Breeding Archocentrus Cutteri

Archocentrus Cutteri
Archocentrus Cutteri is a small but bulky fish that dwells in ponds, lakes and rivers of Central America. These cichlids are fairly easy to spawn, given the right tank conditions. These fish are very prolific, as they may spawn every other week if the fry are removed from the tank. With this in mind, the aquarist trying to breed these fish should have a place to sell or put the resulting fry.

Obtaining a pair of these fish can be difficult, especially when the specimens are juveniles. The easiest way to get a pair of these fish is to buy about 6 juveniles and raise them to breeding size. Once the fish grow to sexual maturity they will start to form pairs. After you have a pair of these fish, it is advisable to move the rest of the fish into another tank, so that they do not get hurt when the pair actually does spawn. When spawning, these cichlids will defend their territory.

Setting up the tank for the new pair is fairly simple. The tank should be at least a 20G long (30") and the substrate should be of sand or small gravel. There should also be plenty of terra cotta pots and caves so that the pair has multiple nesting sites to choose from. There are a few techniques used to trigger the fish to spawn. One-way to induce spawning is to feed the pair high protein foods, though you should not feed too much of these, since it may cause the fish's dietary track to 'bloat'. So feed this sparingly with a high-quality staple flake or pellet. Another way to trigger spawning is to do more water changes. Water changes of 20% should be done every other day to ensure clean water and may simulate the rainy season. Once the pair has chosen a nesting site, they will start cleaning the surface they will lay their eggs on.

After the surface has been cleaned thoroughly by both parents, the female will begin laying eggs. Don't be worried if you see your female go over the surface and not have any eggs be placed; these are called 'dry runs' and the female should start laying within the next few runs. After the female has laid a few rows of eggs, the male will soon follow her to fertilize them. This process may take a few hours and once they have laid and fertilized all the eggs, the male and female will take turns fanning the eggs. This job is done mostly by the female while the male protects the territory. The male and female seem to communicate with fin movements and body movements when trading off jobs. The pair then starts digging pits or impressions in the substrate to place the fry in when the eggs hatch. The eggs should hatch within 2-3 days and become wrigglers. When the fry are in their wriggler stage, they feed on the yolk sac from the egg and should become free-swimming within 3-5 days. Once the fry are free swimming, the parents take on a whole new job: protecting and feeding the fry. The parents will both 'herd' their fry around the tank in search of food.

Raising of the fry can be done either artificially, or naturally by the parent fish. If you don't want your fish to breed again within the next two weeks, then I suggest leaving them with the parents. The parents will generally take good care of the fry, but I have had a problem with mine eating the fry after the 4th week, so I suggest not leaving them with the parents any longer than that. If you decide to raise the fry yourself, a 10G can be a good 'grow out' tank. A sponge filter can be used in the tank, though a power filter can be used as well. If using a power filter, something such as panty hose (be sure to use brand new panty hose and it must be nylon) should be placed over the filter intake tube. The fry's tank water should be changed every day with a 15-20% water change. This is a crucial point of the fry's development and should not be put aside. The fry should be feed at least 2-3 times a day with a diet consisting of newly hatched brine shrimp or daphnia. When the fry are about .5" they can be fed crushed high quality flakes.

Once the fry have hit the 1 1/4"- 1 1/2" mark you can start finding a home for the fry. This can be an easy with all the new technology and advancements of the fish hobby. Specialty fish boards and e-mail can aid you in finding a home for your fry. You can find a buyer on the Internet if you are willing to ship your new fish. Taking them to a LFS that will accept them is a possibility as well. Having your fish produce young can bring you a profit or even a feeling of success and accomplishment.

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