Mouth brood­ing

Animal Scene - - FINS, FEATHERS AND FUR -

If fe­male African cich­lids lay eggs, they are mouth brood­ers, which means the fe­male nur­tures her eggs in her mouth. Af­ter the fe­male re­leases the eggs and the male fer­til­izes them, she gathers them back into her mouth.

The eggs will re­main in­side the fe­male’s mouth un­til they hatch into fry. She will al­low her ba­bies to en­ter and exit her mouth from time to time. She will not eat un­til the fry grows into a size that makes it pos­si­ble for them to sur­vive on their own.

The male will con­tinue to pur­sue and ha­rass the fe­male, ad­ding to her stress. She is very weak by this time, which is why she should be trans­ferred to a sep­a­rate tank un­til fully re­cov­ered; oth­er­wise, it can be fa­tal for her. Af­ter around four weeks of rear­ing the ba­bies in her mouth, she will let her ba­bies swim on their own.

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