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Black Ghost Knife Fish


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For all:

First of all just a little bit of history. Ecuador had a mass breeding set up in a mining/land clearing town that ran off the local river. It was set up for experimentation purposes for reasons similar to the German's using Peter's Elephant Noses with it's electrical impulses as an indicator for water quality. The experiment was a failure, however they realised that money could be made through exportation and smuggling. Unfortunately the breeding facility for all it's faults and failings was destroyed.

The setup consisted of 3 sheds about 500 metres sqaure. With double rows of tanks going from one end to the other and up to 5 rows high. The tanks themselves were 2ft high and seperated by dividers that were about 1 1/2in below the waterline so that if the fish weren't compatible they could find a tank with a fish that was. Some tanks had a single pair, others had 1 female and several males and vice versa. The shed was kept at a low light level at all times.

The bottoms of the tanks were completely covered with marbles to allow the eggs to drop through to the bottom as the BGK fish are egg scatterer's and will eat the eggs. Once the eggs were laid it was about 4-7 days to hatching.

The water used was pumped straight from the river into a pipe setup that ran over the tops of each tank. The pipes were slotted so that the water coming through was like a waterfall as they supposedly like fast flowing water. Their breeding season is the wet season however the setup that they had negated this to year round breeding.

No heaters were used in the tanks and the water was fairly cool but outside of the water the atmosphere was humid.

The water as I said was river water so it was always murky and stirred up particularly in the wet season.

Once the fry had hatched they were kept in the same tanks. Supposedly the fry are slow growing until around the 2-3in mark. I am unaware of what they fed them.

As for being a temperamental fish I don't know as they didn't seem to have to many problems with them apart from incompatibility, however you also have to remember that this is their natural habitat.

How does this relate to breeding over here. Well many different ways have been set up to breed these fish from what I have been told. The principle however is the same. Find a compatible pair. The best way that a male has been described to me is his head is shaped more like a horses head than the female and his eyes are more to the top of his head. Whilst the female has a more slender head and it's eyes are lower and to the front of it's head close to the mouth. You can only tell this by comparing 2 of more at a time.

Tanks have been set up with bare bottoms and the bottoms of pot plants filled with larger pebbles, or with the bottom being completely covered in marbles or anything that will allow the eggs to drop through to the bottom without the parents getting to them. 5mm gravel or larger is recommended. From all the info so far smooth rocks, pebbles or marbles are the way to go and what they prefer also.

Water quality has been the hardest to find out as it seems some people have been extremely lazy with water changes to the point that the water is algae riddled while others have had good water quality. Although it is predominant that most people I have spoken to had poor water quality.

Whatever filter that people seem to use it is also predominant that the water flows down onto the top of the water level. Anything can be used with one person supposedly using a powerhead hooked up to a piece of hose that was then connected to a shower rose to simulate a tropical downpour.

There has also been varying success with lighting. Some people supposedly having completely darkened tanks in very quiet areas while others had well lit tanks with loud music playing. I suppose it depends on the fish.

There has also been some differences with water temp., as I said there was no heaters in the ones I saw in Ecuador, yet I have been told that people over here have the water temp. at about 27 degrees.

When ready to breed there is a red flashing on the tail of both the male and the female although it is more predominant on the tail of the male. When they do mate it looks as if they are having a roll in the hay.

When the female lays the eggs it looks as if she is feeding on the rocks as the eggs come out from just under her head. As the female takes a break the male then fertilises the eggs. Afterwards it may look as if he is dead but he is only shagged from a marathon session. When the female comes back for round 2 the males takes off and there continues the cycle.

The eggs when laid are clear but will turn white if they go bad. Supposedly chinese containers with large smooth and dark pebbles are the best as you can pick the eggs quite easily due to the contrast in colours. However if you miss the laying process you will be able to pick out the eggs due to the amount laid.

As the eggs mature they slowly grow a tail and form their natural shape, at this stage being brown in colour and turning black as they mature. If you remove the fry you should do so at the 2-3 week mark as this is when they begin to venture out and the adults will mistake them for food. The fry are also very slow growing until around the 2-3in mark.

The BGK fish fry love protein pellets and blood worms. The protein pellets should be crushed. This is easily achieved by putting the pellets in a salt or pepper grinder and grinding them up and using a net to catch it in then feeding it to the fry.The blood worms are good for conditioning them and they should thrive on the protein pellets.

Also the other BIG thing that I have been told is that the fry have a high mortality rate. Why, I couldn't tell you, hopefully I can shed more light on this when I get my breeding pair up and going as no one else I have spoken to has been able to shed light on this either.

Maybe this will work maybe it won't however I hope it does as this is what I will be doing when I get my breeding pair going. The only other thing is to buy a known breeding pair off of a breeder and pay for the info as well, I don't know maybe my way is cheaper maybe it is not. Again maybe it will work maybe it won't.

I hope that this has been informative to everyone as maybe some of the techniques could be helpful in breeding other species of fish I don't know. I am also sure that these are not the only techniques used for breeding this unique fish and that there is many more ways that people have bred them so if you have and you can provide more info please do so or even if you have tried and been unable to do it tell us how you went about it It will not be a wee wEE taking exercise but an experience and a learning curb for those of us that haven't.

Again I hope this helps.



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