Note to self: Always check the ceramic tubes closely before removing them to vacuum the substrate. Yep, I did it. During my routine maintenance, I lifted a ceramic tube, turned it down toward the bottom of the tank to empty any fish out of it and, instead of adult fish, out comes a couple dozen wrigglers with yolk sacs attached. Ugh!!
Of course they attempted to swim but were too small and too weighted. A few of them latched onto to the front glass of the tank but the rest spiraled down to the sand. And the sand is the same color they are. See the photo above (Pardon the poor image quality. My iPhone isn’t very good at macro photography).
Unfortunately, my timing couldn’t have been worse. During all of my previous maintenance, I’ve never dumped wrigglers with yolk sacs. I’ve dumped some free swimmers before, but never at this stage. I decided against vacuuming the whole area where they ended up. I doubt they’ll make it, but I’m giving them a fighting chance.
I have to say I was quite surprised because, if they were the brood of my Telmatochromis sp. “temporalis shell,” they were at the wrong end of the tank. It’s a 75g Tanganyikan community, but the breeding pair are always on the other end. It could be another species. Though I’ve never seen any fry, I do have a breeding pair of Julidichromis marlieri in the same tank, who tend to reside right where the wrigglers were. I also have a breeding pair of Neolamprologus tretocephalus and Altolamprologus calvus. I’ve never seen any fry from them either. Could any of those three spawned? Sure, but my money is on the temporalis; my pair are prolific breeders.
Anyway, it’s always a good idea to inspect your tubes, caves, shells, and rock undersides before you remove them to the clean the tank. If you don’t, you might end up doing what I did and compromise a brood of offspring.