Lake Malawi Species • Newbie Cichlid guy with question about holding

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Newbie Cichlid guy with question about holding

Postby Snakebitten » Tue Apr 04, 2017 1:38 pm

Hello everyone. I'm new and have a question that I hope I can get answered. Background: My cousins son has a turtle tank with 3 Mbunas among a few Minnows and one Danio. So far the turtle totally ignores all the cichlids after initially chasing them when they were first put in tank. Turtle devours the Minnows which is what I was hoping would happen so he would not go after the cichlids. Its been 4 months now and turtle does not bother the cichlids at all. They even eat within mm of each other and no desire for the red eared slider to eat them. The RES is about 7" big. What happened 4 months later we did not expect.

The electric yellow Mbuna and blue Mbuna with black stripes apparently mated. We noticed the yellow female looking like she had swallowed something too big and her jaw looked funny and she did not open her mouth at all. Started doing some strange movements with the blue one etc. The same day we noticed the change in her appearance from the night before. I figured out from internet searches that she may be "holding". I immediately got a 10 gallon tank the next day and put her in it by herself with a rock for her to hide in. She did not eat at all for these two days.

The third day she came out of hiding in the rock, ate a few small pieces of cichlid flakes but did not eat anymore. We are wondering if she was "holding" now since from what we read they don't eat until the fry are hatched. She no longer has the funny mouth appearance but is still acting strange. Hiding which she never did in the 75g tank before the holding started. She also seems to be trying to lead me away from the rock she hides in. In the main tank she always came over to me once I visited. So not sure if she swallowed the eggs or spat them out.


Question 1.
Did we lose possible fry since she ate (which I read they are not supposed to while holding)?

Question 2.
Her mouth no longer looks like she is holding but she is still acting like she has eggs. Is it possible she still has the eggs?

Question 3.
Do we need to put the male in the 10 gallon tank with her to try again?


First time cichlid owners. Thanks for your help.
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Re: Newbie Cichlid guy with question about holding

Postby Snakebitten » Tue Apr 04, 2017 1:53 pm

BTW the reason I hurried to move her to the 10 gallon tank was mainly because of the Turtle, the harassment from the blue/black striped dad and the strong suction of the FX4 filter. Hope I didn't contribute to the loss of the eggs/fry. I put 9 gallons of water, some rocks from the cycled 75g tank in to the 10g tank and added some Fluval bacteria in hopes of cycling the 10g tank faster.
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Re: Newbie Cichlid guy with question about holding

Postby DJRansome » Tue Apr 04, 2017 7:38 pm

Well the problem with hybrid fry is that you will have 20 babies you have to house for 8 years or more. Hybrids are not sold or given away, so most of us let nature take it's course with hybrid fry because we can't devote dozens of tanks to them...we want to keep some pure species.

So I would not try again no. If you want to save fry, I would make sure the tank has plenty of females for each male in the tank. Given a chance mbuna will spawn with their own species.

New moms sometimes don't hold. Sometimes the eggs are not fertilized. If you are ready to save fry, wait 7 days after the female is holding as she will spit any unfertilized eggs before that and save you the trouble. Once she has held a couple of times she will get the hang of it and hold an average of 28 days.

If the bulge is gone and she is eating, likely the eggs are gone. A 10G with 1m:1f would likely end in the death of the female. Feeding while holding is not likely to cause the female to eat the eggs...some will ignore the food and very experienced moms find a way to juggle the pellets without swallowing the babies.
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Re: Newbie Cichlid guy with question about holding

Postby Snakebitten » Wed Apr 05, 2017 11:37 am

Thanks so much for your response. I did not know they were considered hybrid etc. I will inform them of what you said. Definitely don't have space to house extra fry's no body will want. So you suggest getting a yellow lab male for her to spawn with then. I will see if I can do that.

BTW if she is holding does that not mean the eggs were fertilized? I've read so much conflicting information. Some say the male fertilizes it when she lays them individually. She then picks them up one by one after he fertilizes them. Others say he fertilizes them by using the egg marked rear fins to get her to come to him once she has all the eggs in her mouth.

I may have to get a 90g tank to house the extra Mbuna in the future.
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Re: Newbie Cichlid guy with question about holding

Postby Fogelhund » Wed Apr 05, 2017 11:42 am

Snakebitten wrote:Thanks so much for your response. I did not know they were considered hybrid etc. I will inform them of what you said. Definitely don't have space to house extra fry's no body will want. So you suggest getting a yellow lab male for her to spawn with then. I will see if I can do that.

BTW if she is holding does that not mean the eggs were fertilized? I've read so much conflicting information. Some say the male fertilizes it when she lays them individually. She then picks them up one by one after he fertilizes them. Others say he fertilizes them by using the egg marked rear fins to get her to come to him once she has all the eggs in her mouth.

I may have to get a 90g tank to house the extra Mbuna in the future.


Typically to ensure that you don't get hybrids, we would have three females to every male, for all types of fish. If you get a Yellow Lab males, and the blue male doesn't have females, if the blue male is dominant, he will still try and spawn with the Yellow Lab females.

Females can, and do hold unfertilized eggs. Typically they do so, for a period of 3 days to two weeks.
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Re: Newbie Cichlid guy with question about holding

Postby Snakebitten » Wed Apr 05, 2017 2:17 pm

Thanks for all the info Fogelhund. Will do.

I think I will mail order them as the local Petlands etc don't have a clue on the fish sexes when you specify one or the other as I found out last weekend.
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