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Tropheus will spawn on the tank bottom, gravel, a flat rock or a slanted flat rock. My Kalambo colony had a dominant male that preferred a slightly tilted flat rock, a slate roofing tile. This act may be male specific, with different males preferring different substrates but I never really paid attention as to preferences.
 

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They usually pick a place, dominant males that is, and females join them. It can be in a corner of a tank, under some rocks, or on a flattened surface. The dominant males will pick up their spots and interested females will join them.
 

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My Ikola male uses a small cave under some rocks and will clear sand there down to the glass before enticing his ladies in for lurve. I am thinking of adding a flat stone for him.
 

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It is bizzarre what areas they may pick, I have seen either a flat piece, slanted piece, bar bottom glass, and even a vertical rock face.

It is wherever the male can best secure a area really. I have seen them do it in caves as well, and even make pits.

The male picks the spot.
 

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They will even spawn on the glass walls (if thats all the male of the females choice can secure) or on the glass bottom in tanks with no substrate. I think the females prefer a male that can secure a flat level rock though, if there is one.
 
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