This is a daily journal detailing the adventures of four convict cichlids.
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Archocentrus (Cichlasoma) Nigrofasciatus
Convict Cichlid Breeding
The convict cichlids (Stripette and Blotch) laid eggs for the second time in the pvc piping tube and are guarding the eggs fiercely.
Still guarding the eggs. I hope they don't eat them. She seems to care mostly for the eggs and fanning them. He will guard the entrance to the pipe while she feeds.
Will they hatch today ? Or will they eat them…I keep checking on them.
I looked into the pvc pipe and saw the eggs were gone and it looked like new ones had been laid, then I noticed that the 'new eggs’ were wriggling babies...They hatched….Shot ! ……so excited. She herds them in the pvc piping if they swim to the inside top of the pipe, she uses her mouth to bring them back to the inside bottom of the piping.
The parents are having a quite a time sucking the kids up and spitting them out back into the pvc pipe. Fry are wriggling about a lot. Still all eyes and very tiny little bodies.
Looking at them, they seem to be all eyes. I peeked into the pipe and just saw lots and lots of pairs of little black eyes.
Not much of a change from yesterday although they don’t wriggle as much as they used to. Parents are still guarding them fiercely.
Later the same day
Looked in to see how they were and GONE...they're gone...were they eaten or moved....I looked everywhere. Finally I see them all together, the parents moved them to an upturned ceramic pot. They're safe, phew ! I am going to hatch brine shrimp tonight for them. 
Another interesting development is the other pair (Finny and Zebby) have made a 'nest'. They moved very large pieces of gravel and have hollowed out a section in front of their own upturned ceramic pot. I can't believe the sized gravel that they can move. They must be quite powerful or very determined. I can't see any eggs or fry but they hide under rocks and the ceramic pot is dark inside too making it nearly impossible to see eggs or fry.
Well, now they've moved all the fry back to the pvc pipe ... maybe it's safer looking, who would know how they think. 
I've decided to setup the brine shrimp 'hatchery' tonight which should provide baby shrimp in 24-48 hours. The eggs are very tiny and look like pepper.
Finally the fry are free-swimming, the parents have moved them to a few places today. I tried to feed them freeze-dried brine shrimp but the fry didn't seem to eat any that I noticed. This pair have now taken over more than their 50% of the tank. They circle and protect about 70% of the tank. The other two are hiding in their upturned pot. (I have no idea what they're up to)
Both parents keep the brood together, it's actually very interesting because they suck the baby into their mouth and it looks like they give them a little chew before they spit them out again wherever they want them to be. The free-swimming fry were moved into the pvc pipe for the night. 
I accidentally knocked over the Brine Shrimp Hatchery and now I have only a little left in the container but we will wait and see what happens. I have loads more eggs for future hatchings. (Moral of the story is, put it in a safe place next time)
10-Aug-2000 The fry are swimming nicely, they are still very tiny but the parents are letting them swim in a wider area each day. They attack when I come too close to the tank. The other pair are huddled away in their upturned ceramic pot. The fry actually were allowed to swim in the centre of the tank today, very close to the second pair of convicts. But mom and dad were keeping the fry in check constantly. I fed with finely crumbled flake food as well as the freeze-dried brine shrimp (needless to say my shrimp hatching didn't amount to anything much; heed this advice and don't knock over your shrimp hatching efforts)
I'd better check with the fish shop and make sure they still want the fry. They asked for them initially, so I hope they keep their word on it.
The fry are getting more and more adventurous. I think the parents have a hard time keeping them together. I saw them actually eat some food today. I keep feeding with crushed flake and the freeze-dried brine shrimp, although I think the crushed flakes can fit into their mouths, not sure the shrimp can yet. Mom and Dad love the shrimp so it doesn't go to waste. I've also seen them nibbling at algae growing on their pvc pipe (which I haven't yet cleaned because I read about a guy who got bitten while cleaning his tank and his convicts actually drew blood, so there's no way I'm putting my hand in there juuuust yet) I'm still not sure exactly how many fry there are either. I counted (very approximately) about 80-100 when they were still eggs but it's a job and a half trying to count them now.  And a Big thank you for the wonderful emails that I've received. Click to read their Fishy Poem here.
