Red Devil cichlids are known for their beauty, but have to be kept separate from other fish due to their aggressive tendencies. If you have previously bred cichlids, then Red Devil cichlid breeding will not be difficult. If you are new to breeding these fish, hopefully the following tips will make it an enjoyable and fruitful experience. In preparation, it is wise to house your Red Devil cichlids in a spacious tank with appropriate water conditions. Remember to keep them well fed. Increasing the temperature of the water slightly to 24-28°C (75-82°F) will also encourage Red Devil cichlids to spawn.
In order for the breeding of your Red Devil cichlids to take place, it is important to create an aquarium that is conducive to that goal. Naturally, these cichlids choose breeding sites such as cave ceilings, rocks or logs. When designing your tank, be sure to include ornaments that mimic these instinctive breeding places.
The most crucial step for successful breeding is determining that you indeed have at least one male and one female cichlid. This is how they pair up to breed. Adult male Red Devil cichlids are generally larger than the adult females. Males also have a distinguishing bump on the forehead and genital papilla (tube behind the anus that releases sperm or eggs) that protrudes more than the female's.
Prior to spawning, the male cichlid shows aggression toward the female to initiate the process. A female cichlid can become injured or stressed from this macho show and will need to be protected. Be sure to provide places for her to seek shelter and get a break when needed. This can be anything with an opening big enough for her, but too small for the male to follow. Hollow tank logs, faux castles, or a basic fish net with a small hole cut in it will suffice. Without this help from you, the female cichlid's life may very well be at stake.
Once a pair has bonded, they should be moved to the breeding tank. Working together, the male and female dig a hole. The female lays her eggs (approximately 600-800) first. Next, the male fertilizes all of the eggs. Red Devil cichlids are extremely territorial and will attack any threat during this time to protect their family, including human hands. Simply be patient and do not disturb the breeding tank while waiting for the fry to hatch. The male takes on the role of a guard while the female cares for the eggs. It typically takes 3-5 days for the eggs to hatch. Once the Red Devil cichlid fry have hatched, both parents share the duties involved in caring for them.
Immediately after the fry hatch, the parents move them to pits they have made throughout the tank substrate for them. The newly-hatched fry feed on mucus that is secreted through their mom and dad's scales. At five days old, the fry have grown enough to swim freely in the tank. At this point, they can be fed small live food and/or crumbled flakes that their parents are eating as well.
Breeding Red Devil cichlids can be a very rewarding experience, but do not get discouraged if you aren't successful at first or if you encounter some obstacles. All of the eggs do not generally make it and all of the fry that hatch may not survive, but this is normal. Celebrate those that do survive. Good luck in your breeding endeavors!