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Thursday, February 5, 2009

Sexing, Venting Cichlids; Determining African Cichlid Genders


Venting Cichlids (to determine sex)

By Jon V, with input from Eve B and Carl S.

Venting Cichlid to determine sex, Tilapia, sexing mbuna Venting is pretty necessary I think in many species. If we consider the ones that are not dirmorphic, this pretty much is not only a necessity, but the best way to know for sure. Why would we want to know our African cichlid genders? Well I think of it like this. How many people have or keep a tank stocked in the say, 55, 75 gallon tank sizes and up? I'd take a gander, just speculation here, but probably only the more dedicated and serious keepers do. I'm not downing a non serious keeper that just finds them interesting and nice looking, and just wants to have some either. There is a difference.

Please click the picture to enlarge

In my opinion, the more serious type keepers will keep them in tanks they can thrive and spawn in. They will want to know everything and anything they can about the species they keep. This is where sexing becomes an important issue to me. In John's case, he's using a 20 gallon, and wisely doing one species only, in the proper sexing ratio's. If we didn't put any attention on gender, and started getting 2, 3, or 4 males in that tank, it's not going to thrive and there's very likely going to be deaths in a tank like that.

So what happens if we have species, such as the yellow labs that are not dimorphic?
Let me back track a second for the thread views and explain what I mean by dimorphic. Dimorphism is when males and females have completely different looks and coloration. A Kenyi or even Auratus are perfect examples of this. Kenyi males are golden yellow, Kenyi females are a nice deep blue. You can't miss that. Dimorphic species however, take some time to mature, and in a group, you might have only 1 or 2 morph the color, but still have other males in the tank. This is why tank size can be a big issue as well when keeping groups of one species.



Now, back to the venting and sexing aspect for the non-dimorphic. Since there is no clear signal by color change to sex the fish, and we need to know just how many males and females we have stocked, venting the fish will help determine this before the onset of aggression, injuries or death. Venting is the process by which the fish is examined on the underside, and the pour above the anal opening is looked at. A male of the species will have a certain look and size to the pour then a female. This really is the only way to know for sure, in a species that isn't dimorphic, in my opinion. Sorry this is long and probably repetitive for those that know this, but I figured I'd post this discussion aspect for those viewing the thread for information.

More input by Eve
Jon mentions other cichlids as well, just take as example the red zebras, both male and female will have the egg spots, but is it a sure sign to sex them???
absolutely not, not even my guy at the store I shop can sex them 100% and that should say something

The only way to find out for 100% is venting them.
I'm definitely not a fan of this method as it's very stressful on the fish as well as on the keeper


Further interesting resources (references)

Male or Female
Venting Malawis

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*Aquarium Parasites
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