and
ostracods after two weeks. Baby brine shrimp are not readily accepted.

Of course, another way is to throw them in a pond with pumpkinseeds or other
centrarchids. Welaka are facultative nest associates; once the pumpkinseeds
starts spawning, the welaka should too.

I doubt that many average fishkeepers have the time, patience, and facility
to follow Goldstein's protocol. If they do, they stand to make a lot of
money selling welaka to the rest of us! :-)

Chris Scharpf
/"Unless stated otherwise, comments made on this list do not necessarily
/ reflect the beliefs or goals of the North American Native Fishes
/ Association"
/ This is the discussion list of the North American Native Fishes Association
/ To subscribe, unsubscribe, or get help, send the word
/ subscribe, unsubscribe, or help in the body (not subject) of an email to
/ For a digest version, send the command to
/ instead.
/ For more information about NANFA, visit our web page,