- [20:08 12/08/2005] <!craig> Good evening everyone!
- [20:08 12/08/2005] <!craig> Welcome to Live! Fishchat!
- [20:09 12/08/2005] <!craig> Tonights speaker is Christine, who
will be speaking on Convict Cichlids: Not Just the Junk Cichlid.
- [20:09 12/08/2005] <!craig> Christine, when ever you are ready.
- [20:09 12/08/2005] <+Christine> Thanks Craig:)
- [20:09 12/08/2005] <+Christine> Hey Folks! Thank-you for coming!
- [20:09 12/08/2005] <+Christine> Tonight's presentation is about
the Convict Cichlid - Archocentrus nigrofasciatus hailing from Central
- [20:10 12/08/2005] <+Christine> The Convict Cichlid is often
referred to as the "junk cichlid". This reference is often
used because they are very easily bred ("just add water"!)
and then sold for under $5.00 ($3.59 here) because of their abundance.
- [20:10 12/08/2005] <+Christine> However, as you will see, these
fish are not junk. They are brimming with personality including the
inherent cichlid intelligence and parental instincts. Not to mention
how absolutely beautiful they are!
- [20:10 12/08/2005] <+Christine> This presentation will begin
with the basic facts about keeping the Convict Cichlid and conclude
with a brief disclosing of my personal experience with this fish.
- [20:11 12/08/2005] <+Christine> There are a few color morphs
of the Convict now available: the regular zebra convict (black strips
on light gray); the pink convict (no stripes with a white to pink color);
and the marbled convict (pink and black blotches).
- [20:11 12/08/2005] <+Christine> The convict will reach a full-grown
size of 5 to 7 inches. Females are generally smaller than males. A wide
range of water chemistry is tolerated (pH: 6.0-8.0, Temp: 68-80F) making
them a hardy beginner cichlid.
- [20:12 12/08/2005] <+Christine> Convicts are omnivores and will
eat pretty much anything. A varied diet is a must, as with all fish;
high-quality flake, spirulina, beef heart, frozen bloodworms, brine
shrimp, etc. will all be eagerly devoured.
- [20:12 12/08/2005] <+Christine> Vegetable matter should comprise
most of the convict's diet as too much protein can cause liver and kidney
problems. Offerings of blanched vegetables will help keep them healthy.
- [20:13 12/08/2005] <+Christine> A 20-gallon tank has been cited
as suitable for a breeding pair, but I would recommend around 40 gallons
minimum (who here would put a 5-7" fish in a 20g, never mind 2
- [20:14 12/08/2005] <+Christine> Despite their small size, the
convict cichlid is one of the most aggressive Central American species.
A single specimen will surprisingly fair well against tankmates known
for their size and aggression such as Oscars, Green Terrors, Jack Dempsey's,
- [20:14 12/08/2005] <+Christine> A spawning pair has the tenacity
to bring these large fish down ( ! ) in efforts to protect their young.
For this reason, I make the point that a pair of spawning convicts should
be kept on their own.
- [20:15 12/08/2005] <+Christine> Some recommend dither fish (i.e.
danios) to reduce fighting between the pair. However, I personally do
not recommend this unless you are prepared to see the dither fish continually
brutalized to a slow but certain death one by one.
- [20:15 12/08/2005] <+Christine> Convicts are definitely rabbits
of the cichlid world. The equation is as follows: Male + Female + water
= fry every 4-6 weeks. Convicts will pair off and breed at under an
- [20:15 12/08/2005] <+Christine> Sexing convicts is becoming
a little more difficult because of inbreeding. A male sometimes shows
the orange spots on its belly, which used to be strictly indicative
of a female. Females may show the long extensions on the anal and dorsal
fins that are supposed to be indicative of a male, although this is
- [20:16 12/08/2005] <+Christine> The hobbyist can try the old
"buy 6 and wait for 2 to pair up" trick if they are having
difficulty sexing. But, chances are, there are already 2 convicts in
the LFS's tank that are easily spotted as being paired off.
