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FAQs on Convict Cichlids 1

Related Articles: Convicts, Freshwater Angels, Discus, Juraparoids, Neotropical Cichlids, African Cichlids, Dwarf South American Cichlids, Asian Cichlids, Cichlid Fishes in General

Related FAQs: Convicts 2, & Convict Identification, Convict Behavior, Convict Compatibility, Convict Selection, Convict Systems, Convict Feeding, Convict Disease, Convict Reproduction, & Cichlids of the World, Cichlid Systems, Cichlid Identification, Cichlid Behavior, Cichlid Compatibility, Cichlid Selection, Cichlid Feeding, Cichlid DiseaseCichlid Reproduction,

Convict female, hlth.    10/20/08
I have a convict female that has gotten really fat all of a sudden and then I noticed that she developed a transparent sack under where butt what's wrong with her and what can I do?
<Sounds a lot like an anal prolapse, usually caused by a bacterial or protozoan infection of the gut. The triggering factor is typically water quality, though I dare say once in a blue moon there's something else going on, like careless use of live foods. Do in particular review nitrate, the "silent killer" in the cichlid world. Few cichlids tolerate concentrations above 50 mg/l for extended periods, and most want significantly less for good health. In any case, the best treatment is Metronidazole:
Cheers, Neale.>

Sexing Convicts 3/10/08 Hi guys I read on your website about convict cichlids, and I was wondering if you guys could tell me if I have a male and a female. The first picture I am pretty sure is the female with the orange tummy, the second I am pretty sure is a male, and the third picture is them together. I appreciate the help thanks! < If your fish are the same age then I would think that the male would be a little bigger, but according to the color they look like a pair.-Chuck>

Convict Cichlid babies  03/04/2008 Hello I recently bought 2 convict cichlids and now a month later I have babies! They are being held in a 29 gallon tank[ all by themselves of coarse ]. And I am going to buy a 125 to raise them, is this a good idea <A very good idea, though perhaps overkill if all you are keeping is the Convicts. A 30-40 gallon tank should be fine for the parents, and you can easily rear the offspring to sellable size in a 20-30 gallon tank. Do check with your local retailers about whether or not they want Convict cichlids, and if so, how many. While it is fun to breed fish, you do need to plan on what to do with the offspring. Anyway, well done! Neale.>

Cichlids, feeding fish  -02/20/08 Hello I am new to keeping cichlids, I recently bought a convict about 1 and a half inches long and on the second day I fed her floating cichlid pellets and she would not eat. I was wondering what to do? Thanks mark <Try something else. Convict cichlids eat insect larvae, so go buy a pack of frozen (not freeze dried) bloodworms. They will enjoy those. Floating cichlid pellets aren't a terribly good staple diet anyway because they tend to cause constipation if used alone. As well as wet frozen bloodworms, you could also try krill and chopped seafood of various types (prawn, clam, squid). Some people have success using freeze-dried foods but in over 20 years of fishkeeping I have yet to own a fish that enjoyed them! Hence I recommend the wet frozen foods you store in the freezer. All fishes go wild for these! Cheers, Neale.>

Re: feeding fish  -02/20/08 Thank you so much today I will go buy some frozen blood worms today. And would they like brine shrimp? <Quite possibly. Though none of my fish seem to like frozen brine shrimps, and never have done. So I'd buy a small package and try them out first if I was you. Cheers, Neale.>

Pink Convicts... repro./beh.    2/19/08 Hello WWM Crew, I was given 6 pink convicts and when 2 paired off I gave away the remaining 4 to LFS. Approximately 3 weeks after spawning and raising the fry, the male killed the female and I don't know why, <Tank not big enough; Convict cichlids are notoriously rough when overcrowded, and being so much bigger than the females, the males can seriously harm females that do not respond to their overtures to breed again.> yet he does not bother any of the fry. <Yet.> I now have about 30 fry left from the spawn that are growing nicely (about 2-3 months old). Could it be because they are so much smaller than he is? <He won't attack them until he views them as rivals (in the case of the males) or females that won't mate with him. In any case, you will need to get rid of the fry soon.> I like these fish and would like to have more but due to the aggression I don't know what to put in the tank with 'Periander', nor do I know what size tank would be acceptable. <Convicts aren't community fish by any measurement, and keeping them with tankmates is always difficult. When I kept half a dozen of them, I did so in a 200 gallon tank with a similar number of Firemouths, a Jaguar cichlid, and a Red Devil. Also some catfish -- a smallish channel catfish and a Gibbiceps catfish. Adult 'Chinese Algae Eaters' (Gyrinocheilus aymonieri) also work well, being extremely fast but also quite nasty animals themselves. Large botiine loaches might work, too, provided the loaches were kept as a school (for protection) and had ample hiding places. In other words, your best choices for tankmates are larger and more aggressive cichlids, very fast Cyprinids, and armoured catfish. This does rather depend on the size of the tank though; there's absolutely no point trying to keep *anything* in a 20 or 30 gallon tank containing a mature male Convict. Even a 55 gallon is pushing your luck, and adding tankmates will be a bit of trial-and-error.> I am hoping you could make some generalized suggestions to try. <Cheers, Neale.> Thank you for your time.

I have a question concerning convict cichlids comp. and elephant nose sel. 01/21/2008 <Ask away.> Ok... Are elephant noses hardy fish? <Not even close to being hardy. Among the most difficult freshwater fish commonly traded.> What is the minimum tank size for one? <On its own, likely around 150 l/40 gallons. They get pretty big if kept properly. In a community setting, much more space is needed, because they are territorial and their electric field does irritate some fish.> Also, do they need to be put into groups, I was planning on getting just one. <Elephant noses are best kept either singly or in groups of six or more. In twos and threes they tend to be unpredictable, and sometimes quite nasty to each other. Wild fish do live in schools though, so singletons are, unsurprisingly, rather shy (i.e., you don't see them most of the time).> My other question is, are convicts really that aggressive, because I have friends who own these and they say they have had success keeping it with zebra Danios. <Define "aggressive". Yes, Convicts are (for their size) very aggressive towards anything they deep as either a rival for nesting space or a potential predator on their offspring. So despite being relatively small cichlids, they are best kept in (big) community tanks that only include larger cichlids, such as Jaguars and Red Devils. On the other hand, in a spacious enough aquarium, Danios might well be ignored. The use of Danios and other surface-living fish has been widely documented among cichlid-keepers as sometimes beneficial. Such "dither fish" as Danios encourage the bottom-dwelling cichlids to stay out in the open more. So would such a combo work? Quite possible. Is it a good idea for the less experienced aquarist? Probably not.> From your experience, are they really aggressive? <I've kept Convicts in a 200 gallon tank with a Red Devil, a Jaguar Cichlid, some Firemouths, a Channel catfish and a Gar. They all got along fine. Read from that what you will, but I'd make the point that the Convicts were holding their own in a big tank filled with potentially aggressive and/or predatory tankmates.> Will it be fine to keep it with n elephant nose? <Absolutely not.> Thanks for your time and thank you for your help. <Happy to help, Neale.>

Convict Cichlid has bulge in stomach  12/12/07 Hey, <What?> I have had two convict cichlids for 5+ years, and just recently one of them got a sort of bulge in the stomach. It actually seems to have appeared randomly. A while ago I had a feeder fish that I am assuming was eaten (not quite sure) <... a very poor idea. Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/goldfshfd.htm and the linked files above> and I thought that it might have been the fish with the bulge that ate it, but it seems odd for it to still be there (and the bulge is rather large). So for the past couple of days, I have been watching them eat and it looks like the fatter one is eating the majority of the food. It still acts normally, but the bulge looks very odd and I'm afraid something could happen to it. I have considered separating the fish in the tank to feed them separately and make sure they both get the same amount (they are always together, so I don't want to completely separate the two). The fatter one seems to always rush to the food and beat the other one to it. Why do you think the bulge is present? It seems like even though it is eating the food, it should be able to digest it and not have the bulge. Do you have any other suggestions? Thanks so much! -Chantal <... no useful data re water chemistry, foods/feeding... I suspect there is something amiss here environmentally... But it could be a disease, parasite introduced inadvertently with the "feeder". Keep reading. Bob Fenner>

Re: Convict Cichlid has bulge in stomach - 12/13/07 Sorry that was of no help. Here is some extra info, and basically all the info I have left. I moved about an hour away from home in August and took my fish with me. They are also in a new (bigger) tank now, but their environment is the exact same. They have a better/new filter, and I used a lot of their old water for the new tank. The bulge appeared around early November. My fish don't typically eat feeder fish, and the one that was in my tank was not meant to be eaten either. I had goldfish and feeder fish living in the new tank before I moved my fish in there so that it wouldn't be squeaky clean and brand new once they got in. The one feeder fish disappeared, so I am only assuming it got eaten, but that happened probably around September/early October, so it was a pretty long time ago. That is really all I have on my fish. I am definitely going to start feeding the fatter one less once I find a way to separate them during feedings. It just still seems odd that a bulge would appear. I have been feeding them the same amount of food for the longest time. Thanks again! <... could also be a tumour/tumorous growth of some sort... Only way to be sure is to sacrifice, necropsy the specimen... Otherwise your proposed changes, good maintenance are about all that can be done. Bob Fenner>

Sick Convict Not Depressed  1/14/08 Hey, I wrote about a month ago about my convict cichlid that had a bulge in its stomach. I think that is what killed it about a week ago. Now I still have one left, and it has been very light colored with brownish stripes (it does not look normal compared to its usual light color). She has definitely been a lot less active than usual as well. I was wondering if it is possible for her to be depressed and what I should do. The two fish were raised together, and now she is pretty much alone in a 30 gallon tank. Thanks, Chantal < The same factors that made the first convict sick are probably still making this convict sick. I would recommend some water quality tests and make any adjustments that are needed.-Chuck>

My convict... beh.    11/3/07 Hi WWM crew, I just bought two small Convict Cichlids and they are not getting along too well, one is about 2 inches and the other about an inch. The smaller one has to stay in the floating plants so it doesn't get attacked. The other one rules the whole bottom of the tank including 4 houses and when the smaller one comes down, the bigger one chases her away. I noticed a few missing chunks of her tail but she doesn't seem to mind. What's weird is that the bigger one has the looks of a female, but the characteristics of a male, kind of an orange belly and a bluish tint to a few places including the fins and the lips, but an aggressive attitude. I was wondering what this is? Also the smaller one has kind of dull striping but I think that's just because she's so young, what would you recommend me doing? I don't know if I should take the smaller one back to the pet store or just leave them be? Please help Jesse <Hello Jesse. Cichlids are territorial and aggressive. A single male (which can get to around 15 cm) will attempt to monopolise even a very large aquarium. If you have two males, they will fight. Sexing Convict cichlids is notoriously difficult. While males *do* tend to be bigger and have longer fin rays, and females *do* tend to be more colourful, there is plenty of variation. This is why experienced Convict keepers recommend keeping 6 juveniles together and letting them pair off naturally. Once a pair has formed, you can remove the 4 leftover fish. So depending on the size of your tank you could either get a bunch more juveniles (not recommended in smaller than a 55 gallon tank) or else separating the two fish now to let them grow up some more. Sexing fish at the size you have them now is very unreliable. Even if you are right, and the small one is the male and the big one is the female, there's no guarantees they will "bond". Sometimes cichlids don't like each other. There's not much you can do about this except swap one of the fish for another fish. Cheers, Neale.>

Convict parents, repro.  10/14/07 Hello WWM, <Frank> My pair of convicts bred a little more than a month ago. The fry are doing well, as I have removed them from their parents and put them in a separate tank. However, now that the parents are by themselves (which they have been for about 2 weeks), they are starting to chase each other. Actually, just recently, the male has been fiercely chasing around the female. Is something wrong? <Mmm, no... they're just spawning again> Should I remove the female? There are no other fish in my tank. Thanks! Frank <Well... do you want to produce more young? It may seem cruel, but if the successive batches of eggs, young are left with the parents, this will slow down their rate of reproduction... Bob Fenner>

