Cichlid Room Companion

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Breeding Tanganyikan mouth-brooders

By , 1995. printer

Classification: Captive maintenance, Lake Tanganyika.

" Fishroom talk taking place on 1995-Oct-11 "

This is the transcript for the Oct. 11, 1995 Fishroom cichlid meeting. The topic was keeping and breeding of Tropheus. This transcript has been edited to remove all the Hi's and Bye's as well as other things not related to the meeting

Melissa Danforth. Enjoy

Horus says: Open for questions pertaining to Tropheus , Featherfins, Xenotilapia , Cyprichromis and other Tanganyikan mouthbrooders for starters

Dev says: Horus, do you want to open first with a little background on Lake Tang. mouthbrooders and their care? Horus says: sure dev

Horus says: as you know, Tanganyikan spawns in two ways.. mouthbrooding where females incubate the eggs in their mouths, and substrate spawners where they lay eggs on slate, rocks, shells, etc

Horus says: Mouhbrooders can be stripped and eggs/young hatched fry removed and artificially hatched or raised to save the mother the work Horus says: In mouthbrooders, it's usually better to keep one or two males to 5-8 females

Roger says: Horus, do you personally prefer stripping, or not?

Horus says: I will strip if a fish cannot hold the fish for the 3 week period where fry

Roger says: does stripping usually produce more live youngsters?

Horus says: strip them if they're not good parents. yes, you strip after day 2 or 3 and you get all the eggs. in a good incubator, there is a 95% hatch rate at all times

Horus says: if anyone is interested, they are custom made by a friend (they are works of art) and the best thing i've seen. they run $49.95 (no tax, but guaranteed to work

Doc says: does the stripping cause stress to the mother & is the 1-2 males to 5-8 females with all Mouthbrooders?

Horus says: stripping causes less stress because the mother has less work to do...strip after 5 days, or preferably after you see heads and tails. they don't need to be "tumbled at the point

Doc says: what is custom made??

Horus says: Custom made means it's not on the market

Horus says: many incubators have been made with uplift tubes. The idea is to rotate the eggs slowly so they don't fungus, yet remember the size of the tumbling that could occur in a mother's mouth...not much room in there

Melissa says: What is the purpose of the incubator and how does it work?

Horus says: the purpose of the incubator is to artificially hatch the eggs. some mothers as they eggs grow larger and turn into small fry, will start to get hungry. say they swallow a few small pieces of food, and inadvertently a fry or two. pretty soon instead of 25 eggs/fry, you have 10

Horus says: obviously this only works is you have a reliable incubator

Horus says: is anyone here working with breeding any Tanganyikan mouthbrooders?

Doc says: how do you get the eggs from the mother? No I have all Malawi Mouthbrooders

Horus says: same way you get them from malawians. strip them I use electrical wire ties to hold the mouth open

Apistogramma says: If anyone is can make tumblers for A LOT less

Dev says: well, what if one doesn't want to strip them how successful are they under the mother's care?

Apistogramma says: Horus, you started with a comment about the Male to female ratio for mouth brooders. Do you use that same ratio for featherfins?

Horus says: usually they take up to 6 spawns max before they figure out to incubate to full term. some fish take less, usually they are wild-caught

Dev nods his head in understanding

Horus says: for featherfins, 3 males is good for up to 20 females. 3 males keeps male#1 from terrorizing male #2 exclusively

Apistogramma says: WOW you must have some HUGE aquaria to hold twenty adult featherfin females and three males.....considering the size they get

Horus says: I have had success keeping them in 85-125g, some cyps in 55gal. of course, some of my featherfin groups are only 2.8-10

Horus says: most except Tropheus do best in a 2 species tank, a bottom mid water fish and a mid-top water species

Dev says: what sp. would you say is an easy mouthbrooder to start with?

Horus says: Cyprichromis species are fairly easy

Dev says: also, what's a good top water sp for Tropheus?

Horus says: Tropheus are easy, If you are willing to do the frequent water changes

Horus says: Dev, I keep Tropheus with Tropheus. duboisi can be kept with a t. moorii species, but don't mix similar looking Tropheus species. you can do a t. brichardi and t. moorii. another one that will work with Tropheus is Petrochromis trewavasae

Roger says: what (if any) are the differences between breeding Malawians (especially mbuna) and breeding tang mouthbrooders?

Horus says: Roger, primarily value of the fish. Malawians generally have larger spawns

Glenw says: Sorry to back up a bit, but how do you tie the mouth open for stripping?

Horus says: hold the fish firmly in one hand. with a blunt, small implement, pry the mouth open and raise the fish in and out of the water until they spit the fry/eggs out

Apistogramma says: Horus, do you know Peter Durkin in Michigan? Horus says: yes, I do, apist

Apistogramma says: Have you ever been to his facility? Horus says: no, I'm in sf, ca. never made it back there but it's pretty large

Horus says: I probably only have about 1/4-1/5 of the fishroom he has

Apistogramma says: Very Large. He keeps single species tanks for his Tropheus , but keeps them without any rock or other structure what so ever. He claims it keeps the aggression way down. How do you keep you tanks?

