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BN Fry in overflow / sump


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G'day guys,

Have had a 6ft Malawi community tank set up for a few months now with a large male BN from a previous tank, purchased a sml female companion and after just 3 days they were getting friendly.

The female layed her eggs and the male set about protecting them and fanning them, which he has been doing for the past two weeks until yesterday when he started to leave the rock in search for food, unfortunately this left the fry to be an easy target for my electric yellow. After reading several posts on here and a few other catfish forums, the decision was made to move the remaining fry in an attempt to increase survivors, as they appeared to have lost their yolk sack and were swimming freely and looked to be around the 15mm mark.

Unfortunately the rock was too large and heavy to put in the fry saver, so we had to encourage them to leave the hole for the safety of the net, got about 20-30 out in the end, had to chase a few of them back into the fry saver but I'm sure there are a few hiding throughout the tank still.

We made the decision not to put the male in as we assumed he might get a bit stressed in the fry saver and eat the fry. We placed a piece of driftwood (for their gut) in the fry saver and half a slice of zucchini under it.

That was when I noticed the few fry that had chosen to take up home in the tank overflow, anyway for now we have just dropped some driftwood and zucchini into the overflow as it will be impossible to get them out while they are around the 15mm mark.

Was just wondering what people had experienced with their BN fry, have forum members grown the fry up in their overflow or moved them to their sumps and had survivors?

At what size would it be ok to move them to a grow out tank? 2-3cm?

Does the male need time to rest and eat more or can he protect more eggs straight away? (he's eying off another female already)

I have read that the BN fry eat their parents waste as it helps them grow, what are your opinions about this?

When some of the BN fry do die off in the holding net should they just be left there as extra food or removed?

I understand that at such a small size any slight change in temp or spikes in the water conditions could kill them all so I didn't want to move them to a separate grow out tank yet.

I am not counting on having too many survivors as it is survival of the fittest and I was unprepared this time but anything I can do to better their odds I will do.

Next time when I see the male start guarding I will move him to another prepared tank with the rock he is hiding in.

Any information from your experiences/experiments and opinions are greatly appreciated.

Thank you.

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Unfortunately there are only a few survivors at the end of the day, the one's in the overflow are all doing fine, but there are only a couple left in the fry saver, the male is already fanning a new batch of eggs, I said he was checking out another female this morning, well he didn't waste any time, is this normal for BN?

After the mad rush last night to save the fry I set up two spare tanks today with water taken from two other established tanks, as I am positive the Male BN is protecting a new batch of eggs already should I move him/the rock and the eggs, now while they are still eggs or wait a week for them to be fry and make the move then?

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Wow so many questions!

I personally breed Bn in a community tank like yourself. In my opinion you should:

1 - do not remove the male while he is looking after eggs. let them hatch and then put them in a fry saver to grow. This is how I do it... Throw in some food... when the male goes to eat shove a hose in his cave and suck out all the fry into a bucket. It takes 30 secs and works brilliantly!

2 - most likely the fry that died was as a result of the other fish killing them through the fry saver.

3 - use a fry saver that cant be penetrated by the other fish (get one of Mathews fry savers or use a converted ice ream container (I would recommend that you spend a bit of $ and get one of Mathews)

4 - always remove dead fry. the others can eat them but it is not ideal

5 - they fry if kept in the same tank as the adults will get good bacteria in them without eating the parents waste - I don't think that bn eat waste. there is bacteria everywhere in the tank and that is plenty to give them a healthy intestinal tract.

6 - they can be moved to a new tank in my opinion very early (and I do this often) if you use water from the original tank 100%) however with a good fry saver there in no need for this for a while - again I would recommend one of Mathews fry savers (yes I do get a commission on all sales :))

7 - I had my Bn Male with 6 females and he would breed almost constantly. he does ideally need some rest between spawns and some food and this would be easier if they were in a tank with just Bn but if you keep them in a tank with cichlids then in my opinion If he wants to breed he has to tough it out. :lol3: eventually my male looked a bit skinny and so stopped breeding for a few months. now he is back to his old self and is at it again.

8 - Bn do not need wood to survive

9 - bn will do well in the sump/over flow tank just throw in a bit of food every now and then (very little as you don't want to pollute the water).

10 - The fry will eat almost anything so there in no need to feed zucchini.

good luck


The above is just my experience and others may think differently. :thumbup:

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Thankyou Ziad,

You managed to answer so many of my questions, it's great to learn from others experiences, will take a look at Mathews fry savers as you have recommended.

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