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Hello all! I know that venting is the only 100% true way to tell a male vs female (except for holding) but I was wondering if only male cichlids do the twitching "dance". One of my Mainganos has been following what I expect to be a female and twitching by her. Is this a sign that it is a male?

SnookMan88
 

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I have some mainganos and at one point or another I've seen them all twitch for each other. The difference between that and courting I believe is that with courting the male has worked tirelessly on a den, he chases the female back to it, and then only dances there. Doing it anywhere else is probably a territory thing.

Do you (or anyone reading this) know when they become sexual mature? I have an inch long maingano who has built a den and has done some very long courting dances like what I've seen on YouTube where they shake and circle each other for around 5 minutes or so. I don't think he can reproduce this small but I'm just curious.
 

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I've had my females do the shake. And the male doesn't usually make a nest/den unless the type of cichlid is a spawning type (instead of a mouthbrooder--like most Africans). Both sexes will also dig in the substrate, but males do it more commonly. If you can't tell by obvious coloring (if sexes are dimorphic), then you have to rely on venting or if the fish holds.

Sexual maturity varies, but usually it's around 2-3" long. But I've had some fish hold sooner, and some much later (3" and still haven't).
 

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I used to keep a breeding group of maingano (M. Cyaneorhabdos). These were my observations:
Both sexes will display dominance by twitching.
Both sexes will dig.
Dominant females can have very vibrant coloration.
Dominant females can be very aggressive - especially towards females lower in the pecking order or smaller subdominant males.
Both sexes can exhibit territorial behavior.
Females become sexually mature at about 2", males at about 2.25" - 2.5"

Aside from venting or observing eggs/spawning behavior, there really is no good way to distinguish between sexes. I had quite a few from my group that fooled me.
 
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