For general questions and issues. Post here if you are unsure of their origin or if you have questions about mixing.
Fri Jan 11, 2019 7:29 pm
I have 2 jewel cichlids which I believe are male/female. After my most recent water change and re-scape the male has taken interest in the female and he's been herding her into the corner of the tank and gently nipping at her side. No visual harm that I can see. I'm wondering if this is breeding or pairing off behavior? They are doing it in a peculiar odd location too. I have a stack of pots and they are all the way at the top/behind against the glass. No holes have been dug in the sand that I can see. Any idea what's going on here?
Sat Jan 12, 2019 3:58 am
If they are hanging out together they may be a pair. She probably would lay the eggs on the surface of a rock or pot, they shouldn't dig a pit and I don't think they really try to hide them underneath.
Sat Jan 12, 2019 11:40 am
Thanks for the reply! That seemed like what they were doing. But now the one I believed is female is no where to be seen. I hope she is ok.
Sat Jan 12, 2019 1:12 pm
It might be the very beginnings of pairing up, though there is really nothing based on the picture or description that would say anything definite about this. I would say, if they are pairing up, they couldn't be too far in the process as their is generally a noticeable change in color shortly after pairing up. Based on the picture, the one in front is clearly not in breeding coloration, nor does it appear the other is either. Though sometimes the pairing up process happens very rapidly and eggs come with in a couple days.
I've had jewels off and on since the 1970's and have bred them many times every single decade since. Well over 50 times. IME, given some shelter, they will lay their eggs under shelter rather then more out in the open. Even placed in their own tank with out tank mates, they will choose shelter probably something like 19 times out of 20. This info of jewels laying their eggs more out in the open, is out dated info from the 1950's and has been reiterated ever since (probably stemming from somebody breeding them in a more open tank, where they simply did not have a choice and jewels being jewels will lay eggs regardless of how decor is set up).
And yes, if there is substrate, they will most often dig a pit, to place their wrigglers after the eggs hatch. Usually done before eggs are laid, though it is possible that they dig the pit after the eggs are laid. But the first step after pairing up is to claim a small area. You would begin to notice them defend a territory usually a number of days before they actually breed.
As far as determining their sex, a couple good side shots would probably do the trick. Male and female have different body shapes and sometimes shows up on pictures (has to be good direct side shot) though is usually much easier in person.
Sat Jan 12, 2019 10:07 pm
Here's a picture of the one I think is a male. He's the one that was hearding the other into the corner. Yesterday he was dark red. Today his red is more subtle. It's the best picture I could get. Still trying to catch the female. I haven't seen her since yesterday.
Sun Jan 13, 2019 11:27 am
I finally got a side view picture of both. Are these male and female?
Sun Jan 13, 2019 1:01 pm
Well, neither appear to have the classic "christian fish" (or "Jesus fish") body shape that a female typically possess. Jewels generally start out with this shape at very young age and all resemble females, though a few males will have the straighter body shape very early on. So IMO, I think it more likely they are both males, with the smaller one on top having even more male body shape then the other. Though I can't be certain about their sex. The side shot has to be pretty much dead on and even then it's never really quite as easy to see the difference in body shape from a picture as compared to seeing them in person.
It's certainly possible to get a pair from just 2 jewels if one is male and the other female, but generally the best way is to start with a larger group of around 4-8. Also, I see from the first picture you've got them with some very tough, aggressive mbuna, and the mbuna also appear to be larger then the jewels at present. A johanni-type and male auratus. It's been my experience that jewels are unable to defend territory against adult male auratus. In order to breed, they need to own space. Consequently I have never bred jewels while housing them with auratus. So even if you do end up with a pair, while it's not impossible, I think it unlikely they will be able to breed with male auratus in the tank.
Sun Jan 13, 2019 10:11 pm
Thank you so much for the reply. I understand that the stock isn't ideal. I got the fish when I was very young in the trade and listened to a pet store clerk on what to get. Now I'm stuck with them because no store will take them back after so long and I don't have room for another tank. They are all getting along for the most part so far though. To clarify, I don't necessarily want the fish to breed just want to figure something out for them temporarily if they do have fry because I understand they can get very mean. But if the other fish will just pick the fry off anyway I guess it's not a problem.
Who knew fish keeping could be so stressful but also sooo addicting!
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