You are right to wonder if we keep them isolated (one fish per tank) and why we do that.. Breeding them is not an issue per se
although there is some risk associated with this task, especially for the female.
We have already bred the ex-Cichlasoma festae
(a wild caught pair) as reported here : http://www.mchportal.com/fishkeeping-mainmenu-60/stock-the-inhabitants-mainmenu-79/breeding-hints-and-tips-mainmenu-83/421-keeping-and-breeding-the-ex-cichlasoma-festae.html
as well as the P. managuensis
, ages ago : http://www.malawicichlidhomepage.com/aquainfo/managuensis_spawn.html
However, spawning them always proved to be the first (pleasant) step in a process which ended in sorrow and stress, when we found out that nobody really wanted the juveniles and we had to make special offers to petshops (e.g. you will take 30 P. managuensis
and I will give you another 30 Pundamilia nyererei
for free) to accept them in their tanks. Still, months later, some of the fish of that brood were still there while many other broods were left with their parents, eaten one by one. In some cases, the female tried to defend them against the male, which proved to be a bit too much in the confinements of a tank. In some cases (e.g. P. managuensis, P. sp. Andapa
) we were barely able to save the female. In this sense, why risk our beautiful females for nothing ? This is particularly true for the P. dovii
for which we have read many reports about males which attacked and killed their female partners once they crossed the "magic" 30 cm mark. We feel the same as you, we love to see a pair of large cichlids living together in the same tank but unless the female is older and larger than the male, things don't work very well in the end.
In the case of rare fish, we usually bring the two parents together for some time, spawn them and then remove the male again. This allowed our P. sp. Andapa
pair to have more than 8 broods and still reach the age of 8 years. However, demand was particularly low, even for this rare and beautiful fish, so we didn't make any attempts to breed them during the last 3 years. There was a (perhaps) interesting posting some time ago referring to this very issue in this forum.. which, we hope, will explain our stance more clearly :http://www.cichlidae.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=5903&p=36806#p36806
Just some thoughts.. It is clear that keeping large guapotes or large predators (especially cichlids, which are sometimes too clever for their own good) together is not the same as keeping mbuna together. The differences are so great that it is more like keeping totally different fish..
George & Marina