Small fish – Big personality

The Redbreast acara packs a lot of character into that tiny cichlid frame. Now you will know how to keep and breed it…

Fish Factfile: Redbreast acaraLaetacara dorsigera

Scientific name: Laetacara dorsigera.

Origin: Widespread in South America.

  • Size: 5cm/2in.
  • Aquarium size: 40l/gal for a breeding pair, 60l/13gal when kept in a community.
  • Water chemistry: 6-7.5 PH, hardness 3-16”H.
  • Temperature: 25-28‘C /77-82F.
  • Feeding: Small live and frozen foods along with a good quality staple dry food.

The havoc of housing

To successfully keep these cichlids in a community tank, a 60l/13gal aquarium is required but in this case, bigger is also better. These fish can be a little timid on first addition to the aquarium, but provide lots of cover and hiding places and you will reap the benefits as they become increasingly confident. Plants will provide a sense of security allowing pairs to become more and more confident. Rapid growers like Indian fern operate nicely. Rockwork supply spawning areas and will permit these fish some escapes. A darker substrate will also help bring out their colour.

Both sexes have a black spot right in the centre of their body this is generally accompanied by white spots above garrison Just like most cichlids, their colour develops with age.

aquariumTop condition

To be able to state the parents before spawning, lots of live food is in order. Everyone has their own version on diet but it’s better to feed at least four distinct foods a day: bloodworm, Daphnia, brine shrimp and micro worms are good live options, but make sure a great staple dry food with a high protein count is supplied — live food may have been in the bags for at least two days before reaching your local fish shop by which time they can have metabolised most of the nutrients they have before hitting your water. On that note, it is always a safer bet to pour the contents of the live food tote into a web while over the sink so the old water in the bag doesn’t pollute your aquarium water.

Feeding fry is easy as pie as they will get newly hatched brine shrimp or worms that are micro straight from their free swimming stage. Another choice is the pre-prepared liquid fry mixes which help culture infusoria in your aquarium. As they get larger, they’ll start taking frozen food, which generally contains more nutrients than choices that are live and powdered dry food.

Getting the job done

Pair bonds are always stronger with cichlids if they are allowed to choose their own mate. To get yourself a breeding pair of these dazzling little dwarfs, consider purchasing six to eight individuals, preferably with an even sex ratio, and keep them at around 25’C/77’F with a varied diet and lots and lots of plant cover. Then just wait…

Soon you’ll see two begin to go off on their own and just generally hang around together. When this happens, remove any excess fish — with a bit of luck you might be able to find a like-minded fishkeeper to take them off your hands.

Fanatical about fry

Once the eggs hatch after 24-74 hours, they are taken by the parents to the pre-dug pits. The fry won’t be free swimming for three to five days and will rely on their yolk sacs for their first few meals. During this time the male will keep guard while the female sits closely above the fry, ardently caring for the brood. While the fry are at this stage it would be wise to start putting on liquid fry food or begin cultivating your brine shrimp for when they begin to eat freely.

Once the fry have been taken from the parents, feed three times a day and perform lots of water changes and they’ll be hitting the 2.5cm/1in inch mark by six weeks.

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