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Discussion regarding only South American Cichlid species. (Oscars, Geophagines, Discus, Apistogramma, Green Terrors, Angels, Severums, Pikes, etc.)
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My Bolivian rams ate all their fry

Mon May 18, 2020 10:42 pm

My Bolivians pared off a week ago and they had fry. They were fiercely protective of the guys, the fry have been
alive for two days. When I went upstairs to check on them I saw the parents eating all of them. Why did they do this, and will they spawn again? Thanks for any insights as I am rather confused.

Re: My Bolivian rams ate all their fry

Tue May 19, 2020 12:59 am

Newly-formed pairs rarely raise their fry successfully on the first try; it's a complex dynamic, and I was actually surprised that they got this far the first time around. But they do learn from experience, so just stay the course and be patient. After an abortive spawning, they often breed again quite soon; just keep a careful eye on them for the next few days to make sure they don't turn on each other. Sometimes it may take two or three tries for them to get it right, but once they do, they are generally excellent parents. It's worth the wait to get a stable breeding pair, and there's no other way to do that except to let them learn for themselves. Good luck, and don't be discouraged: you're obviously doing things right to get this far this soon. :thumb:

Re: My Bolivian rams ate all their fry

Tue May 19, 2020 10:23 am

My fry suddenly popped up last night in a different location, I assumed they had all been eaten. Sure enough this morning I see all the little fry back in their hole. I didn’t think they were really mouth brooders? Also could they have been transporting the fry, that would make more sense.

Re: My Bolivian rams ate all their fry

Tue May 19, 2020 11:25 am

fishybuisness wrote:My fry suddenly popped up last night in a different location, I assumed they had all been eaten. Sure enough this morning I see all the little fry back in their hole. I didn’t think they were really mouth brooders? Also could they have been transporting the fry, that would make more sense.


Great news! This is normal behavior: the parents will often move the fry from one depression in the substrate to another several times before the fry become free-swimming. They do this by carrying the fry in theirs mouths for short periods of time, but this is not 'mouth brooding.'

The most important thing to do right now is to keep an eye on the parents for any signs that they are getting overly aggressive with each other. Once the fry are free-swimming, the parents will be unable to defend them all, and they will be targets for predation by your other fishes. It's great to have the 4 other Alti's in this tank right now- they act as dithers and reinforce the pair bond, but the catfishes, not so much.

Re: My Bolivian rams ate all their fry

Tue May 19, 2020 11:42 am

I think I will put a divider in that keeps out all the cories.

Re: My Bolivian rams ate all their fry

Tue May 19, 2020 12:04 pm

I now have another breeding pair of Bolivians they have already laid eggs and are fiercely guarding them! This is crazy, I think they might be more protective than the other parents. I will move the cories out of the aquarium!
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Re: My Bolivian rams ate all their fry

Tue May 19, 2020 1:38 pm

fishybuisness wrote:I now have another breeding pair of Bolivians they have already laid eggs and are fiercely guarding them! This is crazy, I think they might be more protective than the other parents. I will move the cories out of the aquarium!


Wow. I wish you were nearby; I'd take some of the little ones off your hands.

It's great to have two breeding pairs in one aquarium (provided they have enough room). The are so focussed on protecting their fry from other fishes that they are less likely to turn on each other. Keep us posted! :thumb:

Re: My Bolivian rams ate all their fry

Wed May 20, 2020 5:00 pm

My fry are now free swimming, I have set up a baby brine hatchery and have an extra 10g that I just sealed. I heard that parents might eat their fry in preparation for spawning again. So I hope to move the fry soon. Unfortunately my other pair’s eggs got eaten last night. I suspect my plecos, I might give them a couple more tries before I pull the eggs.
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A lot of the fry are behind the parents. They are now 4 days old!

Re: My Bolivian rams ate all their fry

Thu May 21, 2020 11:03 am

I have a question I have a sandy bare bottom aquarium for the rams I can use for a grow out tank it’s 10gallons. I would like to move the babies and maybe the parents, I have a large turkey baster that I use for feed brine shrimp and bloodworms. Could I suck them up put them in a bowl and then move them, or should I use me shrimp net, it’s very fine so babies won’t get caught!
Any help is very much appreciated!
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This is the aquarium I am going to add plants as well!

Re: My Bolivian rams ate all their fry

Thu May 21, 2020 12:44 pm

Fry that small are super delicate, and there is no good way to move them. The turkey baster is a bad idea: it generates too much shear force and will damage the fry. I'd leave them where they are; these two fishes have been great parents so far; why not trust them to raise the fry?

If you do lose this batch, and really want to raise some of these, I'd set up the 10g appropriately and move the parents in there. After the next spawn, you can just move the parents.

Re: My Bolivian rams ate all their fry

Thu May 21, 2020 7:22 pm

I prefer to use a piece of airline tubing to siphon out the fry, it does not produce the same kind of suction as a turkey baster, and the fry are far more resilient than you would expect. I've done this many, many times with no ill effects. It works better if you siphon wigglers rather than the swimmers, as they will try to escape, but you should be able to get the majority of them. Also, the air tubing does annoy the parents, and they will attack it, but it is less disturbing to them then the turkey baster.

Re: My Bolivian rams ate all their fry

Thu May 21, 2020 11:58 pm

Thanks, I think I will use that trick if I don’t move them. now that the babies are free swimming I will just leave the parents to it!

Re: My Bolivian rams ate all their fry

Wed May 27, 2020 4:17 pm

So I have some disappointing news, it’s not unexpected but still disappointing. I only have maybe 20 babies Left, I think my Amano shrimp have been picking them off. I am not sure what to do? They are almost 2 weeks old and I have a spare 10g empty aquarium for them. Or should I just let nature take its course?

Re: My Bolivian rams ate all their fry

Thu May 28, 2020 1:33 am

fishybuisness wrote:So I have some disappointing news, it’s not unexpected but still disappointing. I only have maybe 20 babies Left, I think my Amano shrimp have been picking them off. I am not sure what to do? They are almost 2 weeks old and I have a spare 10g empty aquarium for them. Or should I just let nature take its course?


If you want all of them to survive then move them to the 10g. I've never had a bad experience with a turkey baster, by the way; just control the suction with your fingers and be gentle.

Re: My Bolivian rams ate all their fry

Thu May 28, 2020 11:55 am

cyclonecichlids wrote: ... I've never had a bad experience with a turkey baster, by the way; just control the suction with your fingers and be gentle.


... Or cut the end off so the opening is wider than usual.
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