Bloated Jellybean Convict  9/27/07 I have a female jellybean convict who has successfully bred, but due to aggression of the male was moved to a different aquarium. This female has recently blown up to a huge, uncomfortable looking state, she is not eating well and just sits in her cave gasping. Her scales are not opened up so I don't think she has a disease. I am afraid to move her back to the original aquarium in her "state" due to the aggressive nature of the other fish. Will she eventually lay the eggs with no male, absorb them or die? What can I do to help? Thank You, Carolyn < Your jellybean convict is a genetic mutation that has been bred to assume an unusual body shape. Unfortunately these body shapes have a tendency to create internal deformities as well. One of which is severely bent intestines. The result of this seems to be food particles lodged in the intestines. These intestines then distend and swell as the internal bacteria begin to digest the food. The extension of the gut stresses the other organs to the point to where they no longer may function. I recommend placing the fish in a clean hospital tank and treating with both Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace.-Chuck>

Growing convict fry -- 09/01/07 Hi WWM! How fast do convicts grow (if all conditions are normal)? I have a lot of fry from a spawning from a couple weeks ago! they are doing well. I'm just wondering how fast they will be growing. Thanks! =D <Greetings. Cichlids generally reach a "saleable" size in 3-4 months, and will be at least sexually mature if not adult sized within 6-9 months. This varies somewhat from species to species, but other factors, specifically diet, aquarium space (i.e., water quality and aggression), and water temperature are also very important. But your convict cichlids will fit into this range, all being well. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: convict fry - 9/3/07 Dear WWM, I read somewhere that convicts breed every 2-3 weeks? Will they breed again even if the last batch of fry are there? or will they keep on taking care of those fry? <Convict cichlids, like most other cichlids, will spawn within days of their fry or eggs being removed. If they are left with their fry, then they will extend care to them for about 3-4 weeks, after which point the parents will become increasingly short-tempered towards the fry. Eventually the fry will swim away (or be killed, if the tank is too small) and the parents will spawn once more. It isn't a good idea to let the cichlids breed constantly because it will wear out the female especially. So leaving them with the fry for a while gives you a few weeks to "fatten up" the female before she breeds again. Cheers, Neale>

Female Convict non-male companion   7/25/07 Dear WWW Crew, 5 or 6 wks ago a co-worker had convict cichlids that were breeding out of control (go figure). He netted up the babies and got them sold/given away. He missed one little female and was going to just flush her. Sigh. Sounded heartless to me so I took her & set her up in a spare 20 gal. I always keep spare bio-wheel filters hanging on my main tanks so I can have a fully cycled tank for quarantine or for emergencies such as this (learned that the hard way). I used water & gravel from a cycled tank and she's doing great, about 2 1/2" long. I've become pretty attached to the little orphan, her name is "Lifer". I wanted to name her "20 to Life" but was out-voted. My sister told me about your web site and told me to search 1st, which I did. But it seems most people keep convicts as pairs and most the information was about breeding. I don't want babies but would really like some suggestions as to a 'companion fish' for her. (will be quarantined of course). Maybe one of the smaller catfish? How about another female Convict? Also, do you think a 20 gallon would be big enough for another fish? If not I'll just leave her in there by herself. Thanks for reading this and thank you for your undying dedication to this web site. No doubt you've saved thousands of fish with your advice! Amelia <Hello Amelia. Territorial fish like Convicts don't become "lonely" in the way humans do. We're sociable animals that have evolved to live in groups, and when we're alone, we feel sad. Territorial cichlids, on the other hand, have evolved to defend their "patch" fearlessly from potential competition, and view any other cichlids as rivals to be expelled at once! So unlike humans, they get unhappy when forced to live cheek-by-jowl with other cichlids in a too-small aquarium. The only time they break this rule is when the find a mate, and even then the truce is often only temporary! So, your female Convict is just fine by herself. I personally wouldn't recommend adding any more fish to a 20 gallon tank containing a Convict, since they have the potential to be pretty waspish. But is she's still a baby and pretty docile, you could add an Ancistrus sp. catfish of similar size, just making sure there were caves aplenty so each fish could set up home comfortably. Cheers, Neale.>

Convict doing head spins, Convict Going Loop The Loop   8/23/07 Hi there. You guys really have a wonderful and quite often when I have the time I spend it here. I am relatively new to the hobby (about a year) and am quite fascinated with cichlids. I have 3 convicts, 1 male and 2 females. The male I have had since he was a toddler. The females I introduced later and there weren't any problems. It's been about 6 months and recently I think the one of the females and a male seemed to have formed a pair. They've been digging up the sand in a corner of the tank and they protect it as their own territory. My male convict suddenly started acting funny today. He started spinning quite energetically. Not horizontal in circles, but vertically, like he was doing head spins. I have seen fish with swim bladder problems and his spinning seemed too conscious to be a swim bladder problem, but I am no expert. He did this twice in a span of 10 minutes and after that he went back to being normal. I have been keeping an eye on him and he's not done it again (over the last hour and a half). Am a bit flummoxed by the behaviour. Could you please throw some light on the above. Thanking you in advance, warm regards. Sujay <It is not part of any spawning ritual that I am aware of. Never heard of this before. Check the water quality and offer some live food. Spawning can be stressful and you want to make sure your fish are in good shape.-Chuck.>

Re: Convict doing head spins   7/25/07 Thank you Have been keeping an eye on him and he's not done it again. Was wondering whether it could be the onset or symptoms of some internal energy? Regards... Sujay <Not sure what "internal energy" means in this context. But, as ever, keep an eye on water chemistry and water quality. Trying mixing up the diet a little, and offer some green foods and algae as well as the usual flake and bloodworms. Practically all cichlids eat some green foods, even if only incidentally to their normal diet, and just like any other animal, the vitamins and fibre in green foods are important. (Even cats, the most completely carnivorous animals on Earth, make a bee-line for the partially digested plant matter in the digestive tracts of the prey animals they eat.) When cichlids lose swimming ability, it's usually either environmental or dietary, so if you can cross those two things off, you've made a good start. The last time I saw "spinning cichlids" it was a tank full of baby Pelvivachromis taeniatus into which I'd poured some freezing cold water without thinking... they recovered within half an hour or so, but it was pretty scary to watch! Cheers, Neale>

Convict cichlids   8/19/07 Hello WetWebMedia crew, I find your site very useful. I have a pair of convict cichlids, about 2.5 inches, and right now they are moving around gravel and digging pits and redecorating an area in the tank. And the female likes to stay in this little cave rock thing that I have set up. Does this mean that they're going to breed soon? do you know how long? Frankie <Yes, they're likely going to spawn soon. Spawning usually occurs within a couple of days of the fish pairing off and decorating their cave. But often cichlids will eat the first batch of eggs, almost as if they're "practising". But convicts generally make superb parents, and before too long you will have more baby cichlids that you'll know what to do with! Cheers, Neale>

Re: convict cichlids -- 08/22/07 Hello WWM: Yay, my convicts spawned yesterday! Why is it that the male convict doesn't really display his stripes or his "colors" as much as the female does? is it because there are no other fish/predators in the tank? (they are in a tank by themselves) <Well, male convicts are less colourful than females anyway. But also remember the colours aren't there for your amusement, but for communication. When fighting over territory or flirting with potential partners, the colour patters will be used in different ways. When communicating to one another while guarding the fry, and eventually when communicating with the fry themselves, different colours are used. So for now, just sit back and enjoy cichlid behaviour. Cool behaviour is, after all, why anybody keeps these cranky, violent animals! Cheers, Neale>

How many convict cichlids can you fit in a 29 gallon tank - 7/23/07 Hello I just purchased a 29 gallon tank and I am interested in convict cichlids can I fit in there safely with extra filtration(35 gallons) <Greetings. The issue isn't filtration but behaviour. Convict cichlids are very territorial and belligerent. While a matched pair probably would use a 29 gallon tank safely for breeding, putting two unmatched fish in there will lead to all-out war. Male convict cichlids can and do kill females that don't respond favourably to them. Read some of the FAQs on neotropical cichlids to see past experiences of others along these lines. The standard way to care for convicts is to buy six juveniles and then remove the 4 excess ones once a pair forms. Alternatively, you may be able to buy a matched pair from another breeder, but there's no guarantees the bond will stay in place once you move them to your tank. Just to reiterate the point: if you add a male and female to a small tank (or even a big tank) and they've never met, the male will probably kill the female. Hope this helps. Neale>

Re: How many convict cichlids can you fit in a 29 gallon tank -- 07/23/07 what if I put all males or females in the tank with many separate caves and hiding places would they still attack each other? <What, no "hello" or "thank you"? So much for manners... Anyway, it doesn't matter how many caves or hiding places you use. The convicts will attack each other. It's what they do. If you want fishes suited to a 29 gallon tank, then choose small things like tetras or Corydoras. Much safer. Even dwarf cichlids like Kribs are likely to want to take over something as small as a 29 gallon tank. Please buy or borrow a book about cichlids, and read the articles here at WWM before proceeding. Yours etc., Neale.>

Convict cichlids, comp.   7/11/07 Hi WWM! your site is very helpful. does a compatible convict pair get along as soon as they are introduced, or does it take a while for them to get used to each other and then they spawn? thanks Tim <Oh boy, I wish people would take the effort to spell "thanks" in the traditional way. "Thanx" just screams "lazy self-absorbed teenager" to me! Anyway, no, convict cichlids do not "get along" straight out of the box. The best approach is to keep 6, and then let 2 pair off naturally. Introducing a male and female into a tank in the hopes of breeding often fails, to the degree the male kills an unreceptive female. Also, before trying to breed convicts, make sure you have a market for the fry. They are very fecund, and the fry are very very easy to rear. Few pet shops want hundreds of convict cichlids. Cheers, Neale>

Convictssss  7/8/07 Hi WWM Crew! I recently bought 3 convicts (2 females, 1 male) and put them in a tank. The tank is clean with relatively new water. The male kept chasing the females viciously and seemed like he was biting them. Finally, i removed one of the females and put her into a secluded tank and she DIED !! after 3-4 hours...I quickly removed the other female also. Right now they are separated. My question is: Should I keep them separated until they show signs of breeding (i read about how to do "train" them) or should i put them together and just bear with the chasing and do water changes? Thanks! Frank Ye <Hi Frank. What you describe is 100% normal for convicts. Please have a read of the Convict FAQs over here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/convictfaqs.htm . And yes, you do need to separate them until the female is ready to spawn. Even then, introduce them carefully and watch for problems. A good tip is to use a divider of some sort (such as egg crate) with a hole cut in it big enough for the female but too small for the male. This allows her to swim to safety. There's really no way to "train" cichlids to do anything other than their normal breeding behaviours whether you approve of them or not. Much like humans really! Cheers, Neale>

Re: convictssss  7/8/07 Sorry, just one more question. I know you guys are busy replying to other people's emails. What kind of signs do they show when they are ready to spawn besides coloration on female? and also, coloration on males too? Thanks, Frank <Hello Frank. There are no obvious signs that the female is ready to mate. All you can do is feed her well ("conditioning") on the best foods available. Live foods such as snails and mosquito larvae ideally, but also (wet) frozen bloodworms or similar. Once she is "in condition" she will look healthy and have a nice round abdomen. You can assume that any male in good physical shape and sexually mature will be willing to assume. Introduce the two fish into the breeding tank, the female first, and the next day the male. Watch closely. The bigger the breeding tank, the better your chances of a stable pair forming. I'd suggest 30 gallons for an as-yet unmatched pair of fish. Once a stable pair is formed, these fish breed readily and the fry are easy to rear. Be 100% sure you have somewhere to get rid of the fry. Most tropical fish shops can only accept a certain number of Convict cichlid juveniles. They are aggressive fish, and the quality of much of the stock in the hobby is poor, lacking the lovely colours (and impressive size) of wild-caught fish. You can easily end up with 100+ juveniles, and few retailers will take all of them from you. Cheers, Neale>

