|The 2004 congress
of the AFC was a wonderful event. There were even more wonderful
cichlids, and although we intended to return home without any fish, it's
obvious that we couldn't resist buying some. During that weekend when I
felt a bit better we walked through the rows of tanks and one species
kept drawing my attention: Heros sp. rotkeil. I was imagining them
swimming in my 750L South American tank and asked George and Stijn for
advice, since I don't know South American cichlids and their behaviour
very good. Both agreed that they would be a good company for my other
fish so I decided to buy 5 of them. Stijn also wanted 5 of them so we
agreed than I would buy 10 of them during the auction an split them once
we would get home. I waited until all the members of the AFC entered the
hall and then I went to that tank to wait patiently in the queue before
that tank. When it was my turn there were still about 15 fish remaining
so I was lucky. The guys who sold these fish wanted to put them in bags
but once they heard that we wanted 10 of them they gave me a bucket for
transporting my fish back to Belgium. I'm still very thankful for this
so if these hobbyists read this: Merci beaucoup pour le sou!!!
The Heros sp. rotkeil in their auction tank.
We realized that the fish were in pretty bad water
but had no fresh and warm water to do a water change so we drove back to
Belgium as fast as possible but at legal speeds! When we arrived at home
the fish had suffered a lot, but luckily they were still alive. They
were slowly adapted to the water of the 750L Amazon tank and after an
hour they were transferred into this tank. The next day I saw the
damages on the tail and fins, but they fully recovered the next weeks.
Maybe more care should be taken at auctions to preserve water quality to
avoid all this stress and injuries.
My 5 Heros swimming in the 750L planted tank the next
You can see that the right fish had a white tail that rotted away the
next day. Luckily it was fully recovered during the next weeks.
Day 4 after arrival: the most damaged fish of the
group. This Heros had a nice surprise in store for me!
Day 8 after arrival: just what do they
think they're up to?
At first the fish were very
shy and they kept hiding in the dense vegetation. It didn't take long
for them to get used to their new tank though. The Heros got territorial
very soon, and started displaying to each other. Soon a pair was formed
and they started to seek shelter near some rocks behind the plants in
the right back of the tank. Their body colour also became a bit more
dark and it seemed like they wanted to breed! They indeed spawned only
10 days after their arrival in my 750L tank! Luckily I was at home when
they did this, so I could take pictures of the whole event.
Day 10 after their arrival: The Heros have barely
healed and they already spawned!
Click on the thumbnails for a larger view of the
Day 2 after the spawning: barely visible,
but the content of the eggs is changing!
Day 3 after the spawning: most of the eggs have
hatched and now the tails of the larvae were trembling very fast.
Empty egg shells later on day 3 after the spawning.
I focussed all my attention on the
development of the eggs. The parents were furiously defending the eggs
by chasing every intruder that came too close to the eggs.
Two days later I was able to see dark lines in the eggs what suggested
that they were doing fine. On day 3 after the spawning I saw that the
eggs hatched and the tails of the larvae were trembling. Soon after the
parents started picking all these larvae from the stone so I feared for
the worst. I was not aware of the fact that the parents took care of the
larvae by putting them on a safer place than here in the open in the
middle of this rock. Soon after the parents left this spawning site
alone all the other fish in the tank rushed to the remainders to eat
them in no time. I thought that all the fry were lost and didn't bother
anymore. I still found it quite odd that the parents stayed on the same
spot all the time though so I started looking a bit closer. At first I
didn't see anything, but after a closer look I found the flock of fry in
a depression of my self made background! What a very nice surprise this
was! It was an impossible task to make pictures of them though, as the
angle through the glass didn't permit this. 3 days later they were moved
by the parents to another location where it was still very difficult to
see them, but at least I could make a picture of the tiny creatures! 1
day later they were swimming free in front of the tank with their
parents. George suggested to take them out if I wanted to raise some fo
them so I took a garden hose and siphoned some of them in a bucket. The
parents were furious and attacked the hose, but I was comforted with the
thought that this was the only way to keep hem alive in a tank full of
other fish having their eye on a quick snack.
The fry hiding against the background only 8 days
after the eggs were laid.
The 8 day old fry transferred to a bucket
for further raising.
The fry was kept in this bucket for more than 2
weeks and they were fed with powder food 3 times/day. Their growth rate
was very good but soon it was time for a decent tank for raising them. I
got a temporary plywood tank from my friend Joeri which fitted perfectly
well under the 750L tank. Here they stayed for about 2 months until they
were transferred to my 140L cellar tank where they still are raised at
the moment. In the meantime the Heros parents kept on breeding and they
performed 3 spawns up till now. The second pair also spawned, but they
were less successful in caring about their eggs than the first pair.
26 days after the eggs were laid the juveniles already
started to look like their parents.
Click for a larger view
In the meantime both pairs didn't seem to get their breeding lust under
I observed 5 more spawning until now (January 2005) Click for a larger
A much larger batch of fry collected in 20L bucket. These were donated
to my friend Joeri.
The other pair at the other side of the tank also
January 2005: the 3 month old fry can't resist eating
from a food tablet.
This makes it much easier to focus on the fish with my macro lens.
Adult Heros sp. rotkeil vs. 3 month old juvenile.
Click for a larger view.