Rainbow cichlid & purple cichlid – Breeding and rearing

Rainbow cichlid & purple cichlid
© Nico Strieth

Rainbow cichlid & purple cichlid (Pelvicachromis) reproduce strongly and are easy to breed in the aquarium. As they are monogamous, only one female and one male should be kept for a stress-free pairing. However, aggression can also occur if the male harasses the female although she is not yet ready to spawn. Rainbow cichlid & purple cichlid groupers are cave breeders who spawn their eggs at a fixed hiding place.

Necessary conditions for breeding

For a successful breeding of Purple groupers the minimum length of the aquarium is 60 cm. If there are other fish in the tank, it must be correspondingly larger. If they are aggressive roommates, whose behaviour goes beyond threatening gestures and muzzle fights, the pair belongs in a separate 60 cm breeding tank.

As cave breeders, the Purple groupers need shelters that are easy to walk in and difficult to see. For egg deposition and later larval development serve:

  • Root
  • Stone Caves
  • Clay jugs like upturned flower pots
  • Inverted coconut shells
  • Special rearing trays

In order that as many young ones as possible get through after hatching, there must be sufficient plants and solid hiding places in the aquarium.

Purple groupers and their young are not very demanding in terms of water values:

  • Temperature: 24 – 26° C
  • pH value: 6 – 7
  • Total hardness: 8 – 12° dGH

The courtship behavior

The courtship behavior of the Purple groupers follows a fixed ritual. Reproduction begins when the female intensifies its colourful appearance. The body gets an intensive red-violet tint.

During the actual courtship display the female takes an active role. She prances back and forth in front of the male, curving the body and showing her belly. The interested male responds with a trembling of the body.

Spawning behaviour

After mating by the male, all eggs are fertilized by the female. The female looks for a safe hiding place and lays the eggs there. One deposit counts between 200 and 300 pieces.

Breeding care and feeding

The brood-care performs the parents-pair together and ends only if the descendants are independent enough. This can last from 12 to 15 weeks.

The female guards and cares for the clutch and the brood. The male protects the territory against hostilities from other species and conspecifics. After hatching, the larvae are sometimes moved to other burrows, probably for safety reasons. After 2 to 3 days the young hatch.

They get their food exclusively from the yolk sac for about 36 hours. Afterwards they can be fed:

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Breeding of the young fish

Video © Sandra Denise Francesca

After 4 to 5 days, the boys can swim freely and the mother leaves the cave with them. The parents swim together with the boys through the territory. After 3 to 4 weeks the young are independent and the males start to scare each other.

In a pool of 80cm you can easily keep 20 small cubs without stress. If the parents are overstrained with the number of offspring, they reduce the stock accordingly.

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