This is an interesting fish. I first acquired a breeding pair from a friend in 1993. The male was approximately four and a half inches
in length and the female almost four inches. I placed them in a 55-gallon steel frame tank and placed approximately two inches of
sand in the bottom of the tank. I placed a few rocks around one end of the tank in cave formations.
A week later these fish decided they wanted to spawn. I placed a potted Anubius nanna plant into the tank and found the male
was digging up all the gravel that was holding the plant in the pot. After realizing the male was also tearing up the plant the plant came
out. I learned my first lesson with cichlids.
The pair kept going over the top of the cave and shaking their bodies at each other and the male would 'flare' his body at his mate.
They were not shy in the least. They did not care one bit that I was watching them so intensely. The females ovipositor was down
and she would 'rub' it along the top of the rock. Since no eggs appeared when she did this action I knew she was just doing a 'dry
run'. After she would lay a line of eggs the male would then come behind her and get his anal area as close to the eggs as possible.
Apparently he was fertilizing the eggs.
This action went on for hours until the female had finally exhausted all her roe. Approximately four hours later, I noticed they not
only spawned on the overhanging rock but also on the round one that was a support! There were a lot of eggs.
The pair were good parents. Taking turns fanning the eggs and picking out the dead (white) eggs. The pair never got into a squabble
with each other. While the female would be fanning and caring for the eggs the male would be coming at the front glass pane of the
tank as if to warn us away. He was more of the aggressor than his mate. She seemed to take things in stride.
I used to laugh at the male on occasion when I would place a cup on the leg of the stand (the legs protruded from the stand about
2") and the male would immediately come charging the cup no matter where he might have been in the tank. These parents were
very protective to say the least. At one point I had put my hand into the tank to do something and got bit by the female! I now knew
these 'little' fish had big teeth!
On the third day the eggs hatched. The parents were busy digging depressions in the sand all over the tank. In these depressions
they would move the fry at least once a day if not more. I think the most they moved their little charges in one day was five times.
I don't think the pair could get comfortable that day no matter where they put their fry.
Eight days later the fry were free swimming. It was so fascinating watching these parents care for their young. Now 'Daddy" was
even more aggressive when anyone came near the tank. He would make sure that he was between us and his fry. It also appeared
to me that he was protecting his female as well and not allowing her near the front of the tank.
I didn't actually count all the fry but, it looked
as though there were well over 400 fry! No matter how many species of
fish I spawn it still dazzles me when I watch these large 'mean' fish
showing such care and gentleness towards their young ones. When the
male or female felt there was any danger coming near their tank, they
would 'flick' their fins and 'twitch' their bodies and the fry would
scurry as quickly as possible to the rock cave with mother right behind