The fry are eating more now which is great. They still look like fry (they have that 'tadpole' look). The parents are more aggressive than ever, especially when I get close to the glass at the front of the tank. The female repeatedly attacked my heater at the back of the tank and I had to move it in case she broke it's glass.  I can see the fry nibble algae and eat the crushed flake food. They tend to 'hang' from the upturned pot's rim too. Interestingly, when I switch their light off, the fry congregate near the gravel close to the parents. They seem very brave at other times though with little regard for their parents herding them together.
The other pair show no signs of doing anything, they have been driven to the last corner of the tank and spend most of their time in their ceramic pot or in rocky caves. I have not yet attempted to hatch brine shrimp again. All the fish and fry look very healthy. There are about 3 snails in the tank and how they got there nobody knows (probably from a plant long ago) I'm not sure but I think the snail eggs must be a delicacy as I've never had a snail problem with the convicts in the tank. 
13-Aug-2000 Interesting bahaviour today. When I fed them, the male took a flake in his mouth and dropped it in the middle of the fry, then he did it again twice. I didn't realise that they would do that. The fry also hang on the glass at the back of the tank and eat algae (I tried not to clean it so that it would grow a little), they definitely eat the crushed flake as well as algae. The parents both still take the fry into their mouths and release them into safer locations. 
And NEW development, the second pair, Zebby and Finny, have laid eggs in their upturned ceramic pot....this should be very interesting...I'll keep you updated. There is lots of sparring going on between the two pairs. They sort of 'face off' at each other sometimes. I haven't seen any serious damage to any of the fish at all. All fish are healthy looking. I'll have to look into hatching the shrimp again soon. I hope I have better luck.
I saw the female moving huge pieces of the large gravel, she slides her ventral side up against it and swims hard up to move it...the smaller pieces moved but the larger rock stayed put, but it never stopped her from trying twice to move it, a very determined fish. I fed them bloodworms today and the fry ripped at it like little sharks, about 3 of them hacking at one little worm. The worm is almost the same length as the fry. The parents eat a few at a time when they can. The second pair are guarding their eggs like crazy. Every now and then, the four of them have a head-on, making little darting efforts at each other, then suddenly they all have a quick go at one another and back to their corners. (Ding, round two begins) 
The second pair's eggs have not hatched yet and have not been eaten yet either. 
Well today the fry are definitely eating the flakes...and attempting the bigger pieces as well. The eggs are still fine too. I never had much time to stare at the fish today but they're all still smiling and looking good. No major fights and scales are in tact. It looks like the fry sleep in between larger pieces of gravel when it's dark. Maybe they've outgrown the idea of the nursery in the piping. I think it's time I tried to hatch the shrimp again. hahaha...I'll be more careful this time.
Well, all's well in the aquarium today. No unusual foul play visible. Both parents are guarding their offspring (or offspring-to-be). The fry are eating nicely and nibble a lot more regularly at the algae which I have left for them to 'graze'. The parent's protective role is becoming increasingly difficult, you'd think this would stop them from having so many kids but I guess they're a lot like people, more than most will admit I think.
Ok, I have been reading up on their behaviour and found that the female 'chewing' on the fry before spitting it out is actually because they are known to clean them. So you could call it 'bath-time'.  I've also seen them deposit their waste which shows that the cycle is working to completion. Although everything is miniature at the moment, they have all the instincts for survival. They still have those big eyes and semi-transparent bodies. The parents carry food to them sometimes and they are now big enough to enjoy the freeze-dried brine shrimp a bit easier. I do try to crush it a little before feeding them. The second pair have not eaten their eggs yet, so the moment of truth should be here soon. It is about 4 days since I spotted the eggs for the first time. Tomorrow will be very exciting if they hatch and we have two pairs with two spawning of fry all on the loose together. Both pairs tolerate each other's territory to a certain extent. The female tends to guard the fry whereas the male scans the territory. Will the Big Day happen tomorrow ? 
I just took a closer look into the dark upturned pot with the eggs in it. Since it is brighter than when I checked yesterday, I can see a bit better and then suddenly saw movement in the gravel in front of the pot....BABIES !!!...WOW.....they sneaked out without me noticing. Hmmm, not as many fry as their colleagues but nevertheless there are some fry. I don't know if some of the fry have been snacked on by the first pair or if they only had a few eggs in the first place. Their ceramic pot is very dark inside. But now we'll see how these two convict cichlid families interact with each got it first on Convict Capers...
