Aquarists at Blue Planet Aquarium in Cheshire Oaks have successfully bred the only fish in the world which lays its eggs out of the water.
Native to South America, the freshwater splash tetra gets its name from its unique breeding behaviour with male and female fish leaping simultaneously out of the water to deposit their eggs on overhanging leaves.
The fish have been bred by the aquarium’s freshwater aquarist Steven Chester and a shoal have now gone on public display in a specially-designed tank.
“These really are amazing little fish with a totally unique method of reproduction,” said Steven.
“Initially the male finds a suitable location above the waterline - usually this is a leaf from the overhanging jungle.
“He then tilts back and examines the chosen spot, swishing this tail around and flicking water onto the chosen site. Once happy he will try to attract a mate by spreading his fins and showing off his best colours.
“When a female accepts the invitation, she positions herself directly alongside the male, and the pair leap out of the water together, attaching themselves by fin suction to the underside of the leaf,” he added.
The pair then produces and fertilise approximately six to eight eggs, before falling back into the water. This procedure is repeated until as many as 200 eggs are attached to the leaf.
The female is then chased away and the male becomes territorial and defensive of the area underneath his spawn. Periodically he takes aim and splashes the eggs with water, this is done using the tail fin.
“The water droplets help keep the eggs moist and stop them from drying out completely in the hot jungle atmosphere,” said Steven.
“The embryo develops quickly and takes 48 hours to break free of the egg membrane and hatch. Once hatched the fry are washed into the water along with the water droplets from the males splashing,” he added.
Found throughout the lower Amazon and Paru rivers. The splash tetra grows to a length of about seven centimetres and has a life expectancy of around three years.