freshwater aquariums for
ars, but I’ve never attempted
to breed any of my fish before. I’d like
to try breeding convict cichlids, which,
from what I’ve read, seem to be one of
the best choices for ease of breeding.
Could you answer a few questions for
me to help get me started on the right
foot? First, how do I make sure I’ve got
a male and female? Second, can I keep
the pair in my community tank? And
third, if I want to keep the babies, what
should I feed them?
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Is it safe to feed my fish
earthworms that I’ve collected
yard? My fish really go nuts
whenever I drop worms in the tank, and I’d
like to take advantage of this free, natural
resource as long as it won’t do any harm.
You’ve certainly selected a
good fish for your first attempt
at breeding, as convict cichlids
(four species in the genus
and a few closely related species)
are certainly among the more prolific breeders
and usually get the hang of it fairly quickly
after they’ve paired up.
There are a couple ways to make sure
you have both a male and a female. One
is by looking closely at their physical
characteristics. Males are typically larger
and have longer, more pointed dorsal and anal
fins. Depending on species, females exhibit
yellowish, orange, red, or bronze iridescence
on their bellies when in spawning condition.
However, you can’t simply plop a male and
female convict cichlid together in the same
tank and assume that they’ll coexist peacefully
and start to reproduce. It’s often necessary
to keep them separated while conditioning
the female for spawning, and then carefully
introduce them to a breeding tank, keeping an
eye out for squabbles.
A more reliable way to get a breeding pair
is to purchase six juveniles and allow them to
pair up naturally as they grow. Keep one pair,
and then return the other four to your dealer
(it’s a good idea to discuss this arrangement
ahead of time, by the way).
Keeping a breeding pair of convict cichlids
in a community tank is not recommended.
These fish are aggressive to the extreme when
in breeding mode and will attack any other
fish in the tank—even much larger fish. Your
best bet is to set up a separate aquarium
(minimum of 30 gallons) specifically for
Convict fry are large enough to eat
newly hatched brine shrimp, microworms,
and crushed flake food, so feeding the
offspring isn’t too much of a challenge.
Just be aware that you may end up with
more fry than you can accommodate.
Your dealer might take some of them off
your hands, but not all! That’s definitely
something to keep in mind while you’re
still in the planning stage.