Mbuna pregnant


Hello everyone,

So today I got a good look into my yellow labs mouth and actually saw a little eyeball staring back at me; I honestly couldn't believe what I saw. I have never bred fish before. I always try and only keep males, but I guess one female slipped through the cracks for a few months. Her mouth is all swollen, under her neck is very dark, she's breathing out of her gills very heavily all the time, very skittish, and was hiding more than usual. I immediately bought a breeder box.
I am not sure how long she has been holding, but I know it has been over 2 weeks and this is the first time she's holding as I got her very small.

I am writing because I am looking for general guidelines on what to do and what to expect and figure out how far along she is. How many mbuna can I expect to get out of this? Will she most likely breed again and I am truly clueless on who the father is (someone call Maury!!!!) I don't want to strip her because I don't know what I'm doing and I don't want to hurt her.

Any advice would be appreciated. Any opinions on what I can do/buy are options I am willing to take. I just want to do what’s right for my yellow lab and the fry.

Here is a list of the fish in the tank:
yellow lab (f)
rusty (m)
blue zebra (m)
bumblebee (m)
exoasperatus (m)
ob marmalade cat (m)
WilliamsI (m)



Mbuna are breeding like guppys once they're established in their tank. I'd just let nature take its course, otherwise you are an Mbuna breeder sooner than you think.

Only thing unusual: I would not expect yellow labs to breed with the other species you have in there. I'm not familiar with all trade names in english, so... is there another Labidochromis in there?


It doesn't make any sense to me either... Partially why I think I missed all the signs because she is the only female in the tank. They have all been in this tank for about a year to 6 months. Here is a list of the proper names of the other fish in the tank. There are no other labidochromis in the tank, only her.

Lodotropheus sprengerae (Rusty)
Maylandia callainos (Blue zebra)
Pseudotropheus crabro (Bumblebee)
Labeotropheus trewavasae (OB marmalade)
Pseudotropheus williamsI (Williamsi)
Melanochromis joanjohnsonae (Exoasperatus)

I know yellow labs are often bred with red zebras to make a hybrid, which is the same group as my blue zebra obviously. And I have heard of yellow labs with rustys. But I think the odds were really stacked against my fish mating here. Some people try and get them to breed and don't get the luck I have stumbled upon haha. I really don't know; I am pretty dumbfounded here.


I mean... taxonomically all cichlids in the rift lakes are derived from only a few original species and diversified over millions of years. So it is comparable to horses and donkeys hybridizing.
Question now is whether the offspring are even going to survive or not.


Please tell me your thoughts on if they would even survive or not? I'm interested


I'm not a biologist, sorry. I haven't had any case like this ever.

Edit: It's gonna be at least a 50:50 chance. Either they survive or not. HOW they survive is a different thing. Could be they have deformities, overall weak health, be sterile, prone to certain types of sickness... all is possible.


Okay, first point is that ANY Mbuna can and will breed with another, regardless of species or even genus. The fact is, pretty much any two Cichlids from Lake MalawI will breed with one another. I've seen hybrids of Pseudotropheus with Dimidiochromis. It's a matter of availability. If that was the only female available, then the dominant male is going to breed with her. Plus, Yellow Lab females are often quite ready to spawn with a different male, any male, sometimes even when there are males of their own species available.

Second point, and this one is important: so far, all the known hybrids of Malawian Cichlids have proven viable. That is, the hybrids can reproduce. Known hybrids in the wild have replaced the natural species that existed in an area previously. In this particular instance, people had introduced a population of a popular fish to a new rock pile closer to the collecting station. These fish started breeding with one of the naturally existing species there, and the females of both species showed a preference for the new hybrid males. Both of the original species have since vanished from this location, and it is overrun with the hybrids.

This is why knowledgable Malawian enthusiasts are so strongly against hybrids.


After doing some research I found that out to be true as well so thank you. I wasn’t trying to breed mixed/hybrid cichlids that for sure.

Right now I’m just trying to care for her properly. I put her in her own 10 gallon and has calmed down a lot. Threw in a bunch of rocks so if she does spit, they will have somewhere to hide. I’m really not sure what to do with them when/if that happens and they survive. They’d be snacks in any of my tanks immediately and the 10 gallon is only temporary and not a viable long term option as I promised the wife.

Obviously I guess no fish store would want them because I think they’re yellow lab/blue zebra hybrid. Any recommendations on what to feed the fry? Also I was thinking when she spits, I’m going to put her back in the breeder box, let her gain some weight/strength back first. If I did do this, how long do you think I should keep her in there? Or should I leave her in the 10 gallon with the fry or put her back in her old home?
I just feel bad as I know she hasn’t ate in at least 3 weeks.

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