I have a cichlid that I noticed today won't open her mouth and won't eat. Is this a definate sign of having eggs in her mouth. What should I do? Should I put her in a separate tank? How long does it take for the eggs to hatch?
Mouthbrooders carry eggs right from spawning time, picking them up as they go, and hold them for about 2-3 weeks, maybe a bit longer, until the fry are completely developed. If she's holding, you should see her mouth bulge, so she looks kind of like she has a chin. Not eating is a good sign if its a healthy fish, but it could be other factors as well.
If she's stopped eating she's probably a few days into having the eggs in her mouth already. It usually takes about 2 weeks for the fry to hatch.
It all depends on what you want to do with them. If you'd really like to keep them and continue breeding, I would wait a few days and transfer her to a quarantine tank. If you're not interested in keeping the fry, you can just keep her in the tank. Once the fry hatch the parents will likely guard a hiding place for them to sit in. Most will probably die and/or be a treat for your other fish, but 1 or 2 may live.
How large is your tank? I had a pair that killed 2 other fish because they were so protective.
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