Spawning Blue Eyed Cichlid - Archocentrus spilurum
Archocentrus spilurum is a Central America species commonly referred to as the Blue-Eye cichlid or simply Spilurum. It has been moved back and forth between various genera within the cichlid family and has for instance been known as Cichlasoma spilurum and Hericthys spilurum.
Archocentrus spilurum hails from northern Central America where it inhabits lakes and rivers along the Atlantic slope from Belize to Nicaragua. It is a rather adaptable fish but prefers shallows and bank areas where the bottom consists of sand, mud or rocks. Slowly moving waters are ideal, such as the waters found in lower river valleys. Vigorous water movements are therefore not recommended in the aquarium. Archocentrus spilurum is considered a relatively peaceful cichlid and it is not very fuzzy when it comes to water conditions and temperature.
The males can reach a maximal length of 7 ½ inches while the females stay somewhat smaller. They can however start breeding when they are much smaller than this, and many specimens never reach a length of 7 inches in their entire life.
Archocentrus spilurum has a rather deep body where the forehead rises sharply from the mouth. If you see a fish with a hump on its head, it is an old male. The main body color varies from olive-green to a yellowish brown, and both sexes sports a golden yellow color from the mouth down through the belly. The dorsal and tail fins are decorated with a vivid red color and features blue spangling. Males are more colorful than females and can also be distinguished on their long and pointy dorsal and anal fins. Females exhibit highly characteristic vertical bars along their sides, and one of these bars will extend into a dark spot located at the dorsal fin.
If you want to breed Archocentrus spilurum, one of the easiest methods is to get a group of juveniles and let them grow up together. As long as they are below 1 inch in length, a group of up to eight specimens can be housed in a 10 gallon aquarium. As they grow bigger, they must be moved to bigger housing. If you want to breed them, it can even be a good idea to select the best looking male and female and give them their own breeding aquarium with no other adult fish around.
The aquarium should contain plenty of suitable hiding spots, e.g. rocks, caves and/or densely grown plants. You should also include a few flower pots since Archocentrus spilurum likes to use flowerpots as spawning sites.
Breeding Archocentrus spilurum
You will know that spawning is imminent when the fish starts displaying breeding coloration. The ventral fins will turn jet black and the normally golden yellow throat and belly will also display this jet black color from the eyes to the mouth and back through the belly. The female fish will no longer exhibit any bars and both sexes will display a horizontal striped pattern along their sides.
When eggs have been deposited in the flower pot, the female normally becomes very protective and you can see her dart into the flower pot as soon as she perceives a potential threat in the aquarium. You can remove the flower pot and raise eggs and fry in a separate aquarium, but why would you want to do that when you have a chance to witness the devoted caring behavior of Archocentrus spilurum? You can move the fry to their own aquarium, or remove the adults, when the fry are free swimming and eats powdered flake food.
When the eggs have hatched, the fry will feed from their egg sacs and stay closely together. As soon as the egg sac has been consumed, you can start feeding the fry powdered flake food. Ideally provide them with many small servings throughout the day instead of just 1-2 large ones. It can take up to 7 days before the fry are free swimming. By this time, they will normally be around ¼ inch in length. Regular water changes are important to keep the water quality up, but you should not change more than 25% of the water each time since big water changes can chock the fry. It is also important to use water of the same temperature.
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