The “Peacock Gudgeon” or Tateurndina ocellicauda is a small goby from the Australasian region. To me it is the most colorful little freshwater fish to be imported from any area. A mostly pink body with purple, orange, yellow, blue and black vivid colors is seen at all times. The males are about 1 inch and the females are smaller than the males. When fully grown the males have a stocky body with a very blunt snout area and very pronounced pointed dorsal and anal fins. The top edge of the two-part dorsal is lined with bright yellow. While red blotches are seen at the start of each dorsal ray along the body. A prominent dark blue blotch enhances the caudal peduncle. The female has almost the same brilliant coloring but a little more subdued. Her snout area is mostly pointed and she has a much more slender body.
When ready to spawn, her belly area becomes quite swollen and has an almost silver color. Originally I was told that this was brackish water species but over the years I’ve found this to be untrue. Actually I receive a more even sex ratio using some RO water to obtain a hardness of around 60ppm. As with all the tanks in my fish room the temperature is maintained at 76 degrees. They show their colors much better in a fully planted tank. But for breeding purposes I usually keep them in bare bottom ten gallon tanks with a few clay flowerpot shards for hiding. The most important items to include are two to 3″ sections of ¾” or ½” PVC pipe for each pair. This way I can keep as many as three males and a half a dozen females in the same tank.
And some Java moss is included in hopes keeping the males apart. Just be sure there are enough PVC pieces for everyone and then some. The males pick the location and the narrower the better. Sometimes I wonder how they both even get in there. Once the spawning is completed the female leaves never to return again for fear of her life. During the remaining days the male rarely even leaves the nest, constantly fanning the eggs that are usually hanging by threads from the top portion of the tube. If you witness the actual spawning, you are much better than I am as I have only seen it once over the course of quite a few years.
All my PVC tubes are placed so I can view through them to find the eggs. A good sign of a spawning is when you find the male staying inside the PVC. Upon finding the eggs I ready a small tank with water from the breeding tank and add a sponge filter. Covering each end with my thumb and forefinger I remove the entire tube with the male inside. This way he hardly realizes he has even been moved. I very sparingly offer food but he rarely leaves his post at this time. About 4 days later little black eyes are the only part of the tiny fry that are noticeable darting about the tank.
At this time I pick up the tube to release the male and carefully net him out to return him to the breeding tank. All eggs will not hatch at the same time so the tube must be returned to the fry tank. Those very tiny fry will eat newly hatched brine shrimp but I also add paramecium just to make sure they are taking some nourishment the first few days. In about a week they will begin taking the parents’ shape and you will notice those nice orange bellies. From this time on there is no feeding problem at all, just continue with plenty of newly hatched brine shrimp and add a few tiny Cory cats or snails to take care of the uneaten food. As soon as they are large enough I replace the sponge filter with a bubble-up type.
I feed all my adults either live brine shrimp or frozen brine but rarely offer flake food, as they are not anxious to take it. They will chow down on tubifex or black worms but I dislike using them myself as they can carry disease. In about six months the new fish are almost ready to spawn and repeat the process all over again.
by Don Zilliox
First published in Some Things Fishy, Newsletter of the Tropical Fish Club of Erie County