Spitting eggs

Q&A About Lake Malawi Cichlids

Moderator: Pam Chin

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Spitting eggs

Post by hbaronoff »


Three weeks ago I acquired a pair of Rustys around 2.75-3" and added them to a 75 gallon community tank. The day after arriving the female surprisingly began holding. This morning I noticed that she is not holding any longer and is swimming around freely and eating. I don't know if she ever spawned before.

Any thoughts on possible reasons for spitting after 3 weeks without any sign of surviving fry (or eggs)? Just wondering if there is any reason to be concerned or tips for the future?

As always, thank you for your time and thoughts.

Pam Chin
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Re: Spitting eggs

Post by Pam Chin »

Hi Harley,

Its not hard to get these Malawi cichlid to spawn, but it is harder to get viable fry. These fish are born to breed and will breed under most any conditions, but whether it will be a successful or not is a throw of the dice.

First off I would say that you have only had these fish a few weeks, and it can take several months before they are truly settled in your tank. There is probably a 100+ possibilities of why she didn't hold; if your fish are young it may take a couple of times before they figure it all out. Sometimes the eggs may not be fertilized properly and so they swallow, sometimes its because they are hungry and they forgot they have eggs in their mouths, aggression from other tankmates, insufficient cover for the female to brood, etc. etc.

You say you have a pair, but in reality you have a male and a female, these mouthbrooders from Malawi do not pair off, they breed harem style in groups where there are males and females, there is no parental care by the male. It is not impossible to be successful with just two fish, but it is much much harder. You will experience a lot of aggression from the male trying to get the female to spawn, when you have a group the aggression is spread around, one on one can end in a disaster as the male will chase the female to death.

Keep a close eye on your female, or increase the size of your group. And make sure you have a place where the female(s) can retreat and the male can't get at her. Like a piece of PVC pipe.

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