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I have a female holding for a couple of weeks now and over the last few days I've observed her 'following' some of my younger ancistrus around the tank with her mouth open as the BN disturb the sand and mix up the detritus. I'm assuming she's 'feeding' the spawn in her mouth with the microscopic bits that are stirred up. Anyone else ever observed this?
 

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Or she is trying to get the nutrients for herself. The fry have yolk sacs for nutrition.

I have seen holding females eat yes. Not from the bottom however. And never have seen a holding mom swim with her mouth open.
 

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There is a scientific literature concerning the development of mouthbrooding cichlids, and it is known that many of these species feed whilst brooding. However, I am unaware of any data on P. nigripinnis specifically. Brooding featherfins such as Ophthalmotilapia feed throughout the brooding period, and are generally well-nourished upon fry release, suggesting that both the mother and the fry gain nourishment throughout the brooding period. In Tropheus, however, the situation is different, and it is well-established that food the mother takes into her mouth during the brooding period is ingested by the fry, but not by the mother.

As for the statement that 'the fry have yolk sacs for nutrition,' that is true for only about half of the intrabuccal incubation period. For example, A. Meyer and colleagues have shown [Journal of Fish Biology (2018) 92: 1888-1901] that in Labidochromis caeruleus embryos, the yolk sac is largely depleted by day 14 post-fertilization, which is only about half-way through the typical incubation period (at 75°F), and it is completely absorbed two days later, when the transition from endogenous to exogenous feeding is completed.

We don't need to guess what's happening during the development of these fishes: numerous investigators have studied these processes in detail.
 
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