Originally Posted by pelopants
don't they carry them in their mouth after they get fertilized
Some South american cichlids do it that way,but most africans fertilize the eggs in the female's mouth. These species have "egg spots" on the anal fin of the male. The female tries to pick them up like they were more eggs and instead gets a mouthful of sperm.
I dont know how unusual it is for them to lay and pick up eggs with no male present, I have never kept African cichlids. But I have heard of American cichlids trying to spawn with 2 females when no males are present. One lays the eggs, the other acts as if she is fertilizing them, but of course she cant. The need to breed can be strong in some fish.
It may be that they sometimes carry eggs around looking for a male, I dont know enough about them to say for sure.