Breeding A.sp."Mouthbrooder" (Maulbrueter)
Text by Lois and Max Gallade
Photographs by Max Gallade
Female cleaning clutch of eggs
In July 2002 I received a wildcaught pair of this stunning new,
larvaphile mouthbreeding and scientifically undescribed Apistogramma
species. It was a surprise gift from a fellow Apistogramma mailing
list member. Thanks again Mike!!
A.sp."Mouthbrooder" was first introduced into the English
speaking hobby by Dr. Uwe Roemer in the October issue of the 2000
ACA Buntbarsche Bulletin as A.sp."Brustband"-(Breastband).
Ingo Koslowski introduced the same species a month later in Germany's
DATZ magazine as A. sp. Maulbrueter-(Mouthbrooder).
The known collecting locale are the tributaries of the lower to
middle Rio Ampiyacu , in Peru.
I started out keeping my pair in a 10g with sand substrate which
is important for this species as they love to sift the sand for
food. The tank had the usual hiding spots (Coconut shells,Driftwood and Terra Cotta Saucers) and plant cover. Unfortunately,
I didn't get any fry from the first two spawns.
My pair spawned regularly every two weeks after water changes with
pure R/O water. I could see the eggs in the breeding cave but they
seemed to disappear after a few days. I suspected that the male
made a meal out of them.
I decided to move the male after the next spawn and if that didn't
work I would steal the eggs and try to hatch them artificially in
Note: I steal eggs from fish as a last resort to
ensure the survival of rare hard to get species and only when everything
else failed. My experience is that Apistogramma fry have a better
chance to survive when raised by their parents.
Finally, the third spawn hatched!! I found the newly hatched wigglers
in a coconut shell breeding cave this morning.
It appeared that they would be free swimming soon. I estimated about
20-30 tiny wigglers. A rather small spawn compared to other Apistogramma
species spawns, which sometimes can yield up to 100 fry.
This is the breeding tank. You clearly
can see all the pits the female dug in the sand.
I did leave the male in the tank for now. The female always chased
him away when he got too close to the breeding cave. The female
left the cave rarely, mostly to get some food or to chase the male
away. The female dug up the whole tank before this spawn. I assumed
to create hiding spots for her new fry. She really liked to dig
near plant roots until they were exposed, probably to give the fry
more protective spots to hide in.
Female in breeding coloration
The female left the breeding cave and stayed mostly near a huge
dug pit. It seemed that she was carrying the wigglers in her mouth
now. I was able to observe chewing motions once in a while. This
was probably her way of cleaning the wigglers in her mouth. I also
watched her placing the wigglers in the pit once in a while when
she left them for a few seconds to get a few bites of food.
Female with her 1st day free swimmers
Female with her 1st day free swimmers in the fresh
The fry got their first tour of the tank this morning. The female
moved them from the pit they stayed in the last two days to another
one in the middle of the tank near a clump of java moss. She probably
moved them to let the fry feed on infusoria found in the java moss.
Later they got the first squirt of freshly hatched live BBS which
they took to immediately.
The fry started to free swim last night.The female's attacks against
the male got a bit nastier. SoI decided to move the male to another
tank for his own good.
Female with fry
I counted at least 25 fry near Mom. The female seems to be more
relaxed now since the male was moved. She picks up strays with her
mouth (just like other Apisto Moms do) and spits them back out into
the school. Nothing like the mouth brooding behavior she displayed
earlier after the eggs just hatched.
Taking quality photographs turned out to be harder to get than I
thought, since the female always kept the fry in the middle of the
Raising the fry
The female turned out to be a very caring mother. I found it was
not to hard to raise the fry to young adulthood. They eagerly ate
live Baby Brine Shrimp and later on larger foods like Daphnia and
Brine Shrimp. Unfortunately, this spawn turned out to be a 70/30
% male/female ratio.
After this spawn I decided to move the pair to a bigger , but similar
decorated quarters (20g long) . A.sp. "Mouthbrooder" is
one of the largest Apistogramma species I have kept so far. A 10g
tank is really too small for this species. My male reached a total
length of 4", the female was about 3" when I lost her
later in 2002.
I truly enjoyed watching this interesting new breeding behavior
. It is far different from any other known Apistogramma species.
The breeding tank:
TDS (Total Dissolved Solids)
Temperature around 78 Deg .F
Water Changes: Weekly 25%