Re: convictssss 7/9/07 Do convicts have "good memory"? I had my male in the breeding tank for a little while and he seemed to have set up a territory. I removed him because he was attacking the female. When I put him back, will he remember? Thanks. Frank <Cichlids generally don't remember their territories *if* you move all the rocks and ornaments about. But simply taking the fish out and then putting him back a week later isn't certain to work. As I've said repeatedly, what you're experiencing here is normal with convicts and there's really nothing you can do to prevent it. You need to condition the female to the point where she is ready to breed, and *then* introduce her to the male. Anything else is likely to end in tears. Please, there are lots of good books on cichlids generally and Central Americans specifically. Go buy or borrow one of these. Cheers, Neale>

Re: convictssss-- 7/10/07 One quick question. I don't have time to borrow books. What does it mean when the cichlid is wagging its "tail" at another one? <Frank, don't take this the wrong way, but if you don't have time to sit and read a book, you probably don't have time to look after animals properly. Reading and learning isn't an optional extra, it's an essential part of the hobby. Anyway, cichlids waggling tails can mean various things. If accompanying other threat behaviours, like gaping and gill flaring, it's likely a sign of aggression. If the female is doing this in front of the male, it typically means she's inviting him to mate. If two males are doing this to each other but not otherwise being threatening, it's a dominance thing, and they're using the strength of the water current from the tail to judge who's the strongest. And so on. There are several books about fish behaviour out there, and many are focused on cichlids. Cheers, Neale>

Convict fry capabilities    5/7/07 Hello! WetWebMedia has help me tons on breeding my pair of convicts (THANK YOU!!!!) But I'm having a problem. I have had a breeding, as I was planning for. I have moved the mom into a holding tank for the period. My brother is getting rid of 2 Dojo Loaches, will those 2 be fine in my tank of fry? < If they will fit in the dojo's mouth, then they will be eaten or the dojo's will attempt to eat them, depending how mobile they are.> They are messy eaters, but with the loaches in the tank will eat the leftover droppings. So whatcha guys say? Hope these 2 will do well! -Sean < Dojo's are always eating. When the food is gone, they will go after the fry.-Chuck>

Hi, I have got a male and female convict who have babies which are about 3-5cm long and there are about 20 of them.    5/11/07 <Well done.> What should i do with them and when how big till I can sell them? <Ideally, rear them in another tank to a marketable size, but if you must keep them with the parents, double the rate of water changes. Cichlid growth is slowed down by dirty water, and so the more often you change the water in an overcrowded tank, the faster the baby fish grow. As for selling them, ask your retailer! Usually, 5 cm should be fine for them.> Is it true that you can put them from cold water into warm water will it make the female have more babies? <Never heard of that and sounds dubious. Cichlids hate cold water, and many will go into shock even if you pour too much too-cold water into their tank.> Thanks Jamie <Cheers, Neale>

Baby convicts...    5/11/07 Thanks Neale for the reply but I forgot to ask you a question. You said to put the babies in another tank last time they kept on dying one at a time. <Greetings. Baby convict cichlids are generally easy to rear. If you're losing them, there's a few things that could be to blame. Water quality is obviously important, just as with adult fish. Don't dump them in an uncycled tank and assume they'll survive. If you need to, remove some mature filter media from the main tank and put in the filter in the breeding tank. A simple air-powered box filter is adequate and can be easily filled with filter floss or ceramic media from the mature filter. Regular water changes are *essential* when rearing baby fish. Diet is another issue: baby fish invariably need lots of small meals, at least 4 per day, often 6 is better still. Baby fish can easily starve to death. Many baby fish are tricky to feed, but convicts (like most cichlid babies) are easily reared on powdered flake food and liquid fry food. That's because they're somewhat omnivorous and don't need live baby brine shrimp or infusorians. The next issue is infections. At least until they are free swimming, newborn baby fish can be subject to things like fungus. Very small fry can even be attacked by things like snails and planarians, so keeping the tank clean is important. All things being equal, Convicts make *excellent* parents, so if you can, let them do the work for at least the first 2-3 weeks. In most cases, cichlids are better at looking after their eggs and fry than we are! Cheers, Neale>

Convict Cichlid Aggression    5/12/07 I put 2 convicts together but the female keeps running away but she has yellow all over her?????????? Blake <Male convicts are larger with longer fins. Females usually have some yellow coloration on the stomach area. Males will usually dominate other fish, especially other convicts. Until the female is conditioned and ready to spawn he will continue to chase her and may even kill her if there are no places for her to hide.-Chuck> The female convict is being picked on what do I do    5/12/07 <Hey Jamie, You started off so well by saying "thanks Neale" on your follow-up messages. Please don't disappoint me! Anyway, Fighting between convict cichlids is common and impossible to prevent. The best you can do is try adding extra females (if the tank is big enough) or install a tank divider with a gap small enough for the female to swim through but not the male. You can also try re-arranging the decor, as this sometimes "resets" the social structure. Adding extra decorations (flower pots for example) can work by giving the female somewhere to rest and also by breaking up the line of sight (what the male can't see, he can't attack). But worst case scenario and nothing works, remove the male and find another one, preferably smaller than the female, and try again. Cheers, Neale>

Convicts And Larger Cichlids  4/25/07  Hi folks, great site! < Thanks for the kind words.> Currently I have a pair of convicts and a Pleco in a 29 gallon tank. Tank has a lot of rocks and hidey holes for everyone, and I'm running a Top Fin 30 and a Emperor 280 bio wheel. Convicts are about 2-3 inches and the Pleco is about 4-5 inches. I am currently looking to get an additional tank. A 55 gallon tank is more in my range, but I have my eye out for a 75 gallon tank for a good price. I would like to get a couple of larger cichlids for the new tank and keep the convicts where they are now. Option 1: I'm thinking of a tiger Oscar (had 'em before, loved 'em), a Jack Dempsey (same), and another Pleco in the 55. I know those 2 are pushing a 55 gallon, but I would put a lot of filtration and don't mind the effort. < The Jack Dempsey would get as big as the Oscar if it was a male. The Jack would probably be the more aggressive of the two.> Option 2: My other thought is to put the convicts, Pleco, and either one of the larger fish in the 55, then do something entirely different with the 29 (I'm liking a Malawi tank). Now, if I get the 75 gallon tank I know these are not an issue. What are your thoughts on my two options? Thanks! Billy <If the convicts pair up, they would hold their own with any larger cichlid. A 29 gallon is pretty tight for a Lake Malawi cichlid tank.-Chuck>

Convicts Taking Care Of Fry  4/8/07 Hi guys, Thanks for the info it really helped and now I have at least 30 baby convicts in a seashell. But how long do the parents take care of the fry until they try to eat them? <Usually a week after they are free swimming they are going to be eaten because the female is now getting ready to lay eggs again and she will need a nutritious meal so she can lay lots of eggs.-Chuck>

Convict Cichlid Egg Color - 03/25/07 Hi again guys and thank you for the info before my convicts now have little white eggs on a seashell in my tank. I was wondering if the eggs are supposed to be this color <Dead eggs turn white, live eggs are a translucent brown color.> and I was wondering if after the fry is born will my male convict go back to swimming with my Oscar fish? they did before. < After spawning the male convict should be guarding the fry. Once the fry are gone the pair bond could be gone too and the male convict might not pair up again.-Chuck>

Keeping Cichlid Eggs Viable  03/26/07 Thank You yet again but I have one more question. What can I do to keep the eggs brown? And I swear this is the last email for a while. <When cichlid eggs are first laid they tend to be a translucent clear brown color. If the eggs are not fertilized in 24 hours they will turn white and begin to be taken over by a white water mold. This use to be commonly referred to as a fungus but recent work at Sacramento  State have shown this to be actually a water mold. The adults should be able to stay with the eggs and remove and dead or diseased ones. Clean warm water goes a long way to keep eggs healthy. The addition of some Methylene blue helps retard the water mold. If you continuously get no eggs to hatch then you could have a male that is not fertilizing the eggs.-Chuck>

Breeding Convict Cichlids   03/23/07 Hi Guys,         I have two convict cichlids, one female and one male, and the females underbelly colors are almost like a rainbows color. She seems to be getting bigger and they always dig holes in my tank gravel together they really get along. <Convicts usually present few problems for breeding once they've formed a pair. They usually make excellent parents.> I was wondering if the female holds the eggs in her belly and if so how long until she lays them? <She'll spawn when she's ready. Two things: be sure and raise the temperature slightly above normal (25C/77F+) to encourage spawning and also pay attention to diet. These are omnivores, so a mix of greens (chopped spinach, blanched lettuce, algae) and insect larvae will get the female in best possible condition. Alternate regular and vegetarian flake. Constipation is very common in omnivorous fish given exclusively carnivore diets, and will cause abdominal swelling that might be mistaken for eggs. Beyond that, breeding convicts should be straightforward and rewarding. They exhibit lots of parental behaviours such as parent-to-fry signals when alarmed. Enjoy! Neale> Convicts and Oscars, repro.   3/14/07 Hi, <Hello> I stumbled across your website during a Google search and I found it very informative, however there are questions that I would like to ask about our convicts and Oscar fish. <Okay> Firstly, we have an adult size Oscar and recently introduced a much smaller Oscar into his tank.  These two fish interact with each other extremely well and we were wondering how we can determine if we have a breeding pair... <Mmm, they'll make this known in time... by successfully reproducing... There is such a thing as two females laying eggs together...> they seem very playful to each other and are always rubbing against each other but we would also like to know how we can tell the difference between a male and female Oscar? <Posted... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/oscarreprofaqs.htm and the linked files above>   A friend told me that you can tell the male from the female if their tale fin and dorsal fin overlap.....I have done heaps of research online and I have never come across this information....is their any truth to it? <Mmm, some... the unpaired fins on most Cichlid species are longer, more pointed in males than females... but individual care, early life history can alter appearances...> Secondly, we have a pair of convicts which every couple of weeks lay eggs that never hatch.  This has happened about 4 times now.  The first couple of times the female ate the eggs but more recently the some of the eggs turned a "yellow" colour and then these little worm like creatures appeared all over the eggs.  The eggs have since been eaten but the wormy things still remain.  Can you tell me what this means and what we need to do to get our convicts to breed properly? <Mmm... May be that there is some creature in your tank interfering here... I would move these fish to another system, and dump, clean the present tank... Perhaps bleach wash it and its contents... See WWM re> Thanks so much for your time... Peta and Simon <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Convict is pooping weird   3/3/07 I have a male and female convict about 3 inches each, they tried to have babies about one month ago and failed.  Days later the males poop started to turned white and stringy.  He stopped eating for about 3 days. After the 3 days he started to eat again and his poop went back to normal so I thought nothing of it.  Now about four days ago they laid a second batch of eggs and today they hatched and are hidden under a rock, but the male is pooping white again, and he also didn't eat this morning.  I have 3 other convicts in the tank and he still protects his territory, but when he wins the battle he goes right back to his spot and does nothing.  The female protects the babies all day and still manages to eat.  If it was a parasite then why would it go away and then come back, <Maybe...> that doesn't make any sense.  No other fish are displaying any of the same symptoms.  Thank you for you time. <Does seem odd that the other Convicts aren't affected... If it were mine, I might treat all of these fish... with Jungle's Parasite product containing both Metronidazole and Praziquantel... Bob Fenner>

Baby Convicts With Big Fish II Ok I get your point but I really think they won't eat them. <Your fish must be very well fed.> I was able to raise 100 s of convicts in the tank under the same conditions it was the same kind of situation I bought 3 convicts and they never got bugged and well in time they had babies never ate any. They had like 6 more batches in the next 3 months. Man I had babies of all sizes and not a one got eaten. So that's where I am stuck. Was your guesstimate on the fact you know that they would get eaten cause they are jack d. and not convicts? < Cichlids are opportunistic predators. This means they are pretty smart and won't pass up an easy meal. Just about 90% of the time the smaller convicts would be eaten or killed. You may be lucky. But on this website I still can't recommend placing smaller fish with much larger fish and expect them to survive.> Or  that tiger Oscars will eat anything? < Oscars are not as smart as the convicts and the smaller fish might get away with it. If they get eaten by the Oscars you are out four fish.> Second of all if they did survive do you think having 4 jack s with my Oscars would work when they are full grown? <When cichlids breed they pretty much take over the entire tank. You fish will go together for awhile, but if they breed you tank will not be big enough.> And thanks for taking time to answer ... Tyler < Next time correct your grammar. Spent way too much time fixing this email so it can be printed.-Chuck>

