Jewel Cichlid pair fighting, help!

jewelbreedinghelp

Hi! First post here.
I recently purchased a hemichromis bimaculatus that I put in a tank with a hemichromis exsul. At the time I thought they were both males. Fast forward a week and a half, I was going to feed them and noticed a cloud of free swimming fry. Since they were the only two fish in the tank, I knew they were the parents. This was my first time breeding cichlids and it was by accident (my luck!). This was about a week ago. Since then, the fry have dwindled to about 40 but they are eating well and gaining size rapidly. Tonight, I did my nightly feeding and went off to do some work. When I came back, I noticed the exsul was kind of off in a corner and looking real pale. I quickly checked the water parameters and everything was normal. Then I noticed the bimaculatus (which I believe is the female) going after the exsul aggressively. She would chase him to the corner and when he would start moving around again, she would go right back after him. I had read online a lot about breeding them as well as watched some videos, but I don’t remember this behavior ever being brought up. I was led to believe they co-parent and will be loyal to the fry while taking turns guarding them. What should I do? I have turned the lights off and left the male in the tank for now. I have other tanks always set up in case stuff like this happens. Should I move the male? Will they ever spawn again? Any tips or thoughts as to why this happen would be greatly appreciated as at this point I’m flying blind.
 

Yeoy

Not sure about this as it's a mix of jewels I haven't kept, but in some species of fish one parent can take over the primary care and chase off the other parent once the fry are free swimming. How big is the tank?

If it looks like one fish is in danger, and you have other tanks, it could be worth removing him. These cichlids usually breed fairly easily so I'd imagine if you re-join the pair once this batch of fry has matured/moved on, they will likely breed again fairly readily.
 
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chromedome52

I would like to see photos of both fish, as most fish sold as Hemichromis bimaculatus (a misidentification that dates back more than 80 years ) are actually Hemichromis guttatus, which is extremely variable and the most common species of Jewel Cichlid in the hobby. Hemichromis exsul is a fairly recent discovery, but is quickly gaining in popularity. However, one might mistake the very red form of guttatus, which is often mislabeled as lifalili, for exsul. The differences are very slight.

More likely you got two color forms of H. guttatus. They usually are very good parents, but if there are no target fish to draw their aggression they may start fighting between the two adults. Separate them.
 
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jewelbreedinghelp

I would like to see photos of both fish, as most fish sold as Hemichromis bimaculatus (a misidentification that dates back more than 80 years ) are actually Hemichromis guttatus, which is extremely variable and the most common species of Jewel Cichlid in the hobby. Hemichromis exsul is a fairly recent discovery, not that likely to be generally available. However, one might mistake the very red form of guttatus, which is often mislabeled as lifalili, for exsul. The differences are very slight.

More likely you got two color forms of H. guttatus. They usually are very good parents, but if there are no target fish to draw their aggression they may start fighting between the two adults. Separate them.
I attached pictures of each fish. I have been observing them all day. Luckily I am able to work from home so I can keep an eye on them constantly. Their behavior (for now) appears to have returned to normal. The red jewel appears to have been accepted again as I have seen it taking turns guarding the fry again. I haven’t seen any chasing and they are back to swimming together again with no issues. I’m not sure what was happening last night but it’s something I will definitely keep watching closely in case the aggression returns. The tank size they are in is a custom 30 gallon thats been in the family for 20+ years. I do have a few other tanks set up but only my 55 gallon is available currently as it only has a pleco and a cory that is pushing 5 years old. All other tanks ( 3 20 gals, a 40 and another 30) have community fish or south american cichlids in them so I’d be worried about adding the jewel to those if they start fighting again.
 

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chromedome52

Hybridization is not unknown in the Red Jewels, and it appears that you have crossed a male H. exsul with a female H. guttatus. Behavior is apparently not that different between the two species. I will be very curious to see how the young turn out, though it should be noted that you have to either keep them all forever or make absolutely certain to identify them as hybrids.

After some research, I edited my comment on exsul to note that it is currently a "hot item", and is readily available. (I'll have to check around for some myself!)
 
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jewelbreedinghelp

Hybridization is not unknown in the Red Jewels, and it appears that you have crossed a male H. exsul with a female H. guttatus. Behavior is apparently not that different between the two species. I will be very curious to see how the young turn out, though it should be noted that you have to either keep them all forever or make absolutely certain to identify them as hybrids.

After some research, I edited my comment on exsul to note that it is currently a "hot item", and is readily available. (I'll have to check around for some myself!)

Thank you for the help identifying! It’s nice to know specifically what I have so I can do do some more research on the guttatus. I purchased my exsul through aquarium fish depot and they had lots of them available at the time and I believe they had another batch arrive recently too. It has definitely been one of my favorites to keep, the coloration is stunning. Even when it was in the tank solo it was always a deep red color but when spawning those deep blue fins are gorgeous. I purchased the guttatus through the petco in my area as I happened to be there picking up some food and saw it for a good price (I think it was $3 or $4) and it was colored up nicely in a tank with some convicts. Its temperament at the time was very docile so that was the deciding factor. I try not to buy fish from chain stores because the likelihood of infection is high and I’ve had bad luck in the past. My lfs doesn’t typically have cichlids like that and I prefer to support local small business but I really couldn’t pass it up. If I’m successful in keeping the remaining fry alive I plan on keeping 6-8 of them and will sell the rest to my lfs and make sure to have them note that they are hybrids of Exsul x Guttatus. I will try to remember to post an update with pictures as they get older. I definitely recommend the exsul if you can find them though! Best of luck and thanks again for the help!
 
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