What the Heck is a “Dither
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Convict cichlids, Cichlasoma nigrofasciatum, make almost perfect dither fish.
If you want to spawn American cichlids, you will want to know the secret of the “dither fish.” But first, some other important data you need to know or acquire.
Some hobbyists research the subject of spawning in depth.
Others just jump in and find out how deep the water is by hitting bottom.
We encourage you to learn about any species you want to breed before you
spawn them – especially if you intend to sell the fry from your spawn.
Specific instance: Convict
cichlids spawn so readily, you probably can’t sell their fry.
Most breeders use the babies as food for their other fishes.
However, they make the perfect dither fish.
However, they make the perfect dither fish.
Record your spawning details in case you want to replicate them.
Record the basics:
· Size of aquaria,
· Size of breeders,
· Age of breeders,
· Dates of egglaying, hatching, free-swimming, etc.
Record your breeders’ pre-spawning activities as well as their spawning activities. Note any aquaria decor as well as the choice of cover, substrate, and choice of spawning sites. Realize these stats work for you. They will not necessarily work for everyone. They will not necessarily work for you the next time. They do increase your chances of repeat success a great deal.
Type of Cichlid.
Most African cichlids (at least those from Lake Malawi) are mouthbrooders,
so these helpful tips do not apply as much to them.
Exceptions might be the kribs and jewel fish.
However, the “dither fish” also reduces inter- and intra-species
aggression among the Mbuna cichlids from Lake Malawi.
Most cichlids lock lips and wrestle around the tank before breeding --
sort of a survival of the fittest contest. Many
females lose this wrestling match, since males usually grow much larger.
So-called “mated pairs” are pairs that have survived these fitness
contests. Usually, any two healthy
cichlids of the opposite sex will grow into “mated pairs.”
We often hear some cichlids referred to as “mated pairs.”
Just because they mated once, doesn’t mean they will ever spawn again.
If you totally change their environment, they may never spawn again.
If you move them to a different tank, they may never breed again. We think “bonded pair” fits the situation better.
But we’ll keep calling them mated pairs because everyone else does.
The “Dither” Factor.
You add the dither fish to increase the pair’s desire to bond together.
They unite against what they perceive as a common enemy.
If you breed your fish in a small tank, your pair will kill your dither
fish – or each other. You need
room for the pair and
the dither fish. Long tanks work
Types of Dither Fish.
Your poorest choice is a plecostomus.
Yes, they will not hurt him. Yes,
they will keep him away from the eggs but unfortunately only while the light
shines. When you flip off the tank
lights at night, your pleco suddenly comes alive and polishes off the eggs.
Ditto on most catfish. Most
catfishes work the night shift.
Harmless lunkers such as goldfish and large mollies work okay.
The smallest cichlids can easily persuade the largest goldfish to haul
his rear end out of their personal space.
Mollies also furnish live food every so often.
Use another cichlid at your own risk.
Some cichlids will muscle their way into the egglaying process.
If you use an extra cichlid of the same species, they often kill the
“odd man out.”
Speedy ditherers such as Chinese algae eaters or giant danios are capable
of invading many cichlid egg sites.
Use speedy guys at your own risk.
Better choices include the rainbow fishes and large barbs.
Both their size and agility keep them healthy.
Dither Numbers. If you use several dither fish, you run the risk of them outwitting your cichlids. If you’ve ever seen a group of small sunfish clean out the nest of a five-pound, large-mouth bass, you know that size does not necessarily guarantee success. (By the way, both the sunfish and the bass are centrarchids, our cool weather equivalents of the cichlids.)
Summary. Want to spawn a hard-to-breed cichlid? Add a dither fish.
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