Horus says: Tropheus are in bare bottom tanks, no more than two species per tank. two large rocks, one on each end of the tank and a slate to lay eggs on. the middle of the tank is open water. my pH is 8.8-9.2

Horus says: and like peter, I breed only from wild Tropheus stock Doc says: Is there a book telling the different types of fish like Mouthbrooders and all others?

Horus says: for Tanganyikans, get Ad Konings two books. worth more than money and words (not those TFH book)

Doc says: does he have any on Malawi?

Doc says: what is the definition on a Mbuna? Horus says: mbuna = rock dweller from lake Malawi

Dev says: would Tropheus do ok with a pair or two of shell dwellers such as N. ocellatus in the foreground of the tank?

Horus says: the Tropheus would be fine. i think the activity of the Tropheus would freak the shell dwellers, but being that Tropheus usually can't get into small shells, maybe they'd do ok

Dev says: also, what makes Tropheus more "delicate" than other Africans? I know they require a special diet, but beyond that??

Horus says: they eat strictly spirulina 20 by aquatrol. 10% of the time though, they get marine flake by wardleys HIGHLY recommended for all Africans for all lakes

Horus says: I used to use OSI spirulina, but it's a bit rich

Dev says: so is it the diet or the water conditions that make Tropheus "sensitive"

Horus says: water conditions must be near pristine for close to year-round breeding and them thriving rather than just surviving

Horus says: i also feed the Tropheus daphnia once a week to "clean them out". all my fish fast on Sundays

Dev says: do you use any type of supplemental lake salts in your tanks Horus?

Horus says: in sf, ca water, yes. marine mix, Epsom salt, backing soda, and kent African cichlid chemistry, and PRIME(water conditioner). may vary depending on water conditions where you live

Dev says: live or dead daphnia once a week? Horus says: if I have live, live. if not, I have a bunch of frozen

Doc says: what about Tera Vital? Horus says: heard of it, never used I t

Apistogramma says: Horus, how do daphnia 'clean out' Tropheus? Horus says: daphnia is a natural laxative

Melissa says: What is the hardness of your water and what temp do you keep them at? Horus says: 76-82, 300ppm

Horus says: they don't seem to spawn as much during the summer months (Tropheus)

Apistogramma says: Horus.. I have never heard of Daphnia as a laxative. They are a protein rich organism with a hard, some what calcareous exoskeleton.....I am surprised you do not get blockages. What part of the daphnia diet makes it a laxative?

Horus says: I don't know to be honest apisto. is was told to me by one of the top 3 breeders in the USA, and it worked so I never questioned it , nor did I find out why

Melissa says: How much water do you change weekly to keep up the water quality?

Horus says: any one want to discuss anything about any Tanganyikans in general?

Horus says: Melissa, i do 1 water change a week on Saturdays of 50%, or two water changes (sat and wed) of 30%

Horus says: it's time consuming, but the results speak for themselves

Melissa says: These large changes do not stress them?

Horus says: not at all. these wild fish come from a huge lake lots of fresh water there!

Dev says: what's an ideal staple food for leleupis and ocellatus assuming a maintenance diet (vs. a conditioning one)

[Editor's note- someone asked Horus a question privately which he is about to answer. I believe it was about certain breeders.]

Horus says: tough one...let me see, probably (in no order) Durkin, Kratchovil, Palffy

Horus says: give them lots of marine flake, plankton flake (by aquatrol). occasion spirulina but they like the meaty stuff

Horus says: don't know him, but didn't mean to leave anyone out there are an awful LOT of breeders (Tropheus) out there

Dev says: is it worth blending those home frozen diets (fish, shrimp, veggies, etc...) for fish that are still rather small (ie- how do you serve ground frozen diets to smaller fish?)

Juanmi says: Gary kratochvil breeds his Thropeus in outside vats with no decor at all, he warms the water with a water heater pumping all the time and covers the vats in winter (he lives in San Antonio)

Horus says: I know Gary. he does 80% water changes continuously 24 hours a day

Horus says: frozen diets......why bother unless you are conditioning them for breeding it's not necessary

Horus says: I meant making your own frozen blends

Dev says: but it is cheaper than than those prepared frozen diets and not much trouble to make

Horus says: I use frozen mysis, and SALLY's frozen plankton, frozen brine, frozen worms (for certain neo/lamps), marine cuisine and a few others. mysis is GREAT conditioning food if you can get it, but obviously not for Tropheus

Horus says: frozen at the store is cheaper than making it certainly easier

rgrmill says: Were do you get mysis, Horus?

Horus says: at the store. no other source. it's expensive $8.99/lb, but a pound lasts a month or so

Horus says: got a line on mysis, roger?

rgrmill says: Not me. I had a question from someone else on where to get it

Dev says: are brichardis really as nasty as people make them out to be?

Horus says: some are. I'm breeding an adult wild pair in a 10 gallon. 2 ceramic caves and a shell. coral sand substrate. tetra double brilliant sponge filter. 100+ fry every 7-8 weeks

Horus says: just find a compatible pair

Roger says: well, that was the largest ever meeting, we sustained 20 people for quite a while!

Roger says: and reached 21 for a few minutes!

Dev says: it's 23 roger right now :)

rgrmill says: I think our total attendance right now ties a Fishroom record


Chin, Jeff. (May 27, 1996). "Breeding Tanganyikan mouth-brooders". Cichlid Room Companion. Retrieved on October 18, 2019, from: