Breeding Crenicichla

Breeding Crenicichla

The Crenicichla species are often sold under the name “Pike Cichlids”, and a majority of the Crenicichla species on the market today are wild caught and transported from their native regions. In the wild, the Crenicichla species live in streams, rivers, lakes and pools in South America. It is however far from impossible to breed Crenicichla species in aquariums. If you wish to start breeding Crenicichla cichlids, one of the most suitable beginner species are those from the Saxatilis group. They are commonly known as Spangled Pike Cichlids. You might notice that aquarium breed Crenicichla cichlids on the market usually belong to some of the dwarf species. This is however not because dwarf Crenicichla cichlids are easier to breed, it is simply because they are smaller and therefore easier to house. Dwarf Crenicichla cichlids are for instance very sensitive when it comes to water quality, and beginners will find it much easier to keep cichlids from the Saxatilis group satisfied and get them into breeding condition.

Even though the Saxatilis Crenicichlas are tougher than the dwarf species, you will still need to monitor the water quality of the aquarium carefully if you want them to spawn. Keep them in conditions similar to their natural environment. Most Crenicichla species prefer very soft water and a pH in the 5-6 range. Species from the Saxatilis group (Spangled Pikes) can however spawn in alkaline water too, but only if the water quality is superb. For all species, large water changes should performed regularly and the levels of solvable waste kept close to zero. You can increase the chances of spawning by feeding your Crenicichla cichlids meaty foods, preferably live. Live fish and live earth worms are very good choices, but cut up fish and crustaceans can also work.

All Crenicichla species are cave spawners and must naturally be provided with suitable caves in aquarium if you want them to breed. The female Crenicichla will deposit her eggs in a cave that she finds suitable, and since the eggs are adhesive they will stick to the cave and avoid being swept away by currents. The male Crenicichla guards the area around the cave and chases away any animal that ventures to close, while the female Crenicichla cares for the eggs. Crenicichla eggs typically hatch after 3-4 days, but this will vary depending on water temperature. After the hatching it will take 3 or 4 days more before the fry is free swimming. You can feed your Crenicichla fry newly hatched Brine Shrimp. If provided with suitable water quality and water temperature in addition to a nutritious diet, the fry will grow very fast. Crenicichla fry will often engage in cannibalistic behaviours, and you should therefore separate larger fry from smaller fry if you wish to ensure a high overall survival rate. This is extra important if your breed Saxatilis Crenicichlas (Spangled Pikes). If you do not separate Saxatilis fry, you will end up with an extremely uneven sex ratio in the batch.

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