Early ontogenesis of the angelfish, Pterophyllum scalare Schultze, 1823 (Cichlidae)


Neotrop. ichthyol.




This study describes the egg membrane structures of angelfish (Pterophyllum scalare), morpho-physiological changes during angelfish embryogenesis from activation to hatching under optimal conditions (28°C; pH 6.8), the developing larvae and fry, the effect of alkaline pH on the early developmental stages of the species, the relationship between food item size and fry survival. Egg membranes (thin, transparent, 1.67-2.18 µm thick) are covered by a sticky substance. The amber-coloured angelfish eggs were oval in shape, with average diameters of 1.436 and 1.171 mm, i.e., a mean volume of 1.033 ± 0.095 mm³. The survival rate of embryos and larvae kept in water with an elevated, slightly alkaline pH was very low: as few as 2% of the embryos survived, while in the batch kept in optimal water conditions very few eggs died. The first larvae hatched after 1288 h of embryonic development. The newly hatched larvae measured on average 2.60 ± 0.093 mm and had large (0.64 ± 0.077 mm³) yolk sacs. They attached themselves to the substrate with a secretion of thin, viscous threads, which was released from glands situated on the top of the head. The glands vanished on day 5. The 1-day-old larvae showed the first pigment cells on the body and the eyes of the 2-day-olds were already fully pigmented. Between day 4 and 5 of larval life, the larvae began feeding on live food. The 23-day-old fry looked like a miniature versions of the adults. Mortality of the angelfish larvae during their first days after hatching was higher in those fed brine shrimp (Artemia salina) nauplii than those fed protozoans and rotifers.

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