Let the games begin !
I got hold of a torch (flashlight) and shone it into their ceramic pot to see where the second pair had been breeding, to my surprise they have many more fry than I first noticed, definitely a surprising bunch. I'm not sure when exactly they hatched but they seem to be swimming a little but very close to their 'home', and Mom is especially protective as the first pair showed too. The Dad's seem to be the ones that scan the perimeter. I think the female checks up on the male too, as I've seen in both pairs that she will swim at him especially when he returns from a quick swim around the territory. I sometimes wonder if she's not saying "where have you been, I've had the 80 kids all day, it's your turn now" All in all, these fish deserve the reputation of being excellent parents. I have had such pleasure from just observing their behaviour, as well as a few 'fish-fans' who visit this site every day to see what will happen next. 
I'd like to mention , Ron wrote me a very encouraging email recently. Thank you to everyone who has taken time to write to me.
Just a final observation is that the 1st batch of fry are not eating as much algae as they were initially, I put this down to the fact that they can now fit more of the food I feed them into their mouths and perhaps don't need to eat quite as much algae, although they do still munch on it. The 2nd batch of fry are still discovering life outside the ceramic pot. I can't wait until they all reach the stage when they intermingle.....and only after they reach a fair size, I will have to say my farewells to them so that they can make some other lucky hobbyist smile.
I never spent much time with them today but as their fry grow, they seem to want to increase their territory size. And with a limited sized tank, it is an interesting development. Both pairs vying for the dominance of the tank. No damaging fights but regular stand-offs take place. They first batch of fry seem to eat without me having to crush the flakes, but the second batch still need the small pieces.
The female who was rejected initially has grown to be larger than the other female. So it looks like the first pair who took dominance of the tank earlier, have lost some ground and the second pair have gained some of their territory back. The fry run back to mom when danger is around, they lay low to the gravel. 
Today I spent hours sorting out two new tanks that I bought. They each measure one metre (3.3 feet) in length. (I'll work out the volume and let you know tomorrow) Both fairly nice sized tanks. I may move some of the fry into one when they grow bigger.   
The second pair have gained back 50% of the tank. So now they both have an even share again. They tolerate each other with no major violence or any wounds. They have an understanding which is emphasized every now and then. The usual as they've been doing all along. The second pair's fry are swimming very well and venture into the higher levels of the tank and are braving large areas out in the open. Comparing these two spawning of fry, the second pair look as though their fry are braver and more adventurous than what the first pair were at this stage. Everyone enjoys the flakes as well as the freeze dried brine shrimp, sometimes a treat of bloodworms goes down exceptionally well. The parents are all firm and solid looking. I certainly wouldn't mess with them in a dark alley (or pvc pipe) if I was a fish. The parents are still guarding their fry and have shown no signs of wanting to lay eggs again, which is a huge relief right now for me...hahaha. I think I'm going to separate the males and females for a while. Any suggestions as to the result of two of the same gender together in a tank ? By the way, my future project will be breeding kribensis, well that's what I've been thinking anyway unless anyone has any better ideas.
Fish are so funny. I put two plants in the tank, one near each pair. The second pair's fry investigated it immediately and started eating. The first pair tried to push it out the way....hahaha, it keeps swinging back, and the female wasn't happy about it being right in that spot....The male was happy, he slid under the leaves and parked there. The female nipped at him and then he started pushing the plant too....the fry seem to like it, if it becomes too stressful for them, I'll move it. The second pair have gained some dominance now in the tank and they don't back down to the first pair all ends in a 'ok, no one wins, lets go home'. The fry still have that tadpole look and they don't have the bold black stripes yet. As I was told, today the female from the second pair wiggled in the gravel to expose potential food for her fry. These fish are so intelligent.....I love it.....they're just absolutely amazing. Every day something new.
They're chasing a snail !...what next....nothing is safe with this that they have renegotiated and established their territories, they have to take it out on a poor snail minding his/her own business sliding up the glass thinking "next week I'll be at the surface...wonder what's up there ?" They knocked the snail right back down to the gravel....poor thing will reach the surface by Christmas at this rate. The plants have been finally accepted now. I fed them bloodworms fry really love the stuff. And...I saw (for the first time ever) two fry with their mouths locked and eventually they swam apart, it happened during feeding time. Is it possible for fry to fight each other at this stage ?
