As you go along raising cichlids, you will soon find yourself entertaining the idea of cichlid breeding. And why not? Cichlids are wonderful freshwater fish that are delightful to raise and breed, more so when they have endeared themselves to you. Cichlid breeding will enable you to observe firsthand how cichlids raise their young. You will find it interesting to know that in many ways cichlids are as protective as humans, but other times they can also be detached, even aggressive, parents. Such are the wonders of nature.
Before you start cichlid breeding, it would be good to know what type of breeder your cichlid is.
- Open brooders – Open-brooding cichlids are those that spawn on open surfaces such as rocks, leaves of plants, logs, and gravel or other substrate. Discus fish, German blue ram, and angelfish are among the cichlids that breed in open spaces. Open brooders usually lay as much as 10,000 eggs. The male cichlid guards the territory while the female cichlid fans the eggs to increase oxygen supply and leads the fry in foraging. Strange cichlid-breeding behaviors such as leaf turning and fin digging have been seen in some cichlid species in South America and America.
- Cave brooders – Cave-brooding cichlids lay their eggs in caves and other areas that are covered by rocks, plants, and flowerpots. Examples of these are the Kribensis and the convict cichlids. Some strange cichlid-breeding behaviors such as digging a pit to lay eggs have been observed in certain cichlids. Among cave-brooding cichlids, biologists have noticed that parents and free-swimming fry communicate through body movements such as shaking and flicking of pelvic fins.
- Mouth brooders – The third type of cichlid breeder is one that carries the eggs and fry in its mouth to protect them from predatory fish. Ovophile mouth brooders such as the African cichlids incubate their eggs in their mouth after laying them and may even continue keeping the fry in their mouth for many weeks. Other mouth brooders are larvophiles, which means they first lay their eggs in the open or in a cave, then once the eggs have hatched, take the larvae into their mouth to keep them safe. Cichlid-breeding species that carry their fry in their mouth are mainly females.
Factors affecting cichlid breeding
The ability of the female cichlid to breed depends on factors such as her health, age, and species.
Other external factors that affect cichlid breeding are water quality and temperature. Cichlid breeding and hatching become more conducive when water temperature is between 76 and 78 Fahrenheit and the pH level is alkaline.
The environment also plays a big role in making cichlid breeding possible. Cave brooders feel much more secure in laying their eggs if there are hiding places, so if your cichlid is this type, make sure your aquarium has many of these.
Cichlid breeding is not always successful the first time, because young and inexperienced female cichlids may not be able to carry their eggs for the full term. But over time, they will learn how to breed successfully. As a cichlid raiser, you need to be patient. Cichlid breeding is not carried out mechanically but occurs when the time is right.
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