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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Okay, I don't often look for help on the forums, but I'm not a big Malawi Hap keeper, and so I haven't done a lot of research on them. However, a little over a year ago I bought a group of 2 inch Fossorochromis rostratus. I knew what they would grow into (like the color on the males), so they were put in a 125 with other fish to size out. They are currently the only species left in the tank. About 3 months ago a male developed color and started getting feisty. Okay, let's say horny. There are three females with him, so far he has spawned three times, always with the smallest female. She holds about 24 hours and eats them. I don't think she's being excessively harrassed, and one day is too soon to try and move her, anyway. I suspect that the eggs are not being properly fertilized.

So I have to ask, does anyone have any direct experience to suggest that Fossies are a species where the male takes longer to mature to viability? I'm wondering if he doesn't need to be a bit older, perhaps a few more months. Should I simply be patient, or should I try stripping on the first day and tumbling the eggs? This is the only actual large tank I have, and I'm not too keen on tying it up with these guys for several more months unless there is a good reason.

I know that in some species of fish the females are sexually mature several months earlier than the males; in nature, they would then spawn with older, territory holding males. It works to ensure that the more productive young females breed with more virile males, and also reduces the probability of sibling to sibling breeding. The young males still color up long before they are capable of fertilizing the eggs properly. They will go through the motions, but are firing blanks, so to speak. This keeps the females from getting eggbound if there is not a mature male around. However, most of my work has been with Killifish and other non-cichlids.
 

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Fogel has a good point. If the other females are actually males, then she may just be gettingtoo much attention. My group of fossies were in with a bunch of other big haps to grow out before they went into the 180 with a few smaller species. They are slow to color.... one that I was sure was female started to speckle up at about 8" long.

If it were me, I'd introduce some more traffic to the tank... something that surely won't interbreed or mess with your fossies. Maybe something like a group of peacocks or labs. A few target fish may take just enough heat of momma that she can hold a bit longer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Male is around 6.5 inches TL, two females are about a half inch smaller, smallest female another half inch. I see no indications of subdominant males colorwise, and I've seen at least one of the larger females circling with the male, though no eggs were produced. None of the females has been aggressive toward the others.

Right now he is getting very aggressive with all three, even in a six foot tank. This is even more than he was when they spawned. I'm thinking about moving the male to a 30 long for a week or two to give the girls a rest and fatten up, perhaps find out if there is another male there.
 

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They're sort of on the small side to start breeding. I'd give them some time. Most of my hap/peacock females take a try or two before they hold long enough.

Fossies are not that aggressive, but there is going to be aggression with any big hap with only a quad in the tank. I would definitely add some more fish to give the male something else to focus on.

Good luck. :thumb:
 

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I've seen "females" colour up at 8".... I wouldn't be so confident that you have three females. They are young still... I would take out the dominant male and see what happens. If nobody colours up over a few months, then you have females, and have allowed them to mature more and put on size without being harassed. I suspect you have more males than you think though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Well, thanks for the info, it has given me some ideas. I believe I will move the sure male and see what happens. Adding dithers or targets is not a possibility, this guy already killed some other fish in the tank when he first started showing color. Others had to be moved to prevent the same from happening to them. His attitude change was very fast, and quite severe. Only fish that could stand up to him was a 8 inch female Cichlasoma atromaculatum (please don't ask how they ended up in a tank together) and she went to a better home in a trade last weekend.

If anyone has any other thoughts, feel free to add them! :thumb:
 

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We have fossies. Two are mature and well over twelve inches TL, two are juvies at around seven inches or so. We are hoping they are girls.

Both our mature fossies are very colorful males. We thought fer sure one was a girl but after 18 months at around 9" she colored up , had a huge growth spurt and was a he all along. They fight, both have an attitude with each other when the other is in full color. One is definately more dominant and does not get along with any of the other male haps in the tank. We have a ten inch venustus and the big guy can fit most of its face in his mouth when the fight ... you would think a venustus has a big mouth. Rostratus are known to be gentle giants but there is one with an attitude in every crowd.

From our experience you cannot be positive of sex with subdominant males unless you vent them. Our subdominant male went thru quite a transformation in a very short time after another hap spawned in the tank. You need patience with these guys as they can take two years to grow to maturity.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Well, I'm sure of at least one female because I've seen them spawn and she was holding, though not very long. While they are very close to two years old, I am now very curious about the other two; we shall see what happens.
 
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