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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
For now I just want opinions on sexing these two fish based on appearance, if at all possible.

Firemouth # 1 (approx. 3.0" total length)





Firemouth # 2 (approx. 3.5" total length)





Together (#1 on left; #2 on right)




I can also provide an account of their interactions with one another and with others from their initial group, but I want some opinions based purely on what you see in the pics first.

Thanks!
BV
 

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This sounds like a trick , but I'll bite. :p From what I can see #1 female , #2 male.
 

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that would be my guess to, but only because of the fins, even though my female firemouth had nicer fins then my male.
 

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I agree with everyone else. I am more sure about #2 being a male than #1 being a female though. I also think that they are both nice looking FMs. I hope the little one (approximately 2") I just got this week will end up this colorful.
 

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The trailing ray extensions of fish #2 definitely says it is a male at that size.
The first fish is quite possibly a female as she is slightly thicker and has smaller pectoral fins.

The color is some what orange rather than red. This may be because of the camera used, white balance, and the flash. However, many FM's in the trade have orange coloring instead of dark red. No worries. :thumb:
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the responses.
Let's now move on to what I've witnessed as far as behavior/interactions:

PHASE I - several weeks ago
-5 similar-sized firemouths
-fish #2 (the one we're calling male) is largest of the batch
-he occupied 'sweet spot' at bottom of the tank; established as dominant fish
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PHASE II - couple weeks ago
-other 4 fish began hanging out more and more toward the surface of the water
-3 of them especially stayed loosely grouped together in one far upper corner of the tank
-the other one, which is fish #1 (the one we're calling female) hung out more near the middle

It became clear that the 3 up near the surface were probably all males.
Not only were they 'shooed away' by the dominant male, but they were also similar to him in appearance (as far as finnage and stronger coloration goes). Dominant male has a much better shape to him and better flowing fins, but these other 3 bear a stronger resemblance to him than to the suspected female. The fact that the suspected female was the only one allowed to really interact/hang out with the dominant male in any significant way (while the others were shunned)---combined with her more bluntly-shaped dorsal fin and overall shorter finnage and slightly less vibrant coloration---tells me that she is in fact the only female of the bunch.

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PHASE III - about a week ago
-pulled out the 3 suspected subordinate males
-dominant male's attention focused more on the female
-interaction often consisted of him nipping at her tail fin, with her 'waving' her body at him and gill-flaring
-despite having the middle portion of her tail fin shredded away, she still kept trying to hang around the male

This gave me the impression that he was perhaps looking to spawn, whereas she was not ready to do so (yet was still trying to 'woo' him?). At this point, I'm thinking I have somewhat of a pair in the making, but they're not quite there yet.
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PHASE IV - today
-added a slightly larger female (from what I suspect) to the tank
-my current (suspected) female seemed to be the first to start attacking her
-male was more curious about the newcomer, but was gradually 'compelled' (by the current female's gill-flaring and attack-posturing movements) to engage in the attacks as well
-these attacks occurred repeatedly throughout the evening until I decided to remove the newcomer to prevent her (I'm assuming she based on body shape, finnage, coloration) from getting killed
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SUMMARY/QUESTIONS
Could this unified attack indicate that my current fish are in fact a pair?
I suppose it could be a simple matter of two tankmates defending a common territory against a newcomer 'intruder,' but the newcomer in this case was in no way aggressive (despite being the alpha fish at the fish store). Plus, the male did in fact check her out in a more curious manner to begin with, but then only started attacking her when 'prompted' by the current female, whose posturing and gill-flaring seemed to get him riled up. In some instances she'd come up behind him when he was nearing the newcomer, and then she'd give him a nudge or a little bite on the 'backside,' which then sent him into attack mode against the newcomer. They would both then pursue her and bite at her, then take breaks as she hung out near the surface/behind heater, then repeat again a short while later, etc...

Any thoughts from anyone who still happens to be reading my long-winded rundown of the situation? :-?
BV
 

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Sounds like they're working on it. The fact that the male is courious about the other female says to me that the bond is not that strong between them at this point, but that should improve with time and a spawn or two. I find the females actions interesting. I cant say I remember ever seeing any of my females do something like that except when guarding young and the male was a little slack in his duties. Guess we know who's gonna be wearing the pants :lol: .I wouldn't try adding any other FMs at this point though , I think it would just mess up the forming bond . Just my 2 cents , I'm sure some more knowledgeable folks will chime in. Good luck! :wink:
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for your feedback, Joel.
I agree with your take on things....you're right about the female---she's pretty fiesty!

Still, I was a bit concerned about her---mostly her tail fin damage---so I thought it might not be a bad idea to add another female...just to see if the male would prefer her instead. Plus, I was hoping the dynamics and interactions with the new fish would give me the confirmation I needed to be sure I had a male and a female.

As you said, it appears that this new addition has helped confirm two things for me...
1) Fish #1 and the newcomer are in fact both female.
2) Newcomers are not welcome in this setup (so I won't mess with the FM stocking anymore); indicating to me that the male and female are pairing.

Based on all this, it appears you've confirmed my suspicions about things, and I've figured out what I wanted to know---thanks for your help! Of course, I welcome anyone else's input on the matter as well. :thumb:

BV
 

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You have definitely formed a pair if they are posturing to each other with dominant gill flaring and then swimming together. The fact that they protected a territory together(which is what happened during the attacks) is more evidence that the bond has formed.

