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Borelli male rearing young and other interesting behaviour stuff (long)

I would just like to share the experience I had with a borellii couple.

I have a 100 gal tank (with added 20 gal capacity from the sump) with sand, pieces of wood and aquatic plants. There are only 4 otos, an A. agassizii trio and an A. borellii couple in the tank. 

I started the system in January but, anyway, want to keep the stock quite low. If one is into fish beaviour it pays a lot!

The territorial fights between the aga females are excelent to watch. Their eyes show a shining blue iris when they fight or display and I already presenced a some frontal open mouth threatening displays and even a mouth-lock fight (only a couple of seconds but it was something I never heard about in females). The male tends to interfere when agresssion becomes higher and then punishes the females which is also quite interesting.

A month ago I was forced to introduce a borellii couple there for lack of space. I had a very recently purshased borellii trio in a 4 gal quarentine tank but the bigger female spawned (after just 9 days) and I had to move the other two.

A week later the other female was ripe and soon disapeered among the plants. The male apparently didnt care. He was too busy runnig away from the agas. After about 8/10 days he became more agressive and established a tiny territory near the place where I suspected the female was. He started to attack even the aga male who is much bigger and always dominated him.

Last saturday I notice the male was taking care of around 10 young alone! The female is taking care of a big bunch but tends to stay somehow far from the male's territory (the same corner of the tank but at least 10 to 20 cms away). The female is still using the plants for coverage but the male stays in the limits of the planted zone.

The male does the mother stuff quite well using his mouth to keep the fry together. The fin, colour or other signs he uses seem to be well interpretated by the young. They duck promptly when the aga male approaches and their father displays agression coloration. Speaking of colour, I thought the male could become a bit yellowish but it didnt happen at all. He is still quite blue violet so I would say that, giving the colour diversity borellii males can show, fry do not depend on the general colouration to identify a fish as a protecting parent.

Unfortunatly I was not lucky enough to watch the moment when the borellii male started to take care of the young. Was it a kiddnaping act? Was it a "mutual decision"? Anyone risks a foundated guess???

Anyway, giving the potential threat from the aga trio I would say that this strategy does maximize the chances of survival of some young specially if male and female stay near enough and keep some eye contact and share treathning and attacking manouvers.

An obvious conclusion: Great stuff having small apistos in big tanks!

I forgot to say:
temp 25-26 C, pH 6.7, Conductivity 70mS, 15% water changes weekly, 10 ppm CO2, 12 hours light, NO3 = 0; I do not use biological filters and rely just on the plants to keep the water ok (the sump has a lot of plants and has lights that are on in conter cycle to the aquarium to keep CO2 level stable - there are always plants convering CO2 into O2).
I feed only live food 3 times a day, mainly artemia naupillii, grindal worms and more ocasionally (because its winter here and the culture is dormant) daphnia and black mosquito larvae.

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