Bristol Aquarium is enjoying a mini baby boom with the arrival of more than 50 tiny freshwater Central American fish.
The black and white striped zebra cichlids started breeding at the Harbourside aquarium earlier this month – much to the delight of aquarists.
Found throughout much of Central America, the fish is also known as the convict cichlid and is renowned for its parental care which even extends to adopting non-related babies.
Bristol Aquarium’s Tina Patel, said: “It’s fantastic news the cichlids have given birth. It is a really good indication that conditions inside the tank must be near perfect and that the fish are being well cared for.
“We’re monitoring the babies’ progress but cichlids are such good parents that there’s not a lot more we can do – apart from enjoy watching them develop,” she explained.
Like most cichlids, zebras exhibit excellent parenting skills throughout the birthing process; from egg-laying onwards.
The eggs hatch approximately 72 hours after fertilization, and during that time the parents expel intruders and potential egg predators from around the nest. They also continuously fan the eggs, moving water with their fins over the clutch to bring oxygen to the eggs.
After hatching, the larvae absorb their yolk sacs and develop their fins prior to becoming free-swimming fry.
While in this free swimming stage, fry forage during daylight in a dense school and return to the cave or crevice for the night.
Like other cichlids, the parents also retrieve their young just before dark, sucking up three or four fry at a time into their mouth, swimming back to the nest, and spitting the young into it.
During the night, the fry group together at the bottom of the cave or nest, where the parents fan them.
Both parents remain involved in guarding the young for up to six weeks; helping to feed and care for the babies until they are large enough to fend for themselves.
Issued by Bristol Aquarium. For more information please contact Tina Patel, Dan de Castro or Paul Strachan on 0117 929 8929.
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