Sick Cichlid, or just old? Terrible English no doubt though Hi, love the site. Michael <Thank you Michael... trouble with your letter here... Spaces twixt your sentences, commas... but I will make allowance for your email as I see the suffix .fm on your addr.... Where are you writing from?> I think my convict cichlid is sick, I bought him from a "Big" LFS who I won't name, he looked pretty unhealthy when I got him, flushed color, white spots. Anyway I nursed him back to health and he was doing fine until about a week ago when he started developing a big reddish brown patch on his tail fin (see pic) <I see this> IDK what it is, I thought it was just his age not sure how old, bought him fully grown) until I noticed the fry, and my Texas Cichlid (mother) constantly picking at it. <These fish may not be compatible> He's also acting a bit strange ,laying on the bottom of the tank, shallow breathing and he seems to be lacking energy I've been doing partial water changes every other day I've treated him for parasites and ick  Is he sick, or just old thanks for any insight you can give me sorry about the poor pic, the spot is a lot darker --   Michael McLaughlin <I would separate these cichlids, treat the Convict with a Furan compound... See WWM re Cichlid Disease... Bob Fenner>
Re: Sick Cichlid, or just old? thanks for the reply!  2/1/07 Hi guys <Michael> Thanks for the timely reply I will remove him from the tank and treat him ASAP Thanks for the help <Real good and welcome. BobF>

Sexing White and Black Convicts    1/21/07 I have a 29 gallon freshwater tank with a pair of Convict Cichlids I acquired from my neighbor about 3 months ago.  The pair spawned within a week of introducing them to their new home.  I now have a 3 inch female, a 4.5 inch male, and at least a hundred+ babies (blacks & pinks) ranging in size from 1/2 inch to 1.25 inches.  This is the only tank I have, so I plan on relinquishing  most of the fry to a local fish store.  I do, however, want to keep a few pair, probably a pair of blacks and a pair of pinks.  My problem is that I have read all of the sexing tricks for convicts on every web site that Google has provided, and I still can not sex even the largest of the babies.  None of the fry are showing any orange or yellow belly markings, and I think the whole males have longer dorsal fins than females thing is a hoax because my female's dorsal fin goes farther past her tail fin than my male's.  The only variance I have seen at all are that some of the black's pectoral fins are very dark like my adult female's, and the other's are the same gray tone as their bodies like my adult male's.  Could this be the determinative trait I am looking for, and how do I sex the pink's at all at this size??? Thanks for any help. Steve <Here are some generalities in sexing Central American cichlids. Size, males are almost always larger than the females considering that all the fish are the same age. Finnage, dominant males seem to always have longer fins. If they are dominant then they rule the tank. Smaller males usually get beat up by the largest male so they will not show any sexual characteristics until they get to be sexually mature and are ready to challenge the male. Breeding males may have their fins bit off by the female during courtship, but they usually grow back. Coloration, Male convicts usually have more bluish coloration in their fins and the females may have orange yellow coloration in the belly-stomach area. Not all convicts have this coloration but seems to be prominent in the fish being bred in Florida and very common in the hobby. Look at them with a flashlight from the side and see if any of these colors are starting to show up. Usually the fish have to be at least an inch long before you start to see anything. Body shape, very large males get a hump on their forehead where they store fat. females don't have a hump. The last resort would be to vent them. This is a technique in which you turn over the fish and look at the ventral area. There are two openings. If the openings are the same size then it is usually a male. In females one of the openings is usually larger that the other.-Chuck> Convict Cichlid With Swimming Disorder    1/10/07 Dear Crew, My friend needs help with her female black cichlid with gold undertones (adult) < Female convict cichlid, Archocentrus nigrofasciatus.> which cannot swim down from the surface. She is feeding well. She is upright and not bloated, but the dorsal fin remains above water level and is suffering damage. When she tries to swim downward she has a strange "bobbing" motion. The pH is 7.3  Hardness is -190  All others in tank are fine. Would really appreciate your help. Kind regards, Nola, for friend Janie < Your fish has an internal infection. Do a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Treat with a combination of Metronidazole and Nitrofurazone or Clout.-Chuck>

Setting Up Convict Cichlids  12/30/06 Thanks again! I hate to keep bothering you guys, but I just had a few more questions. You guys are the best source I've found yet! Keep up the good work. :)   I read the pages. I have had the twenty gallon set up for a few days now, and so I bought two convicts at a local trustworthy pet shop. I am almost 100% sure that I bought one male, and one female. The females have an orange-ish belly, right? < The female may have an orange belly. Males usually don't.> That's what I've read...And these seemed to be pairing off and swimming around the tank together more than the others. I have them in a ten gallon quarantine tank right now, since I don't have all the plants installed and the piece of Driftwood hasn't finished soaking. They seem to be doing just fine so far. A bit of the female chasing the male, but not much. They have ample hiding places in the ten, and I'll probably move them into the 20 gallon along with them. Are frozen bloodworms okay for them to eat? < They are part of a varied diet. Offer a quality flake food and some pelleted food as well.> Not every day of course, but maybe once or twice a week... Or not at all if it's not okay for them. I don't have any experience with anything besides African Cichlids, and the ones I've kept are/were all vegetarians. Thanks again! Zhara Zorgon < These cichlids are very easy to spawn as well as interesting to watch too.-Chuck>

Convict Cichlids... And Nemo! Feeding   12/28/06 Hey there, WWM! I emailed you back in June, maybe July about my little Red Zebra Cichlid, Nemo. He had the 'incident' with a Cobalt Blue Zebra, and had no fins, and a huge infection. He made it through all that, thanks to your help, as I've probably told you. THANK YOU SO MUCH! He is now roughly 4 inches, I think he's fully grown now. He is full of health, and still living alone in a 10 gallon. He seems happy. I've just switched him over to Tetra Cichlid flakes, since he won't eat anything else but flakes. He won't touch pellets at all. Nothing but flakes. I had been feeding him TetraMin flakes, but was looking for some Cichlid flakes. All I'd found was Wardley's Cichlid flakes, and they didn't seem too high quality, <Agreed... they're products are bunk nutritionally> and plus the food was expired. (Eww, bleh! Wal-Mart needs to check their expiration dates more often.) <IMO they need to get out of the aquatic trade period, be ignored by consumers. Yes> Anyways, he seems to like the new food just fine, which is a huge relief. One of my questions was this. Would he have been better off with the TetraMin tropical flakes? Or will the Tetra Cichlid flakes be better for him? <I would alternate between these> He won't even touch frozen foods. He's that bad. But I still love the little guy. He's almost dog-like, and won't come out of hiding unless I'm around. But enough of my rambling. On to the real reason I emailed.   I am considering Convict Cichlids. I have a new 20 gallon tank, with a filter (AquaTech 20-40 gallon) and a heater, lid, and all the rest of the equipment. I also have some plastic plants, and a large piece of driftwood. I was wondering, how many Convicts should I get? <Two, three...> I would love a mated pair, but I've heard that they don't ever want to stop making babies. I don't want that. I was thinking maybe just one, but would it get lonely? <Mmm, no... will imprint on you... be fine by itself> And could two males or two females live together? <Yes> And what kinds of fish can live with convicts anyway? <In a twenty... a sturdy armored (versus "naked" species) catfish perhaps> All the websites I've found labeled them as the rabbits of the fish world, and axe-wielding homicidal maniacs. <Heeeeeee!> I didn't find very much consistency in any of them, and I am even more confused.   Thank you so much in advance for your help and I shall send along a picture of Nemo eventually! He's gotten very pretty, I must say, for having no fins a few months ago. :)   Zhara Zorgon <Thank you for this update, sharing your enthusiasm. Bob Fenner>

Re: Convict Cichlids...And Nemo!   12/29/06 Thank you so much for your help! I just had a few more questions regarding Convict Cichlids...   I was wondering, if I did keep two males or two females together, would they fight? <Possibly, yes> I tried several times to put one or two other African Cichlids in with Nemo, but that never worked out, no matter what the gender was. <Mmm, no... most African Cichlid species offered to aquarists are too aggressive to mix with Neotropicals> I know there's a difference between African Cichlids and Convict Cichlids, but are they as aggressive towards their own species? <Yes>   And what would they eat? I was told Tetra Cichlid flakes...   Thanks again!   Zhara Zorgon <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/cichlids.htm and the linked files (in blue), where you lead yourself. Bob Fenner> Keeping Convicts With Their Fry - 10/11/06 I have 2 convict cichlids in a tank. They have always been together and have had about 6 sets of babies . But they always eat them. Right now they have 25 that are 11/2 months old that are doing great. But they just had more babies. Will they eat the older ones? What can I do to keep the older babies safe ? Also since they have been having babies how can i keep there tank clean without bothering them? < When cichlids are paired up and ready to breed they will spawn almost every two weeks. In three days the eggs hatch. In another three days the fry become free swimming and need to be fed. After another week the parents get ready to spawn again and the fry are now looked at as a threat to the new eggs and fry. If they are not chased away then they are usually killed or eaten. They should be removed to a bare tank with a sponge filter and fed baby brine and crushed flake food. The bare tank is easy to clean and the fry can be seen feeding off the sponge filter.-Chuck>

Convict Cichlid With Phantom Rival  9/18/06 Hey dudes. <Cowabunga! Surf's Up!> I have a male swordtail (3.8 cm) two male firemouths (both about 4 cm) a female (2.75 cm) and male (5.5 cm) convict in a 20 gallon long tank furnished with river rocks, about 2.5 cm gravel, and plastic plants. Obviously, with so many cichlids in such a small tank there is some competition for territory. The male convict seems to have claimed the whole tank as his territory, which he defends with two tactics I have never heard of for a convict cichlid: nosing up to a side of the tank and kicking as hard as he can with his tail fin, and flaring his gills like a Firemouth, throat inflation and all! There is also, of course the usual chasing of intruder fish. I was wondering if the other two techniques, especially the gill flaring, had anything to do with why the convicts haven't bred and why the male has recently developed some pale coloration near the anal fin, but not near the pectoral like what would happen if it was a female. Also, what can I do to get the convicts to breed and how big of a tank will I need for all four full-grown cichlids? -Jack < Your male convict is fighting his reflection in the glass. He thinks he is lip locking with another male convict as a test of strength. As long as he thinks their is a competing male in the tank that is as determined as he is they will probably not spawn. Cover that side of the tank with some paper and see if he stops. Males can get some color in the unpaired fins. females still tend to color up in the belly region. When all your fish are grown and breeding they will probably need a 40 gallon.-Chuck> Breeding Convict cichlids  9/15/06 Hey, I have two  convicts in a 29 gal tank with neon tetras, swordtails and a painted glassfish. Well.  I asking if you could help me with helping them to breed. All the male does is  chase the female around until she hides. Well if you can help me  thanks < Do a 50% water change and clean the filter. Make sure the water temp is up around 80 F. Feed them lots of live foods. Females  usually have yellow on the body so make sure you have a pair.-Chuck>

Re: Breeding Convicts II   9/16/06 Thanks Chuck. I  been doing all of the things that you have suggested, but all the male does is chase her and he seems to want to kill her. So can help me with more info pls. Thanks <The male has set up a territory within your aquarium. He will only allow a female that is ready to spawn into this territory. Usually when spawning these fish I recommend getting at least six. You have a very good chance of getting a pair but more important is that they are more compatible then if you were to force a pair together. lower the water temp to the mid 70's. This should take them out of the breeding mode and make the male less aggressive. If he is still after her then remove one of them from the tank. Feed them with live food and keep the water very clean for at least two weeks. Then reintroduce them and then raise the water temp slowly back up to 80 F. After two weeks the female should have developed some eggs and be more likely to spawn. Just because they have spawned does not make them a very compatible pair. The male may eat the spawn and be after the female to spawn again in just a couple of days so watch them closely.-Chuck>

