Spawning Your Texas Cichlids
And caring for their fry
Pet World Visit
Prologue: Most of you will want to read Texas Cichlids before trying to spawn them. These particular Texans were not actually mine. Chuck Z had a fire at his house, so I wound up baby-sitting several of his fish. His pair of Texas cichlids had spawned before, so I decided what the Hay, why not spawn the rascals again?
Day One. I came to work and found numerous cichlids literally crammed into several 20Hs. One pair of Texas cichlids caught my eye. They were jammed into an obviously too small 20H but were not beating the crap out of each other -- unlike the Buttikoferi creaming two good-sized brichardis crammed into a 10. So I fed them O.S.I. goldfish pellets.
Diet: Since Texas cichlids are omnivorous, goldfish pellets hit the spot with them. We fed them small quantities three times per day. Every other day, they got Aqualand cichlid pellets, which they liked even better.
Conditioning Diet: We started with the basic diet above, then we ramped it up a bit. We added Tetra freeze-dried krill to increase the essential oils, bump up the calories, enhance their colors, and get them “in the mood.” We also added a nightcrawler (because worms nearly always create that “urge to merge”), however they each ate only one and turned up their noses at all subsequent nightcrawlers. We also gave them live glassworms because we have a huge batch. Total time to condition the Texas cichlid pair was two weeks.
Breeding Quarters: As mentioned, the pair is in a 20H. Their tank has an under gravel filter, a cave barely big enough for her to squeeze into, and mostly black gravel. No lid. No live or plastic plants. No dither fish (not enough room). No heater. Since they were on the top row (10 feet in the air), their temperature was 78 F.
The Female: She was one inch smaller than the 12-inch male but much less bulky. She spent her first week inside of or behind her cave. He’d occasionally scrunch down and wiggle his way inside her cave. After a week or so, she came out front and center.
The Male: He chased her around a lot the first week. He did not hog the food. She usually out-ate him. At the beginning of the second week, both came to the front when I approached their tank (with or without food).
Diggers: During the second week, they started digging down to the filter plate. At this time we added a piece of slate as the potential spawning site. If they laid eggs on the filter plate, the babies would get sucked under the plates. Thus, the piece of slate. We smushed it down into the gravel and covered 90% of it with gravel. We want them to dig a nice pit that won’t “eat” their babies. During this process, they kept pushing to the front to protect their spawning site.
Pre-Spawning Behavior: You’ll see the male and female tail-slapping, kissing, and lip-locking. This wrassling match is a fitness test to see who will continue the species. Sometimes you see this same behavior during and after spawning.
Results: They laid eggs on the slate we provided and on the aquarium wall. This makes the decision easy as to whether to hatch the eggs artificially or leave them with their parents. We’ll do both.
Lots of Eggs: Here’s the eggs on the slate -- over 500. Count them if you so desire. Including the eggs on the aquarium wall, they laid probably over 1,200 all together. They’ll need aeration. We’ll also also add methylene blue to discourage fungus on the eggs.
Aerating the Eggs: Angelfish breeders typically put their slate of eggs in a gallon jar with a slow airstone. This slate with the Texas cichlid eggs was too big for a gallon jar. We put them in a handmade three-gallon tank. The bubbling UG filter stem behind them provides the aeration. Too much aeration on the eggs can create the oddly shaped gill covers often seen on angels. We assume the same deformity would occur on Texas cichlids if the aeration were too vigorous.
Artificial Parent: Texas cichlid parents normally fan their incubating eggs constantly to provide aeration. They also pick off the dead eggs -- the ones that turn white. The water came from their spawning tank. We’ll see which batch of eggs fares best. Sometimes even the best parents will eat their eggs. (March 26, 2006)
Another (smaller) Pair
James Phillips, August 24, 2010
A: Obviously your Texas cichlids did not read my website. If they did, they totally ignored it -- at their own peril.. Cichlids are bull-headed that way. LA
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