Breeding Lake Victoria Cichlids
It is hard to give any general guidelines for breeding Lake Victoria cichlids since they are such a diverse group. Estimations show that there is at least 200 cichlid species living in Lake Victoria, some of them still not described. One of the Victorian Cichlids that frequently spawns in captivity is the Astatotilapia brownie. If you want to breed cichlids from Lake Victoria, Astatotilapia brownie is a good choice since it is less aggressive than many other cichlids from Lake Victoria and grows no bigger than 12 cm. It is also considered a very beautiful fish. It was earlier known as Haplochromis brownie and is endemic to Lake Victoria.
Since it is possible to distinguish Astatotilapia brownie males from females before they are fully mature you can select and set up a breeding colony with juvenile fish. The males and females will show colour when they are around 2 inches. You need an aquarium that is at least 90 cm long to house them in. Just like most other African cichlids, the Astatotilapia brownie is territorial. The males will claim a territory and defend it, especially during the breeding period when the males can display much more aggressive behaviours than normally. This is also the period when they will show the most striking colours. Astatotilapia brownie cichlids are maternal mouthbrooders. When the eggs has been laid by the female and fertilized by the male, the female Astatotilapia brownie will carry the eggs and fry in her mouth for 18 to 21 days. One spawning usually leads to 20-50 fry. After this period she will release the fry so they can find food outside her mouth, but the fry will frequently return to the safety of their mother's mouth during the following two weeks. This is called “post buccal care” and is common among many cichlids. The fry grow fast and can be around 4.5 cm after just 10 weeks. In the wild, Astatotilapia brownie would live on aquatic insects but you can feed them a lot of other things as well. Choose a high quality dry prepared food and substitute with brine shrimp, bloodworms and blackworms once in a while. The young fry can be fed newly hatched brine shrimp.
One other Lake Victoria cichlid that isn’t very hard to breed in captivity is the Neochromis rufocaudalis. These fishes were formerly known as Nigricans and are sometimes still found under that name in fish stores. If you want to breed Neochromis rufocaudalis you should keep one male with at least 3 females. The male will be constantly chasing the female Neochromis rufocaudalis and the more females you keep, the less amount of stress will be experienced by each individual fish. The spawning period makes the males even more aggressive than usual, and it is very important that the aquarium setup provides the females with plenty of sheltered places to hide in. A 20 gallon aquarium is enough for one male and 3-4 females. They grow to be around 3.5 inches. You can also try keeping your Neochromis rufocaudalis in an aquarium with a lot of other fish, since this is known to reduce stress and lower the amount of aggressive behaviour from the male. Mbuma species or Tanganyika cichlids of roughly the same size and temperament as the Neochromis rufocaudalis are usually a good match. Just like Astatotilapia brownie, the Neochromis rufocaudalis is a mouthbreeder. After the eggs have been deposited and fertilized, they will stay protected inside the fish's mouth until the fry are large enough to be released.
Related ArticlesAquarium Husbandry of the Christmas Fulu, Haplochromis (Xystichromis) phytophagus - This Lake Victoria haplochromine is easy to keep, feed and breed, but is endangered in the wild.
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Keeping Lake Victoria Cichlids - Information about Keeping Lake Victoria Cichlids
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The Plight of the Lake Victoria Cichlids - Why native cichlid populations, tragically, are dwindling rapidly in Lake Victoria.
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