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Benitochromis nigrodorsalis

Lenny Llambi

Member
5 Year Member
Has anyone had any experience breeding these guys? I am having some troubles.
I have a wild pair that is now on its fourth spawn. A couple of days after I initially observe the female is holding eggs, I will find her chased up behind the HOB filter, mouth empty. Usually, the male is aggressively holding her to her hiding place, so I quickly remove him. I'll recondition the two in separate tanks for a week or two, and upon reintroducing the male...they're in love again?!?!?!?! One or two water changes later, the female is holdng once again. According to Anton Lamboj the parents in this genus typically take turns holding the eggs (or larvae in the case of one of the species). He does describe the genus as having a weak pair bond, but this behaviour is unexpectedly extreme.
Can anyone offer any anecdotal advice?

Thanks in advance!!!
 

tjudy

Moderator
Staff member
5 Year Member
I think that you have an exceptionally rough male. I would try one of a few tactics. First, if you know when they spawn and can get to the male right away, move him out of the tank and let her care for the brood alone. You will not see the cool biparental behavior, but you will probably save the fry. Second, add some big target/dithers. Something tough like another species of cichlid (such as Steatocranus causarius) or large tetras for barbs. That will give him a territorial threat to defend against instead of turning his attentions to the female. Third, try breeding them in a colony rather that a pair. If the tank is large enough (like a 75 gallon) to hold six adults, the presence of others of the same species shoudl strengthen the pair bond. If it does not the male will probably ignore the hiding/holding female to chase after the more visible fish in the tank.

Very cool fish though. Good luck!
 

ed seeley

Moderator
Staff member
5 Year Member
I bred Benitochromis finleyi in a 55g. I started with two pairs initially but due to very high agression had to return the two spares. They were kept with a shoal of Congo and Diamond tetras as the cardinal tetras that were in there were ate! The male was always rather aggressive, but with suitable distractions wasn't too hard on the female. I think you may need a rather large tank to keep a group if B.nigrodorslais are aggressive as my fish were. After three successful spawns the male eventually turned on the female BTW. Great fish though!

How big is your tank? I wouldn't put them in anything under 3' long or much smaller than 55g. I'd also do as Ted advised and add some larger tetras, congos are very tough and seem to cope well with all the chasing. My tetras are still thriving in another tank now!
 

tjudy

Moderator
Staff member
5 Year Member
I have not kept many Benitochromis species because I do nto have teh tank space for them, but the aquarists i know who have been consistantly successful with them use the colony method with at least six or more fish. I have seen groups as large as 12 fish in a 75 gallon tank (though that was with a smaller species than B. nigrodorsalis. I suspect that crowded conditions might result in less damage du to there being many targets for the dominant male. All the other fish get beat a little, but none get beat to death.
 

ed seeley

Moderator
Staff member
5 Year Member
How big is a 75g Ted? I can never work out your standard tank sizes as we always go on dimensions in inches! Is a 75g about 4 foot long?
 

tjudy

Moderator
Staff member
5 Year Member
The base dimensions of a 75 are 48" x 18". There are a few tanks here that have that base dimension ranging from a 50 up to a 110. The 75 is probably the most common.
 

ed seeley

Moderator
Staff member
5 Year Member
Cheers Ted. I have to say that the single minded determination of my large male B.finleyi to kill any spare benitochromis may have been too much for extra fish even in a four foot tank. However the large group size, as you said, would spread the aggro out. It may also help with the other problem I had with these fish - they were extremely shy.

If you do try it Lenny (and thay are amazing fish you have to keep them and breed them if you can - I miss mine) Then go for the longest tank you can so the female can get away and add some large dither/targets. If you can source some more B.nigrodorsalis then you could try Ted's idea, and in a big enough tank I'm sure it'd work a treat. I'm just not sure a four foot tank would have been long enough for a group of my B.finleyi as they were really quite aggressive. If you can try it, and I do think it may very well work well, then have the option of separating the fish if you need to.

Good luck and let us know how you get on!
 

KevinB

New Member
5 Year Member
I bought seven wild caught B. nigrodorsalis. I kept them in a 40 gallon long tank. I had a hunch that two of them had paired up but it wasn't obvious at all. I didn't witness the breeding but I noticed a very small bulge in the females throat. Two days later I saw the fry:

http://african-cichlid.com/NigrodorsalisFry.htm

It was a single species tank with no dithers but lots of black sand, rocks, driftwood and plants (tied to the driftwood). I removed the other five nigrodorsalis as they cowering in the opposite corner of the tank. The pair were excellent parents and took turns guarding the 22 fry. In spite of lots of observation time, I never got to see the transfer. I'd watch for an hour while the fry would go in and out of the females mouth. Then I'd go away and come back five minutes later and the male would have them. This is a seriously cool cichlid.

