Any tips for moving a female with a mouth full of eggs? I know if startled they will spit them out, but I want to try moving her, as the males are getting pretty aggressive and my nitrite levels just spiked. I was hoping for fry but not expecting anything yet as I didn't think I had any females that were mature enough although I have 3 almost harvest-able males
I keep a small square bucket (about 3 gallon), without the metal handle, in the breeder tank for them to breed in. When one is carrying, I ease her into the bucket and lift it out water and all. Then ease her and it into another tank and slowly let her out. Sometimes she will still spit out the eggs but will usually go ahead and scoop them up again and carry them. Easy does it!
I have very little success moving a holding female and her picking her eggs back up. If you feel she is in danger I would build an egg tumbler and strip the eggs from her. I let mine hold the eggs for three weeks, then strip the fry and move just the fry to a different tank.
You might want to put some PVC pipe in the tank large enough for the females but too small for the males. It may relieve some of the stress on her.
I've removed brooding females twice without problems. I just used a fine mesh net. If you don't chase her around too much she won't spit em out. I had over 500 in one bunch and over 300 in the second. When I noticed they weren't eating I took them out. I just left them in a plastic tote with a filter(well screened) and an air stone. Within a few days I saw the tiny suckers swimming around. I started feeding her and left her in with them for a few more days. Then came the hard part, separating them from her. You can't scoop her out before the fry jump back in her mouth so it's easier to scoop out the fry in several sessions as she releases them. When you think you have about all of them then put the mom back in with the other fish. I've had several more opportunities to hatch fry but for now I have no where to put them. Good Luck!