Peat Incubation vs. Water Incubation
by Brian Ziolkowski
Many eggs which are traditionally water-incubated can easily be incubated on top of peat and there are many benefits from this type of incubation. Even many of the so-called "problem fishes" become much easier by using such a method.
In using this method, I generally place about a half-inch of peat in the bottom of a pint freezer container. The peat should be quite moist, but without excess water. Also, the dish should be kept tightly covered to maintain the high humidity necessary for proper incubation.
As many as 75 eggs can be placed in a single container, as long as they don't touch each other. Eggs must be checked daily and the eggs which appear to be caved in, or have turned cloudy or white must be removed to prevent contamination of the good eggs.
After 4 to 5 days the remaining eggs should all be fertile and good and it is then only necessary to check the eggs occasionally with a hand lens. Soon, most of the egg embryos will have fully developed eyes and the embryos will react to a bright light by moving around inside the egg. After this, I wait 5 to 7 days before wetting them for hatching out, in order to be sure that all the internal organs are fully developed and the yolk sack absorbed.
At the proper time the eggs are hatched by slowly pouring some aged, cool water (65-68 degrees F.) into the dish until a depth of about one half inch above the peat is reached. Microworms can then be added, both as a first food for the fry and also as a "force-hatching" method.
I feel that this method is easier than water-incubation for many eggs and it allows many fry to hatch out at the same time, keeping them nearer to being the same size. At the same time it alleviates the common problem of fungused and infertile eggs infecting the good eggs. It may not be the best for all eggs, but I have either used it or seen it being used successfully with the following species: Aphyosemions: amieti, australe, bivittatum, fulgens, gardneri, labarrei, melanopteron, puerzli, sjoestedti, and Aplocheilus: dayi, lineatus, panchax, and Epiplatys: chaperi, dageti, lamottei, and P. playfairi.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The Following article first appeared in the April 1982 issue of the "Newsletter of the International Panchax Association" Please understand that this was written 18 year ago. Some of the fish mentioned have undergone name changes.