I can always tell when mine are holding as the female always goes for the food but then never actually opens her mouth to eat it. I'm sure she would if she could find a way to not swallow any of her kids at the same time :lol:
I have not bred any of my fronts yet, but on my other species of mouth brooders i have not seen them eat anything. I will occationally put in some crushed flake food in the maternity tank and i dont know if she eats it or not. I have also seen them go after the food in main tank but not open the mouth or eat any of it.
i think a female's disinterest in consuming food, is triggered more by stress, than the actual act of holding. although young females tend to fast more readily than experienced ones, most keepers of colonizing species witness holding females grazing privately.
a poor choice of tank mates, might also prompt a female to tighten up her lips (common in crowded malawi type set ups), as will moving her away from the group into one of those terrifying 'quarantee tank' set ups. :roll:
I've almost always let mine hold full term, this last time we stripped when the egg sack was almost gone and the female was eating like crazy afterwards. We do have her in with active fish and she was not afraid of competing with them to get food off the surface :lol: