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Pelvicachromis Subocellatus
by Don 'Z-Man' Zilliox

Back in 1999 I decided to attend the American Cichlid Association to be held in Dearborn, MI which is a suburb of Detroit. Always before any of these events I contact anyone I know in the area to see if we could make a possible trade. I contacted my friend Phil Ryti came through with a very nice group of six Pelvicachromis subocellatus juveniles for some of my Apistogrammas I had not maintained many West African dwarf cichlids for quite a while so I thought they might be something different. Upon getting home I actually did sort of hide them away in a corner tank and beside feedings and water changes, I mostly ignored them. Over a year and a half passed and now I was down to only one trio remaining. Why I lost the other three, I don't know but it probably was due to my own neglect. Later in the year I ended up with just one pair but the female every once and a while really looked fantastic. Still I paid little or no attention but one day I decided to move them to a top row tank and put in a little effort to get them to spawn.

They were placed in a 10-gallon tank at a temperature of 76F and I softened the water with RO water to get it to around 80ppm that is 100ppm less than what they were housed in before. I added three 3" clay flowerpots with a small doorway on the side. One day I notice the female keeping the male away and she had that beautiful magenta color blotch on her stomach and sides again. Lifting the flowerpot, I discovered eggs! So I just left them alone and waited for the fry to show themselves. A week passed and my curiosity got the better of me and I took another peek. Nothing! Darn, the eggs were gone, better luck next time. This same thing happened three times in a row and so I decided to remove the male the next time as I figured he was too much for the female to fend off so she ate the eggs herself. Three more times without the male around after spawning and the eggs still disappeared! Now I figured that they were not fertilized to begin with and that I did not have a virile spawning pair. Just to be sure, the next time she laid eggs, I removed the pot containing the eggs to a waiting 5-gallon tank filled with water from the main tank and just a Hydro-Sponge filter. Then I waited. After 5 days I could wait no longer and had to check the eggs. Well they still looked good but I thought this was taking quite a long time. Two days passed and low and behold I saw wigglers through the small opening. In another 7 days, I finally had free-swimming Pelvicachromis subocellatus fry. Fourteen days was about 4 days longer than it usually takes my Apisto fry to appear but at this time I didn't care as long as I had the babies. I then tossed in a handful of Java moss and fed newly hatched baby brine shrimp twice a day. They seemed to be very slow growers at least for me. Possibly if the temperature was a little higher, they may have grown faster.

About a month after that spawn, I noticed that the female again attained those bright colors and sure enough, there were eggs again. I did the same as before and now I have my second spawn of these pretty fish going. So as I write this, I have put the pair back together again in anticipation of them spawning once more. The moral of this story is "Never give up!", as I believe that sooner or later the pair will bond and begin to spawn at regular intervals. Now I wonder if they had spawned many times before without me noticing that there had been eggs and that they had been constantly eaten. This just goes to prove that when keeping any fish, you must notice any little change in behavior because something great could be going on.
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