Niemans had given me. I put an inverted
flowerpot and a rock on the bottom, but the
tank was maintained with a bare bottom.
Three out of four sides were painted blue
on the outside, with only the front of the
tank being clear.
I used fluorescent lighting on the top
glass, and the filtration consisted of a large
canister filter. The intake and outlet tubes
were made of PVC and came out of two
holes drilled at the top of the back of the
tank. Numerous holes were drilled in the
outlet, which was capped off and extended
across the water surface from the back to
the front of the tank. The intake tube was
capped off with a strainer and extended
almost the full depth of the tank. The pair
seemed quite compatible and happy in
their new and bigger environment, which
measured 24 x 29 x 58 inches.
They also ate everything I offered, even
aggressively attacking my finger through
the front glass! The pair’s diet consisted of
a mix of frozen and live foods, including
frozen bloodworms, brine shrimp, and live
feeder fish. In the wild, buttikoferi are also
known to consume live snails and molluscs.
Despite all these food choices, T. buttikoferi
is actually an omnivorous species, meaning
it feeds on both animal and vegetable
matter. I would advise having some definite
bulk in the buttikoferi diet.
The buttikoferi male watches over a swarm of grown-out fry.
Accompanied by some important details
below, I will let my photos from this
second spawning tell the most of the story
regarding this unique, open-substrate-spawning cichlid.
T. buttikoferi spawns in typical cichlid
fashion, with the male and female touching,
waving, and quivering their bodies side by
side during their mating dance. The best
indication that a spawning is imminent is
the protrusion of the female’s ovipositor, or
spawning tube. The male also extends his
spawning tube before the actual spawning
commences. Both sexes’ spawning tubes are
about a quarter of an inch in length, and
the male’s is thinner and more pointed than
the female’s. During spawning, the male
trails closely behind the female, fertilizing
each string of adhesive eggs as they are laid
on the substrate or spawning surface.
In this pair’s case, I was surprised to find
that the female had laid a clutch of hundreds
of eggs on the right bottom of the rear side
glass of the aquarium. Both the male and
female very attentively tended to the eggs,
which hatched in about three days. The
parents then piled the newly hatched larvae
into a clump beneath the spawning site and
guarded them fiercely, like two tigers. The
fry became free-swimming within a week
of hatching. It was quite a sight to once
again witness a proven pair of buttikoferi
surrounded by a huge swarm of little
miniatures of themselves!
I happened to be fortunate to have run
across two mated pairs of T. buttikoferi,
The T. buttikoferi juveniles (seen here sharing an aquarium with various cichlid tankmates) look like
smaller versions of their zebra-striped parents.
but this is actually not the recommended
or most practical way of obtaining a mated
pair of these fish. I advise purchasing
six to ten fry or juveniles and raising
them in a large tank. They will then pair
off naturally as they mature, assuming
you have a pretty even ratio of males to
females. If you keep a close eye on them,
you can remove the outcasts from the tank
before they are killed by the newly formed
pair or pairs. D