& Breeding of the Egyptian Mouthbreeder
By Simon Hawkins (Simon1929)
This cichlid is one of few, which truly fascinate me. I have longed for
ages to keep this species, but unfortunately they appears to be fading
out of the hobby. They has some of the most amazing breeding habits I
have ever seen.
The Egyptian Mouthbreeder can be quite unpredictable at times. One moment
they can be fine and very peaceful, then suddenly they can wreak havoc.
They are commonly found in the River Nile, where they are found in there
Luckily for you they feed exceptionally well on a wide range of frozen,
freeze-dried foods. I have noticed that they need quite a bit of bloodworm
in their diet to keep them healthy. They also adapt very well to newly
introduced foods. It is very rare that they will refuse to eat, which
only happens when a female is brooding.
The only preparation spawning that is required is a very good diet before
hand. You can tell when a female is ready to spawn because her abdomen
will swell tremendously. The male really won’t need any conditioning,
as they are very easy to induce.
When you have completed the beginning stages place both male and female
into an 18” x 10” x 10” tank. It is best not to have
any gravel as the eggs can easily get lost, meaning you have very few
resulting fry. Simple filtration such as a sponge filter will be adequate.
A heater placed at a temperature of 28 degrees will bring them up to breeding
Continue to feed them on black mosquito larvae, and roughly
a week to ten days spawning should begin. The male will deepen a lot in
colour. Reds and blues will become extremely vivid. You will soon notice
him ‘shimmying’. This is a common characteristic practiced
by most male cichlids to attract a mate. This can go on for several hours,
even days before the female feels comfortable with the male. When she
has accepted him. they will both join in a mating ritual, which involves
circling each other.
They soon begin what
is known as ‘dummy runs’. This is when they practice laying
and fertilisation of eggs. This can often occur a number of times; eventually
you will see approximately 5-6 eggs laid on the tank floor. The male will
hover above them, fertilise them and move away. The female will then pick
these eggs up in her mouth and so the process continues. After spawning
is complete you will have a very tired female, so it is advisable to remove
the male from the tank. Try to do this in the dark, as this is less disturbing
for the female.
Incubation time of the eggs depending on temperature is roughly 10 days.
During this time the female will move her mouth in a ‘chewing’
action. This is to try and make sure that the eggs receive plenty of oxygen
and circulation. After 5-6 days you will see her mouth jerking a bit -
this is the developing fry ‘jumping’ around in her mouth.
You will actually see the fry eyes through the buccal cavity. After 10
to 14 days the female will gradually begin releasing fry. At first they
may not swim properly, after all there are about 100 of them crammed in
there. After a couple of hours they will begin exploring. During this
time the female will keep an eye on them and any sudden movements she
will signal the fry to return to her mouth. You can safely leave the fry
with the mother for 4 days, as she can be very unpredictable.
These fry are very delicate for the first few weeks of there life. To
start with I feed them BBS (Baby Brine Shrimp). Their bellies will swell
and go red when they have eaten. Clean up any uneaten food, as they can
die fairly easy during this stage. When refilling the tank use mature
water from parent’s tanks, as fresh water is harmful to these little
guys. On average I try to do at least a water change per day taking 20%
of the water out.
Continuing this fry should grow rapidly. It will not belong
before you can introduce daphnia, and begin to wean them onto freeze-dried
foods such as brine shrimp. One word of warning the fry reaches a period
roughly 7-8 weeks where they are extremely susceptible to disease. Just
be extra cautious and everything will be great.
If you require more information please feel free to contact
me on Littleratch10@aol.com