Cichlids are freshwater fishes mostly found in Madagascar, mainland Africa, tropical America, and southern Asia. Cichlids have a very big family with around 2,000 different species. They are very colorful and have a unique technique of breeding. Their breeding technique is known as mouth breeding, and this can be designed in a good African cichlid setup.
Mouth breeding is the process in which the female cichlid incubates the eggs in her mouth. This breeding technique’s major reason is to protect the eggs and the fry until they become a certain size.
The courting process
During the courting period, the male cichlids continuously chase the female cichlids around and try to bring her to a spawning area made by him using his body. If the female cichlids accept these advances, they reach the spawning site and lays her eggs there. Immediately after she lays them, the female cichlids gather them in her mouth. At this time the male cichlids use the eggs spots on his back fin as bait to fertilize the eggs in the female cichlid’s mouth. After this, she has a mouthful of these fertilized eggs, which she will keep holding.
Once the fertilization process is done, it is best to keep the female cichlids in a different tank, away from the other fishes. Keeping her in a separate tank is good as it will ensure that when the fry comes out of the mother’s mouth, they will not be eaten by other fishes. Also, during the breeding time, the female cichlids do not eat anything. Thus she becomes weak. So keeping her separate from other fishes will give her time to regain her strength before moving back to the main fish.
This method is used to get the fish to release the fry before time. This method also ensures that she does not release them in the main tank, and the early release will save her from getting too weak because of no food. But this method is quite stressful on the fish, so it is best to let her release the eggs of her own will.
The mouth breeding done by the cichlids is very educational and fascinating to watch. This method is a clear indication of the mother’s dedication towards her eggs and the fry.