Convict Cichlid Questions   9/6/06 I read most of the questions on the site and Googled the question and still can't find an answer. My male and female convicts one had stripe and one was all pink (or albino?) anyway they had babies, the pink one which I assumed to be  the mother took care of the babies mostly chasing the one with stripes the  father) away until eventually he killed her. So I got rid of him and was left with the babies. Now they are getting bigger some of the biggest ones being about four times the size of the smaller ones all have stripes. None of them are pink like their mother and some of them now have an orange color on their fins and on their bellies, are they sick? is this coloring normal? and why  aren't any of them pink? Please help Christine < The pink coloration is a recessive gene that normally only shows up when a pink convict is mated with a pink convict. If you were to mate your fry together, they would probably have some pink fry. Female striped convicts usually have more color than the males on the belly area. This is normal.-Chuck>

Breeding Convicts  7/9/06 Hi, new to keeping fish. I have a tank with 5 small convicts and a large 4 in male. The male has started cleaning a pot over the last 5 days and he and a female very colourful orange belly and green fins have dug a pit outside the pot. They are constantly cleaning the pot and the pit , and chase any fish that come near , but when I feed the leave the pot and the other fish do not bother them , but as soon as feeding is over they return to cleaning and chasing the other convicts , are my convicts breeding , if so how long will it be for them to spawn ? Many thanks. Dave (McNaught) < Do a big water change. Raise the water temp to 80 F. Feed them well with some black worms or brine shrimp and I bet they spawn within a week.-Chuck>

Belly Sliding Convict   6/16/06 Hello, I have a convict cichlid that is laying on the bottom of my tank a lot. It tries to swim around but seems to tire very easily. When it does swim, it looks as if maybe its "dragging its tail" so to speak. Not that it looks paralyzed but seems to swim at a 45 degree angle. I cannot see any spots on it anywhere and it seems like its trying to survive. Feeding time, it tries to eat like the rest of the fish but just doesn't have a lot of strength and stops to rest frequently. So far, none of the other fish are showing anything like this and I'd like to catch whatever this is before it spreads. My tank is a converted lobster tank like you see on a grocery store and its over 100 gals. Can you help me? < Do a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Your convict may have an internal infection that has infected the swim bladder. Place the convict in a hospital tank and treat with a combination of Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace.-Chuck>

Convict fry   6/11/06 Hi, First just want to say your website is so informative but I need to know this one question PLEASE help. We have three black convicts 2 male 1 female. Two have paired off and spawned quite a few times. Over Easter 2006 we removed quite a few babies (approx 1.5 to 2 weeks old) and put into a smaller tank we did lose quite a few as I think the new tank wasn't conditioned enough but we have managed to keep approx 20 babies. My question is this "Out of the 20 approx 4 have their stripes already and the rest are still a whitish colour the majority of all the babies are about 1cm long. Is the fact that some are stripy and the rest not an indication of whether they are male or female? < There is a white form of convict that has been going around for at least 40 years. I suspect that your convicts are genetically linked to these and some of your fry are showing those white color characteristics. It has no bearing on which ones are male and which ones are female.-Chuck> We also have in the babies tank 2 different lots of baby bristle nosed cat fish. The first lot transferred into the same tank a couple of days after the baby convicts and the second batch were put in there on 7th June 2006. The same parents of catfish bred both those batches. Anyway would just love an answer about the convicts with/without stripes Thanks for reading my email Tracie Sunshine Coast Australia

Breeding Convict Cichlids   6/3/06 WHASSUP WWM! I have to thank you guys and your site! your site is soooo useful! Thanks for helping people out with their pets! Back to my question, I have a twenty gallon that has two convict cichlids and two dojo loaches. I'm trying to breed my two convicts. It says on the topic about convicts that the male has longer fins and a little hump on the forehead. While the female has orange on its belly and gets more color at breed season. Well I tried many methods for these small creatures to breed, I tried raisin the temp to 82 degrees, and keeping the tank crystal clean, and it said on one site to feed the convicts  four times a day. Not much but only a few pellets or sticks or whatever food that the owner feeds the fish. And it also said to fit in some blood worms or shrimp. I tried it and nothing happened, the convicts just became more fatter when they eat. I got them one week ago. Do you think it's just because they're just getting used to their new surroundings? Or do I just wait a few days longer? I hope you can really help me one this problem! THANK YOU! Xavier <Give you cichlids at least a couple of weeks to spawn. If they are a pair then you should see something by then. Ideally you should have gotten six fish. This almost always guarantees you a compatible pair.-Chuck>

Breeding Size for Convict Cichlids   5/27/06 Hello. Your site is most amazing! I have a question though. My question is about the size of a convict. What is the minimum size of a convict to start breeding? < Around one inch.> Right now I have a 20 gallon that is bare with only a few big rocks. I will be adding rocks soon. I bought my Convicts today and the male is already trying to breed with the female, but the female flares back and follows a short distance to the males cave, but trails off for some algae to graze on. I'm thinking that the male is about one inch, and the female is also one inch. Is this size suitable for both male and female to breed at this size? < Get ready for a spawning.-Chuck> Thanks for your big help. Sean

Convicts Breeding, Aggression, Behaviour - 05/15/2006 Hi, I'm a newbie and I found your site and love it! I've learned a lot about the fish that my husband and I have but I haven't been able to find the answer or advice I need for this particular situation. <Then perhaps I can help.> We bought a pair of black (zebra) convicts and a Jack Dempsey. We had all 3 fish in a 55 gallon tank - they are all small, the female convict is about 3 inches and the male convict is about 4 and a half inches. Jack Dempsey is bigger at about 5 and a half inches.  The convicts had babies and they kept them away from the Jack. We noticed that the convict parents were getting very tired constantly protecting their babies from Jack so we put Jack in a 30 gallon tank. Right after we moved the Jack to the other tank, the male convict started being really mean to the female and wouldn't let her near the babies. It was like he was chasing her and fighting her. We took her out and put her in with the Jack for about a week. We then tried to put her back into the tank with the male and the babies and he tore after her. <This behaviour is rally not uncommon.> We decided to take the male convict out and put him in with the Jack and they seem to be ok with each other. There's a lot of chasing but it seems to be like they are playing.   <Trying to establish territories in too small a space; it could get ugly.> So now we have the female convict and the babies in the 55 gallon tank and the Jack and the male convict in the 30 gallon. The babies are about 4 weeks old now and we will be giving most of them away in about 3 weeks.  My questions: if we decide to keep some of the babies, how many would be ok to keep in the 55 gallon tank? <They WILL grow up, and they WILL breed.  I would not try for more than three adult pairs, and that only if the tank is heavy with plants or decor for establishing territories.> Would it be ok to keep the mother in with the babies and have that tank be just a convict tank? Or would it be ok to introduce some dither fish in too?   <I would wait until most of the young are of a saleable size, pick the "best" to keep, sell, trade, or give the rest, add some dither fish - a friend of mine swears by rainbow fish for dithers for many of his cichlids - and reintroduce the male once the female's fully recovered.  Chances are, the next spawn, they'll be more amenable to chasing dither fish than each other.> I'm thinking that the Jack and the male convict would be ok in the 30 gallon tank. <The jack Dempsey may outgrow it, and the two in the tank together may spell trouble before long.> And that the babies that we decide to keep (and the mother) would need the 55 gallon tank.  Thank you so much for your answers/advice and for all the work you all do in helping people like me - clueless but loving the fish!  -Jackie <Glad to be of service.  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Female Convict Hiding From Male  - 05/17/2006 Thanks, for your advice. I just got the floating plant and she doesn't even go near it. She just sits by the filter and doesn't move. You think she will be okay? <  This is strange because in your first letter you said she was at the surface trying to get away from the male. She has probably never seen a floating plant before and needs a few days to get use to it. If the male convict can still see her then you need more vegetation/rocks/caves for her to hide. Ultimately you could move her to a different tank, use a tank divider or add numerous cut pieces of PVC pipe for her to hide in and around.-Chuck>

Breeding Convicts - 05/16/2006 Hey love your page, I look at it a lot. The reason I am writing you all is I just got a pair of convict cichlids. When I 1st added them to the tank they stuck close to each other, now its been 1 week and the larger of the 2 has gotten darker. The larger one doesn't do anything but chase the smaller one around. The smaller one tries to hide but The larger one looks for him/her. I know that the smaller one is a female, Because she has the pinkish red coloring on the stomach. But is it normal behavior for the larger one to get darker? Do you think the larger one is trying to breed and the smaller one is not ready yet? Also is it normal for him to search for the smaller one like that? I've found that she hides close to the surface and when he comes near she tries to back away so she isn't seen. thanks, David < This is pretty normal for young convicts. The male is chasing the female and trying to get her to breed. She is not ready and needs a hiding spot where she can rest and build up some body fat. Try some live or frozen food to get things going. Floating plants, either plastic or real will give some cover. Zoo Med now has a floating aquarium log out that will allow picked on fish a place to hide and recover. It works great.-Chuck>

Breeding Convicts - II - Female Convict Hiding From Male  - 05/17/2006 Thanks, for your advice. I just got the floating plant and she doesn't even go near it. She just sits by the filter and doesn't move. You think she will be okay? <  This is strange because in your first letter you said she was at the surface trying to get away from the male. She has probably never seen a floating plant before and needs a few days to get use to it. If the male convict can still see her then you need more vegetation/rocks/caves for her to hide. Ultimately you could move her to a different tank, use a tank divider or add numerous cut pieces of PVC pipe for her to hide in and around.-Chuck>

Convicts Breeding? - 05/06/2006 Hi!  I have 2 female convicts and I am seeing a lot of aggression towards each other.  The larger Convict is hovering near a rock formation and guarding it ferociously.  Could she be laying eggs?  What will happen without a male to fertilize them?  Thanks!  Sharon < It has been documented that a female convict will lay eggs even if there is no male available to fertilize them. Females usually have yellow-orange coloration on the belly while males tend to be larger with longer fins. Unfertilized eggs usually die after 24 hours, turn white and are soon fungused.-Chuck> Adding Fish To a Pair of Convicts - 05/05/2006 Hello, I've been browsing your website over the past few months and I've been able to pull tons of helpful information, probably more than I need.  Thank you.  As a novice hobbyist I share information, tips, hints with friends and local pet shop stores.  As you probably could figure the information and "facts" are often inconsistent and also don't match to my experience so far, let me get to the point.  I have a 20g tank currently with a 5" pink convict (male) a 4"black (striped) convict (female) and about 15 pink and striped 1" inch adolescence convicts (obviously).  I originally inherited the convict when I didn't realize what I was in for and he promptly destroyed the Gourami a had.  Anyway after some failed others including a large red devil (yikes that was a disaster) the store owner talked me into the striped convicts to which I bought about six and kept only one (giving the other to a friend.  My first instinct after they had fry was to remove them but after inheriting a 55g I decided to hold off.  Now I'm getting ready.  I just purchases a Fluval 304 canister filter and I'm picking up a stand so I can fill the tank and prepare the water and I'm trying to decide what to do.  I would like some variation.  I was thinking about a Jack Dempsey or some other cichlids maybe 2 more of similar size.  My other thought was, should I remove the female.  I was already planning on getting rid of the young convicts in the tank.  Will the male and female just become too territorial if I introduce other cichlids.  I appreciate your advice as your site has been the most helpful in my hobby thus far.  Any tips on this set up, compatibility with my convict including any other fish that may make the tank more interesting.  I like the adaptability of the convict and wanted fish equally as adaptive.  Thank you. Tim < A breeding pair of convicts do require space. You need other big aggressive fish or fast fish. They will probably take over at least 1/2 of the 55 gallon. Jack Dempsey's, Firemouths, jewelfish, port Acaras, would all be worth a try. Large groups of schooling fish like rainbows or giant Danios would keep them busy for awhile too. Stay away from using African cichlids from Lake Malawi. they are very fast and have sharp teeth that can inflict lots of damage.-Chuck> Sick Convicts?... CAE...    5/2/06 Hi! <<Hi, Sharon. Tom>>   I recently purchased 2 female convicts for a 37 gallon tank.  They will be the only inhabitants except for a Chinese algae eater later on.   <<Sharon, you had me right up until the CAE. Do NOT add this fish to your aquarium! In my opinion, they shouldn't even be sold. They grow to a fairly large size and develop a "taste" for fish skin as adults, latching on to fish and sucking "juices" from tankmates - to death. The Siamese Algae Eater is, by far, a better choice but is a little more difficult to find.>> My question has to do with coloring.  One of the females has beautiful dark stripes and coloring..  She has a little pink on her side. The other female is a bit smaller with drab stripes but with the female pink on her side.  Is this because she is a juvenile? <<Likely but not all fish are created "equally". Some are just a little slow to develop. Also, it just might not happen. Time will tell here.>> Thanks.  Sharon <<Welcome. Tom>> Thanks!  I did not realize that about a CAE.  I appreciate your help! <<Glad to be of assistance, Sharon.>> Sharon <<Tom>>

