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Breeding
African Cichlids
and How to Raise the Fry.

This page continues the discussion of breeding fish with information about how to breed Mouth Brooding African Cichlids and how to raise their babies. Click here to go back to the previous page in this discussion.

 
   
  Here is a video of a female Mbuna with a mouthful of eggs. Females like this one often hide among the rocks, where they mouth brood their eggs for about three weeks, before they release their babies.
   
1. Breeding Mouth Brooders
Here is a third kind of fish to breed. After you've bred some Mollies and some Pink Convicts, try go get some Haplochromis burtoni. That's what we did. Burtoni are mouth brooders. What does that mean? I'll explain by telling you what we did a long time ago.
 
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I remember that we read about Burtoni in a book about Tropical Fish that we got from the local library. Most libraries have lots of books about fish. Some of the books are very good, some are not so good, and some are useless. Learn how to browse the books, until you find one that seems to make sense to you.
 
Library cards are free. Get one and start reading books. If you have trouble finding books about fish, ask one of the librarians to help you find the shelf with all the books about fish. If your library doesn't have many books about fish, ask the librarian about getting books from other libraries. Often the librarian can arrange to get books for you from other libraries.
 
We read every book we could get about Tropical Fish. When we found a book we liked, we read it several times. We learned from one book that the female Burtoni Fish were silver and the males were brightly colored on both their bodies and their fins. The book also said that the females were smaller and had shorter fins than the males. So we learned that the male Burtoni Fish were larger, more colorful, and had longer more pointed fins.
 
We used to drive all over town to look at the fish in all the pet stores and tropical fish stores. One day, lucky us, we found some Burtoni in a small pet store. They were expensive, and we could only afford two. So we bought what looked like the best male and best female. We took them home and put them in one of our aquariums.
 
The male was rough on the female, and finally we had to take her out and put her in another aquarium. Every day for several weeks we fed her lots of flakes, brine shrimp, daphnia, and mosquito larva, then put her back with the male, and had the same problem. He just roughed her up. We worked and worked at getting them to spawn.
 
We talked with each other about our "Burtoni Problem" all the time, and came up with hair-brained schemes for breeding them. We read more, talked with every expert we could find, and bought every fish magazine available. But we couldn't get them to spawn.
 
Two Great Aquarists
We were anxious and finally gave up and traded our Burtoni pair and many other Cichlids for aquariums, pumps, and other things we needed because we'd met Richard Buttner, John Rosenberger, and a few other aquarists with much more experience than we had. These men had raised lots of fish for a long time.
 
Both Richard and John had Killifish in their aquariums, and in jars, and in wooden tanks in their back yards. They had lots of Killifish, and they had lots of baby Killifish. What we wanted most was to start spawning and raising fish, and we'd settle for any kind of fish. We would never have figured out how to raise any kind of Killifish without the help of these two great aquarists. There were just a few things that had to be learned, but it had taken them many years, lots of work, and lots of ingenuity to figure it all out.
 
They showed us and told us what they knew, and we watched and listened and learned and before long we were raising lots of Killies. Most of the species that we bred were easy to breed. But a few of the species got us a little attention and more praise than we deserved.

   

2. Haplochromis philander
After raising Killifish for a few years, we began importing fish, and what do you know we got a new Cichlid that looked something like the Burtoni but even better. The females were tan and the males were bright metallic gold with black fins. Someone said they might be Haplochromis philander. There were pictures of Philander in a couple of books, but the fish we had didn't look exactly like the Philanders in the books.
 
Paul Loiselle (before he was a Ph.D.) visited our facility and identified the fish we had as Pseudocrenilabrus ventralis. Click here to read an article by Paul V. Loiselle, Ph.D., about this fish and its close relatives. This article has pictures of several other fish that are closely related to the fish we were breeding.
 
We knew we had seven of these fish whatever their name was. Two males and 5 females, lucky us, very soon all five females had their mouths filled with fry. Here is how they spawned in our aquariums. The male chose his favorite spot in the aquarium, and sometimes he would dig a hole in the gravel down to the glass bottom of the aquarium.

   

3. She Keeps Babies in her Mouth.
We had learned that gravel isn't needed and creates lots of problems, so most of our aquariums had no gravel for the males to dig. The males quickly adapted to spawning in aquariums without gravel. One of the males would chase all the other fish away from his favorite spot which was usually in a corner of the aquarium. This male would then swim out to the brightest part of the aquarium maybe in the center of the aquarium, wiggle his black tail fin back and forth and then swim back to his favorite corner.
 
After several such demonstrations, a female would follow him back to his corner. They'd circle each other and nudge each other and sometimes lock mouths to test each other's strength. Eventually she'd lay lots of opaque pink oblong eggs, and then she'd spin around a scoop them up in her mouth.

   
Click here to go on to another page in this web site where this discussion about breeding mouth brooding Cichlids continues.
 
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