My pair of green terror cichlid fish spawn on a regular basis, but up until now I have not wanted to raise the fry. What would I have to do if I decided to raise the fry?
The decision to rear green terrors (Aequidens rivulatus) has a lot more to it than simply rearing fry. For starters, adult green terror cichlids are extremely fecund – meaning a healthy pair can easily produce more than 300 fry at a time. So before you commit to rearing them, make sure you can place the fry once they’ve outgrown your ability to house and maintain them, or after you’ve reared them to a sellable size. Many aquarium stores will happily sell green terrors, but are often a little reluctant to buy them back from customers. This is likely because it’s a species that can have limited appeal, due to its somewhat aggressive disposition and eventual size. That said, if you still want to rear the fry, here’s how I’d suggest you go about it.
First, decide how much time and effort you want to spend on rearing the fry. It takes a lot of aquarium space, a lot of large water changes and a generous supply of fish food to rear a brood of green terror cichlids. Based on the time and effort you’re willing to invest, conservatively estimate how many fry you can properly rear. The next step is to “steal” that number of fry the next time your green terrors spawn. It is much easier to catch fry just before they become free-swimming. To remove the fry, take a small siphon (the hose of a gravel cleaner works well), and start a low-head (meaning slow flow – keep the receiving container near, but just below, the height of the aquarium’s water level) siphon, and dip the end of the hose into the cluster of nearly free-swimming fry. Siphon them into a partially full 5- or 10- gallon aquarium. Once you have the number of fry you want, pull the siphon away from the rest of the fry, and continue to siphon until you have enough water in the small aquarium; or you can top off the fry aquarium once you’ve placed it where it is going to sit.
With the fry in the small aquarium, add a mature filter to maintain water quality and a heater set to the same temperature as the aquarium the fry originally came from. If you’ve taken the fry at just the right time, in a day or two, start to offer fish food to the fry, but first make sure the fry are free-swimming and that they have used up all of their yolk (they will not have little bulging bellies anymore). The best fish food is live brine shrimp nauplii because it reliably elicits the feeding response in baby cichlid fish. They are easy to hatch yourself once you become familiar with the process. Unfortunately, it’s a little more work than feeding the fry with crushed flake fish food or other nonlive items, but you’ll have far more success in getting your little terrors off to a good start if you go to the trouble of hatching the brine shrimp.
Then it is simply a matter of keeping the fry well-fed and the water clean. As the fry grow, make sure you are able to increase the size of the fry aquarium – they’ll outgrow that 5- or 10-gallon aquarium in about a week or so if you’re doing everything right. Sellable size for green terror cichlids is about 1.5 to 2 inches, including the tail. Good luck!