Sunday, June 22, 2008

Mama Fish is Holding

There is never a dull moment around here.

We've been battling what I think is a floating algae problem in our fish aquarium. That means I've been doing lots of water changes and cleaning the stones at the bottom of the tank regularly.

To help cut down on the bullying the Cichlids do, I have been rearranging the tank stuff more than usual, each time I change the filter or do a water change. This movement of the stuff in the tank usually leads to a mating dance thing happening. How far that ends up going varies and usually does not end up with procreation.

We have Lake Malawi African Cichlids. These are freshwater fish that have brilliant colors and are often assumed to be saltwater fish. These fish have very distinct personalities and some interesting actions that make them entertaining to have, if you can believe it.

Today Mama Fish (a Red Tiger Cichlid) is holding. This species are mouth brooders. She has the eggs in her mouth which means she cannot eat. Each time I feed the fish she is tempted to eat the food. She basically starves herself until the fry are large enough to enter the tank and fend for themselves. I read this can take two weeks. Sometimes by then the Mama Fish is in poor health from being in a starvation state. To save the fish from temptation of eating, some people put up a tank divider and then they don't put food into the side where the Mama Fish is. You see sometimes they get so hungry they do eat and eat the eggs or fry in their mouth along with it, by accident.

I tried doing the tank divider once and it was not easy to deal with. I can't handle dealing with it again.

I do feel badly though when putting the food flakes in the tank that she has to just watch them float and not eat them.

Cichlids like caves so our tank has lot of differnt rocks and things for the fish to hide in. One day a couple of years ago, my older son said, "I see a tiny fish!" He was right. There was a baby fish about one eighth of an inch long in the tank. I went to read about it and found out that the male fish often will eat the fry. I bought a little fry tank thing to hang in the corner of the tank. When I went to scoop out that one fry, I discovered twelve of them! They were mostly hiding inside of a plastic cave thing, in the inside of the cave, in the hollow part I mean, the part where the fish are NOT supposed to go. We had no clue that the fish had mated. We didn't know the female had held the eggs and fry in her mouth. We were clueless!

Of that batch of twelve, we did have a die off and three did live. Right now we are down to one.

So we have the bully Mama Fish that we've owned for 3.5 years exactly, she is nearly six inches long at this point and she looks like a regular old goldfish with a brilliant orange color. We have the Daddy Fish that we've owned for 2.5 years I think and he is about three inches long and is a gorgeous blue color. Then we have their one female baby in the tank, which they both pick on, that one is a striped brown color (not too fantastic looking but that may in part be from being under stress from being picked on).

Our algae eater, a pleco, has grown to 9.5 inches! The thing is gigantic! We are thinking of seeing if someone wants to take this one off of our hands and in return they could give us a one or two inch pleco. I feel badly for this giant thing as the tank is not that large and it can't move much (it is a 20 gallon tank filled with rocks and caves).

That is the biggest news happening in our house today.

The various fish happenings are things our kids talk about with me nearly every day.

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1 comment:

Sherry said...

This is so interesting! Keep us posted!