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I have 2 Red zebras (that live with other malawis) that have been breeding in my 20G L but no surviving fry- so I placed them both together in a separate tank and the female laid eggs immediately and they started doing their courting ritual. After a couple of days the male was chasing her around vigorously and I removed him thinking that he had fertilized the eggs already.

The female is now by herself- I put the male back in the original tank he was once dominant in. In one 24 hour period he got shredded- so I decided to put him back in the tank with the female and they started locking jaws! some of the eggs spilled so I removed him (again) and put him into a 3rd tank with some smaller tanganigan fish in the hopes he might survive.

This Male red Zebra will has not eaten for some reason since breeding with the female and I just hope he lives-

A few questions

1. Do males ever mouth brood with the females? He wasn't eating and I could have sworn that I looked in his mouth when he was breathing and I saw eggs! Perhaps why the fish were locking jaws was that the female was trying to get the eggs in his mouth??!!!!??

2. How long should I keep the male and the female together after she has taken her eggs into her mouth? I read that when they are done courting the male chases her away. This was happening so I removed him in hopes of saving the eggs (and potentially fry). Is there a time frame where you can be sure that the fry have been fertilized?

3. When fish are shredded by tankmates then removed what is the best way to heal them and get them to eat again??

Thanks- its been a wild 24 hours. (btw- this is my first time breeding so any info you offer would be a HUGE help!)

~ Jason

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wow alot of questions. okay lets do one at a time.

1. males do mouth brood in some species like Kenyi. But red zebras don't. And im pretty sure that jaw locking thing is just natural.

2. After they court the male should be removed from the tank so the female won't be harrassed for she can't defend herself with a mouth full of eggs. Im pretty sure theyve stopped when the male stops pestering the female.

3. The best way to get a cichlids dominence back is to change the decor of the tank. rearange the rockwork or whatever you have so theres new territory to fight over.

Hope I could help :thumb:


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Some of the Tanganyikan fish are biparental mouthbrooders, but no Malawians. (Not even kenyi, rrcoolj!)

It almost sounds to me as if you have two mature female red zebras spawning, and spitting or swallowing the eggs when they realize they aren't fertilized...Not uncommon, and it usually occurs within a week of the "spawn"...The lip locking issue sounds more like behaviour between two of the same sex rather than male/female behaviour.

I'm actually quite surprised the two red zebras didn't kill each other in a 20G tank. These aren't pairing fish, they are harem breeders, meaning they should be housed 1 male to 3-4 females, and with zebra types, in no less than a 55G 4 ft tank.

What size is the main tank, Jason?

What is your other stock in the main tank?

It's always going to be difficult returning a fish to the main tank once you remove it. Your stocking choices and tank size can play a huge role in this.

Melafix and daily water changes will aid in healing the injured fish. Should you see any cottony growths around the injuries, you may need antibiotics.

Should you get the fish well enough to be returned to the main tank, you may need to rearrange the rock work in the tank, so that all the fish have to reestablish territories. It also helps to reintroduce them at "lights out" for the evening.

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