Happy 1st Day of Spring! It’s finally here.
Of the 23 White Nile Tilapia in our 55-gallon aquarium, only one of them has been digging nests in the gravel. He began on the right side of the tank, and then abandoned that nest to dig another one near the filter intake pipe on the other side of the tank. A day or so later, he abandoned that nest and returned to the other location to dig, and then finally reclaimed the nest by the filter. I’m not sure what inspired him to move back and forth, but he and his mate definitely chose their honeymoon suite this time, because they have finally decided to start a family.
After an early evening feeding, I noticed that a female Tilapia began releasing her eggs on the bottom of the nest as the male watched very closely. When she was finished, the male swam slightly above the eggs to fertilize them. The female circled back and picked them up with her mouth. Then they repeated this process many times.
In this first photo, the male is watching the eggs as the female releases them on the bottom of the nest. Notice that the female (on the right) is whiter and larger than the male (on the left).
After she releases some eggs, she swims in a circle so the male can swim over and fertilize them.
Then she returns to pick up the eggs with her mouth.
Every once in a while, they examined the bottom of the nest together.
Eventually, another Tilapia decided to investigate.
And then the visitor began scooping up eggs. I’m not sure if it was a female who wanted to incubate the eggs in her mouth, or if she was hungry.
Surprisingly enough, the breeding pair did not try to chase away the visitor. This was quite unexpected, since the male had been attacking every fish that got in his half of the tank.
An hour or so after our lovebirds swam from their nest I tried to find the female so I could take a picture of the eggs in her mouth, but I couldn’t find her. I decided to give all of them some food and then I would be able to find her easily, since she would be the only one that was not eating.
They all ate.
Unfortunately, it appears that she must have swallowed her eggs. I have heard that this is not unusual after the first spawning. They were very young, probably too young, so this will give them a chance to mature a little more before trying again.
Here are the latest photos of the Tilapia at about 14 weeks of age: