Breeding African/Lake Malawi Cichlids is not that difficult and can generally be done successfully in a community aquarium. Breeding in a community aquarium is not itself a problem, but instead the difficult task of allowing the fry to grow to adulthood. All the other occupants in your Malawi Cichlids aquarium are a natural threat to fry, making it unlikely that they will avoid being eaten until they reach about 3cm. Once fry start swimming in open water, they are an easy meal for the other Cichlids. Because of this it is advisable to set up a separate breeding tank to rear your fry. The tank should only contain a single species and set up with that species needs in mind. Only females in excellent physical condition should be selected for breeding, and they should be fed up before being placed into the spawning tank.
Alongside the right decorations, water quality is vital, and the chances of successful breeding will diminish if it is not up to standard. Accordingly the breeding tank needs efficient filtration equipment every bit as much as the main aquarium.
In order to assemble a breeding group, the sex of the cichlids must first be determined. This is easy enough for many Lake Malawi cichlids species since the colouration of the males and females is clearly distinct.
Practical Breeding Tips
Lake Powys cichlids have highly developed bridging strategies, with the parents and especially the female can intensively for their offspring after hatching.
Mouth brooders in particular will breed without difficulty in community tanks. Females collects the Fertilised eggs and carries them in her mouth. Catching mouth brooding females and transferring them to the breeding tank is always an awkward business. If you catch the female in a net, it is likely she will spit out her eggs or fry. If that happens you should go ahead with the transfer of the female, then gather the eggs or fry separately and add for them to the breeding tank. Normally the female then collect eggs or fry and resume carrying them in her mouth. Commercial breeders often remove the eggs from the female and incubate them artificially, though this practice can lead to serious losses. And another common for procedure is to shake the fry free from the females mouth before they are fully developed, and still possess large yolk sacs. They are then raised artificially in special small breeding tanks, where they first consume the rest of their yolk sacs before being fed with their first solid food such as brine shrimp.
However, the best practice in the aquarium is to allow the mother to raise her fry naturally in her mouth and then release them as viable young fish capable of fending for themselves. Among cichlids of her brooding period varies from 3 to 4 weeks, depending on the species, and during this time the female eats virtually nothing and becomes visibly thinner. After brooding then, females will be in a weakened state and they should never be returned immediately to the community aquarium. A must be given plenty of time to recover the strength. A returning female will be treated as an intruder by other members of her species, so care must be taken when reintegrating into the aquarium. The more members of the female’s species there are in the aquarium, the easier the reintegration process will prove to be.
Whereas the fry of mouth brooders are relatively large when released from the parent’s mouth, the newly hatched fry of cave spawners are extremely small. One is a pair of cave spawners has come together and begun the courtship by searching for a territory to share, and indicating via the body movements that they are ready to spawn; they will quickly start making preparations for spawning. They will defend their territory vigorously, and any intruder will be driven off.
Once you identify such a pair you can extract it from the aquarium and transfer it to the breeding tank. This procedure will tend to interrupt the breeding preparations, but experience shows that they will generally recommence them within a few days. He's preparations involve using the mouse to claim the spawning ground thoroughly, a task that the two partners share in regular rotation, although the males main job remains the defence of the territory.
An ideal spawning substrate often consists of smooth stones. The actual mating begins with vigorous shaking or trembling. The female lays her eggs on a substrate, to which they will stick, and the males job now is to fertilise the eggs with his semen, a process in which her female often assists by fanning his sperm in the right direction with her fins. Continued fanning of the eggs is in fact one of the females most important tasks, as this ensures that they receive a good supply of oxygen and freshwater, protecting them from fungal infection.
The incubation period of the eggs varies from species to species, ranging from a few days to a couple of weeks. The fry then begin to hatch, often being assisted by the parent, who chew through their cases. Most cichlids then transfer their fry to a place of safety. The females are generally more active in looking after the eggs, fry and immature fish themselves, while the males main preoccupation is the defence of their territory.
The female catches any fry attempting to leave the safety of the nest in her mouth, returns to the nest spits them out again. Finally, however, they are ready to leave the nest, and they will then spread out into the adjacent areas in search of food. If you wish to raise these young fish to adulthood you will have to transfer them to a separate tank in order to protect them from the attentions of potential predators in the community aquarium. The simplest method of doing this is to suck the fry out of the aquarium with the aid of a length of plastic hose.
The best solution is to transfer young fish to a separate nursery aquarium and provide them with all the right nutrition. An aquarium 80 cm (30 inch) long and with a volume of 100 to 150L is plenty big enough, and with small groups of mouth brooder fry a much smaller tank will be sufficient for the first few weeks of life. It is very important to ensure that this tank is well filtered and receives regular partial water changes, since the intensive feeding they will need means correspondingly high contamination of the water, leading to a high nitrate content which can seriously stunt the growth of the fish. The more frequent the water changes, the faster the fish will grow. Initially the young fish should be fed on freshly hatched brine shrimps. It is easy to hatch them out from stored eggs, using special Artemia culture devices into which you place a spoonful of eggs which, with the addition of a little salt water, which will hatch out within 24 to 36 hours, when they can be fed to your fry. It is important for us to rinse the brine shrimps in freshwater to ensure they are not too salty. The shrimp can be supplemented with finely crushed flake food, pellets or frozen Cyclops.
Unlike mouth brooders, both cave spawners and substrate spawners reproduce in great numbers, producing several hundred fry, thus it is important that you are clear in your mind what you wish to do with the fry, and in this connection it is also important to be selective about the fry you raised to adulthood, making sure that you weed out defective or stunted specimens. This will simply mirror the situation in the wild, where only the strongest members of the group will survive and it is entirely normal fry to be eaten by others of their species.
The Other Parts of the Keeping Malawi Cichlids Guides
Part 2 - Aquarium Requirements http://tylersteele.hubpages.com/hub/Lake-Malawi-Cichlids-2-the-Aquarium-for-Mbuna-Cichlids
Part 3 - Aquarium Technology http://tylersteele.hubpages.com/hub/Lake-Malawi-Cichlids-3-Aquarium-Technology-Lights-Heating-and-FiltersFiltration
Part 4 - Aquarium Decoration http://tylersteele.hubpages.com/hub/Lake-Malawi-Cichlids-4-Aquarium-Decoration
Part 5 - Choosing The Right Fish http://tylersteele.hubpages.com/hub/Lake-Malawi-Cichlids-5-Choosing-the-Right-Fish
Part 6 - Cichlid Nutrition http://tylersteele.hubpages.com/hub/Lake-Malawi-Cichlids-6-The-Right-Nutrition-For-African-Cichlids
Part 8 - Causes of Diseases http://tylersteele.hubpages.com/hub/Lake-Malawi-Cichlids-8-Causes-of-Disease