60 ppm (KH 3), and temperature 76°F. Then came the wait. Over the next week, both females continued to hold. Their heads seemed to swell as their bodies dwindled in size. I could see that they were obviously chewing and pumping water over their developing larvae, even in their tiny mouths. In the meantime, the three males in the group settled in, each establishing a territory in the tank. There was a large enough mass of Java moss in the tank that allowed them to get out of each other’s line of sight. On a diet of whiteworms, newly hatched brine shrimp, daphnia, and mosquito larvae, they were squabbling a bit and busily spawning with the other females. By the time the first female in the holding tank released her dozen or so fry, all of the remaining females in the quarantine tank were also holding. Not too bad for the first few weeks with these little guys! Eventually, I built up enough of them to start passing pairs and groups out o friends, my local aquarium society auctions, a couple of local shops, and via online auctions. They traded and sold well. And from what I’ve learned in talking to those who got them from me, they also continued to reproduce at a steady rate. The pictures accompanying this article were taken by one of those friends in my local aquarium society who got a group of youngsters from me. But the coolest part was getting to witness the behavior I remembered from that old TV documentary, which showed a female taking the young fry back into her mouth whenever there was a threat. This behavior is so essential that even long after the fry have grown too large for her mouth, she still lets them in. It’s almost comical seeing all of those tails sticking out of her mouth, and when she releases them, it’s like watching clowns at a circus piling out of their car. The pleasure I got from watching this behavior completely erased all but the faintest memory of my “Mozambique disaster.” I left the fry with the females for a week or so after she released, giving these new mothers time to start feeding again and put on some weight before I moved them to the tank with the males. In the brooding tanks, the females ate the newly hatched brine shrimp and microworms that I fed the fry, as well as the whiteworms that I specifically put into the tank for them. The fry grew quickly, and could be sexed
At the first sign of danger, the female will open her mouth to take the fry back into her buccal pouch
until it is safe for them to come out.
at about 3 months of age, though most of
them did not start spawning for another 6
to 9 months after that.
for your tank. If you ever come across
these diminutive beauties, definitely give
them a try. They are peaceful fish with
great colors and fascinating behavior that
are also fairly easy to spawn. Their fry are
easy to raise, and they are great residents
for planted tanks. In short, they’ve got
something for nearly every hobbyist—not
bad for a tiny little cichlid that is about the
length of your index finger. D
Dwarf Victoria mouthbrooder P. m. victoriae, a grown-out juvenile.
It doesn’t matter whether you are a
cichlidiot, a lover of miniature fishes,
a planted tank nut with a desire to add
something just a bit different, or are just
seeking something unique and interesting
Tropical Fish Hobbyist www.tfhmagazine.com