April 26, 2009
CARING FOR JACK DEMPSEY FISH EGGS
Jack Dempsey cichlids make wonderful caring parents. They should remain in the aquarium with the eggs. The female should remain for at least two weeks after they hatch as she cares for her young fry. It might be a good idea to remove the male soon after the eggs hatch if he shows any signs of agression towards the female or the young. The female and male will chomp up food and disperse it about the babies until they are large enough to eat available food. Jack Dempsey fish are among the most caring and dedicated parents you’ll find in the animal kingdom.
This morning I found the female Jack Dempsey fish cleaning off a flat piece of slate. She’ll probably lay her eggs there when ready. Once the male begins to clean to slate, then I’ll know that the eggs are coming very soon. So far, the male hasn’t cleaned the stone at all. The male’s coloration has deepened and his blue color has become very iridescent.
They reside in a 29 gallon aquarium with a 3 gallon outside custom filter. Two small pumps turn the water over about 300 GPH. I keep the water temperature about 77 degrees using a 200 watt submersible heater in the filter. In addition to that, I’m changing about 3 gallons of water on an almost daily basis. This may be over kill but I want as many eggs as possible to survive and hatch. Some will be used as feeder fish for other growing cichlids and others will be raised to deliver to pet stores in about 3 months.
The female seems to be cleaning that same piece of slate over and over while the male just watches and ignores it. In the past, I’ve watched the male become very interested in cleaning the area for the eggs and his enthusiasm was fun to watch. As I’m typing I’m also watching this pair in their home and their colors are splendid.
A few hours later, the spawning dance is occurring more often and this means the male is becoming more interested in her. He’ll follow her to the cave often now and he either sits outside the door, shuddering and twitching until she comes out or he’ll enter the cave. I can then hear the gravel being tossed around from all the motion. It’s a small cave and these are good size fish. My male is about 8 inches in length and very thick with a fat stomach from the beef heart that I often feed him.
At this time the male is helping the female clean the slate and we will soon see her laying eggs. The cleaning is accompanied now by the female wiggling across the flat stone practicing her egg laying run. The male follows her path as soon as she passes over the slate. As I continue watching, soon I see a few whitish eggs as she passes and then the male following behind and fertilizing them. More passes and more eggs as they continue this procedure for upwards of two hours. Finally she is empty of eggs and they begin to calm down. They rest for a bit but these two, unlike most I’ve seen, begin to start the courting process all over again. I’m not sure why they do this or what purpose it serves but it only last for a few hours with this pair. During all this, the female will often hover over the eggs and fan them, keeping debris off of the newly laid eggs.
Both parents soon settle in during the waiting period of about 72 hrs before hatching. The female almost continuously fans the eggs during this time to keep them clean. Any bad eggs will be removed so as not to infect good eggs as they will become fuzzy with white fungus. The male will occasionally help her with this chore but usually is roaming the aquarium. In the wild, the male will be watching for predators, chasing them off. But with no other fish in this aquarium, the male has an easy time of it. In a few days, the eggs will hatch into tiny wrigglers and watching the adults care for them is a very rewarding experience. I enjoy each and every hatch that I observe.
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