jay

transcript

  • [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 America.
  • [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 of them?).
  • [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, etc.
  • [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 inch big!
  • [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 quite rare.
  • [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 graceful.
  • [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 fry?
  • [20:32 12/08/2005] <+Christine> yup... i've never had to scoop any out...
  • [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


 

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