Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Brooding Behavior

I've mentioned before that I have a big fish tank that I most recently populated with cichlids. They are quite entertaining to watch and so far (knock, knock) have been pretty peaceful. I don't really care for the way the biggest one launches out of the tank in the morning for his food, but I'm getting better about timing it so I don't get splashed. As much.

About a month ago, I noticed that my "electric yellow" female was hanging out under one of the big rock formations all the time. She and the male had taken most of the gravel out from under the big rocks and spit them out in big piles. Very much breeding behavior. But I hadn't seen any results. I thought for sure I would see some eggs or something hanging around. But no. Just the female laying under the rocks and the male occasionally chasing off some interloper.

About three weeks ago, I saw a little cichlid swimming around behind the rocks. How cool is that? He was about 1/2 an inch long and had blue stripes all over his body. He mostly stuck around the rocks and his big, bad Mama. And he has grown every time I see him.

About a week and a half ago, I was looking for my "baby" and I saw an even smaller baby hiding under the aerator. He was about 1/4 of an inch long and he was also covered in blue stripes. Weird coloring for the offspring of an electric yellow female but I guess I really don't know what they're supposed to look like anyway so who am I to judge?

This whole time, the female was still hanging out under the rock. I keep wondering if she's just really anti-social (for a fish) or what. I started wondering if maybe she was being bullied. So I started throwing a little bit of food directly in front of her hideout. She's pretty much ignored it. But she must have gotten hungry. Because yesterday afternoon, I went to feed the beasts and threw some sinking pellets directly in front of the rock she was under and she came charging out. I'm thinking to myself "finally! she's finally got hungry enough to brave the tank." She circled the pellets for a few seconds, went to the nearest plant, and spit out a mouthful of babies into it. Then she spun around and started eating the pellets. And she did not stop. She ate everything that fell in front of her. Then she went over to the main feeding area and started eating everything over there. I think she was starving from holding her babies in her mouth for who knows how long. Her babies meanwhile, hovered in the plant watching the direction she had gone. She eventually ate enough and went back over to the plant. I assume she went to go collect her babies but she got nerved up with my big face pressed up against the glass watching her every move. She would look at the plant, look at me, back up, look at the plant...eventually I gave up and went away. I really wanted to see the babies jump back in her mouth though. And I totally get the whole "spit out the kids and go take care of yourself" thing too.


Kelly said...

That's very interesting. I guess it happens up and down the food chain. Sometimes you just need some "me" time.