The System of Sexual Reproduction
When a baby is conceived, these two complex systems act and interact almost like clockwork.
The egg is released by the woman’s ovary on about the fourteenth day and travels into the fallopian tube. Ideally, if the couple are trying to conceive, it is at this time that they should make love.
On ejaculation, the sperm make their way up through the cervix and uterus into the fallopian tube, a journey that takes from 30 minutes to several hours.
They will be helped on their way by the mucus produced in the woman’s body, and by muscular contractions of the uterus.
Even so, only a minute fraction, perhaps as few as 500 sperm, will reach the fallopian tubes, and even fewer the egg.
When they do, a process called capacitation takes place, which enables the sperm to penetrate and fertilise the egg.
After the eggs are fertilized it will take at least 72 hours to hatch.
At that very moment the parents are very busy expelling any intruders or threat surrounding the nest’s territory.
They also use their fins to fan the eggs to provide oxygenated water to the eggs.
They do this not only during the day but also at night.
With the use of their sense of smell they recognize the presence of the eggs to keep the correct distance of their pelvic fins for fanning.
It is also through the parents smell that they detect egg predators that are snooping around the area.
After the eggs have hatched, it requires another 72 hours for the larvae to absorb their yolk sacs and also give them enough time to develop their fins before becoming a free swimming fry.
At this stage fry forage are done in daylight but in areas that are dense and returns to the cage before nightfall.
The Similarities to Other Animals
Like other cichlids, convicts also retrieves their young before dusk by scooping three to four fry at a time into their mouth and goes back to the nest where she spits them out.
Determining day and night and anticipating time before reaching night time is an innate time sensing of fishes.
Even when cichlids are observed in laboratories without the precedence of dimming lights these fishes continues to retrieve their young before nightfall.
At night the young remains at the bottom of the cave or nest where the parents continue to fan them.
Both cichlid convict parents are aggressively active in guarding their fry from potential predators.
They also have behavior that readily assists young in feeding like moving leaves or fin digging.
Caring of eggs, larvae or juveniles in the wild would last about four to six weeks.
Breeding usually happens only once per season from the majority of females.
On the contrary, females who breed in aquariums can do it several times in a year with short intervals approximately 12 – 13 days between broods.
This is true of course when rocks or closely similar surfaces are available for them to lay their eggs on.
Convicts are easy to maintain and breed in aquariums.
Keep in mind that they are aggressively territorial during the breeding period and are best kept alone in adequate sized aquariums.