Parananochromis gabonicus Defending Their Fry

Next month marks a year since the trip to Gabon to collect fish.  Here is a video of one of the cichlid species I brought back, Parananochromis gabonicus.  I had been keeping pairs in 20 gallon aquariums up until about two months ago.  The pairs were spawning, but in between spawns the males were very rough on the females.  Plus, the males were going to outgrow the tanks.  I moved all of the fish (two males and three females) into this 40-gallon breeder aquarium, added a big pile of wood for cover, a school of hardy tetras (Moenkhausia agnesae) and four or five well hidden breeding caves.  A few weeks ago the most dominant male and one of the females spawned, and chose the most observable cave to breed in.  Good fish!!!

When the pairs were spawning in the smaller tanks there were no target or dither fish in with them.  The female would turn her defensive attention on the only other fish in the tank… the male.  This led me to believe that the male of this species does not take an active role in caring for the fry… not true!  As this video documents….

Parananochromis brevirostris

This is a video of the 40-breeder aquarium where I house a breeding harem of the West African cichlid P. brevirostris (one male, five females and a few juveniles) that I collected in Gabon last February.  The dithers are a school of redcap moon tetras (Bathyaethiops breushegemi) and a couple yellow-tail Congo tetras (Hemigrammopetersius caudalis).  The giant danio is in there to condition to spawn.  If I leave her in with her male they will scatter eggs every day!

This tank is decorated with bog wood and oak leaves.  The cichlids need a low pH to spawn, so I am using straight RO water for changes and dropping the pH with an acid buffer to about pH 5.5.  There are several ‘burrito’ caves for spawning, which are roomy on the inside with a small opening.  I stuff the caves with long-fiber sphagnum moss which lowers the pH in the cave another half point or so.  The females seem to like the plants matter in the cave, and when given a choice of an empty cave they always use one with moss.

Trying these fish as a harem is a new idea.  Until about a month ago I was keeping each female in her own tank and shuffling the male between them (he appears in the video, but only briefly… the king is very shy).  As single pairs they have spawned several times, and I have enough fry on hand that I can now experiment a bit.  No spawns yet, but as you will see in the video the male is paired at the moment.  He chases all the other females.

Stock Shop Open!

I closed the Stock Shop in January 2010 because I was not producing fish in numbers high enough to sell.  Then a lot of other stuff prevented me from catching back up until a few months ago.  Looking around the fish room today I came to the conclusion that I have a lot of fish that need to do (and my wife pointed out to me that I have a few bills to pay), so the Stock Shop in now open.  Click on the link in the top menu bar to see what is for sale.

The highlights are probably the first juveniles of one of the cichlid species I brought back from Gabon last winter:  Parananochromis brevirostris.  I have been raising fry for a while until they are old enough to be able to sex.  They are just getting to that point, and I can see both males and females in the first batch (but I am not sure of the ratio yet).  I am selling them in groups of six.  Here is a picture:

I also have a lot of the stunning little rice fish from Indonesia, Oryzias woworae.  No pic yet… google the name, there are several on the web.

Parananochromis gabonicus

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.