Bad luck

Hedgehog (2017)This guy has made a wrong decision or has just been unlucky. I spotted him while fishing Chaoborus. That isn’t very easy at the moment, due to the layer of Asolla cristata. I try to remove it every week and plan to use it as a soil fertilizer.

Desiccation effects in A. bellottii

VanDoorenVarelaFig1Another manuscript out in the open:

“Desiccation plasticity and diapause in the Argentinian pearlfish Austrolebias bellottii”

We (Irma Varela Lasheras and myself) did detailed demographic work on A. bellottii embryos and found that these respond relatively little to being incubated in either water or air with high humidity. The eggs were incubated in multiwell plates, and this allows a very easy follow-up of the embryos, and a good yield of developed embryos. I am happy with the results and they take me all the way back to the start of my PhD thesis, when I read Prof. Michio Hori‘s thesis on Cicindela japonica, in which he did a demographic study of three stages of tiger beetle larvae with graphs similar to the one I show in this post.


Mosquito sauce

Culex (2017)A simple trick which seems to work to attract a lot of Culex mosquitos to a tank so that you can feed killifish fry with their larvae developing from the eggs they lay in there, of any age you might need:

Add a small amount of wheat flour and yeast to the (dechlorinated) water of a 80L basin partly shaded. If the mosquitos are around, soon you will even smell how many they are in there. The flour was my idea, the yeast Milan‘s.

Austrolebias vazferreirai

A. vazferreirai (2017)A pair of relatively young Austrolebias vazferreirai (R44km44) from the type locality. They lay very well and are little aggressive. The water in their tank has some clay added and is therefore turbid. Note the dot on the flank in the male and the weaved pattern. Often vazferreirai males look just grey.

Found her today

A. wolterstorffi (Velasquez, 2017)I didn’t expect her to be still alive but here she is. A female A. wolterstorffi (Velasquez) that overwintered at temperatures going as low as 4C. A pair of the same population managed to lay eggs all through winter. I lost them in March when the water started warming and I just hatched about fifty of their alevins yesterday.


Shed (2017)May and June are for hatching alevins and raising them. I’ve noticed that I keep on getting the same numbers of juveniles for each tank size or type. There are some species effects of course but things are rather predictable, as if their populations are regulated. So I can more or less calculate how much fish I can breed like this per year. The alevins are hatched with rain water after storage at home for at least five months. Then they are fed Artemia once, and a mix of zooplankton after that. I tend to keep them inside for the first two weeks, but I’m thinking of changing that, because I have bigger tanks outside. This is of course not what you should do when you have for example only two alevins of a precious species to save your population. Then put them next to your bed.

When they say no.

A. elongatus (2017)There are these embryos that are refusing to hatch. Here such an environmental change denier and an alevin that did hatch (A. elongatus “Gral Conesa”). Our main explanation is that the non-hatcher will do so at  another occasion and is just hedging its bets. However, here the hatched alevin suggests another explanation: it is infected by fungus. The unhatched embryo might suffer the same infection, preventing it from continuing the life history while being eaten alive.

Very old

bellottii alevins (2017)This alevin is an Austrolebias bellottii Maschwitz that hatched from peat collected in July 2013, outdoors in the vegetable garden. There we only two of them that hatched from this peat this Wednesday (April 19, 2017), but they are nearly four years “old”. Swimming well and eating allright.


Evolutionary rates AustrolebiasThis week I posted a manuscript on bioRxiv. Here is the link to it:

“A case for sympatric speciation by cannibalism in South-American annual killifish (Austrolebias)”

We demonstrate that large Austrolebias evolved at least three times from small ones. For one case, we argue that piscivory evolved starting from the evolution of cannibalism on conspecifics.