Originating, from the East African Rift Lake, Malawi, Zebra Cichlids are also known as Malawi Cichlids. Their fins are long and yellow and, as the name suggests, their body is striped. They may grow up to 6 inches and live for up to 10 years. Males tend to be more attractive than the females.
An aquarium no smaller than 48 gallons is recommended for the Red Zebra Cichlid. They like their water temperature to be between 72F and 82F with a pH level ranging from 8 to 9. They will dine on meat and plants alike and will even make a meal of algae or dried food. They will dig and uproot plants, so the tank should be decorated mostly with rocks; any plants must be well secured. A good way to secure your plants is place a large rock over the roots. The rock must be big enough so that the cichlid cannot move it, but not so big that will crush the roots.
The Red Zebra Cichlid is a relatively violent fish and therefore should not be placed in a tank with just any other breed. A good tank mate choice would be the Jeweled Cichlid. When these fish are spawning, there should be a ratio of one male to every three females. This ensures that the male has amply selection for a mate and that his violent behavior is not directed at just one female. It is not optimal for there to be violence against any of the female fish, but this way they share the burden. It is the lesser of two evils.
When a female consents to breeding she will lay up to 60 eggs on a flat surface (make sure that you have a flat surface on the floor of your aquarium if you want to encourage breeding). The male will fertilize the eggs and the female will take the fertilized eggs into her mouth until they hatch (also called Mouth Brooding). The male’s job is done and he goes his separate way as the female cares for the eggs and eventually the fry.
The female will keep the eggs in her mouth for up to 4 weeks until they hatch and in that time she will not eat anything. Once the fry hatch, she will be nearly starving. Unfortunately, she is so hungry that she will not hesitate to eat her own fry if they do not get away fast enough. You may want to put the fry in a separate aquarium until they are big enough to fend for themselves.
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