Breeding Nannacara Taenia

By Simon Donegan

The following article is based purely upon my observations, as I have been unable to find any significant information with regard to these fish.

The Fish

Nannacara Taenia originate from Brazil near Belém, they are much smaller than the other Nannacara species, reaching a total length of about 4cm. Although not the brightest coloured fish in their family they are an interesting and challenging dwarf cichlid.

Breeding Tank

A 24x12x12 tank is sufficient for two pairs, substrate is not essential for these fish as they don't dig whilst breeding. I use a layer of sand and gravel mix about a cm deep. Being cave spawners they will obviously require some form of cave, upturned flowerpots or coconut shells are ideal but don't make the entrances too big otherwise they won't use them. (The smaller the better, you'll be surprised how small a gap they can squeeze into) Plants are not essential but they do seem to prefer a partially planted tank to a bare one, I use the plastic variety purely for hygiene purposes but any living plants will do.


Nannacara Taenia are a greedy species and readily accept flake foods as well as frozen. I condition mine on bloodworm and daphnia when available (the frozen alternatives are just as good).


To breed these fish place them in your prepared tank with the following water parameters: -

Hardness 5dH< (mine bred at 4)

pH 7< (mine bred at 6.5)

Condition them in the breeding tank, as they seem to lose interest if moved from one tank to another. When the fish are ready they will start to display to each other in front of their chosen caves. This involves swiping at each other with their tails and shuddering at each other whilst lying on their sides. The male is the smaller of the pair and is not as deep bodied as the female. He has light brown stripes running the length of his body, and when displaying his cheeks blacken up and the stripes become much bolder. The female (pictured at the top of the page) has similar brown bands along her flanks but she has a darker almost black stripe running alongside these. You will know immediately when some eggs have been laid as the female takes on a dramatic colour change she almost looks like a different fish! Approximately 30 eggs were laid in the spawnings that I have had; these were tiny yellow eggs. As the eggs develop they change to dark brown in colour, when they reach this stage they are almost ready to hatch. The eggs take 2-3 days to hatch and the fry are free swimming about 3 days after that. The fry are jet black in colour at first but start to develop a light stripe along their bodies as they develop. The fry will scavenge for food along the bottom of the tank under the watchful eye of their mother (the male doesn't seem to have a role in their upbringing). I feed my fry on powdered fry foods to start with and then advance them onto crushed flake as soon as possible. Any small live foods are eagerly devoured after only a couple of weeks. The fry are quite fast growing and after about 9-10 weeks the mother leaves them to their own devices after looking after them constantly for this time.

An example of a typical breeding

9/9/01 2 pairs placed in breeding tank and conditioned

14/9/01 Displaying activity becomes much more purposeful

19/9/01 One female has changed colour and on inspection a batch of eggs are found

23/9/01 Approximately 20 free-swimming fry emerge from spawning cave

1/10/01 Small bloodworms taken by fry for the first time

5/12/01 Mother abandons fry, 16 in total remain.

You may have difficulty finding this fish in the shops, in fact I have yet to see it for sale anywhere (I obtained mine from a fellow breeder) but if you do manage to find them I would recommend them to anyone who enjoys dwarf cichlids.


Thanks to John without
his help I could not have made this site