After publishing our article on caring for German blue ram cichlid fry, we noticed a number of people asking about the various problems that they have with their cichlid eggs when trying to breed the fish. Depending on the specific species of cichlid that you keep, it can be difficult to keep their eggs safe but the most common problem that we see people having time and time again is with their cichlid eggs turning white.
The most common reason that your cichlid eggs will turn white is due to the eggs not being fertalized and the eggs going white as they turn. Less common reasons that your cichlid eggs can turn white can be due to the egg sustaining damage or a fungal infection growing on the eggs with both usually preventing the egg from developing further.
If you leave the eggs in the same tank as their parents (not always suitable depending on the species) then they will often eat any of the eggs that turn white. If you keep your cichlid eggs in a tumbler then you will have to monitor the egg clutch for any eggs that start to turn white. In a tumbler the chances of a fungal infection taking hold are much lower than in an aquarium but it can still happen any any potential signs of a fungal infection turning your cichlid eggs white has to be dealth with quickly.
What Should Healthy Cichlid Eggs Look Like?
Healthy cichlid eggs should have a solid, cream appearance to them rather than look white or have any black on them. In time, as the cichlid fry starts to emerge from the egg you will be able to visibly see the fry and this can result in the egg starting to change color but at this stage, it is usually not an issue as the egg has done its job and the cichlid fry is ready to emerge.
We often see people presume that all species of cichlids are mouthbrooders and that cichlid eggs will require a tumbler to keep the eggs healthy but this is not the case. Not all species of cichlid are mouthbrooders so always do some research into the specific species of cichlid that you keep as adding eggs from a none mouthbrooder species to a tumbler can damage the eggs.
Some people who are new to keeping cichlids may not realise that many cichlid species are mouthbrooders though and may think that the mother cichlid is trying to eat her eggs. With some species, it is totally normal for the mother cichlid to keep her eggs in her mouth to circulate them and this can make it difficult for you to check the color and health of the eggs. In this situation, you will often have to just trust the cichlid parents to monitor their own clutch and eat any eggs that are not developing correctly and turning white.
Why Do Cichlid Eggs Turn White?
The majority of cichlid eggs that turn white are just unfertilised and it is normal for a number of eggs in each clutch not to be fertilised during the pairing and for those eggs to turn white. Cichlid eggs can also turn white if the egg is damaged early in the development stage or if the egg has problems with a fungal infection too with both of these causes often preventing further development of the egg.
As we touched on earlier in the article, not all cichlid species are mouthbrooders and trying to put the eggs of some cichlid species into a tumbler can actually harm the eggs and turn the full clutch white. You should always do some specific research into the exact species of cichlid that you are trying to breed in your tank prior to putting their eggs into a tumbler as many beginners can accidently damage their full clutch of eggs by putting them in a tumbler when they don’t need it.
In some community tank setups, the other tank mates can end up trying to eat the cichlid eggs in the tank and this can result in them being damaged and turning white in time. If you keep cichlid species that are not mouthbrooders then this can be very common and shrimp or snails will actually try to eat far more of your cichlid eggs than most people initially realise so this is why many people who try to seriously breed cichlids will use a dedicated breeding tank for the pairing to reduce the chances of the tank mates eating or damaging the eggs.
How Can I Prevent My Cichlids Eggs From Turning White?
There is no reliable way to prevent cichlid eggs from turning white due to them not being fertalised and most people have to just accept that between five and ten percent of the eggs in each clutch will usually not be fertalised. There are usually steps that you can take to prevent your cichlid eggs from turning white due to damage or fungal infections though with a breeding tank often being the best option.
A breeding tank is not a realistic option for everyone though due to issues with budget and space often preventing people from picking up a dedicated breeding tank for their cichlids to help protect their eggs. Even in a heavily stocked community tank, some of your fertilized cichlid eggs should be able to survive to the stage where cichlid fry are able to be released though.
The main issue with keeping your cichlid eggs in a community tank is that if a fungal infection does take hold of the eggs and starts to turn the eggs white then it can spread quickly. Some fungal breakouts can develop at a pace where all of your cichlid eggs may be turning white and perminantley damaged within two to three days if the adult cichlids don’t eat the initial eggs that get infected so always keep an eye out for this and manually remove any white cichlid eggs with fungus growing on them.
That brings our article going over why your cichlid eggs are turning white to an end and we hope that we have been able to help you better understand why you may be having problems with your cichlid eggs turning white as well as how you can take steps to prevent it. Depending on your aquarium setup, it may actually help you if some of your cichlid eggs do turn white though as it can be a quick and easy way to control the population of your cichlid fry in your tank and prevent you accidently overstocking your tanks causing other problems further down the line.