Substrate can affect spawning behaviors

Various aquarium substrates. Image from

Lot of variables contribute to ideal spawning conditions for cichlids in aquaria. Listing them all is a post for another day. Many aquarists try to identify and exploit certain variables that can increase not just the probability of spawning behavior but also the success of such behavior. Want to get your males more active in spawning? Check your substrate.

A recent study in the journal Animal Welfare found that the sexual behavior of male Oreochromis mossambicus increased in the presence of substrate. Does that translate to all species? No. However, it is food for thought for those who keep cichlids in bare bottom tanks and who have some trouble promoting spawning behavior in MF pairs. Many environmental factors influence spawning behavior, however the simple presence of a substrate (maybe even suitable substrate) can make a difference. 

Reference: Galhardo, L., Correia, J., & Oliveira, R. F. (2008). The effect of substrate availability on behavioural and physiological indicators of welfare in the African cichlid (Oreochromis mossambicus). Animal Welfare, 239-254.

Ron Soucy interview

Ron Soucy

If you’re like me and you enjoy learning about all types of cichlids, in the process you’ll inevitably also learn about many people in the hobby. I’ve said before that, as time goes by, all cichlidophiles will encounter certain names over and over, some more than others. Along my journey I have come across many of the same names. One of those is Ron Soucy. 

I don’t remember when I first heard his name, but no matter what I was reading – an article online, a book, or a magazine – it seemed his name popped up regularly. In fact, it did so again a couple of months ago. I said to myself then, “You need to track this guy down and get an interview with him.” Well, I did track him down and I did get an interview.

Ron’s tropical fish interests began in the 60’s with a single Betta splendens (Siamese fighting fish), or simply betta, as we call them. After high school, he had an entire bedroom full of fish tanks and fish. His fish breeding journey began there and he worked for the next 20 years in aquarium retail. As both his experience and the fish community grew, Ron ran larger and larger fish operations, culminating today in what is one of, if not the largest fish stores in southern California. Let’s get right to the interview!

ACA 2021

Logo for ACA 2021. Image from

For those of you who look forward every year to attending the annual convention of the American Cichlid Association (ACA), next year’s convention will be in St. Louis, MO, July 23-25, 2021. This year’s convention, planned for Sacramento, CA, was canceled due to COVID-19. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that 2021 will be much better than 2020 and that the St. Louis event will go off without a hitch.

If you have never attended an ACA convention, I encourage you to do so. Every cichlid fan should experience it!

Registration and pricing information can be found on the convention website (NOTE: As of this post the 2021 convention website was incomplete.)

Spawning cichlid behavior excitement

Adult male Julidochromis dickfeldi guarding fry. Photo by author.

One of the absolute greatest joys of cichlid keeping is witnessing spawning behavior. Because I have new fish from an order I placed several months ago, I have been anxiously awaiting some pairings and subsequent spawning. All the fish I received were older juveniles or sub-adults, so I knew that pairing up would begin in a few months. You can read about the new fish in this post from back in May

Continue reading this post…

Pex, a cichlid keepers friend

Examples of Pex pipe in different diameters and colors. Image from

If you keep multiple tanks, Pex pipe can be one of your best friends. It is a very versatile tool to have in your cichlid keeping toolbox. That toolbox post is four years old now, but I still use every item listed there. I could probably add a few more items, but that’s a post for another day. Here I focus on Pex pipe or tubing.

Continue reading this post…

Feeding shellie cichlid fry

‘Lamprologus’ caudopunctatus Kapamba “red fin” mother and fry (between the two bottom shells). Photo by author.

Feeding fry in any kind of tank can be a challenge. Whether a community tank, species only, or even a small segregation tank, getting food directly to the fry can take some effort. Such foods as baby brine shrimp, crushed flakes, and infusoria are great options. However, since these foods can be so tiny for fry intake, any little bit of water movement can quickly carry them away from the fry. As a result and like regular fish food, they can easily foul a tank if  enough is not eaten.  Unless you’re using a breeder box in which the fry are confined to a really small space and tank current is reduced, you need to get creative. Either that, or you need to simply power off the filtration.

Continue reading this post…

Cursing your cichlids

Image from, courtesy of Getty Images.
“Don’t be such a dick!” Those are the words I spoke this past Saturday while cleaning one of my tanks. Do you ever talk to your fish? I will have to admit, I do so on occasion but it’s not like I ask them how their day is going or anything. It’s usually more within the context of feeding or aggression such as “Why won’t you come over here and eat that?” or “How about you get over of there and leave him alone?”

Continue reading this post…

Be a Buntbarsche Bulletin contributor

Cover of the July 2020 Buntbarsche Bulletin. Photo from the American Cichlid Association –


Never heard of the Buntbarsche Bulletin (BB)? Go to the BB website or see my previous post about it for a full description. What I wanted to mention in this post is that the publication needs contributors. They need folks to submit articles for publication. You don’t have to be a cichlid expert and you don’t have to be a great writer. Daryl Hutchins, the editor, is a really nice guy and he’ll help you with editing. Btw, I did an interview with Daryl way back in 2016 (which reminds me I should do another one with him soon).

Continue reading this post…

Facebook cichlid group etiquette

Facebook Group image from

Here’s the scenario: You wake up one morning, your fish tank just doesn’t look so great. You’re tired of the filter(s) on it anyway and want to try something different. So you start looking at new filters and filter media. You pull up your favorite fish group on Facebook (FB), post a photo of your tank and filter, and start asking questions. Next thing you know, you’ve received 40 replies telling you to buy this and use that…or worse, don’t use this or that. Then all hell breaks loose because someone notices you’re keeping a hap with an mbuna or, heaven forbid, South American and African cichlids together. World War III starts on FB over a simple question about filters and media.

Continue reading this post…