January 23, 2010
My Jack Dempsey Cichlids Laid Eggs. What Do I Do Now?
Q…MY JACK DEMPSEY CICHLIDS HAVE LAID EGGS. WHAT DO I DO NOW?
A… If one day you find that your Jack Dempsey cichlids have laid eggs, just leave them alone to care for them. Jack Dempsey fish are fantastic parents from egg laying right on through to about 6 weeks what they pretty much leave them to care for themselves.
If the aquarium is housing only the two parents, then you’re in good shape. If other fish are housed in this aquarium then you need to take other measures. (see below) With only the two parents housed in the aquarium, leave them to care for the eggs and the fry once they hatch (about 3 days). Water temperature should be between 75–80F (24-27C). The warmer the water the eggs will hatch a bit sooner. It’s important to keep a gentle current of water moving across the eggs. An air stone with a gentle flow of bubbles nearby the eggs is good. This will help keep debris from settling on them. You’ll notice that the female almost constantly fans the eggs to keep off any debris that might settle on the eggs. This debris can often infect the eggs, causing a white fungus growth on them. The female will usually remove those eggs before others nearby are infected as well. Some eggs will always turn bad, even if your water is very clean. When the male fertilizes the eggs he seldom gets every single one of them and that eggs will die. It is best if the surface that she lays her eggs on is at or near a 45 degree angle so as to help avoid anything from settling on those eggs. If she has laid them on a flat surface in the aquarium, try to carefully slant the rock at an angle near the nesting site.
TRANSFERING EGGS TO A NURSERY
If the Jack Dempseys have laid their eggs in an aquarium with other fish then you’ll need to remove the eggs to a nursery tank before they hatch. Even cat fish or Plecos will be a danger. They will certainly be eaten at the egg stage or the hatchlings. A 5 or 10 gallon tank is the best size for the original nursery so that the young fry will have an easier time finding food on the bottom. It’s best that you not place gravel on the bottom for ease of cleaning and the fry find food faster. If possible, place the female in the nursery with the eggs. This is NOT necessary but her care is beneficial to a high percentage of hatchlings. Remove water from the original aquarium and place in nursery tank before moving the eggs. Be sure the temperature and PH are very close to that of the original environment before placing eggs in this nursery. An airstone placed near the eggs is very important, even if the female is put in with them. Remember to keep the rock with the eggs near a 45 degree angle.
It’s important to keep the water very clean when eggs are developing. If you have a UV filter or Ozone generator, now is the time to use it. Water that is heavily infested with bacteria from fish waste and uneaten foods is a serious danger to those tiny eggs. Once the fry have hatched, it is less important to have such pristine water conditions. After 3 or 4 weeks, your baby Jack Dempsey Cichlids should be placed in a grow-out aquarium. Keep in mind that if your hatch is 3oo to 500 babies, just imagine how much space they will need in 3 months. Good luck and by all means, have fun and enjoy nature in the “World of Jack Dempseys”. —
… Jack Lamountain
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