Breeding Convicts   1/26/06 Hi crew. I have two questions? 1) I have a pair of a convicts. A pink male and black female. They are about 3.5inches long. They have spawned about 5-6 times. The LFS keeper says that they won't spawn again as the number of fry has decreased in the last spawn. Is it true? < They will spawn again. It is just a matter of time and conditioning.> I love my convicts and want them to reach the max. size of 6inches. Should I separate the pair and grow them separately as they are 1.5 yr old and have not reached their maximum size? < Your convicts will either put their resources towards reproduction or growing. Separate them and they will grow faster than if you kept them together and they continued to spawn every few weeks.> 2)Will feeding large amount of live brine shrimps to the fry cause gill flukes or any other disease? <No.-Chuck> Any help will be greatly appreciated. thanking you.

Getting the babies... Convict Cichlids  12/16/05 Hey Bob, nice website you got. I was just wondering, how do you get the babies out of the tank? <Usually just netting them, sometimes they can be siphoned... sometimes removing the parent/s, other livestock instead...> Right now they're in a 40 gallon tank with the parents and another convict. They don't really bother each other, only till they get near each other, that when they start to bug each other. But I did look at the article about convict cichlids, and I read that you have to use an airline tubing to get the babies out of there and into their own tank. Can I use the same tubing I use to clean the tank with? <Yes... but with Convicts, best to remove the parents, leave the young in place till they're larger... dime-sized or bigger> Or do I use airline tubing? And how big does the tank for the fry have to be? Can I use a one and a half gallon? Or do I buy a 5 gallon? <"Bigger"... the better> Well I hope I did not ask to much for just getting the babies out. And your site still rocks!!!!! Sean <Because of folks like ourselves writing back and forth. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Convict fry care, helping oneself  12/17/05 Oh and one more thing, what do the fry eat? right now I'm feeding them crushed flakes. But they don't seem to eat the crushed flakes... <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsubwebindex.htm See the Articles and FAQs re cichlids, reproduction, feeding... Bob Fenner> Sexing Convicts - 11/24/2005 Hi, I have a question about my pink convict cichlids that I haven't been able to answer.  I have two of them, and am having a hard  time telling if they are both female or not.  They have engaged in what  I've read to be typical mating behavior, with one chasing the other around, as  well as some aggressive fin nipping, culminating in an odd sort of act where they  face each other and puff their gills out (I have no idea what this means).    <Just something they, and other cichlids, "do".  Makes them look bigger, meaner, tougher....> This ended ultimately with one of the two laying eggs; I believe it was the larger of the two, which had begun to swell a bit at the belly, and is now back to normal size. My question is do males sometimes have some orange on them?   <They can....  This unnatural color morph has been selectively bred for quite some time; a little bit of orange isn't surprising.> I cannot tell by fin length, as this fish's fins got nipped off during the chasing phase. (They are growing back now, however)  The fish I know to be female has a lot of orange spreading across the majority of her body and dorsal fins,  while the other has only a tiny few scales on its belly.  They both spend a lot of time near the eggs, which are cloudy with a white dot near one end.  I'd really like if they were viable, but, I'm not sure.   <You'll know soon if they're not.> Thanks very much,  -Jenny <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Convict Basics  10/6/05 I have tried to find book on how to breed convict cichlids, I am not a beginner on aquariums, however I want to expand and start breeding tropical freshwater fish! I want to find a book containing atmosphere, tank size, temperatures, "decorations", and basically all I need to know on breeding these  "Tank Criminals", if you could help in any way please email me back with some response, thank you very much for you  time. < To breed convicts you need a pair. Males are larger than females with longer fins. Females often have a orange patch on the belly area. When they are about 2 inches you can feed them very well on some live or frozen food. Do big 50% water changes. Keep the water around 80 to 82 F. This will get them to spawn. The eggs hatch in three days and the fry become free swimming in another three. At this stage they need to be fed baby brine shrimp, micro worms, and crushed flake food. They should separated from the parents at this stage. Good luck.-Chuck.>                                                                 Reed

Old Convict Cichlid Can't See Well  9/26/05 Hello, I know you must get many of these e-mails from people worrying about their diseased fish. < That is what we are here for.> Here is yet another.  I browsed through many of your previous inquiries but did not find my problem.  I just noticed yesterday that my convict of approx 5 to 6 years has sunken in eyes.  I fed the fish.  All the others (convicts) did their usual scramble but he only attempted a few flakes with not much luck.  I don't know if he has loss of appetite or if he just can't see well.  He did try to attack me through the glass when I was looking at him per usual.  He is the king of the tank.  I'd hate to see him go.  Have any ideas? Thanking You in Advance, Donelle < Usually this is associated with trauma/damage to the eyes. He could have fought other convicts that have damaged his eyes during a fight or gotten weakened by a disease. I bet if you test him you will find that he is probably going blind and no medication will restore his sight. If you see pop eye or a white cloudy film on the eyes then these can be treated. At six years old your convict will have a difficult time in a tank with faster and younger convicts.-Chuck>

New Tank, overcrowded FW 9/22/05 Hi, <And Hi to you too, Adam J with you.> I made kind of a mistake by buying 3 blue Gourami, a pair of black convicts, a green terror, and a Pleco. I made the mistake by stuffing them in a tiny ten-gallon tank. <Uh-Oh.> In about a day, I will be getting a tank around 46-55 gallons. <Good move.> Can you tell me which fish to put in the new aquarium first? And then which ones to put in after that? <Well unfortunately even with the tank upgrade you wont be able to keep all of the fish you have purchased.  The cichlids are in a completely different class of aggression in comparison to your Gouramis. Eventually they would become lunch or be harassed into eventual death.  The Pleco may be able to avoid the aggression; it really depends on his size in comparison to your cichlids.  In short you are going to have to choose either the Gouramis or the cichlids for this set-up to work long term. Also even with the new tank size it is likely the Pleco will still outgrow it, the fish sold as 'common Pleco.' (Hypostomus punctatus, and a few others) all get to about 12' in length, some even bigger.> Also if you don't mind, I have another question for you. I recently got 2 convict cichlids, after close examination I found that one of them was much smaller and had an orange spot on its belly. The other was bigger and had much more color. I researched it and found out one was a female and one was a male. Sometimes they follow each other in the tank, and when the female gets picked on the male darts to her rescue. Also sometimes the male chases the female's tail and the female chases the male's tail, forming a circle. But in times, they seem to ignore each other. What's happening? <This sounds like 'pre-mating', Convict Cichlids will breed in captive systems.  However while this is amazing and fun to watch I see it as a future problem for you. When the Convicts do decide to breed they will become very aggressive in the protection of their young (even the father and mother may fight). They will harass any other fish in the aquarium with them. If you want to breed them without putting any of your other livestock at risk you'll either have to remove the other fish or move the convicts to another aquarium.> Thanks <Anytime, Adam J>

Strange Convict Breeding Behaviour  9/20/05 Hi, thanks for reading my post. I have a female convict that has been with 3 males over the past 2 months but nothing has ever happened after they each pair up, dig a site, and presumingly after they lay and fertilize eggs. Since I doubt there is anything wrong with the 3 males. IS IT POSSIBLE THAT THE FEMALE IS DROPPING FLAWED EGGS? Currently, the poor male spends his entire waking hours with eyes glued on the eggs, as if the eggs are going to hatch any second. But it's been 8-10 days now.  Also, the female has now started to engage in some "two-timing" by getting very friendly with her "Original" male mate. CAN SOMEONE COMMENT ON THIS SITUATION? Sabrina? Thank You so much. Tony < Males are usually larger than the females and have longer fins. Most females have an orange patch on the belly areas. At 82 F the eggs should hatch in three days. Do a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Pick one male and leave her with the female. Feed them heavily with black worms or small washed earthworms. After they spawn the eggs should hatch in three days. Unfertilized eggs turn white and soon fungus. The newly hatched fish resemble a small wiggling mass for an additional three days. After that they absorb their egg sac and become free swimming and require small food like newly hatched brine shrimp. If you don't get any fry with this male then swap him out for another after a couple of attempts. I suspect that the males are so busy fighting over the female that none of them has the time to fertilize the eggs.-Chuck> Convicts Suffering  9/19.5/05 Hey there, I read different articles for hours on your website, and am still trying to figure out what to do with my fish. I am clueless by the way. <Not so. You know to ask questions> Symptoms: I have a 30 gallon tank with four small convict cichlids. I have a filter meant for a 60 gallon tank, so the water is well filtered. I had many plants in this tank, but the fish kept attacking them, so I moved them to my Jewel Cichlid tank. No problems there. The convict tank started smelling, A LOT!! So I added some pink stuff meant to take away clouding and stinkiness It took away most of the stinkiness, I changed the filter, and did a 25% water change. The main problem: The smallest convict has been laying around on the new fake plants a lot, I thought he was hiding from the other fish, and left him for a week, laughing about his laziness, but he (I think it's a she actually) <Females will have a red blush on their sides when mature> has had a turn for the worse with heavy 'breathing'. I thought the water change would help. The pH level is perfect, brand new active carbon filter, so technically the ammonia level should be ok Can't seem to find any other tests at pet stores to put the water through. I guess they don't have nitrate testing kits here? I don't know. I have no idea what to do. Aquarium salt? Or do I have to go get some other kind of stuff? I thought convicts were the easy care quick to breed variety of fish to have? Got any ideas for me. Should I go back to guppy farming? <There are many reasons a fish may lose energy and start to pant. The first thing to check is water quality. You should be testing for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. If your LFS does not stock them, find a better LFS. Any ammonia or nitrite, or very high nitrate, could be the cause. The fix is more water changes. Big ones, 50% a day for a few days to lower nitrate. If it's an ammonia or nitrate problem you will have to do daily water changes until you have established bio filtration. Be sure you do not clean the "bio media" section of your filter. Ammonia and nitrite are not removed by charcoal or the particle filter, but by bacteria growing on the bio media. If you did clean it, then it is likely this is ammonia poisoning. Do those water changes and get the tests. Order online if you can't get them locally. For now I would not add anything to the tank except fresh, dechlorinated water. Discontinue the "pink stuff". Do water changes to keep the tank fresh. Don>       Convict Breeding Question I have a 40 gallon tank of 8 convicts, <Convicts> 3 black, 1 pink and 4 albino. Only one of the females is "sexually active". She had paired up with the largest (black) male for about a week but no fry. Her current mate is the pink and things look more promising but I'm having trouble understanding which stage in the process they're in. For 4-5 days the male (smaller than her) has not left his post at all. I assume he is guarding eggs but they should have hatched by now. The nest looks ideal and the other convicts don't bother them at all. When and how does the fertilization take place? Thank You for your expertise. <Mmm, these cichlids will fight in a system of this size, crowded together... would be better to have just a/the pair in a twenty by themselves... Much you can learn by observing them... Bob Fenner>

