How to Breed Frontosa Cichlids

With proper care in a large aquarium, Frontosa cichlids can live up to 25 years.
With proper care in a large aquarium, Frontosa cichlids can live up to 25 years. (Image: Jupiterimages/ Images)

The Humphead Chichlid (Frontosa cichlids) is native to Zambia’s Lake Tanganyika. The adult fish are somewhat rare, have a large cranial hump on their heads and can grow up to 14 inches. Though they are not aggressive, they require a large aquarium to thrive. With a 100- to 200-gallon aquarium decorated with a sandy bottom, rocks and caves, you should be able to keep one male and three to four female Frontosa Cichlids for breeding.

Things You'll Need

  • 200-gallon aquarium
  • Sand
  • Rocks
  • 1 male Frontosa cichlid
  • 4 female Frontosa cichlid
  • Cichlid pellets
  • Small aquarium
  • Container
  • Net
  • Airstones

Prepare a large, 100- to 200-gallon aquarium. Cover the bottom with a few inches of sand. Place several rocks, pipes and caves around the aquarium. The best water conditions for the Frontosa cichlids are a consistent temperature of 77F and a pH level of 7.8.

Create a spawning area in one of the aquarium’s corners. Do this by using stones or coral to build up a confined, private area. The fish will use this area for breeding. This is the type of structure that they would seek out in their wild habitats, so it is important to mimic it in your aquarium if you want the fish to breed.

Feed the Frontosa cichlids high-quality chichlid pellets. In the wild, the fish eat other small fish, but be wary of the type and quality that you bring into the aquarium. Make sure that the fish are disease-free so that they do not spread illness, which could harm your Frontosa cichlids and prevent breeding.

Observe the female fish closely; change the aquarium’s water when she develops a rounded belly. This will promote spawning, which should take place in the days and weeks after the water change.

Wait for the eggs to hatch with the proper care of the mother. The mother will guard the eggs in her mouth, so there is no way to tell if she is doing her job properly, unless you notice that she has eaten the eggs. If she cares for them properly, you will not need to intervene. If the mother devours the eggs several times, proceed with the remaining steps.

Turn off the aquarium lights when you notice that the mother is once again carrying eggs in her mouth. Wait 60 minutes, during which time you fill a second, smaller aquarium with water from the large aquarium. Make sure that the temperatures in both aquariums are identical. Fill a small container that is large enough to hold the mother with water from the large aquarium

Catch the mother with a net. Open her mouth gently with your fingers, which will force her to spit out the eggs into the container. Return her to the large aquarium.

Put the eggs into the smaller aquarium near airstones. The airstones must be powerful enough to aerate the water so that the eggs are rotated. If you notice any eggs that are starting to rot, remove them from the aquarium immediately so that they don't spread harmful bacteria into the water and onto the other eggs.

Wait for the eggs to hatch. They should be developed fully within one month.

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