20 March 2014

18 : Fish Fry - Something New

Bolivian Ram Fry

Six weeks ago my Bolivian Ram pair successfully hatched their first batch of eggs and now are the proud parents of approximately 30 fry!  The Bolivian Ram are also called Butterfly Ram due to their bright colouring, when they pair up they generally pair for life and fiercely protect their young.  Both parents take it in turn to care for both the eggs and the fry when they hatch.  They dig out little hollows in the substrate and protect their eggs from all other predators in the aquarium, it is amazing to watch them move the entire batch if they consider it suddenly unsafe.

Although I have had Butterfly Ram successfully breed before I have never had the privilege of seeing them make it this far; to be free swimming and no longer in danger of being eaten by any other tank mates.  They are still a while away from being fully grown and being able to find their own homes, however, I do think that the number I will be finding homes for will be higher than I could have ever anticipated.

Survival in the fish world is extremely difficult for such tiny little creatures, basically everyone in the aquarium wants desperately to eat you; often even your own parents.  However, these dwarf cichlids are different as they actually care for their young, it really is lovely to see the parents swimming together with their large brood.  Now they are swimming all on their own and are welcome in the tank among all their previous enemies. 

Bolivian Rams are native to Brazil and Bolivia and are found in rivers which are tributaries of the Amazon River.  They prefer slow flowing or shallow waters and enjoy plants in their aquarium with some open swimming places.  The aquarium should be kept at higher temperatures up to 28 degrees Celsius. Once the pair have fertilised their eggs it takes about 48 hours for them to hatch into wigglers.  The wigglers then feed off their egg sacks for up to a week and are highly vulnerable to attack, the parents often move them several times during this stage.  It is really interesting to watch them do this, they scoop the babies up in their mouth and place them carefully in the next shallow hollow they have dug out.  By the time the fry are free swimming they are ready to eat small morsels of food for themselves and swim extremely close to their parents. Once they begin to become adventurous and try and explore alone one of the parents will dash after them and retrieve the tiny fish in their mouth, spitting it back into the group until they learn to stick with their siblings. 

I had not expected these babies to have survived this long, it has been amazing to watch.  I had wondered if the parents would tire of relentlessly caring for them and protecting them day and night and either abandon them or turn against them.  However, it has been really nice to see their dedication pay off, my children have really enjoyed seeing the baby fish 'still there' and even growing into proper little fish.  Here are a few photo's of their development, although photographs don't really do them justice as they are so see-through this young.

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