- [20:16 12/08/2005] <+Christine> The female lays anywhere between
100-500 eggs. Caves are preferred for this, but if not provided, they'll
use whatever else is available. The pair will often dig pits in the
gravel, mostly around their cave. They will also sometimes completely
empty the cave of gravel to the point of glass showing through.
- [20:17 12/08/2005] <+Christine> The eggs are guarded by the
female as the male patrols the tank fending off predators. The eggs
will hatch in 2-5 days upon which time the parents will move the wigglers
to a pit dug in the gravel.
- [20:17 12/08/2005] <+Christine> Fry absorb their yolk sacs and
become free swimming in approximately 2 more days. The fry are easily
fed with powdered food such as First Bites or baby brine shrimp (they
grow faster with the shrimp).
- [20:18 12/08/2005] <+Christine> Parents become extremely protective
at this point. They will flare at an onlooker through the glass telling
you to back off and will attack anything put in the tank (algae scrapers,
siphon, your hand, etc.)
- [20:18 12/08/2005] <+Christine> Once in awhile, the male breaks
from his patrol and returns to the female where they exchange flaring
signals to indicate a brief switch in duty. The male guards the brood
until the female returns; they do not exchange flares upon her return.
- [20:19 12/08/2005] <+Christine> Her "break" usually
lasts under 20 seconds.
- [20:19 12/08/2005] <+Christine> The fry are extremely adventuresome.
Strays are quickly picked up by mom (usually) and spit back into the
group. Sometimes at night, the fry are "put to bed" as the
parents gather them up and spit them into a depression in the gravel
for the night.
- [20:20 12/08/2005] <+Christine> After 2-4 weeks the parents
will be ready to spawn again and start treating their own babies as
though they are predators. They may try to remove the previous batch
to make room for the next one. If you wish to keep the fry, best to
remove them at this point.
- [20:20 12/08/2005] <+Christine> It may be difficult to find
a home for the fry as these are considered "junk cichlids".
Stores will not likely pay much if at all for them, but still may take
them off your hands.
- [20:21 12/08/2005] <+Christine> I have had my convict cichlid
pair for exactly 1 year this month. I bought them at about 2 inches
big and now the male is approximately 6 inches and the female is around
4 inches. It was difficult for me to sex them because they both had
the orange belly spots. The females belly spots were more vibrant though.
- [20:21 12/08/2005] <+Christine> These fish are truly beautiful.
The female's colors during spawning are breathtaking with bright orange
on her belly and shades of yellow, blue and green in her anal and dorsal
fins. The males long fin extensions somehow make the mean brute seem
- [20:21 12/08/2005] <+Christine> When we talk of intelligence,
sometimes we think back to when humans began using tools as a sign of
evolving intelligence. My male convict will take an algae wafer in his
mouth and bash it against the glass or a rock to break a piece off!
Its interesting to think that he understands that these hard objects
can help him get a chunk out of the wafer.
- [20:22 12/08/2005] <+Christine> My convicts spawn like clockwork
every 3 weeks or so. I have the mean schistura loaches in with them
(they were killing cardinal tetras so I threw them in jail with the
convicts HAHA). This works really well as a form of birth control. The
schisturas are far too fast to be caught and injured by the parents
and they have plenty of java moss to hide in. This set up is working
very well for about 10 months so far.
- [20:23 12/08/2005] <+Christine> Until earlier this week, I had
zebra danios in the tank as dither fish. I do not recommend this personally.
I watched the school get picked off from 8 to 3 and rescued the remaining
3 this week. (if danios could smile, mine would be smiling right now).
- [20:23 12/08/2005] <+Christine> The danios were introduced to
reduce fighting between the pair. My convicts seem to go through a divorce
period about once month. These periods subside in under 2 days upon
which time they get busy again on their next batch of babies.
- [20:24 12/08/2005] <+Christine> My female is the aggressor during
these times and the male is forced to a top corner the tank (even though
he's obviously bigger and stronger than her). As long as he stays there
until she gets over her problem, she doesn't bother him.
