How to equip an aquarium for labyrinths
Fish, called a labyrinth, or anabasov, by the name of the muddy anabas crawler (Anabas testudineus), have an amazing adaptation for breathing in atmospheric air. The respiratory organ located in the adnexal cavity of the fish is a system of bone plates covered with mucous membranes with numerous tiny blood vessels, through which gas exchange occurs. Thanks to their additional respiratory adaptation, the labyrinths feel quite comfortable in the reservoirs of tropical Africa and Asia, poor in oxygen.
They can do without water longer (in very humid air) than without air, since in the process of evolution their gill organs were somewhat degraded, and their normal way of breathing with gills began to play a much smaller role. Deprived of the opportunity to grab a bubble of air near the surface of the water, the labyrinth quickly perish.
The presence of a gentle labyrinth apparatus in fish often causes problems when transporting them over long distances. The generally accepted method in the aquarium practice of transporting fish in plastic bags filled with water and oxygen can be detrimental to labyrinths, since pure oxygen “burns” their respiratory organs. Therefore, it is recommended to mix oxygen with air in a ratio of 1: 1 or use only air, but at the same time reduce the packing density by 2.5-3 times.
Obviously, keeping the maze in the aquarium is easier than other types of fish, as they do not need aeration systems. To ensure uniform temperature in all layers of water. it is better to heat the aquarium from the bottom or install a small pump that continuously mixes the layers. Most fish are thermophilic and prefer a temperature of 25-26 ° C, although species such as the macropod Macropodus opercularis (Linnaeus, 1758) can withstand temperatures as low as 15-16 ° C and can be recommended for beginner aquarists (see the book Aquarium - Device and care ”). Based on natural needs, it is better to contain labyrinths in soft water or water of medium hardness 60 with a weakly acidic or neutral pH reaction. Most fish species do not damage and can be recommended for a Dutch aquarium. Gourami, laliuses, cockerels, small ctenops can be kept in a common aquarium with calm non-aggressive fish.
When feeding fish, there are no problems, since they are happy to eat any live, dry and cooked food, giving preference to animal feed. Gourami and macropods play the role of a kind of aquarium orderlies, destroying planarium, hydra and cleaning stones, driftwood, plant leaves, etc. (see the book "Aquarium orderlies").
Many types of labyrinths successfully reproduce in aquariums. The incentive for spawning is usually an increase in temperature to 28-32 ° C in combination with a significant (30-40%) change of water. It is very important in the preparatory period to feed producers well and varied. An indispensable food, especially for Belontias and Ktenops, is a potato worm - enchitreus, which is easily bred at home and is familiar to amateur gardeners.
For fish building a nest of foam at the surface of the water, it is advisable to place an additional “building material” in the aquarium — small floating plants: richchia, duckweed, and salvia. For fish laying eggs in a cave or under a leaf of a plant, it is advisable to plant a bush of cryptocoryne or broadleaf echinodorus, such as Echinodorus horizontalis, in the aquarium (see books in the World of Aquatic Plants series). For small species - roosters, kupanusov, lalius - suitable spawning aquarium for 10-15 liters. The same amount will suit the inhabitants of rice fields of macropods, and for larger fish it is better to equip a larger aquarium.
After a kind of mating ritual, during which the color of the fish is transformed beyond recognition, the females come to the nest where spawning takes place. At the end of spawning, males also occupy a position at the nest, zealously caring for eggs and hatching young. At this time, the female is better to remove. “Knowing” about the cannibal tendencies of the weaker sex, the male begins to pursue the female, which in the conditions of limited space of the aquarium can end very badly for her.
As soon as the fry begin to swim out of the nest, the male should also be dropped off, since his parental instinct is dying away by this time. It should be borne in mind that the labyrinth apparatus in the fry is fully formed only after a few weeks, so at the very beginning it is important to ensure a good oxygen regime in the growth vessel. When the fry begin to regularly float to the surface to swallow air, you can safely turn off the aeration system. The maintenance and breeding of labyrinths is best to start with the most unpretentious species: macropods, males, gourami. With the accumulation of experience, you can move on to more demanding species. The scope for creativity is great, because no one has yet been involved in the breeding of many species of fish. The result of a large selection work is the rainbow multicolor in our aquariums, created by roosters, gourams, laliuses and other fish. The breeding technique is described in more detail in the books of the Aquarium Fish Breeding series.