Breeding convict cichlids
You will need
- a 2 foot (preferably bigger) aquarium with hood and light
- heater thermostat
- 2 sponge filters powered by a strong air pump
- medium coarse grave
- clay or slate slabs
- clay pots
- one adult male and one adult female or 4 young fish
The convict is a hardy fish and is one of the easiest cichlid to get to breed. Males usually grow to 5inches and females about 3inches.
Unlike most other cichlids convicts do not form a marriage of equals, most females will accept a dominant male. This is related to the fact that the male is larger than the female sometimes much larger.
If you have young fish raise them until they become adults. At this point a dominant male will start to carve out a territory such as an upturned slate or clay pot. Use this as the male and select one of the females. Females are recognisable by the orange scales on their sides which are lacking in the male. Also the males are larger with long pointed top and bottom fins and may have a humped forehead.
Remove the other fish. The water conditions are not critical but around 7ph, low to medium hardness, temperature around 76F. Feed the male and female with a quality fish food and some live food to encourage them.
Breeding takes place on the side of some overhanging surface such as a rock which the parents will meticulously clean. This may be in an open cave structure or on the side of a large rock. They don’t seem to be too fussy where.
When breeding takes place the convicts being a cichlid will become very aggressive chasing away any other fish from the spawning site. The eggs are a yellowy amber colour and are stuck to the spawning surface. The male and female take turns guarding the eggs. The eggs hatch after about 3 days, however don’t start feeding the young for another 3 days. They have a yolk sac that nourishes them during this time. When they become free-swimming then is the time to start feeding them.
The fry are relatively easy to raise if you can provide them with infusoria and baby brine shrimp Keep the aquarium reasonably clean with partial water changes. This will allow most of the the fry to survive up to a saleable age.
They make good parents and will herd the young fry about the aquarium as the fry look for food. They perform fry protection by one parent darting off and fending off threats while the other parent stays close to the fry. Then they may alternate. The parents are alert and dart about during this time. It is rare that they lose any fry. After a week of free swimming it is best to remove the adults. Then take care of the young by feeding 3 or more times a day with baby brineshrimp and microworms before moving onto crushed fish food.
Because they are easy to breed, you will quickly become overrun with convicts and they are not easy to sell because there is usually a lot of them about. This is not a species that is easy to make money out of, but they are good practice for the beginner aquarist who wants to breed cichlids. However, there are some breeds of convict that may fetch a higher price such as the red convict or a marble version. But check the prices out first.