How to Raise the Fry.
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
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
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.
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
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.
here to go on to another page in this web
site where this discussion about breeding mouth
brooding Cichlids continues.