Sunday, June 17, 2007

Butterfly Goodieds

Male: Right side of photo, with iridescent blue scales, and white band on the tail
Female: Center left above clown loach resting on plants in the driftwood.

Okay, I needed a break from building the new aquarium, so I'm going to profile a cool little fish we found a couple of years ago. They are called Butterfly Goodieds ( Ameca Splendens ). They are a hardy little live bearer that some sources indicate are extinct, or nearly so in the wild. Currently, there are no known wild sources, and none of the major breeding houses are interested in them. The species is kept in the hobby solely by dedicated regional breeders who often specialize in goodieds.

Depending on what you read, they can be kept and thrive from 65-80 degrees, though they will seldom breed at the low end of the range. They are very tolerant of hard and soft water, and one breeder even keeps them in a greenwater tank. We keep ours between 76 and 78 in a heavily planted tank, and they are doing very, very well.

They are a very personable and active fish. They most definitely know who feeds them, and will beg shamelessly even when well fed. They like a good deal of current in the tank, and we often see them playing in the return stream when we run the big diatom filter. They are active and precocious enough that they might worry delicate of skittish species, though the only problem we've ever had with fin nipping was with them in our angel tank when it started getting a little bit crowded, and we lost one of the goodied pair.

They do very well with Bosemani and Australian rainbows in our 150, with the males occasionally even chasing the much larger rainbows across the tank. We have two pairs in our 150, and two more breeding pairs in a 20 gallon which we are slowly converting to a species tank. So far, we've had three drops, and we just sold the first batch of 10 to our LFS and gave a pair to a friend, with 8 more currently growing out with their parents.

However, the very, very best thing of all about the neat little fish is that they LOVE hair algae. A pair of full grown ones can strip a 20g tank of an infestation in a matter of days. 4 of them took care of all the hair algae in our 150 in less than two weeks. The picture below shows two juvenile and several fry going after a ball of hair algae - note that they will not disturb the 'japanese algae ball' sitting next to it.

Breeding them, as with most livebearers, is just a matter of providing them with good water quality, and plenty of good food. They are easily sexed, with females being much larger than males, and males having a bright white band on their tails. The banding emerges, I believe at about 3-4 months, but I have to confess that I did not really watch the calendar for them.

We haven't been breeding them enough to have determined exactly what works well, but we feed them a mixture of flake, veggies, tetramin bottom feeder pellets ( these are actually for our ancistris and clown loaches, but the goodieds seem to love them as well ) and the occasional batch of brine shrimp - as well as any hair algae we can lay hands on.

Fry are larger than most live bearers - and large enough to take flake from the get go, so there is no need to contend with infusoria or other involved methods of feeding. They are typically very shy for the first week or two, but they grow quickly and become quite bold as long as you provide some dense plant cover for them to retreat to. Parents do not seem to be a threat to the fry, as we had 3 generations living in the tank at one point, and no observed loss or damage to the fry.

So do they have a down side? Sort of, as I mentioned above, they can be fin nippers if the tank is crowded, or they get bored. However, in our experience, if you keep a pair, or better a small school, they won't generally bother anyone else in the tank.

Second, they really like hair algae - so much so that it is difficult, if not impossible to keep plants with fine foliage, like foxtail, cabomba, hair grass or glossostigma. We tried repeatedly to get baby tears and hair grass established in our VERY heavily planted 150, and they unfailingly found them, and pulled them up. We even went so far as to box off one corner of the tank for a month to allow baby tears to get a foot hold, and they were still all pulled up in less than two weeks.

Still, on the whole, I think they are 100% worth it. If you can find them in your LFS, they are typically pretty inexpensive, easy to keep, and a whole lot of fun to add to your tank. They are peaceful enough in pairs or schools to keep with most other species, and you get the added benefit of knowing that you are helping to protect and propogate a threatened species.


Anonymous said...

be very keen to get hold of some of these - where are you in the world?

Michael C. Reilly said...

I'm in the USA, in Texas. Looks like it would be a major trip. I'm not sure of the livestock export rules either. I've shipped lots of stuff overseas for Ebay auctions, and I've received fish from overseas, but I've never shipped fish myself.