This video shows a young female Parananochromis gabonicus caring for newly free swimming fry. I brought the pair back from the Gabon trip in February, and they lived with a group of eight in this 20-gallon long aquarium. By late March there were a few fish becoming mature enough to defend territories, so I removed all but two males and two females. I did not see much indication of spawning until I was able to drop the pH to under 5.0. I had already placed four caves in the tank, but the fish did not show much interest.
When we were in Gabon, Anton Lamboj and I were discussing the micro-habitat where these fish were found, and he suggested that Parananochromis species may be ‘leaf divers’, meaning that they like to bury themselves in leaf litter (which explains why they are not easy to net). Other leaf diving fish I have kept (some Betta species, catfish and some South American cichlids) also chose spawning sites in dense plant matter, so I decided to fill all of the spawning caves in this tank with long fiber sphagnum moss. That did the trick. Within a day the females were exploring the caves and their abdomens turned bright red.
The spawning occurred in late May, and was evidenced by the female becoming very reclusive in the cave and also very aggressive to any other fish that came near the opening. The fry did not appear until 12 days after the day I think they spawned, and this video was shot on their first foray (that I noticed) away from the spawning cave. One of the interesting observations in the video is that the female takes many of the fry in her mouth, and keeps them there, when she feels they are threatened. Other west African cichlids I have seen do this (other than the mouth brooding species) usually just relocate the fry and spit them out.
This is the first cichlid that I brought back from Gabon that has bred for me. Hopefully the strategies successful with P. gabonicus will also prove effective with the others.