TIP from FNM: Reproduction (Mouth Brooders)

Fish hobbyist tends to want their fish to breed and have offspring. This desire might have come in wanting to accept the challenge of providing the correct environment for a favourite fish. It will require serious planning, time and additional aquariums to do it right. This is the outline of some steps you can take to achieve your goal in breeding your fish. 

Mouth Brooders

  • The next level of difficult fish to breed is the mouth-brooding African Cichlid.
  • The challenge in this case is to keep the males from killing the females and providing a big enough aquarium for them to be able to spawn.
  • If serious about breeding the African Cichlids, you will usually set up the aquarium with lots of PVC pipes for the females to hide in and to make catching them easier. (Obviously when using a PVC tube, use one that is just big enough for the female and too small for the male.)
  • If aesthetics are an issue, you can take the PVC pipe and rub aquarium sealant all over it and then roll it in some sand or fine gravel to make it look more natural. 
  • Or even use an Epoxy Stick to stick small rocks on it to give it a more irregular shape.

Most mouth brooders will require several females to each male, and usually just one male of the species per tank. After spawning, the female will carry the babies in her mouth for up to 2 weeks. It is best to carefully catch the female and remove her to a separate aquarium about 5 to 7 days after spawning. During the transfer to the raising tank, if the female spits out the babies, she will usually pick the babies back up. During this time, the female will usually refuse to eat.  Again, a bare bottom is best, but more cover is required to make the female "at home"; plastic plants and more PVC pipes will do the trick.

Once the female has released the babies, you need to move her to another aquarium and feed her really well for a week or two. This will give her time to recover from not eating while carrying the eggs/babies. Then the whole cycle will start again.

The babies are ready to start eating ground Spirulina flakes, and even chew on a Spirulina disc as it sits in the aquarium. Frequent water changes will be the key to rapid growth of the babies to a marketable size.  

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