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Blue Dolphin Cichlids - novice breeder drama and problems


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Hey all,

I have a mixed cichlid tank with 3 Blue Dolphins. 1 Male and 2 females.

I had no idea they were breeding till when a few months ago one of the females spat all the fry into the water when I was feeding them.

Needless to say all the other fish ate them up while I was in panic mode grabbing a net trying to catch some.

Now that I knew they were breeding I prepared myself. I got a breeding net to have in the main tank stuck to the glass.

I waited till one of the females showed signs of carrying eggs, waited 2 weeks then popped her into the breeding net. All was good for 2 weeks with 30+ free swimming fry. One morning I came downstairs and found that the whole breeding net had sunk - the suction caps were still attached to the glass but the whole thing had slid down to the sand. All the fry were gone/eaten apart from one. The one is now in a solid floating hatchery and growing quite nicely.

I bought 2 new breeding nets. 1 small and 1 large. and last weekend transferred the other female who was now carrying fry into the small breeding net. Over the last few days we've seen more and more of them swimming free. Then, and this where things went weird....

Last night as I was heading to bed I switched off the room lights - the tank lights had been off for a while. Seconds after the lights went out I heard a lot of splashing in the tank. Put the light back on and found BOTH females in the small breeding net. The non pregnant one had jumped out of the water and into the net.

I was in a panic - worried that she'd eat all the fry.

Hands in the water I caught one of them (hard to tell apart during the day, impossible with the thank lights off). This one didn't spit any fry so I popped her back into the main tank. I then caught the second one and she seemed to spit some fry so I popped her back into the net.

I can see 2 fry under the plastic base of the net but no more. So I'm not sure if they've been eaten by the mother, the other female, or is the mother holding them or...???

Would a 2nd female eat all the fry or would her instincts kick in and have her gather up the fry into her mouth?

Why would she jump into the net? I've never observed any of my fish doing this before - some minor splashing for surface food but nothing like this. The top of the net is a good 1cm+ above water level.

Should I expect this to happen again? I don't have room for a 2nd nursery tank.

Thoughts? Advice?



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I have found dolphins to be spit very easy often in the process of being caught, if they are stuck in a breeding net they will freak out, causing them spit and potentially eat their own fry, or mash them in to stuff while they are thrashing around.

The second female would have eaten the fry as well as the first female if she freaked out.

The best bet is to strip the female and place the fry into another tank.

If you cannot do this then best to stick them in a plastic floating breeding trap inside the breeding net, if you have the breeding net on its own then fish in the tank will try and suck the fry through the plastic net to eat them. This ends up mashing them in to the net and kills them.

What other fish do you have in the tank?

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I noticed with the first net that fry sitting on the bottom were getting attacked by fish. The new smaller net has a plastic base which should (I hate using that word) avoid that problem.

The one fry that I have from the previous attempt is in a floating hard plastic trap floating inside the confines of a large net trap. Belt & braces approach :-)

Other fish include 1 x red zebra, 1 x demosoni, 3 x peacocks (1 male + 2 females), 3 cuckoos (1 adult 2 young) and a young frontosa

I've kept fish for years, but this is the first time I've had a breeding group. So I'm an anxious father ;-P

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