“Look out Fran! To the right! Faster! No get behind that pipe! That green thing is still after you, faster Fran, Keep going! Oh no it’s got her.”

LABEOTROPHEUS FUELLEBORNI

Hello there, my name is Fred Fuelleborni and I am an African Cichlid. That was my mate Fran I was just shouting at. I was trying to save her from that green thing but I guess it’s too late now. It got her. She was my favourite mate of all those in here at present and she was carrying a mouthful of our babies. She had been carrying them for two or three weeks now and was getting thinner every day from lack of eating but then that is the way of our breed.

Let me tell you a bit about our breed if I may. We are known officially as Labeotropheus fuelleborni Cichlids and our ancestors emigrated many years back from Lake Malawi, Africa. We are one of the Mbuna Cichlids from Lake Nyasa, one of the Rift Lakes of that area. When full grown we reach a size of from 10 to 12.5 cm and our normal colour pattern is a background of blue crossed by 6 to 8 dark vertical bars. The females of our breed are usually paler and have a more greenish cast. Sometimes you can find the females of our breed with a different colour pattern that is a mottled pattern of orange, black and white. Bright orange to yellow spots are present in the anal fin and the dorsal at times. When courting we are very active and quite often will uproot plants and stir up the bottom in our mating frenzy. We do not like very fine sand for our substrata.

A rule of thumb is that our breeding females will have about fifty eggs, and because we are a mouth brooder our females will incubate them for 23 to 30 days in their mouth. A sudden water change is not to our liking, especially when in the breeding cycle. Our young grow slowly but are often ready to spawn themselves when they reach the exalted age of thirteen months. Our favourite diet is brine shrimp, tubifex worms, etc. when available.

I’m going to ask the Provider if I can have Fran say a few words from her maternity ward now:

Hello there, my name is Fran and I now find myself residing in a 5 gallon aquarium. It smells of disinfectant, probably the hospital tank. Quite a change from the 90 gallon I was in with the rest of them but I do have this one to myself. Just me, the floating and planted plants, The corner filter, the heater and the one and a half inches of gravel on the bottom. I hope you can understand me for I am still a bit weak from my extended weeks of not eating. Well you see when I am carrying our eggs and later the babies in my mouth for from 23 to 30 days I can’t eat anything. I get thinner and thinner but I am pleased to do it for Fred and the breed. When I was moved here to this smaller tank I was scared a bit but I didn’t swallow my babies in fright. I have just opened my mouth this morning and my babies are now swimming all around me. There are about 15 to 20 of them and they are looking quite healthy and I must say a darn good size for new-borns. I, myself, am not a full size yet so I guess that is why I only had 15 to 20 rather than the 50 they told me I might have.

Well the Provider is feeding us twice a day with, live baby brine shrimp, fry pellet dust and plankton for the young ones and something more filling for me. We are lucky to have such a thoughtful Provider. The youngsters are very active swimming all around the corner filter, the floating plants while I regain my strength. The Provider will no doubt return me to the 90 gallon aquarium when I have had a rest and put on some weight. In my current weak state I won’t bother the kids and if I were returned to the big tank too soon the other big guys would probably chase me and give me a hard time while I was feeling poorly.

Some days later I was returned to the big tank, but I asked the Provider if I might have our eldest, Frankie, carry on this narrative:

Hi my name is Frankie and my brothers, sisters and me are doing very well. We are growing like bad weeds due, no doubt, to the favourable conditions in the Provider’s aquariums. He gives us a 10 percent or more water change every week and feeds us live brine shrimp when finished. When Mom was returned to Dad’s aquarium The Provider moved us to a 10 gallon so we would have more room to grow. We now have a sponge filter and combined with the floating and planted plants we have a good bit of natural food. We have a glass top with a fluorescent light providing us with lots of illumination. Some time later. It is now about 2.5 months since we emerged out into this wide world of colour and my brothers, sisters and me are doing very well. Some of us measure anywhere from 1.75 cm to 2.5 cm in length. We are fat and saucy and very active. I believe that The Provider is going to put Mom, Dad and we young ones in the club show soon. No doubt in the family class. Well maybe I will see you there. Look for me, I’ll be the biggest and fastest one and I will wiggle my tail fin at you if you wave at me. Best wishes.

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