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.
This afternoon I wanted to capture some Chaoborus to feed my adults. DIfficult… The amount of rain has been so much the pumps aren’t draining the area enough.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This 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.
A new incubation trick: I cut slices from a block of floral foam and push small depressions in them, the size of a coin and about 1 cm deep. These pits are filled with cocopeat, from the container where my killies have been laying eggs. I drip some rainwater on the foam to keep it wet, and I also cut a thin lid. Eat pit gets four fresh eggs on top of the cocopeat, to be incubated. Then the wafer goes into a 250ml plastic container for storage and to avoid desiccation. Here some A. wolterstorffi eggs after one month of storage. The white patch is fungus: I lost one egg out of the four in this pit. As you might notice, the other three contain well-developing embryos. The scratches around the pit are from stabilizing my usb microscope on the foam.
This afternoon I checked a small sample of A. wolterstorffi (Velasquez) eggs, which I photograph regularly. In a few embryos, the developing heads and eyes can be seen. In this egg, the two darkers dots above the yolk droplet are the eyes. USB-camera, near IR light. I also made a short video, where you can see that there is a heartbeat.