|The 4 calvus
have been quiet for almost a year. There have been some mild
territorial fights, but nothing really serious happened. Meanwhile I
kept on feeding them (obviously) and also photographing them.
Look at the dentition. Click on the thumbnail to
see the high resolution picture.
In April 2005 two of them
finally formed a breeding pair! This male and female were getting
really serious about it! One shell was defended fiercely by both the
male and the female. The female went inside on a very regular basis,
most probably in order to clean the shell walls. Needless to say
that the male was never far away!
The smallest Altolamprologus calvus in a shell?
This must be a female!!!
Stretching is always welcome to compensate for the contorted posture
inside the shell.
Both male and female close to the shell.
Then the female goes in...
...while the male has
to wait outside.
The first breeding attempt was
not very successful, as the shell was abandoned very soon after I
took all these photo's. Probably it can be seen as practising, as it
didn't take long for the Altolamprologus calvus to spawn again. This
time they looked far more determined as the dominant male looked
much more impressive with his dark coloured head. His opponents were
chased from the female and the shell with even more power of
persuasion. Luckily no damages or casualties were observed to the
other calvus though.
This time the male looks more bold and frightening
for it's opponents! Click on the thumbnail to see the high
It's very difficult to see them, but there were
some fry in the shell!
The much bigger effort of the
parents finally resulted in a successful spawn with fertilized eggs
in the shell. When I fed the fish the female rushed to a food
particle, and headed back to the shell as soon as possible while the
male guarded the shell. Then the male went to pick up a few pieces
of food and this continued until all food was eaten. No other
Tanganyika cichlid in the tank was allowed to come in the
neighbourhood of the shell. Then after a few days I suddenly saw
some fry moving in the shell. I was very excited to see these tiny
calvus, but my luck was very short-lived. The day after they were
all gone though. Most probably they starved from a lack of
appropriate food or due to predation. I think that I can exclude
cannibalisation by the parents, as they have a very reliable
reputation as being good parents. Francesco advised me to put the
shell with the fry in a separate tank as soon as they show up
(always better be safe than sorry!), but I had no separate tank at
that moment to put them there. I'm going take the whole other route
though that George already applies for his rare Madagascan cichlids:
building a single species tank for breeding them. I'm indeed
planning to give this Altolamprologus calvus breeding pair a
separate and intimate 200-300L tank with enough shells so they can
devote all their time to spawning and also raising their fry! In
this separate tank I can also purposely feed the fry and do small
partial water changes as this is known to be the weakest link in
spawning raising these wonderful cichlids. In such a smaller tank I
can also take much better photo's. After all the thick glass of the
actual tank causes diffraction effects and unsharpness to the
photo's that I take.