Cardinal Mating Dance!

I know I haven’t updated in a while, but that’s mostly because nothing big has happened in a while. First I’ll give you an update of everything that has happened up until now, then I’ll give the (sort of) big news from the title of this post.

Sunny, the yellow clown goby, has opened up and become much more brave, which is great. He perches just about anywhere and swims openly just about anywhere. This is largely because Filet has become more timid and doesn’t pick on him as much. Filet doesn’t really like the dark and I’ve decreased the light time to 6 hours per day, which is part of the reason, but I think Filet is getting kind of lonely because he doesn’t have any other tangs to hang out with. I’ve placed an order with a different fish store, and with any luck I should have the two other tangs I’ve wanted within a couple of weeks. Of course they’ll need to be quarantined for a couple of months after that, but we should at least be making some progress.

The sump pump I use is having some issues. It mostly works but sometimes it shuts off and doesn’t come back on, which is really bad. So I’m using a backup pump right now which isn’t nearly as good, but will at least keep some water flowing through the system. Hopefully I’ll be able to get the main pump repaired soon, but I don’t know exactly where to go to do that.

Finally, I took a picture of what the tank looks like when I come home from work, with all of the fish eager to beg for food:

All right, now to the good stuff. Last night I actually saw two of the cardinal fish doing some mating behavior. I was able to get some still pictures of it, but by the time I was able to get a video going they had stopped the interesting video-worthy part. Here’s a link to a YouTube video that describes what’s happening pretty well:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pjwhCnDk5Ew

The video describes the breeding process for cardinals pretty well, but I’ll re-describe it here in case you don’t want to watch the video. When a pair of cardinals decide to mate, they will pair off and start to behave differently, including doing this mating dance. Eventually, when this happens enough, the female will lay eggs and the male will fertilize them and store them in his mouth for a total of two weeks. Because of this, cardinal fish are sometimes called “mouth brooders.” After two weeks, the eggs will hatch inside the male’s mouth, and the fry will live inside his mouth for another week or so, only coming out to feed. During this 3-week period, the male will not eat.

Here are the still pictures I took – the male is the one behind/below the female, and he has a slightly different color.

Now all I saw is the mating dance — this may have to happen several times for the female to actually lay eggs and for the male to fertilize them and store them in his mouth, and the male accepted food (a lot of food) afterward at feeding time, so they haven’t actually mated yet. However, this means a lot of great things: first of all, I can now identify the male (he has turned a different, more greenish color) and female as a mated pair both by appearance and behavior. These two have grown slightly larger than the other two cardinals. Also, this is the first time I even knew that I had both a male and a female, so it’s very fortunate that not only are both a male and female there in the tank, but they actually did mate and pair off.

I will be keeping a close eye on both of these fish and update more when things happen. The nice thing about breeding cardinals is that it’s possible to have a successful birth in the display tank without any outside intervention, but there may be some things I can do to improve the chances of more fry living and growing up. If any of that happens, I’ll update here and post pictures and stuff. I really want to try and get pictures of the fry feeding out of the male’s mouth after they’ve hatched, but I know that’s really ambitious.

Needless to say, I’m REALLY excited about this 😀

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