Convict Breeding Question - II - 09/16/2005 Since I'm retired, about all I do all day is take part in this interesting hobby. <Sabrina here, in Bob's stead, and envious of your use of time!  Wish I could do that.> 14-16 inches of (cichlid) fish in a 39 gallon tank doesn't seem like a lot. <A mating pair can terrorize and even kill the other fish.  Even if none pair up to spawn, these guys will really peat each other up.> I have a carrying Yellow lab in my only extra tank so I would have to buy another convict breeding tank. But like I said, it's a pretty peaceful environment with the other convicts rarely venturing 3/4 the way across the tank. But since convicts don't have "egg spots" like their African cousins, if you could just tell me how the fertilization process is accomplished, I'd surely appreciate it.   <These are not mouthbrooders, hence no egg spots.  The female will lay part of the clutch, and the male will fertilize....  they usually will spawn in a cave, under an overhang, or in a pit if no other suitable structure is available.  If a pair successfully spawns in this tank, the remaining fish are likely to be quite damaged.  I'm not confidant that a pair can/will spawn, however, with the increased stress of having so many conspecifics about.  Keep in mind, a single pair's territory in the wild can consist of several square feet of surface area....  Pack them in like this, and they're not going to behave naturally.> Thanks Again !! <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Convict Breeding Question - III - 09/17/2005 Sabrina, don't get me wrong. I really appreciate your comments but be prepared to be blown away. I got interested in Cichlids ONLY because they were the only fish that could stand up to my 2 red slider turtles. <Oh, my.> Yes, this same tank was originally a turtle only tank but I wanted more color, hence I experimented with some fish. At one time I had 2 Pseudotropheus Socolofi, 4 Pseudotropheus Estherae and 4 Convicts, (2M/2FM). <Plus two red sliders?  That must've taken daily water changes....  Yikes.> One day my wife noticed lots of little fish swimming around and it was easy to tell a pair of convicts had bred.   <The resilience and procreative tendencies of these fish never cease to amaze me, and I am quite surprised.> None of the fish or turtles were harmed except for the babies. <You mean aside from the fact that their water requirements are all quite different, namely temperature for the turtles?> Four baby convicts survived as I let nature take it's course. Now that was a crowded tank!!!  Soon after,  I got rid of the turtles and now I'm obsessed with my new cichlid hobby. Suffice to say that my tank is now a very natural environment compared to the days of 4" turtles lurking around like great white sharks!!   <Indeed....  A major improvement.  Yet, we do try to recommend giving our captive fish as close to a natural environment as possible; you have fish from two vastly differing environments with differing water parameters, in confines that are perhaps less than optimal....  much to consider, here.> I'll let you know how I fare. Thanks Again. <Sure thing.  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina

Convict Breeding Question - IV - 09/19/2005 Sabrina Writes, "you have fish from two vastly differing environments with differing water parameters, in confines that are perhaps less than optimal....  much to consider" Your above comment is in the present tense so I assume you're not talking about my old turtle environment. <Correct.> In my original post, I said I had 8 convicts (+ a couple Chinese cats) in a 40 gallon tank (39). Just how is that "differing environments with different water parameters in less than optimal confines? <Pseudotropheus estherae are a fish from Lake Malawi, in Africa, with a preferred (some would argue required) pH of well over 8.0.  Archocentrus are from central America, and fare best in a pH less than 8.0.  The social structures and environment these fish are inclined toward are quite different.> Remember total length of fish is about 16 inches, with 4 of the 8 being those 4 babies that survived in my convict breed about 6 months ago. <Size isn't so much the issue as compatibility; though as you said, their environment is worlds better than with the turtles looming over them - I'm just letting you know that there are options to consider, should you with to make other changes.  The first things to consider with a fish tank are whether the fish are compatible with the system, and whether they're compatible with each other.  Aggression is not the only thing to think about with regards to compatibility.  Obviously, though, what's working for you is working.> Why do you feel my captive fish have it so bad? <I don't.  I'm just calling it like it is.  I would state the same if someone told me they had an angel in with Frontosa, or Kribs with Julidochromis.  Their requirements differ.  I would think it wrong of me to overlook this and not say anything; I'm not saying it is bad of you to keep them together, or I'd've said "It's bad of you to keep them together".  I'm just offering some facts; what you do with them is your call.  And again, what works for you, works.> It's description is certainly not any worse than most other posts I've seen on this board. <Don't get me wrong; I absolutely agree.  Again, I'm just here to dispense information and offer my opinion.  You decide what you do with it; not I.  I'm not here to pick fights, light fires, start battles or even launch a thousand ships (I haven't the face for it!) - just to offer what I've got to offer.  All the best,  -Sabrina>

Convict Breeding Question - V - 09/19/2005 Sabrina, <Tony, let me first apologize for this very belated reply.  I had been rather ill for a while, and now that I'm better, it's been a bit of a stretch to get the messages answered that were in my inbox.  Please accept my deepest apologies.> I will say it again. In my original post I gave you the contents of my tank. 8 convicts. PERIOD. (and a few Chinese cats). I must have confused you because we're still talking about Pseudotropheus estherae. <Ahhhhh, I see now.  Not sure what had given me the idea that the Pseudotropheus were still in there.  Assuming the "Chinese cats" are Gyrinocheilus sp. (we tend to call them Chinese algae eaters around here; common names vary among folks), then yes, I agree that you have no real compatibility issues with regards to water parameters.  I do still feel that you have too much fish volume, but again, I will reiterate, this is my opinion, and I will not change it.  What works for you, works, and ultimately, only you can decide what works for your tank.> I mentioned those fish and others including 2 red slider turtles ONLY in response to your view that my tank may be too overcrowded to breed. I was trying to inform you that I used to have an awful environment for my convicts and they STILL BRED successfully. <They are a resilient fish....  to be sure....> At that time I really didn't care a lot about my fish because I was "into" my turtles. When I found my tank full of baby convicts, it gave me a whole new outlook, and I got rid of the turtles and bought another tank for the Africans. Now I have 5 tanks much to the displeasure of my wife. (Our house is only 685 square feet). <Find a fish she likes!  Then she'll agree, you need another tank or two <grin>.  My husband is finally mildly interested in fish, since he discovered, of all things, fancy guppies.  Sigh.  At least they produce food for my other fish!> Anyway I think I ended up getting you confused by mentioning the turtles and Africans. <Doesn't take a lot to confuse me, I assure you.> BUT GUESS WHAT?  My pair of convicts finally had babies!!!   <See?  You need another tank or two ;) > But the female doesn't seem to be a very good mom. She is constantly away from the nursery trying to rekindle her relationship with the dominate male of the tank. She tried unsuccessfully with him before. <Mm, I think this may be due in part to the volume of fish....  if she is not confidant the young have a good shot at growing up, she might just not try raising them.  Or maybe she's just a flirt, who knows.  In her eyes, the dominant male may be a really hunky-lookin' fish!> Meanwhile, the male parent is visibly upset and often doesn't let her come into the cave. <She's left him for another man!  Well, joking aside, if he is perceiving her as a threat to the young at this point, then he will guard them from her.> Question Please,  Which gender stays close to the fry and which one patrols the outer perimeter? <The female usually stays near the young and the male fends off predators/other fish.  If the pair has "split", I am not sure how the remaining parent will act.  Sounds like the male, in your case, is sort of playing both roles, yes?> Thanks Sabrina. <You bet.  Again, I apologize for the delay in reply.  Fortunately, I'm all caught up now!  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina> Convict Cichlid Cell Mates 8/29/05 Hi, I have setup a tank of convict cichlids.  Before hand I had a Plecostomus and Rafael Catfish. Are these compatible? <Depending on the size of the tank they should get along for awhile. When the convicts begin to breed they will chase everything away and the Pleco will attempt to eat the eggs and fry.>   Also, would convicts be compatible with Clown Loaches? < This would be an interesting match up. The convicts are pretty aggressive but the clown loach has a secret weapon in that it has a little saber like spine under each eye. In a big enough tank they would probably leave each other alone. Watch out for ich with the loach.-Chuck> thanks! Convict Cichlid With Strange Growth 7/20/05 I have a convict cichlid (relatively young, I'm sure) who has (seemingly overnight) developed a white round 3-dimensional growth at the base of his fin (at the joint if you will). The cichlid is only about 2 1/2 inches long and the growth is about 1/8 of an inch (perhaps a smidgeon less). Please let me know if you can figure anything out. The only thing I've come up with is maybe a tumor of some sort, but I really don't know. Thanks in advance.--Rachael <Could be fungus from a wound. Wipe the area down with a cotton swab. Put a little iodine on it and treat the water with Nitrofuranace for wound control.-Chuck> Cichlid rubbing! 7/7/05 Hey crew!!! I have this 20 gallon and holds 2 convicts and 1 Pleco. Suddenly the convicts started to rub on the rocks in the tank. What kind of sickness is this? <Could be nothing... or reproductive behavior... or something to do with your water quality... is the system cycled?> And I almost forgot that I'm a beginner and just started a few weeks ago. thank you for the help!! Sean <Please read... on WWM re cichlid systems, disease... Leave a space between sentences... Bob Fenner>

Convict Cichlid 7/7/05 Hi there! Just have a quick question... I have a male convict whose eye appears to be peeling. The eye itself looks okay, but on one side the skin looks like it has been peeled back, and is still hanging on. My convicts just had a set of fry and have been protecting them against 2 Jewels and a Cobalt.( We are removing the convicts soon.) Is it possible that this happened in battle or is it something else i should be wary of? Should I treat him or will it repair itself?  Thanks for your time. Amy <Is likely an injury related to spawning, protection. I would add some aquarium salt, separate from the African cichlids pronto. Bob Fenner>

Texas/Convict Cross Interracial dating??? Hi, I have a 30 gal aquarium with one Texas (about 4"), two convicts (about 2"), and one Koi (about 5").  I recently noticed one of them has spawned inside a tipped over pot I put in there as 'territory'.  I watched for a while, and to my amazement realized it was the Texas cichlid who laid the eggs and the convict (who is about half the Texas' size) who was in there with her, fertilizing.  They both take turns guarding the nest and do so aggressively.  Has anyone run into this before??? < Yes, it happens all the time.> Now I know they prooooobably are NOT going to successfully breed (LOL), but what's the deal??? < Fish have a need to reproduce. When the proper mate is not available they choose the next best thing.> Do they often form weird, cross-species pair bonds like that... or do I just have some seriously crazy fish? < This normally does not happen when both sexes of the same species are present.> And with Texas Cichlids forming pair bonds, will I be able to intro a male Texas (later, in a larger tank, of course) and will they realize and form their own pair bond? < If a male Texas is introduced it will probably pair up with the correct female. The sooner the better.> Will she dump her little felon man for a hearty Texan???? < Hopefully and probably.> Will her ex con try to murder her by slipping rat poison in her drink???? lol, OK, just going a little Soap Opera here... ; )  But seriously....  Can someone help me out with my weird fish?  Kim < Get the proper sexes to pair your fish up and hopefully nature will take care of itself.-Chuck>

Convict Breeding I have 3 black convicts that I have had for a few weeks (2 females and 1 male) and I hope to get 3 pink convicts but the ones I have will not spawn. I have done water changes and bumped up the temp. about 4-5 deg. But they WILL NOT spawn is there anything else I can do to fool them. Thanks. Ty <Please be careful here. Convict Cichlids are one of the most aggressive cichlids we keep. One mated pair per tank. When they do breed that's all that will be left alive anyway. Breeding is very easy. Just feed a good, varied diet. No feeder fish, but live earthworms, insects, spiders and such along with a good flake or pellet. Lots of fresh water changes will be needed. Make sure they have a few flat rocks set up at different angles. They'll choose the one they like. Once they start you will be overwhelmed with fry. Make sure you think this through. Are you able to house hundreds of fry? Don>

