I would never have guessed to increase the
temperature in the tank that high, but as luck
would have it, spring had rolled around and I
had not yet properly adjusted the heaters in
my fishroom. I heat the room and not the
individual tanks. Temperatures in the room
soared to 100º F and all my tanks shot up to
just over 86º F. On April 14 of 2010 I
looked into the tank and saw several adult P.
maclareni trying to get at something hiding
under a piece of driftwood. They were fry!
There weren't many left since it seems that.
maclareni is an opportunistic feeder and will
dine on its young if given the chance. That
day I managed to save eight tiny fry, each
about 9 mm (0.35 in) in length. From that
day forward the P. maclareni would not stop
spawning and about a month later I had two
more fish ready to release. This time, two
pairs had spawned and I had one male and
one female holding. I know they were two
separate pairs as I watched the preludes to
their spawning a few weeks prior. I was unable
to photograph the events because they
become incredibly skittish during this time
and would abandon the spawning ritual as
soon as they saw me approach the tank with
my camera. Once again, both of them spit in
the tank. The male had spit sometime earlier
that day while I was absent and the fry were
hiding under a piece of driftwood. As I was
trying to catch the still holding female, she
made a couple of laps around the tank, and I
swear, looked right at me and spit a cloud of
little ones in my face. Fending off the other
fish in the tank the best I could while trying
to net out the little ones, I successfully retrieved
about 60 fry. Then again, about a
month later, another 30 were added to the
grow-out tank, this batch from the exact
same pair that provided me with the first
eight and half of the spawn a month prior.
To this day, both pairs still spawn with their
chosen mate, a behavior which supports Dr.
Loiselle's hypothesis that P. maclareni mate
I have made another observation which supports
a hypothesis of Dr. Loiselle's. In January
of 2003, Cichlid News magazine published
an article by Dr. Loiselle entitled,
'The Aquarium Husbandry of the Pungu,
Pungu maclareni.' In his article he mentions
how the other wild caught Barombi Mbo
cichlids he had as tankmates of the P.
maclareni would almost totally ignore the
pungu except when they (the other species)
began to spawn. Then they would chase the
P. maclareni away with great enthusiasm.
He noted how this aggression towards P.
maclareni would reach its peak just moments
before the other species actually
spawned. He speculated that P. maclareni
might exhibit some egg robbing behavior
that we did not know about.
One night, while doing water changes, I noticed
what looked like a feeding frenzy in
the corner of the Barombi Mbo tank. As I
crept ever nearer to the corner of the 125-
gallon they call home, I noticed what appeared
to be two P. maclareni attempting to
spawn. Indeed, the female, buccal cavity
partially bulging with eggs, was circling
with a male doing the 'fish dance.' Above
and all around them were the other nine P.
maclareni in a complete frenzy. They were
pushing, shoving, and chasing, all of them
trying to get at the eggs that the female was
laying. Those of us who have kept P.
maclareni know how peaceful they are so
this behavior was reminiscent of a barroom
brawl. They swam hurriedly around the
spawning area, picking up any gravel or
sand particles that were egg-sized, and raced
off with them, only to spit mid tank and race
back to the spawning site to repeat the process.
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