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Chromidotilapia guntheri
by Duc Nguyen

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After just a few days of obtaining them, they already showed signs of wanting to spawn. Every time the male and female saw each other, she would flare out her gills followed by the male slanting at an angle and shimmying in front of her. This behavior continued for a few days. Then I noticed the female's coloration got more pronounced and she was cleaning off the surface of a cave I had setup for them. I also noticed a very evident ovipositor on the female so I knew that spawning should occur pretty soon. The following morning, I was lucky enough to witness the actual spawning! The female deposited approximately 50 or so eggs on the flat surface followed by the male fertilizing them. After the female was completely finished with depositing her eggs, the male then picked up all the eggs in his buccal cavity. This is one of the unique characteristics of this fish is that they are paternal mouthbrooders! He didn't hide as I would expect and swam around the tank as normal.

Underwater Fish Marine biology Fin Water

The fish typically incubate the eggs for 10 - 12 days (Lamboj, 2004). However, in my tank, they released at day 18. After the fry were released, both parents continued to look after them. Whenever they sensed danger, both parents would jerk their bodies (I am thinking this is a signal for the fry to seek protection) and the fry would seek refuge back inside their parent's mouth. The parents continued to exhibit very strong brood care for several weeks. In my experience, they continued looking after the fry for up to three weeks. I was finally able to separate the fry and they are growing out in a nursery tank on regular flake food. They grow very quickly and not difficult to care for at all.

Overall, although this fish is not too colorful, their behavior and brood care more then makes up for it. Watching the parents with their fry is a site to see. I also was able to see the actual spawning which made everything worthwhile. These fish are not too common but if you get a chance to get some, I would highly recommend them for anyone interested in west African cichlids.
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Originally published in The Lateral Line, the official publication of the Hill Country Cichlid Club.
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