Saving Convict Fry Hey Bob (or who ever reads this) <Mike G reading this now. :-) > Thanks for helping people with their pets. <You're very welcome. Everyone on this crew deserves thanks like that.> Anyway I got a 625 gallon and holds 2.oscars 1.reddevil a pair of Flowerhorns (no babies yet) 2.plecos 2.parrots 3.jacksdemseys 3.pacus and a pair of convicts. <Sounds like a wonderful set up!> Anyway my convicts had babies today and I had went through this before but the female ate the babies. <That's odd. Convicts are known as the best parents in the cichlid world.> Anyways since I discovered it now I'm just afraid that when those fish hatch they will go into the gravel because they didn't dig the gravel under where they laid the eggs. Will the parents be able to find them when they start moving them???? <I assume the parents will be able to locate their fry. If you're really serious about raising the fry, try setting up a separate rearing tank and remove the eggs to it. See the following link for more info on convict cichlids. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/convictfaqs.htm

BABY CONVICTS Hi, I have a pair of Convicts they spawned and now I have about 100 little guys swimming around. right now there in a 10 gallon, and yes I know that the tank is to small for them I just wanted them to grow more before I put them in my 30 gallon. My question was when do I take the babies out? As far as I can tell they haven't started to pick them off yet, so are they fine for now or do I need them out ASAP?  Thanks - Halisha <They can actually be taken out at any time. If they are free swimming then siphon them out with some airline tubing and feed them baby brine shrimp. After about two weeks the parents get ready to spawn again and will eat the fry.-Chuck> 

Convicts pt2 Yes I do have housing for 100s of fry. I have 9 tanks. You said the most aggressive fish we keep. Can you send me a pair and if so at what price if any other than shipping. Thanks, Ty <By "we" I did not mean "me". Sorry, have not bred Convicts in years. I don't have the room. But they are usually very common and cheap in fish/pet stores. If you do not mind paying for shipping check out www.aquabid.com Don>

MOVING MATED CONVICTS Hi guys. First off, I just wanted to say again that you guys are awesome. I have a pair of convicts that just began breeding - about 2 week old fry right now, and it looks like they're guarding some more eggs.  The tank they are in was intended for an Oscar (he is in there with them now)... it was supposed to be a temporary home for the convicts and then they would be moved to their own tank - but they were too quick for me. I have 2 questions... 1 - Can I move them safely to the other tank, without disrupting the fact that they have started breeding? (I'm pretty sure that since they are already breeding, they will continue to, but just want to be sure) < Move the pair to one tank and then move the fry or eggs to another tank of their own if you want to save them.> 2 - The "nest" they have set up is inside the hollow leg of a somewhat large tank decoration. Should I be moving this decoration with them? Or will the decorations/hiding places in their new tank be ok? (I would like to keep the one they are using in the current tank, but will move it if necessary) < Convicts are pretty adaptable and will soon find another suitable ornament or rock to spawn on.-Chuck>

Hybrid Convicts Hi. We did not intend for our fish to inter breed. But they did and now we have babies. The parents are to our surprise are the Convict and Topaz. Both of them seem to be good parents so far. But what kind of fish are we going to end up with? And is there a site where you can watch the growing stages of fry? From egg to young adult? Have you heard of these two fish breeding before? Thanks Dena & Tom  < A cross between these two fish is not unusual. They usually happen in mixed Central American tanks. The fry don't look very good. Sometimes stores will carry them because they are an oddity but after a while they stop because they don't sell. I don't know of any web sites that show a progressive cichlid growth sequence. There are a couple of series in angelfish and some discus books so there are probably a couple web sites with some photos on it.-Chuck> 

Crossed Convicts Hi I did notice that there were questions about convicts and interbreeding. We have a 55 gal. tank and have a topaz and convict, fire mouth and a krib[ensis]. We noticed yesterday that there are babies all around the flat rock in the tank. Looks as if the Topaz and convict have bred. They both seem to be caring for the fry and doing a good job at it. We removed all the other fish to a different tank . So that the convict and topaz can't hurt them. The topaz turned out to be aggressive so we can only imagine that this combination will be very aggressive. Any suggestions on the combination . <No , you will just have to wait and see how the fry turn out.>  We thought that we would like to raise a few to see what they are going to look like. We had no idea that this could happen. Should we leave the fry with the parents? < If you want to keep some then take them out when they become free swimming.>  Noticed that the convict doesn't want the topaz around the babies that much. and the topaz seems to be trying to be a parent as well. < The cross may be interesting but after a week or so the parents may be ready to breed again and will eat the fry so it is best that they be removed .-Chuck> 

CONVICTS WITH RED DEVILS Hi, I am a big fan now. You guys answered a question in record time for me about a year ago, and, are the only people who were able to answer it at all! But, anyway, I recently lost a female parrot who I have had for years and who had been paired up with my red devil . They were inseparable, and spawned many, many times. He has been depressed and hides now. (about 2 mos.) I bought a pair if convicts today in hopes of arousing his interest. He seems interested but not aggressive...yet. I hope to add to the convicts soon, But only if there is still peace., What is your advice? Are these two kinds of cichlids going to be able to co-exist? They are in a 200 gal. thanks, Lori C. < If your pair of convicts decide to breed then they will not let any other fish close to their eggs and fry . The tank seems big enough so they should get along. Sometimes when the fry become free swimming the wander all over the tank regardless what the size. At this point the fry are very hard to catch and the parents will not tolerate any other fish in the tank.-Chuck> 

BABY CONVICTS!!! Hello, I just had a bunch of convict fry. Today is the first day that I see them and they still look like little tadpoles. The female is still fanning them. How long shall I leave them in there before taking them out? Is there a sign that the female wont care for them or when they can survive on their own?  Please advice. I am very excited!! < Your convict fry will be in this wiggler stage for about three days at 80 degrees until their egg sac is absorbed. They will then start to swim around looking for food. At this stage they should be fed baby brine shrimp and newly hatched brine shrimp. I would siphon them out in about a week. The female convict will be getting ready to spawn again soon and may eat the earlier fry.-Chuck>

CONVICT CONCERNS My friend has a breeding pair of convicts that are brother & sister. Their mother was a pink con & dad was a striped. When my friends bro-sis pair had fry, I took two of the pinks hoping they'll breed. I have them in a 15 gal w/a small school of baby zebra Danios. One of the pinks is 1/2 inch long, & the other is about a centimeter long. Being so small I know it's difficult to sex them, but I'm hoping because of the size difference I'd be certain to have a pair. My questions are- Since these two pinks are from the same hatch & their parents are bro & sis is this WAY too much inbreeding for convicts? < No not really.> Would their fry be retarded if they were to breed? < No.> How good are my chances of HAVING a male/female pair since it's so hard to tell by their small size? < You convicts are sexually dimorphic by size, so a large one and a small one could be a pretty good sign that they are a different sex.> Would I simply be better off feeding these guys to my grown cichlids in my 30 gal & getting a breeding pair of pinks from my LFS? < If you want a guaranteed pair then you would be better off at the LFS and getting a pair of fish that were larger and easier to sex. The ones at the store have probably been inbred for over twenty years so I don't think that would be a problem.> I don't want to inbreed these fish if it's going to cause a problem, even though I plan on using any future fry as feeders for my 30 gal. What are your thoughts about using cichlid fry as feeder fish to larger cichlids? <The convicts are easy to breed but sometimes outsmart the larger fish and learn to hide.> Considering they're such prolific breeders, I know I'd never find homes for all the babies, but I don't want to compromise the health of my other cichlids if you think this is a bad idea. < Actually raising your own fry for food is a good idea since they won't carry any weird diseases into the main tank.> Plus, my husband thinks that the baby pink cichlids will be "friends" w/ the baby zebra Danios since they will grow up together. Is that really possible? < I am not aware of fish making "Friends " with other fish.> I'm thinking once the cichlids get big enough those Danios will become "dinner"!!! <These convicts will indeed look upon your zebra Danios as dinner when they get bigger.-Chuck>

Convict with an Oscar? Hey, About a year ago, my hubby and I bought a breeding pair of convict cichlids.  They were very shy and would wait until I left the area near the tank to eat.  About three weeks ago, the female died (no known cause) and the male seemed rather depressed.  (By the way, the female was 1.5in and the male is 3.5in) I decided it was time to get him a tank buddy and picked out a 2in long Oscar.  I removed my convict, all the plants, did a 15% water change, cleaned the rocks and moved all the plants and rocks around the tank.  I placed the Oscar (in his pet store bag) in the tank and let him get used to everything for about an hour before releasing him.  Then about 30min later, I put my convict back in the tank.  I forgot to mention that this is a 55 gal tank with the works on filters.  The convict has totally taken over, but hasn't bitten, rammed or tried to kill the Oscar.  Was it a good idea to mix these two? Thanks, Becca >>>Hi Becca, Not only is a 2 inch Oscar an unsuitable tankmate for a convict, but I've seen 14" Oscars victimized by convicts no larger than 2"! The Oscar will sulk on the bottom of the tank, pale - and will not eat. This is a LARGE Oscar mind you, a smaller Oscar like yours will often be killed. Remove the Oscar and look to other medium sized, more aggressive Central American Cichlids. Regards Jim<<<

Convict Trouble Well, after that last e-mail, more problems came up.  First, the convict found a way over the divider.  I'm not sure how because it stuck up about 1in above the water level.  I guess he was determined.  But, he started really going after the Oscar and so I scooped him out of the tank before he was really hurt and placed him in a 5.5gal tank that I've had set up to put feeders in for a week.  He's the only fish in that tank and is much happier. He was a bit stressed and changed from black and light blue to grey.  But he is eating and swimming around.  If there is any quick movement, he darts behind a plant or into a clear tube.  He seems to think he can't be seen and feels safe.  Go figure.  How long will he be able to stay in this little tank?  I have another tank coming to me that is a quite a bit larger, but I want to run it for a week before I put him in it.  Will he be fine for a week or two in this 5.5gal tank?  You have helped me out so much, between the site and the e-mails.  I thought I knew enough about cichlids, but I have learned so much from the site in the last 24hrs. Thank you so much!  You helped me save my Oscar's life!!! : ) Becca >>>Hello again Becca, You did the right thing, and your Convict should be just fine until the larger tank arrives. Put a background on the tank, and some rocks for cover so he feels a bit more secure. Cheers Jim<<<

Convicts breeding & whatch you gonna do? I have a 55 gallon tank. There is a Pleco, two clown knives, <What? This fish gets about the length of this tank... four feet... in the wild http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.cfm?ID=2078&genusname=Chitala&speciesname=chitala> 2 tiger barbs, 4 giant Danios, and 3 zebra Danios along with two female convicts, and a pair of convicts. <What a mix!> The pair's eggs hatched out on Christmas day. They have been doing really great, there were 130 eggs or so, and there ended up being about 30 fry born. So after they have guarded these babies well, and they have not been too rough on the other fish because they stay on one side of the tank and my knives on the other. <Eventually the Knives will eat all these other fishes> They don't even pay attention to the other fish at all because they are not really too much of a threat to them I guess.     Anyway, to make a long story short here, there have been quite a few fry that have disappeared. I know it is bound to happen and am not to worried about that. However, the daddy fish has decided to kick out the mommy fish. He won't let the mommy near the babies anymore at all. <Happens> And instead of them being black and white. Especially the male, he is dark black and dark grey striped. <Good description> He doesn't like the other two females either. Why in the world is he doing this? <Uhh, because he can? Likely a behavior that has survival value eh? Maybe he would mate with another female next time/s... a mix of genes, mates would benefit the species through space and time> Is it because the babies are not all there? <Maybe... it is possible he "blames" the female> And should I remove him from the tank for a few days so that mommy can take over watching over the fry again or just leave them the way they are? thank you for your input I really do appreciate it. <Depends on what you want to do... become a breeder/supplier of convict cichlids? In this size system (w/o the Knives... you should trade them in, otherwise move them to other quarters), your convicts should continue to spawn, the young be mostly consumed... You can separate the eggs, raise elsewhere, take the fishes out... Bob Fenner>

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