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How to Breed Malawi African Cichlids
One of the Cichlid fry I have produced
A Gravid Female Cichlid will Usually be shy
An Example of a Fry Tank I have
Malawi cichlids are living jewels of Africa, and to breed them is no easy task. I myself have had some experience breeding Pseudotropheus species, especially the zebra cichlid. Hopefully, my insight will help.
- The first step is to establish a large tank. My tank is a 125 gallon. While it is possible to breed African cichlids in a 55 gallon tank, I recommend 75 gallons and higher, so there are no territorial disputes. In a 125 gallon tank, I keep around 25 African cichlids, 75% of them being zebras, the other 25% being various species, including yellow labs (Labidochromis Caerulus), demasoni cichlids, rusty cichlids, and auratus cichlids (which I'm currently trying to breed).
- The second step is to establish a harem. This means that you should have one male to every 5-6 females, so the male has a choice on who to mate with. How can this be achieved? By initially purchasing a large group of juveniles. My tank started with around 15 zebras I got at a very good price. They grew up together, and eventually began to breed. I find that having juveniles that grow up in the same tank together is better than introducing a fish one by one. This reduces aggression in the tank.
- I cannot stress water parameters and temperature. I find that my fish breed when I add more water to my tank. Perhaps its just a hunch, but I let 25% of my tank's water evaporate, and then add fresh water back in. The fish seem to be revitalized and excited. Other than this, pH for malawi cichlids should range around 7-8.5 and temperatures should range from 78-82, preferably around the 80-81 mark. Of course, your fish won't breed if they are suffering; ammonia and nitrite/nitrate levels should be low.
- Your fish need to be in breeding age! Zebra cichlids display numerous egg spots (dots on anal fin) in males. Males will start being aggressive towards other males. They should be around the 4 inch mark.
- Provide plenty of hiding space. I use stacked slate/sandstone rocks, plus plenty of large round pebbles for nooks and crannies. Be sure to feed your fish a quality diet, asides from flake food/pellets, they should be receiving salad greens, spirulina, brine shrimp, and I personally feed mealworms from my mealworm colony. It really plumps that females.
- With proper nutrition, environment, temperature, and social ladder, your fish should eventually breed. Signs to look for are females with puffy mouths (mouthbrooding), and males chasing females around the tank (not too aggressively).
- Be sure to check my youtube page, username demasoni521, for many other tropical fish related videos.
- Be patient! As long as you have done everything on this page, your fish should figure it out. Make sure you have a lot of the right species and it should happen!
- Most african cichlids do not lay eggs directly. They will mouthbrood, which means they will have eggs in their mouth to incubate. Another clue of a gravid female fish is that they will not eat when they have eggs in their mouth.
- My first time breeding I scooped out the gravid female and placed her into a small tank. This helped me get more fry (baby fish), but in the long run it is too inconvenient, and when the female is returned back to the main tank the social order of the cichlids are disrupted.
- The fry can be fed baby brine shrimp (recommended), spirulina pellets, finely crushed flake food, and infusoria.