Multiple species spawning in a community tank?

Yes, it happens all of the time, but sometimes it’s not very easy to accomplish without some forethought and effort. If you want to try and get multiple species to spawn in a community tank, here are three things that I’ve learned that will facilitate the phenomena.

  • The right species

Closed environments introduce stressors that fish don’t experience in the wild or stressors they don’t experience as frequently. Many species don’t share the same body of water or the same area within a body of water. Furthermore, certain noises, confined space, the presence of people, and less than ideal water parameters are additional stressors. Cumulatively, these stressors can have a significant impact on the physiology of the fish, not the least of which is its willingness to breed. Even a female’s fecundity may be impacted by such stressors.

One of the easiest of these stressors to control is the species. Not all species will breed successfully or easily in a closed environment (e.g., aquariums), much less one containing other cichlid species. However, many will. Knowing which species will co-exist and breed in a tank full of other, different species who are also willing breeders is a good thing. Ask around to find out which species are compatible. If you’re part of the Tanganyikan crowd, consider some species from the Julidochromis genus.  I have had multiple species of Julies, as they’re commonly called, spawn concurrently with other cichlid species in community tanks. Specifically, I’ve had Julidichromis transcriptus spawn in a tank with Lamprologus ocellatus that also spawned. I’ve also had Julidiochromis marlieri spawn in a tank with Telmatochromis sp. “temporalis shell”.

  • Cover

Yes, and lots of it, for cave spawners especially. Plenty of cover provides a sense of security for breeding pairs of most cichlids who share a tank with other species. Julies and shell dwellers are no exception. Protecting eggs and fry requires considerable energy on the part of the parents. Give them a spot they can defend with minimal effort and they might just reward you with offspring.

  • Water parameters

All cichlids, just like other aquatic fauna, are genetically wired to optimally function physiologically within a certain set of water chemistry parameters. If you can maintain your aquarium water within that set of parameters, you maximize your chances of breeding success. Sometimes the introduction of clean fresh water will do wonders. Good water can get your breeding pair in the mood. I’ve seen it many times. A simple water change is often all it takes to promote breeding. Even a slight change in the water temperature or pH can have an effect.

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