Holding female saulosi, captured after a somewhat involved chase with two nets. I actually have TWO females holding right now (yay for confirmation of sexes!) but it’s actually fairly easy to tell them apart. The buccal cavity skin, stretched taut, is translucent – the female that’s been holding for a few weeks now has a much darker “chin” since her eggs are all now little wigglers with their big eyes pressed up against the skin! And the female that just started holding has little yellow eggs.
The previous batch of fry who were occupying this space had a “canary group” go into the 10gal last night, and when those four were fine, the rest got popped in this morning so I could take momma fish out. The newly-holding mother turfed her out of her usual spot, which left her having to dodge Three out in the open a bit more than I liked seeing. Kinda hard to fight to keep your spot if you haven’t eaten since before Christmas!
The holding rusty females spit their fry days ago. I don’t remember when, exactly, (except that it seemed way too early) but I did see a little rusty when I retrieved the Cichlid Stone from the rockpile for the holding female to hide in while she’s in the breeder box. Chances of fry survival in with the adults approximate fry survival in the wild (aka, it’s pretty grim) but the rusty fry group in the 10 have been doing fine. They’re also young enough that adding the saulosi to them hasn’t caused trouble. Ah, if only they could stay that peaceful all their lives! They’re still tiny and cute, about 3/4″ long now. The saulosi were immediately entranced by the sand in the 10g – no substrate for them to pick through in the breeding box.
The idea of keeping the holding momma in the breeder box for a bit is that maybe, since I have blocked off her view of the other fish, she will spit the babies out on her own timetable once she feels safe enough. I don’t want to keep her out for too long, though, so I will probably end up stripping her and tossing her back in before the others forget that she’s a scary momma fish. The females get more territorial and aggressive when they’re breeding!