I got a small firemouth cichlid for my 25-gallon fish tank a year ago that is now 4.5-inches long, being my first large fish that I ever owned. Unlike guppies and other livebearers that have obvious differences between the sexes, I was never certain as to what sex the firemouth was. Over the last several weeks, I kept thinking the firemouth might be a female. I noticed last night that “she” was spending more time in the large cave than the small cave—busted in half clay pots buried in the gravel—while chasing off the other fishes a little too maternally.
Using a flashlight to peer inside the large cave, I found rows of eggs planted on the underside. Won’t see any fry without a male firemouth to fertilize the eggs. The pleco ate most of the eggs this morning. The rest is turning white from a fungus that kills unfertilized eggs. I’m amazed to see this happen, but I’m also saddened that the eggs were a wasted effort and the female firemouth won’t get any larger.