- [20:25 12/08/2005] <+Christine> A really great fish to own!
Visitors enjoy seeing them attack the algae scraper or flaring through
the glass at them. They are constantly busy working on digging pits,
moving around the java moss, or child caring.
- [20:25 12/08/2005] <+Christine> If you have an extra 40g tank,
I recommend getting a pair of convicts. Just gimme a dingle and I'll
ship 100 of them to ya! :)
- [20:25 12/08/2005] <+Christine> That's it folks!
- [20:26 12/08/2005] <!craig> Very well done Chrsitine!
- [20:26 12/08/2005] <+Christine> ty
- [20:26 12/08/2005] <+Christine> now i can breathe
- [20:26 12/08/2005] <!craig> Not quite yet. ;-D
- [20:26 12/08/2005] <+Christine> hehe
- [20:29 12/08/2005] <!Jessica> ok, now free for all
- [20:29 12/08/2005] <!Jessica> thanks christine :-D
- [20:29 12/08/2005] <brad> way to go christine
- [20:29 12/08/2005] <+Christine> ty!
- [20:29 12/08/2005] <russ> Do you have your pair in a 40gal tank.
Do they control the whole tank?
- [20:30 12/08/2005] <+Christine> almost 40, its 37gs
- [20:30 12/08/2005] <+Christine> the tank is all theirs
- [20:30 12/08/2005] <+Christine> the schisturas spend their time
down in the moss
- [20:30 12/08/2005] <russ> :-)
- [20:31 12/08/2005] <+Christine> they swim through the brood
of babies ever so often for a sushi snack
- [20:31 12/08/2005] <!Jessica> :-D
- [20:31 12/08/2005] <+Christine> they are soo fast... the only
fish I can see that this would work with is a schistura-like fish.
- [20:31 12/08/2005] <+Christine> the schisturas get aggressive
back at the convicts, usually during feeding time. its funny
- [20:32 12/08/2005] <brad> do the schisturas ever get all the
- [20:32 12/08/2005] <+Christine> yup... i've never had to scoop
- [20:32 12/08/2005] <+Christine> oh wait!
- [20:32 12/08/2005] <+Christine> I remember one grew to an inch
and I had to give it away
- [20:32 12/08/2005] <+Christine> pretty good birth control though...
99.9% effective, i would say :)
- [20:33 12/08/2005] <brad> Do you think that may be the reason
the go through the "divorce"
- [20:33 12/08/2005] <+Christine> i guess its possible. The divorce
usually happens right before the next spawning time
- [20:34 12/08/2005] <+Christine> its normal to see a little fighting
during this time, lip-locking and such
- [20:34 12/08/2005] <+Christine> I'm just thank-ful because if
the male was the aggressor during these times, she'd be a goner
- [20:34 12/08/2005] <brad> It's just that I've noticed my kribs
do the same when they lose an entire spawn. Otherwise, all is fine.
Just wondered if it carried over from one to the other.
- [20:35 12/08/2005] <+Christine> could be?
- [20:35 12/08/2005] <brad> o.k.
- [20:36 12/08/2005] <!JP> Hey Christine, great presentation.
Thanks again for doing this. :-)
- [20:36 12/08/2005] <+Christine> np, hope it was long enough
- [20:36 12/08/2005] <+Christine> and timing was good
- [20:37 12/08/2005] <!JP> It was just fine.
- [20:37 12/08/2005] <+Christine> :)
- [20:45 12/08/2005] <!JP> All right. Closing up shop here. #Badmanschat
is the place to be.
- [20:48 12/08/2005] Christine I just want to mention this fun fact...
- [20:48 12/08/2005] Christine Convicts are excellent snail eradicators!
- [20:48 12/08/2005] Christine the 37g was planted and plagued with
snails, 2 days later--not a snail in sight
- [20:48 12/08/2005] Christine just a whole lot of empty shells
- [20:48 12/08/2005] Christine am I talking to myself again? LOL