Things to Consider Before Breeding Zebra Pleco's

Everything you ever wanted to say about "Zebra luvin", but didn't because you thought everyone would take the mickey! Plus general topics for discussion including everything from what you feed them to your personal experiences.

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Things to Consider Before Breeding Zebra Pleco's

Post by Raul-7 »

I was searching around on Planet Catfish; and found interesting information on breeding Zebra Plecos. Post is by pleco_farmer.

"The earliest that I have experienced L-046 reproduction is at 30 months. My F1's have spawned at an average of 36 months from birth. Is 30 months the minimum age? I don't know, since I haven't run enough formal experimentation for confirmation. Its nature, and far too many variables are in play. However, it is safe to say that you won't be getting meaningful numbers of fry for several years.

Secondly, my best results come from keeping the fish in groups of 2M and 3F. My guess is that there is something about the competition that keeps things moving along.

Regarding inbreeding, I am constantly refusing requests to purchase large quantities of these fish, because ultimately the buyer is interested in breeding. Although substantial, I still feel that my gene pool is rather limited. I would strongly advise building your stock from multiple purchases of individuals or pairs. Think ahead, as you move forward you will need to compose breeding groups of multiple fish. Let's say I started with five groups of five fish. F1 groups, again in fives, could be created by taking a single fish from each F0 groups, yielding many groups, limited only by the sizes of the F0 spawns. (Consider too, the space involved, since you want to give them a year, or more, of grow out so they can be sexed reliably.) However, piecing together the next generation becomes difficult, since you must track who has done what to whom. So, it makes operational sense to take breeding stock from F0 parents and sell only F2's, and excess F1's. Next, as the F0's age, you should consider trading F1 stock with other enthusiasts, keeping everyone fresh. (And yes, I know that true F0's are hard to find. Take someone else's F1 and consider it as a F0 for purposes of discussion. I say F0 here, in terms of the fish being unrelated to its mate.)

Since you will not be selectively breeding FOR some quality, but only to AVOID inbreeding, the management is not that difficult. But you will find space to be a factor. Yields from F0 groups can be raised in separate tanks until old enough to sex. Then, new groups can be built by picking individual fish from those tanks. From experience, the minimum tank for breeding can be a 20L (30"X12"X12"/760mmX30mmX30mm), two of which are also needed to growout the fry from each breeding group. So, fifteen tanks could be used to handle the F0/F1 generation, producing F1 breeding groups housed in as many tanks as you like. F1 output could be raised in common tanks, since inbreeding is no longer a concern. Don't forget, you will need to house those fry for almost a year before they can be realistically sold.

Over time, a breeding group can reliably produce between thirty and fifty healthy juveniles per year. How long do they produce? I would love to know that answer. So far, my original groups, with some shuffling, seem to breed strong for about three years, when frequency appears to tail off. But again, this is anecdotal, and not backed up by formal experimentation.

Be prepared for the long haul. After seven years, I am only now producing F2's in any meaningful quantities. Granted, I started in my basement with limited resources, but even given unlimited space, it would still take four or five years to build a stable, reliable operation. The small yield from each spawn forces you to feedback almost all of your F1 stock into breeding the next generation.

On a positive note, the operation is a pipeline. With careful management, a breeding group can yield fry five or six times per year. It is filling the pipeline that takes patience. So, you may want to get involved in raising a few other species, like ancistrus, to keep a bit of revenue flowing while the others come on line. It also gives you something to do while you are watching L-046 grow at their glacial pace.

Just taking floor space in consideration for costs. The room required to produce, optimistically, 30 zebras per year, could be used to house at least four pairs of ancistrus. A nice pair of common ancistrus can be counted on to spawn at least eight times per year, safely yielding upwards of 500 fish. Given a WHOLESALE price of as low as $2.50 per fish, a low estimate on the revenue would be $1250.00 per year. This would equate to a wholesale price on the zebra of $40.00, based on space alone.

However, the labor involved in raising the zebra is about triple the effort needed for the ancistrus. What is your time worth? To be realistic, a wholesale price closer to $70.00 is a better choice, but one that is definitely not supported by even this crazy market.

As a sole source of revenue, the fish is a poor choice. In terms of profit, there are much better candidates. Once the yield falls below 25 per spawn, the numbers start to fall apart.

For the hobbyist, however, it is a decent choice. If you can sell small quantities via auctions, for example, the high retail price provides a reasonable return, and helps to support a great pasttime. As far as the noble idea of getting the fish on the market at a lower price goes, hundreds, if not thousands of fish would be required, which is not very likely."
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Post by fishboy »

Yes, i have read this myself. I am interested in something, is anyone else breeding their F1's yet. This post is very interesting.
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