Maintaining and looking after an aquarium is OK, but I think what’s more challenging is to breed your own fish. Live bearing fish are too easy. The only thing you have to concern your self with is that you have a male and female of the species. They will do the rest. The challenge to is provide an environment that will encourage other species of fish like egg layers and scatterers to breed. One species of fish that I had success breeding was the Kribensis.
Kribensis or Krib for short is from the Cichlid (pronounced sicklid) family of fish of West Africa. Most African freshwater fish tend to be aggressive and territorial. This one is different. The males only become aggressive while guarding the spawning site. They have a "keep away or else" attitude. Most fish understand the warning and keep away. But generally, they have a very good temperament towards other fish. Well, most fish. One word of warning. Do not put Kribs in with guppies or any other "finny" fish. They will chase them to death. I had one Krib who wiped out all of my fancy tailed guppies. And when he was finished with them, he turned his attention to my Siamese fighter who was hiding amongst the plants. Don’t let the name fighter fool you. Aggressive they are not! My Krib swam up to the fighter, said, "boo". Then the fighter dropped down dead in fright. Males have elongated pointed dorsal fines and a spotted tail. The females are smaller, their fins are more rounded and they have a red belly that intensifies during courtship. The fish are parental. That means that they don’t drop and run, but they look after the young up until they can seek out food for themselves. They don’t like "doing it" in the open either. They are what is known as a secretive spawner. You can breed these fish in your community tank, but they will do better in a tank of their own. They spawn in little alcoves or caves in the wild so we have to create an environment that mimics what they expect.
Tank set up
I set up a two-foot tank with pea gravel. The filtration was an undergravel assisted with a small air pump. I matured the tank by using some of the water from my main tank. Inside the tank I placed on its side embedded into the gravel a medium sized ceramic flowerpot. Using a piece of rock or slate I reduced the opening to the cave. This will make it easier for the male to guard the spawning site, and gives the female a little privacy when she is tending to the eggs. I also planted come Java ferns and some valis.
What to look for in a mating pair
When selecting the fish from the shop you should look for young adult fish. The males should be lively with strong colours and long pointy fins. The female should have a rounder belly, intense colours, especially the red blotch on their belly. Stronger the red,the more attractive she will be to the male.
You can do this two ways. The first is to introduce them both to the tank and condition them together. Or split the tank in two with a glass separator. And then condition them separately. The reason for this is so you can watch them and see if they take a liking to each other. You will be able to see that when the female starts to flirt with the male, and he will take notice. If nothing happens after a week. Change one of the fish. I mentioned conditioning earlier. What I mean is to feed the fish well with live or frozen food bought from an aquarium out let. This brings the fish into breeding condition. I used blood worm(midge larvae)
You will see the female swim up to the male and quiver just in front of him and try to lead him to the flowerpot. It’s almost like she is saying " well come on big boy!" This lasts a couple of days. During this time she will visit the flowerpot several times to clean the inside surface in preparation for the eggs. Look at the female carefully. If you see a small tube extending from her anal area. Then she is ready to lay the eggs. When she thinks that the male is ready. She will lay the eggs and entice the male to enter the flowerpot to fertilize the eggs. After he has done his deed he will then stand guard at the pot entrance to ward off any fish that comes too close. Meanwhile the female will stay in the pot fanning water over the eggs. She will stay there until the fry have hatched and are free swimming. That means that they are strong enough to swim about on their own. This will take a couple of days after they have hatched. At this point it is a good idea to remove the male and return him to the community tank or fence him off so that the female can look after the young in peace. Otherwise the male will aggressively harass the female and cause distress. You will able to see the female herd the young around the tank looking for food.
Fry’s first food
Kribensis fry are large enough to take flake food. The mother spits out small bits of food while she is feeding herself. Or you can go one better if you have the time and patience. You can feed them on brine shrimp for the 1st week. Brine shrimp are very small live food that you can produce your self with suspended brine shrimp eggs and a hatchery. Both can be obtained from an aquarium out let. This will allow the fry to gain weight quickly.