Classic Car Intelligence

The care of Cyphotilapia Frontosa

The following article has been provided by Roger Miles who runs Frontosafish. Further details of the fish he currently has available for sale may be found on his website. This article cannot be reproduced without his permission.

Whether you decide to keep frontosas in separate tanks individually filtered, or systemised tanks with central filtration is purely dependent on personal facilities and finance.

It really does not matter which, but for the more advanced hobbyist there is a tendency to use central filtration along with its techniques that allows massive water changes keeping nitrate levels to below 5ppm and the fact of there being a larger volume of water available there is a better dilution of the fish urine & solid waste, which carries growth reducing pheromones, thus allowing quite rapid growth of the frontosas.

Single tanks can be treated in a much similar fashion, with perhaps more frequent water changes, maybe three times a week if you have time, otherwise once a week really is the minimum. The amount of water changed can be anything from 10%-70%.

Single tanks can be biologically mature in a matter of six weeks to two months. Central filtration systems can take anything up to 9-12 months.

For a group of 6-8 four inch plus fish you should consider a tank size of 4'x18"x18"(120x45x45cm). Please bear in mind it is not the overall size of tank that really matters, but the capacity of water it can contain, obviously the more water the better.

Nitrate is the most overlooked, insidious of pollutants in fishkeeping, and only by addressing ways of reducing it can you realise the full potential of how quickly your frontosas can grow. I realise that most municipal water has a much higher nitrate content than 5ppm. Only by investing in equipment for removing nitrate can you really start to get to grip with re-shaping the quality of your water. For consistent breeding success, if that is your objective, the pH needs to be over 8.0. and the temperature needs to be around 25 degrees Celsius. Hardness should be of an electrical conductivity of 600 microSiemens or 18GH.

Water treatment plant will be dealt with in further detail in the equipment page.

Once you have chosen a particular race to keep, making sure they are unrelated, you can then start to select your fish. Frontosas breed in groups, therefore it is my opinion you should start with 8-10 fish. You can chose fewer fish if funds are restrictive, but with a bigger number there is a tendency of the Mexican stand-off syndrome so the weaker ones would not be bullied so quickly. The alpha male will quickly establish himself, so provide enough hideaways for the rest of the fish that want to get out of the way. Unless the beta male is badly treated do not remove him as his presence sometimes adds to the alpha male's prolific abilities. An ideal ratio is one alpha male, one beta male and six or more females. Do not make the mistake of thinking that the biggest and best looking male will always be the alpha male.

There seems to be some confusion as to what age a frontosa breeds, some say two years and some say four. I suspect that the ones that are on the side of more than two years must be the way the fish are raised, water quality and diet. For wild-caught fish, males start to breed at about 5", females at about 4", obviously the smaller the female the smaller the clutch of eggs.

Once the group have established themselves you may well find yourself with fewer fish, you may get away with adding one or two more "known" females, if you first re-arrange the tank but it is a matter of pure luck. You will have to make that decision as re-arranging the tank will surely postpone the breeding cycle that may be under way. Sexing frontosas is not easy there are many well documented ways that experts do it, even so everyone is caught out from time to time. Be prepared to take out any battered or distressed fish.

Frontosas are not fussy eaters, but bear in mind that with wild-caught fish they will be used to eating other live fish and crustaceans. They usually take frozen food once thawed. This may consist of lance fish, white bait, mussel, cockle, mysis shrimp, krill etc. they also like earthworms. Dried food will also be taken, but some experienced frontosa keepers prefer not to feed this to wild-caught frontosas as from time to time it has proved problematical.

When conditions are right the male will have chosen at least one female, he then goes into a corner of the tank, deposits his sperm then usually leaves. The female then goes over the said area drops her egg or eggs in the packet of sperm, swims backwards then picks up the eggs in her mouth then repeats this again till she has vented all her eggs. Sometimes the male may wander over and leave another packet of sperm. You will indeed be fortunate to witness this procedure.

As soon as you see the female "holding eggs" take her out, give her a smaller well filtered matured tank, on her own, with some receptacle for her to go into.

Taking into account the above way in which these fish breed, you will be well advised to make sure that the water in your tank is not too turbulent as the male just will not do "his business" or if he does his sperm will be well reduced in quantity and quality, that is if it is not washed away completely.

Once the female has released the fry you can return her to the main tank. She would take shelter in the usual places she was used to. It is most important that there is shelter large enough to house her but too small for the male to enter, as he will no doubt be aggressive in his advances towards her. Make sure she gets her fair share of food as she would have gone at least five to six weeks without eating.

As you can see it is beneficial to her that other females are present so as to satisfy the male's need to breed. She should be ready in a couple of months or so to breed again. It says a lot about the breeding pattern of the male as he will readily accept the female back into his domain, but not so a female newcomer.

The fry you now have is going to be any number of ten to thirty depending on the size of the female and how many broods she had before. Indeed a big female that has bred many times before is capable of having fifty or more fry.

If they were her first brood there may be only a few, therefore you may want to feed frozen Cyclops as their first food as this may be more convenient. A brood of greater number makes it viable to feed newly hatched brine shrimp and this is a much better food source and certainly easier on the fry as there will be less pollution of their tank.

Sometimes it is advisable to mix in crushed flake or fine dried fry food of a proprietary brand with the fry's first food to give them an added source of vitamins.

You can sometimes be surprised as to the large size of newly released fry. Do not be afraid to feed frozen adult brine shrimp as their first food, these small fish are more than capable of greedily sucking them in. It will then be apparent of how quickly baby frontosas can grow.

As the fish grow, these food items can be followed with larger fare such as mysis shrimp, krill, finely chopped cockle, small earthworms again finely chopped and small fast-sinking granular food if required. If feeding flake make sure it is thoroughly soaked so it sinks quickly.

It may be that you are fortunate enough to have two or more batches from the same breeding group that have been spat out within a few days of each other. That being the case try and put them together as soon as possible as they will benefit from being a larger number of fish, feeling more secure therefore they will feed with more avarice and gusto.

Do not forget the importance of doing frequent water changes. Every day is advisable especially in the first few weeks, use the water from the parents main tank in the first few days so the fry will not be "shocked" by the new water. This is assuming that the new water being used have a lower amount of nitrate present.

Frontosafish


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