Pink Tilapia II -- The Spawning
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 Spawning Factoids

Start Date

Both put in tank February 25, 2008 before lunch

Spawning Site

Established 55 gallon tank

Basic Diet

Koi Pellets

Conditioning Diet

Whatever's close at hand
Male's Preference Nightcrawlers
Female's Preference Aqualand cichlid pellets -- mini-size
Dither Fish None needed but we added 3 foot-long plecos
Female 7 inches
Male 12 inches
Temperature 74 F increased over time to 78

Water 

Added 50% new water plus NovAqua
Behavior Both mellow at all times

Spawning Clues

None the first two weeks
Threats Birds, crocodiles, bigger fish, restaurants

LA
Foot-long male tilapia in a 20H.

Prologue.  I was price tagging a 55 of miscellaneous non-Rift Lake cichlids, when I noticed a 6 or 7-inch obvious female pink tilapia looking a little verklempt.  At about the same time, I was cleaning out a 55 with 3 little goldfish in it.  The goldfish got moved to a plant tank.  I moved the female into their former tank after making a 50% water change.  Then I added the above male which was in our top row of "biggies."  What the hey, I haven't bred a large pair of these guys for decades -- mainly because they tend to breed at much younger sizes, sometimes at three or four inches.  Mossambics were among the first mouthbrooders way last century.  Their behaviors are much more intriguing than the Rift Lakers.  February 25, 2008

LA
Here's the pair.  She's much smaller than him.

The Pair.  Males greatly exceed the females in size.  You can ignore that flower pot in the background.  These guys are pit spawners.  Ignore that algae also.  I added three foot-long plecos to "harvest" the algae that I missed.  In "wild" Mossambics the females are a very drab grey.  The female above has even more colors than he has.  Hopefully he'll develop more colors now that he has a reason to spiff up.

LA
Here's one of my algae removing crew.  They'll be getting zucchini, too.

LA
Looking a little better, but they've only been together 20 minutes.

Early Stage.  When they first hit the 55, each went into opposite ends of the tank and tried to get behind the filter stems.  The male adapted first and soon started coming to the front. 

LA
Males have the largest mouths -- and they don't even have their own talk shows.

LA
With a mouth like this, you'd think he was the one incubating the eggs.

Sexual Dimorphism.  There are very few fish you can sex by their mouth size.  In the case of the mossambics, there's an obvious difference.  You can usually spot the difference around the three or four inch size.  At the foot-long stage, it's pretty obvious.

LA
Here's the female.  Much smaller mouth and, oddly enough, more color and different on each side.

More Sexual Dimorphism.  In the wild strain, males are darker and turn black with a red tail when spawning.  Females remain a neutral grey.  Males are nearly always larger -- usually twice the size if given enough room.  You cannot sex the pink ones by color.

LA
Here's her profile on this side.

LA
And here's her flip side.

LA
He likes her already and they've known each other for only two hours.  Ain't pheromones grand?

Brief Hiatus.  Tuesday's my day off so who knows what's happening today?  Before leaving I tossed in some koi pellets and some blanched zucchini.  Tilapia are not exactly picky eaters.

LA
You can see his breeding tube dropping down.

We're Back.  Turned on their lights and they scurried into their neutral corners.  By the time we got all the lights on and returned with the camera, he was in love again.

LA
His attention is mutual.  She follows him like a satellite.

She Follows Him.  She cruises the tank in his wake.  When she gets ahead, a well placed nip takes her out of the lead.

LA
They take turns displaying to each other.

LA
He assumes some peculiar stances.

LA
And they are quite aware of voyeurs.

LA
He's basically ignoring these algae wafers, while scoping out his audience.

LA
So they've returned to hanging together.

LA
Time for the nightcrawler diet.  She tastes them and turns up her nose.

LA
Our male loves nightcrawlers.

Tasty Nightcrawlers.  Some say nightcrawlers contain a secret ingredient that helps inspire fish to breed.  Others say mossambics need no inspiration whatsoever.  The female says no thanks.  I added a half dozen.  The male ate four, but let the last one slither back out.

LA
He dropped one right in front of her and she still turned up her nose.

LA
I left two 1.25-inch otocinclus in there inadvertently.

More than Dither.  You'd think little bitty otocinclus would be eaten instamente.  These little guys skittered across the male's back from time to time as if looking for algae.  He just ignored them.  Mossambics will eat fish rather than starve, but they prefer not to.

LA
This nightcrawler slithered back out after he had it entirely swallowed.

LA
His breeding tube is more extended today.

LA
Female sifting through the gravel for mini cichlid pellets.

LA
Her preference.

Female Foods.  She prefers these little, bitty cichlid pellets to other foods.  She samples nightcrawlers and one-inch snippets of nightcrawlers and spits them out.  She catches a few pellets on the way to the bottom, but harvests most of them by sifting thru the gravel. 

LA
Finally, the male dug out a two-inch deep pit.

Pit Stop.  It took them a couple weeks to realize that they were destined to breed together.  However, here it is March 9 and the male dug this pit on my lunch hour.  Still no breeding tube visible on the female.

LA
Next day an even larger pit.

LA
No doubt about the male getting sufficient food.

LA
Female now looking like this-- much structural damage to the female.

Male Time Out.  Industrial strength sexual harassment by the male.  He's more than ready to breed.  The female says "not so much."  We moved him to a cooler tank to cool his jets.  We'll see if she recovers and drops her breeding tube.  Until then, he's in time out.

LA
After a couple weeks to recoup, she drops her breeding tube -- a good sign.

LA
Her distended jaw denotes she's carrying eggs.

We Missed It.  In spite of constant monitoring, we totally missed the entire egglaying process.  So we moved her into this 10 gallon tank to incubate her eggs.  We decided to pry her mouth open just to make sure.

LA
Here's a fraction of her spawn.  March 17, 2008.

She Spewed Her Eggs.  Unfortunately, when we netted her the second time, she spewed eggs everywhere.  By dumping her out real quick we were able to net these before they hit the bottom.  Perhaps she'll pick up the numerous dropped eggs, but she showed no interest yet.

Artificial Incubation.  We bent the net over and put the net above the filter bubbles.  No clue as to whether this process will work.  And, we hope she did not expel all her eggs.  (Actually, she did expel all her eggs.)

LA
She's recuperated and will be introduced to the male again today.  May 16, 2008.

LA
He killed her later that evening.

Finis.  LA
 

Q&As Feb II 0207

Q&As Feb III 0207

Q&As Mar I 0307
Q&As Mar II 0307

Q&As Mar III 0307
Q&As Apr I 0407
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Q&As Apr III 0407

Q&As May I 0507

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Q&As Jun I 0607
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Q&As Jul I 0707

Q&As Jul II 0707
Q&As Aug I 0807
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Q&As Sept I 0907

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Q&As Oct I 1007

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Q&As Nov I  1107
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Q&As Nov III  1107
Q&As Dec I 1207
Q&As Dec II 1207
Q&As Dec III 1207
Q&As Jan I 0108
Q&As Jan II 0108
Q&As Jan III 0108

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