I would suggest a 25%-50% water change with slightly cooler water(74*F) and increase feeding with possibly some frozen foods like bloodworms or enriched brine shrimp.

If you are interested in raising the fry then you will need some baby brine shrimp. I use frozen cubes from Hikari because they are easier.

HTH, Rich
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Much appreciated, Rich...thanks for the feedback and advice.
Female's tail fin damage does not appear to be getting any worse, but she does have some markings on her face and body indicative of some slight damage. Nevertheless, she appears to be holding up just fine, so I remain hopeful that her fiesty spirit will endure all of the male's aggressive breeding 'advances' until such time that she is ready to lay eggs. :fish:

BV
 

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BV,

I just wanted to say that I enjoyed reading this thread. I like how you have shared your observations with us and it is nice to see how things have progressed. I hope that you continue to keep all of us updated on how your pair of FM is going. And at the risk of sounding demanding, can we have a few updated pics of them from time to time. I love to see how fish grow and change over time.

I just have one final question, what do you plan on doing with the fry?

I hope that all goes well with your new pair of FM and once again thanks for sharing with us.
 

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Clean water, some high protien food and time....

I also think you broke down the process very well and maybe should be sticky'd up there with cons : P...

It could take up to a month for a spawn and you may want something in there to deflect the male's aggression and "bond" the pair. Gosh her fins are bad, I must say... As far as the 3 unpair'd go you probalby woudln't know if they were all sub-males or sub-females..I noticed the same exact behaviour in my tanks and a second pair formed out of the outcasts.

Nice big water change, a gaggle of live shrimp or some like protien and she'll start making her eggs.

Have you noticed any pits being dug ? Usually the 1st sign.
 

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I just had a similar experience but my male ended up killing the female that he had apparently bonded with. :( He then went crazy and started viciously attacking everything. I had to get rid of him. Unfortunately they were the best looking FM I have seen in person and showing great color at only 2in.

You should definitely get something in there to help try and focus their attention on until they are ready to do the deed if you don't all ready. I would hate to hear yours ended like mine did.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Well, I wish I would have updated sooner, but things only really 'hit the fan' within the past day or so. In a nutshell, the male in particular was getting quite aggressive---kinda like what you were describing, chrispyweld.

Needless to say, I got rid of the firemouths. :? :oops:

Why did I get rid of them?
Well, my $30.00 leopard frog pleco ended up dying, and I'm pretty sure it was the male FM that stressed him to death. See, I did a few things wrong with this setup. Having the 4 raphael cats in with 2 fancy plecos was a big mistake, IMO. The leopard frog plec had been showing signs of starvation---even despite loading the tank up with food for these guys---and I think a lot of it had to do with the raphaels being such pigs and gobbling it all up before the plecos really had a chance. The male firemouth would attack all bottomdwellers, but of course the raphaels were barely phased by any of it. The plecos, on the other hand, seemed to tolerate this pestering rather poorly. Stress just seemed to be adding up, leading to starvation.

My first mistake in this poorly thought-out plan to 'fix' things was pulling all the raphael cats out of the tank. I figured hey, if they're the ones stealing all the food, then maybe removing them will give the plecos more to feast on. I should have realized at the time that this only resulted in the plecos becoming even bigger targets for the male FM. I think this ultimately led to the death of the leopard frog pleco. In retrospect, I should have gotten rid of the firemouths sooner.

After the death of the leopard frog pleco, I couldn't help but stay really focused on my other pleco (the peppermint pleco). I noticed the male FM chasing him all over the tank, and the pleco seemed awfully stressed about the whole ordeal. He'd go on scavenging missions in a desperate attempt to fill his belly (which appeared sunken-in); only to be met with attacks from the FM. I decided enough's enough and ultimately chose to keep the pleco instead of the firemouths. I just hope the pleco will pull through okay following this whole ordeal.

So where does that leave me now?
This tank now has one 2-3" peppermint pleco (which I've read will hit 6-7"), a large school of silvertip tetras, and that's it... Not sure where to take things from here... My crayfish breeding project has been taking up a lot of my attention as of late.

Sorry to have hit a dead end with this one guys.
I would have loved to see what was gonna be in store for this FM 'pair' I had in the making, but I just didn't wanna have to lose another pleco in the process. The remaining pleco is my favorite, so I'm hoping he'll pull through and stay with me for the long haul.

BV :?
 

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BV,

Sorry to hear what happened. IMO you did the best thing by getting rid of them when you did though. I too have had to recently give some fish away because of the way things were going. I know how much it sucks but I guess you just have to know that in the long run you did what was best.
 

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Sorry to hear that, I know first hand how much this sucks. :(

Is it just me or are the FM's getting meaner. I have seen better specimens recently than I have ever seen in person but they are psycho. I don't know maybe they are closer to wild than what I am used to or what.
 

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Man that really sucks. at least the casualties were minimal. The only time I can remember Any of mine ever behaving like that was just before a spawn and while guarding fry. Considering the circumstances though you did the best thing. Geez, I wonder what they'd have done if they spawned! Still quite a shame ,they were real nice FMs. :(
 
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