Kevin
 

Lenny Llambi

Member
5 Year Member
Well, time for an update. The mean male that was terrorizing my female finally kicked the bucket. Not sure what happened, but in a way, it was a good thing. I decided to wait until after I moved to worry about obtaining a new male. In the meantime, I let my female fatten up and heal.
Fast forward to my new place. The 29 gallon is now overgrown with hair algae, and the female has been living alone for several months. I added another wild male to the aquarium, and immediately the two start checking each other out. I sit and watch, with net in hand, waiting for the first tussle to begin. It never comes. As a matter of fact, the pair have made an indentation in the gravel, underneath a canopy of algae, bordered with some driftwood and slate that they sit and guard.
In anticipation of the chaos of my move, I acclimated all of my softer water species to harder tap water, and am now beginning to soften my tanks. So, I am hoping that the next front that rolls through will set the pair off. I suppose the true test will come when the female has a mouthful of eggs. However, I am optimistic due to the fact that a good friend of mine came over the other night, and immediately noticed that, "Wow, those two fish really like each other! Are they spawning?"
Thanks for the advice everyone, and I will keep everyone updated!

Ted:
Looking forward to you coming out to speak at my club's X-mas banquet. I'll give you an update then (hopefully a good update).
 

Randall

Active Member
5 Year Member
Hello Lenny,

Reading this thread, it seems that your former Benitochromis nigrodorsalis pair got along well enough to spawn but were not a well-matched pair (As Anton would say, a "harmonious pair."). Sometimes when introducing a male and female of a particular cichlid species, things work out, but often they don't. This is why many hobbyists will invest in a group of young fish (say, two or more pairs) and allow them to pair off naturally as they mature.

A. Lamboj notes that "Non-breeding specimens--both juveniles and adults--often concregate in small groups of up to 20 specimens." B. nigrodorsalis is not a "colony" spawner, however, and when breeding infraspecific aggression levels run high. The key here to a successful spawning is to start off with a harmonious pair and give them as much space as they need.

Good luck!

Randall Kohn
 

Lenny Llambi

Member
5 Year Member
Well, no fry as of yet, but the pair still appears to be harmoniously coexisting. I have added a C.guntheri juvenile that managed to kill off the other eight conspecifics that I purchased, and his/her arrival seems to have strengthened their bond. The male has darkened up ever since I added the guntheri, as he especially takes pride pinning the newcomer under the wad of algae. I'm going to keep feeding these guys a high-protein diet, and try manipulating the water hardness and temperature in order to elicit spawning. Again thanks for all of the help, and I will keep everyone updated.
 

Lenny Llambi

Member
5 Year Member
Got the first spawn out of the new, harmonious pair! Wow! What a difference harmony makes! As the female travels about the tank, the male follows close behind, making sure that all is well. In human terms, he is very doting. A complete 180 from the last jerk.
I'm assuming that there will be a learning curve (this male seems kind of dopey) for this first batch of eggs, so I'm not expecting much in the way of fry, but I really hope that I will be able to get to the point where the parents transfer the fry at least once.
 

freshwaterfishfan

Member
5 Year Member
B. nigerdorsalis

I got some wild nigerdorsalis from Toyin a couple of years ago and got them to pair up and spawn for me (have F1 pairs right now) so I'll pass along my experience, which was not always good. The first 2-3 spawns they would hold and everything would be great for a couple days, then bang, I would come down and no eggs and the female would be all beat up. I would separate, rehabilitate, and reintroduce and decided to separate them once they spawned. I did this about 3 times, got lots of fry and never had a problem. My advice, be very careful with this fish. Much like Crenicichlas, pairs seem to go through messy divorces often.
Steve
 

ed seeley

Moderator
Staff member
5 Year Member
I got some wild nigerdorsalis from Toyin a couple of years ago and got them to pair up and spawn for me (have F1 pairs right now) so I'll pass along my experience, which was not always good. The first 2-3 spawns they would hold and everything would be great for a couple days, then bang, I would come down and no eggs and the female would be all beat up. I would separate, rehabilitate, and reintroduce and decided to separate them once they spawned. I did this about 3 times, got lots of fry and never had a problem. My advice, be very careful with this fish. Much like Crenicichlas, pairs seem to go through messy divorces often.
Steve
This was my experience of B.finleyi 'Mungo' too. Great fish, but need some distractions IMO!
 

dhm325

Member
5 Year Member
I just witnessed a pair of Benitochromis Nigrodorsalis spawn on a flat piece of rock in the corner of a 30 gallon long. There are 2 other Benitochromis Nigrodorsalis and 6 large livebearers in the tank. Both the male and the female picked up the eggs once the pair had stopped spawning. The male seemed to pick up about most of what seemed to be approximately 40 eggs and the female picked up what the male had left behind.

I would appreciate any information you have about how long it takes for the eggs to hatch and for the fry start fee swimming?

Thanks.


David.
 

Randall

Active Member
5 Year Member
Hello David,

Congrats on the spawn! Benitochromis nigrodorsalis is one of my favorite fish.

At 76 degress the fry should swim free in about 10-12 days. Until that time and for several weeks after, the parents will switch-hit the eggs, larvae and fry.

Good luck!

Randall Kohn
 
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