Saturday, 3 December 2011

Cichlids Fish reproduction strategy and how they care for their young

Cichlids fish native population is scattered across different continents mainly in the region of central South America, Africa and Asia whereby it is mostly found in tropical weather condition. They are generally grouped as freshwater species although quite a number of species prefer brackish and hard water as choice of preferred setup. They are one of the most diverse groups of fish as they have different sizes, coloration, behavior, dietary and water requirements depending on where they originate from. Some can get pretty big and aggressive while others can be quite small in size. Most of them are very colorful but one thing in common is that they are not the type of friendly fish you would want to mix into a community aquarium.

Male and Female Cichlids spawn
Regardless of which type of cichlids fish, all of them practice brood care for their young newborn fry and they are good intelligent parents which are also very attentive and extremely protective of their broods. Because of this parental care ability, most of the fry will survive up to adulthood and if the space requirement is large enough with plenty of foods, they can regenerate very fast and populate the whole aquarium. Based on this brood care strategy, the cichlid fish can be further sub-divided into either substrate or mouth brooding. For substrate brooding species, the eggs are laid onto a hard surface, usually rocks, woods or stones and then both parents will keep a close watch for intruders trying to harm their eggs. If none of these are available as in the case of barren aquarium tank setup, then they will either lay their eggs onto the glass surface or at the bottom including the side panes of the tank. During this period before the eggs are hatched, the cichlids will continuously fan their eggs so that there is adequate movement of water circulating around so that this will lessen the chances of fungus developing and engulf the eggs. Once the fry hatched, they are almost immediately free swimming after several hours and they will cling onto their parent in search for foods. Some like the discus fish fry rely on their parents’ mucus layer on the body as a food source and nonetheless, they are pretty much independent without needing constant parent supervision.

Understanding other fish breeding techniques

Mouthbrooders care strategy is very much different compared to the substrate brooding practice. In this context, the cichlids will actually protect the eggs and young in the mouth of either the male or female fish. This will actually continue until the fry has reached certain maturity age. Most people actually get shocked into believing that the fish was actually swallowing their young but this is not the case as the fry simply take refuge in the opening or cavity within the mouth of their parents. While hiding inside, the adult cichlid will constantly take in fresh oxygenated new water through opening and closing of their mouth and gills. Normally the young fry will be released if the parents feel the outside condition is safe without any potential threat and during this period, the small fry will find chance to actually scavenge and search for foods. Mouthbrooding cichlid group bears few similarities. For one the males will often establish a spawning territory and if by chance there is any other fish that encroach into their area, they will do their best to protect the location. The male can either bond with one or several female cichlids at one time and depending on the species, the breeding affair can be seasonal or continuous occurring throughout their whole lifetime.

Cichilds fish which are kept in community aquarium can be extremely aggressive and they will draw the line signalling to the other fish that they will establish a certain location within the tank marked as their own territory. The behavior is very profound during the breeding season and any intruder will be regarded as an enemy threatening their survival. In the wild native population, a pair of cichlid fish can establish a wide area of coverage extending almost a normal sizable room area (about 4 by 4 square meter) and since they do not have the luxury of having so much space in the aquarium, the level of aggression will be even worse. Usually attempts made by the male cichlid to coax the female into the breeding area is a sign showing that the fish is ready to breed but however, most of the time the female will reject the courtship. If this happens, the male cichlids fish will ended up attacking her instead and that was why most aquarium owners prefer to keep the female in another separate tank until she is ready for the spawning activity. With that being said, some other types of aquarium fish like gourami, betta, catfish are also best left living in another separate tank rather than having to suffer the wrath and aggression of the cichlids which can come at an unexpected time.

A step-by-step guide and challenges of starting a new aquarium.

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