I fed them flakes today, I don't crumble the flakes anymore, they seem to cope fine with the large flakes, ripping at it until a piece comes off. That's when I saw the first female wiggling in the gravel today, stirring up the food. The fry swim in the entire 50% of the tank (their territory) but never dare to cross the 'line' (rocky border). The second pair still keep their fry low on the gravel often and hide the fry away in a group sometimes behind rocks. I think convicts are moody too, because some days I can be right up next to the glass and they couldn't be bothered but the next day they'll come chase me. The male on patrol duty usually. I also notice that they 'nose' each other,. Like bumping the spouse with their mouths, not aggressively but I wonder if it's to determine dominance between the two fish. Often once they've chased the other pair one will 'bump' the other. (Maybe it's a fish 'High Five') The plant is still intact and looks fine. No snails have bred since the fry hatched, I think escargot eggs is a delicacy on their menu. All in all, the fish look content and flourishing.
25-Aug-2000 Well, the first female has finally ripped the plant up by the roots and it's now floating on the surface.....oh dear, the second female pushed their plant (after letting the fry at it first to eat) into the first pair's area. Oh, I fed them blanched peas yesterday...they loved it. They really grabbed it hard and tried to chew and eat it all at once, then they also took one and slightly chewed it then dropped it in the middle of their fry. The adults seem to like the peas and the fry nibbled a little at them. They are fussy as they only eat the squishy soft centres and leave the skin behind. 

A note on my next breeding project, I am now researching Angel Fish and have a 200 litre (53 gallon) tank ready for them. Kribs will be my second choice if I decide not to go with the Angels. 

My tanks are as follows: One 240 litres (63 gallons), Two 200 litres (53 gallons), One 137 litres (36 gallons) and One 59 litres (16 gallons)
I saw that the male from the second pair has some damage to his tail fin. It's nothing serious but looks like someone took a little tiny bite out of it. My verdict is that the culprit would most probably be the male from the first pair. 
When feeding them, I first put flakes on the first pair's side, the first female swam up to the flakes, then (surprisingly) the second female swam up next to her and they ate without fighting. I think because the fry were far away and cared for by the males, they must have felt more at ease. It was really interesting to see.
The fry are starting to look a lot more like fish. They will eat anything that I feed them now, and are not fussy about the size of the food particles at all. It won't be long before the pair start breeding again, I suspect. Maybe another couple of weeks, I'm not sure. They act more and more like a pack of sharks ripping at larger food. I haven't noticed any deformities with any of the fry yet, so I guess they must be good breeding stock.
Just a note on the guppies, the FAT female has had a whole bunch of new (big) babies today, considering that there has been no male in the tank for 2 months...Fish are truly amazing. Ok, back to the convicts, the parents seem to be tired of the fry, they are not really fighting one another but nudge each other more than usual lately. Bumping each other and they don't suck up the fry as much either. But they are still defensive and caring and very territorial. I hope they don't lay eggs too soon... :)
29-Aug-2000 I am concerned that the fry may be reaching the stage where the parents might consider them as a food source. I will have to move them into another tank or place a glass separator between all the fry and the 4 parents but I don't think the parents will be too happy about that. I predict trouble brewing with that scenario. I went to the fish shop today and queried whether they still want the fry and they said...yes, please as soon as they are a little bigger (about 3 cm, which is 1 ¼ inches). I guess another month and a half maybe before they go. Then I'm starting my Angel Fish Breeding. I'm really excited about this project as it will probably be a bit more challenging. 
30-Aug-2000 The parents from both sides still guard their fry and aren't seeing them as food yet. Phew !... I'm considering moving them to their own tank soon. It will be very interesting to see if the fry from the different parents integrate sociably. I think they will. Right now all they really want is food and shelter to hide from possible predators.
31-Aug-2000 Well, tomorrow is the first day of Spring. I hope the convicts don't see it as a sign of new birth.....yikes, just don't need that yet. I have enough babies for the next month or two. I'm considering taking one pair of parents back to the fish shop but I don't know if I can. They've been so interesting and kept me sane for so long. I just can't have them breeding like mad all the time. I'll way up the options...perhaps get another tank ?...hahaha

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