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Re:Convict feeders

Mike writes:

>     I was planning on breeding convicts as feeders for large South American
> cichlids. Since I am very new to this, I was wondering if I had the
> "optimum" set-up for fry. What I have so far is as follows:
>     2 pairs of convicts (all about 1" in length - I wanted them to grow up a
> All in a 25 gal high tank. Temp approx. 80 deg F  ph 6.8 - 7.0   The
> substrate is coarse river rock (I don't know if this makes a difference) I
> have a 4" diameter clay pot, turned over, and an opening cut to form a cave
> for them.<

Convicts are not cave spawners.  They will look for a flat rock on the bottom
of the tank.  I have seen them choose the bottom of a clay pots set on its
side, but give them an open spot to choose from as well.

> There is also a slate rock formed cave on the other side of the
> tank.

>     Other than the 4 convicts 

Believe it or not, at some point this will become two convicts too many.  They
are extremely aggressive for their size.
>there are 2 Chinese algae eaters and 2 Dwarf Otocinclus. I plan to remove the
2 >Chinese algae eaters. I fear they attack the parents (mine are pretty
aggressive) >and eat the fry.

CAEs are extremely nasty fish.  The otos will become convict food when the
cichlids reach a little over 2 inches.

>     As far as filtration goes, I have a biowheel filter and an undergravel
> filter. There are some plants in the tank, not a dense arrangement.
The coarse river rock is not suitable for UG filters.  either replace the
substrate, or unplug the air to the UG filter and be sure that your other
filter is big enough to handle the load.

> That's it. Now what I was wondering, after I spot a bonding pair should I
> remove the other pair?


> How large will they be before they start breeding?

I've had them spawn at 2 1/2 inches.

> Also should I have a sponge filter instead of the Biowheel? (Sucking up fry)
> Any information would greatly be appreciated. Thanks everyone!
I use sponge filters with any tank where fry are present.  Yes the biowheel
will grab some of them.  If you use the sponge filter that sits on the bottom
rather than attaching to the side of the tank, I recommend you use some
silicone to glue marbles on the bottom of the filter, so fry don't become
stuck under it.

I have raised convicts for just this purpose on several ocassions.  They are
extremely prolific, and once they start spawning, they will continue for years
in spite of bad water quality, cold tanks, or any of the other things that
usually turn fish off.

Bob Dixon