Cichlids are very interesting fish that many people love keeping in their home aquariums. You might have several cichlids in your fish tanks.
You likely enjoy observing these lively fish in your aquarium. When looking at the fish, you might notice that some of them appear to have “egg spots.”
Many people have noted seeing egg spots on these fish. There are spots on the body of the cichlid that make it look like there are eggs stuck to their bodies.
What are these egg spots? Is it an indication that something is wrong with the fish or is it natural?
Read on to learn everything that you need to know about egg spots on cichlids. It’ll ensure that you understand what’s going on so you won’t have to worry.
What Do Egg Spots on Cichlids Mean?
Egg spots are actually normal and many types of cichlids have them. If you were worried that these spots were a sign of disease, you can stop fretting now.
These egg spots actually serve a purpose. Many types of cichlids have these egg spots and they’re used to throw predators off.
You see, there are types of fish that like to eat cichlid eggs. Specifically, certain types of catfish are known to go after cichlid eggs.
The parent fish need to have a way to protect their eggs from these fish. The presence of the egg spots on the cichlid’s body will distract the catfish.
You might see the catfish chase one of the parent fish instead of getting to the eggs. It’s a very interesting defense mechanism that can be used to protect eggs.
How to Identify Egg Spots
You’ve likely already noticed the egg spots on your cichlids. If you haven’t, then it’ll be beneficial to learn a bit more about them.
Many cichlids will develop egg spots on their anal fins. You’ve learned that these egg spots are a defense mechanism that is designed to protect cichlid eggs.
It’s common to see more of these egg spots on male cichlids. Of course, since there are many types of cichlids, the egg spots might vary based on the type of cichlid you’re looking at.
Generally, the egg spots will either be clear circles or blotches that look like eggs. Sometimes the egg spots will be a bit subtle and might be hard to spot right away.
If you look at the fish you should be able to tell if it has egg spots. It might be easier if you see pictures of the egg spots that you can try to match up with your fish.
Can Female Cichlids Have Egg Spots?
Yes, female cichlids can indeed possess egg spots. Many types of female cichlids will have at least one egg spot on their bodies.
Thus, you can’t use the presence of egg spots as a way to differentiate male and female cichlids. Although, it does seem to be more common for males to have egg spots.
You might be able to locate some egg spots on the female cichlids in your tank right now. Simply observe the fish and try to take note of any spots that you see.
There are some cichlid species that are different, though. Some types of cichlids might only have males that get the egg spots.
You might need to look up specific information about the type of cichlid that you’re curious about. Even so, it’s interesting to know that many female cichlids do indeed have egg spots.
Egg Spots and Mating
It’s been speculated for quite some time that egg spots play a role in the mating process of cichlids. Many enthusiasts say that egg spots are an important part of cichlid mating routines.
Male cichlids will try to get the attention of female cichlids by doing a little “mating dance.” During this mating dance, the male cichlid shows off its egg spots to the female.
It could be that a male with prominent egg spots will do a better job of protecting the eggs from predators. The male shows off the egg spots on its rear lower anal fin.
The female fish might begin pecking at the egg spot. This is a sign that things are going the right way.
If all goes well, the mating process will begin. Depending on the type of cichlid that you’re talking about, the process will differ a bit from here.
There are mouth-brooding cichlids as well as cichlids that just lay their eggs in a more standard fashion. It’s interesting to note the differences between different types of cichlids.
How to Tell Male and Female Cichlids Apart
So if you can’t tell male and female cichlids apart based on egg spots, how are you supposed to do it? There are several differences between male and female cichlids to consider.
Most types of cichlids are going to have males and females that look different. They aren’t too difficult to tell apart, in most cases.
Generally, male cichlids are going to be substantially larger than female cichlids. The males can be as much as one inch longer than female cichlids.
When you examine the fins you will often notice differences as well. Males typically have longer anal, caudal, and dorsal fins.
There are some cichlid species where the changes are far subtler. Even in these cichlid types, the males are going to be a bit larger.
You’ll also notice that females will have bellies that are rounder. This is an easy way to tell cichlids apart at a glance.
Of course, it’s best to look at the vent to determine the sex of the fish. You can locate the vent by looking between the anal fin and the anus.
Male cichlids often have a much longer papilla than females. Some species might also have differences in pigmentation near the vent.
It’s also notable that mouth-brooding females have a large vent that is very distinct. If you’re trying to sex a mouth-brooding species, look at pictures of the females online to make telling them apart simple.
Males Are More Aggressive
Male cichlids are generally more aggressive than females. You can use this to make it easier to differentiate between male and female cichlids in your tank.
This isn’t a foolproof method, but it’s common for males to be more aggressive. The male cichlids are substantially more territorial.
Females can show aggression and will become territorial during breeding. It’s simply not as pronounced as it is with male cichlids.
It’s also notable that most male cichlids won’t get along with each other. Many types of cichlids will fight each other when more than one male is present in the fish tank.
The aggressive nature of male cichlids can be problematic. If you wish to keep these fish in your tank, it’s best to keep one male with two or three females.
Do Cichlids Eat Their Own Eggs?
Now that you know that cichlids have egg spots to try to protect their eggs, you might be wondering about what happens when these fish lay eggs. Will cichlids be good parents that will watch out for the eggs?
Or will these fish sometimes wind up eating their own eggs? Certain types of cichlids will eat their own eggs and some might eat their own fry once they’ve hatched.
It just depends on the type of cichlid that you’re talking about. Certain types of cichlids such as jewel cichlids are known for being very good parent fish.
If you want to breed these fish, sometimes it’s best to look after the eggs yourself. This can help to ensure that as many fish survive as possible.
Angelfish are cichlids that are known to eat their own eggs when they become stressed. Other types of cichlids might have the same thing happen.
If you’re serious about breeding these fish, it can be beneficial to separate the parent fish from the eggs. You can put the fish in a breeding tank and then put them back in the main tank after the eggs have been laid.
You’ve learned everything that you need to know about cichlids and egg spots now. Many types of cichlids have egg spots and they serve an important purpose.
The egg spots are used to help protect eggs that have been laid. The presence of the egg spots can act as a distraction to predators that like to eat cichlid eggs.
You might see a predator chase the cichlid instead of going straight for the eggs. It gives the eggs a chance to survive.
Egg spots are used in mating rituals, too. Males that have prominent egg spots might be more desirable mates.
Females might also have egg spots. There are many types of cichlids and some females might have at least one egg spot.
Since the different types of cichlids can vary a lot, you might wish to look up specific information based on the types of cichlids that you own. This will ensure that you understand what to expect.
Cichlids are very interesting fish that can truly be a lot of fun to own. You just want to make sure that you put them in the right environment where they can thrive.
Remember that these are somewhat aggressive fish. You don’t want to put two male cichlids in the same tank because they will wind up fighting.
Be careful when picking tank mates for these fish, too. You absolutely must pick appropriate tank mates or you’ll encounter problems when setting up a community fish tank.
Jeff has always enjoyed having pets, but as a child, he was drawn to his family’s fish tank. Being able to maintain a small ecosystem and observe the behaviors and interactions in the underwater world peaked his interest early on and has kept him hooked until this day. On Avid Aquarist, Jeff shares everything he’s learned about helping aquatic life survive and thrive in a home aquarium.