Category Archives: Breeding Cichlids

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Barton’s Cichlid – Hericthys bartoni

Herichthys bartoniWell, hello! It has been awhile since I’ve blogged, but some current acquisitions have inspired a new post. Recently, one of our fish distributors informed me he had some Hericthys bartoni available. So for our anniversary sale I ordered 20 of them to offer for sale. A couple days later I was staring 20 fish each between 1 inch to 1.5 inches in length. We acclimated them into a 40 breeder and waited until the sale weekend to offer them, once we knew they were eating well in the store. The weekend came and went quickly, but I’ve knew this was a species I had to grab for myself. I’ve always wanted to breed them, from first time I saw a picture of one, and we carried them a long time ago and were able to get them to breed at around 3 inches. So I netted 7 of the remaining stock and placed them in holding, til I make some room for them.

Let’s talk a little about this gem from Mexico. Bartoni is restricted to the springs of Rio Verde. Water conditions may vary from place to place with pH ranging from 7.6 – 8.0 with a stable hardness (100 degrees German and a carbonate of 15 degrees). A robust male Bartoni can reach lengths up to 8 inches, while females reach a little over 4 inches. Males also develop a nice little forehead hump.

Their normal coloration is gray to light brown with a row of black blotches running from behind the eye to the base of the caudal fin. Some scales in the lower half of the body have a blue spot. But the breeding coloration is outstanding, and it’s also one of the main reasons I want to keep this fish. In both sexes, the upper half of the body turns white while the lower half becomes velvety black, including the fins.

In the wild, Bartoni mainly dine on algae, but so far they have done well on frozen cyclops and flakes while in holding. I would make sure that they get a flake high in veggie matter.

Pairs tend to either spawn in caves or beside rocks. The size of the clutch dependes on how old the female is, with an adult producing as many as a couple hundred eggs each spawn. At 84 F the eggs hatch in about two and a half days. In another five days, the fry should start to become free swimming after they consume their egg sacs. The females does most of the brood tending inside the cave while the male guards the perimeter. At any sign of danger, instead of running away like most Central American cichlids he will enter the spawning cave and wait with his mate until the danger goes away. Both parents take care of the fry when it comes to feeding time.

Bartoni generally tend to be very aggressive towards conspecifics, and sometimes their aggression may extend to other species in aquariums smaller than a 50 gallons.

It is believed in many circles that this species and others may become endangered in the near future, due to the introduction of a tilapia to their native waterways. What a shame that would be! If you have room for a 30 or a 40 gallon aquarium, this would be an awesome fish to add to your collection, and you can do your part to conserve them through captive breeding.

Until next time,


My Experience with the Red-breast Acara, Laetacara dorsigera

Hi, Jose here. When I was younger, I was looking for something that would light up the bottom of my 30 gallon South American tank. I did a little research and found a picture of a curviceps…I got really excited because from what I found they were pretty little fish. I purchased a trio of Dwarf Acara at a local pet shop labeled “sky blue curviceps”.  I didn’t know much about them, and I hadn’t really heard about them from other enthusiasts, but then again I wasn’t into cichlids at that time, so it was something new.

After they became adjusted to the tank, I ran peat through my Fluval 402 filter and hoped for some eggs. After a couple of nerve wrecking months, I noticed that a pair had formed and the third fish was killed by the pair. I placed some smooth, flat 5 to 6 inch rocks hoping the new couple would spawn on one. I figured that their tankmates (neon tetras) wouldn’t mess with the eggs, so I didn’t have to worry about anything eating them. But in watching the pair, I noticed something that worried me a little. I thought the male would be a light blue dwarf, but this fish was developed red color from the lower tip of the mouth to the rear of the body and red ventral fins. The “female” was also brightly colored, so I started wondering if I had two males. The person at the pet shop told me the female should be dull-looking because only males have color, a common trait amongst many cichlid species.  Read More »

Spawning Fish in the Aquarium – Raising Fry

Baby AcaraIf you have a healthy, well-established aquarium and happy fish, there is a good possibility that you may be blessed with batches of eggs or baby fish from time to time.  A common question our customers pose is “What do I have to do for them?” That’s a question that can have several different answers. As with most things aquarium, the first things to consider are your set up and the fish in concern.

Nature’s Course

The most passive answer is “do nothing”. It may not be the answer you want to hear, but depending on your situation, it may be the best one. Some fish are naturally attentive parents. They may actively defend and even nurture the fry their brood. As long as the threats within the tank are minimal (few if any predators, low flow, ect.) and the small fish have plenty of cover, they will have a chance.  A few of of the offspring may survive to maturity, but most will disappear, just as it happens in the wild. Read More »

Spawning Fish and Fish Eggs in the Aquarium – A Guide for Beginners

Bettas Spawning under bubble nestWhat could be more exciting for an aquarist than seeing a pair of fish spawn or finding a mass of eggs in the tank? Many beginner aquarists may not realize that their fish have formed a pair, what the fish are doing if they show a courtship ritual or that they are preparing an area to lay thier eggs. When eggs or babies appear, someone new the game may have lots of questions and concerns about what (if anything) they need to do for a successful hatch or to raise the fry.

Chances are you’re doing something right if you have a pair of fish that are prepared to spawn in the tank. Typically conditions must be favorable (clean water, ideal spawning chemistry, ect.) for the fish to be interested in breeding to begin with. If you’ve reached this point you’ll want to know what happens next. Read More »

Four of a Kind – Our New Batch of Rhamphochromis

Rhamphochromis macrophthalmusThe thought of a freshwater counterpart to the stealthy marine barracuda is just awesome to me. There are several fish called freshwater barracuda, but in the world of cichlids, Rhamphochromis fits the bill. So, I tend to get excited when I hear anything about Rhamphochromis, especially when they arrive in the store. I’ve never kept these fish, but I can see them in my future. Here are some things you may want to know if you’re as intrigued as I am. Read More »