During the breeding process, the male plays the dominant role in the courtship. Usually it will choose a piece of rock that will represent the territory as the spawning site. Once a passing female cichlids gets attracted to a male, she will allow him to lead her to its chosen territory. As soon as both fish reaches the spot, the male will enthusiastically opens its anal fin and spreads it over the spawning site. Eggs will soon be released and it will be immediately taken and kept into the mouth of the female together with the milt coming from the male. Female tropical cichlids fish in the wild usually will have the chance to select the best partner and sometimes, she will choose to mate with several males at any time. Note also that male cichlids fish will also try to out compete each other to attract the females by projecting the best coloration.
After the female has finished with the spawning ritual, she will retreat to a quite spot to care for her eggs and fry. The eggs and larvae will be periodically churned in order to allow fresh water rich in oxygen to reach the young. She will also avoid taking any food and at this time and during this critical period, caring for her fry is the main center of attention. Usually the fry will be released around 3 to 4 weeks later and the young cichlids should be comparatively large enough to feed on brine shrimp and microworms. In a single spawn, typically there will be around 20 to 30 fry reaching the adulthood stage and after another 2 weeks, you can start to separate the female mbuna cichlids from her young to allow her to recuperate and recover.
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