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Are they just being flirty or is there a potential problem?


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Hey guys,

I'm creating this topic for someone I know who asked for my advice about the situation he observes in his tank. However It has been ages since Ive kept african cichlids so I wanted to ask here instead.


He keeps his tank at 27C. It is a 300 Liter tank, one sponge filter and one canister filter. 30 fish in total that has been growing up all together since juveniles. The tank is around 5-6months old with the same stocking, they just started as juveniles.

Recently, he has been observing some stuff in the tank, such as:

  • fish acting like kissing,
  • they rub each other while swimming next to each other, and they shake their body while swimming next to each other while rubbing
  • they swing their tails
  • Sometimes they even stand upright like almost they are gonna tumble

The most common behavior is shaking their tail he says.

This is the video to give an idea for some of those:


He also performed water changes after this video has been recorded, just in case. So there was no potential changes on temperature when the video was recorded, it was stable.

He said he does not use any salt and mineral additions. The substrate is also inert. Can mineral differency result in such behavior, if there is any?

Is this aggression, flirtation, or a symptom of a disease/parasites/poor water condition, etc?


What do you guys think? @Colu @Odd Duck @Fish Folk @Zenzo 

Any help is very much appreciated. Thanks in advance

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Lip locking is common in cichlids it aggressive behaviour the other behaviour you described could be breeding behaviour I don't think there's any need to medicate I would look at pH KH and GH before doing anything else 

Edited by Colu
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On 10/19/2023 at 8:42 AM, Lennie said:

fish acting like kissing,


On 10/19/2023 at 9:07 AM, Colu said:

Lip locking is common in cichlids it aggressive behaviour

not to thredjack, but I have a similar problem. My two blood parrot chiclids have been laying eggs, but also "kissing" is that an aggressive behavior? The first blood parrot was very friendly before i got the female (or male idk). but now they dont come out of their pots. should i re home the female?

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They are maturing. Spawning age cichlids will invariably produce drama. The black & white striped ones are male Auratus. They will dominate and crush everyone else eventually. Cichlids will always have a “tank boss.” When that role is in contention, lip-locking battles will go on interminably.

I think that there are some females holding already — not positive… but if they look like they’re holding a bunch of marbles in their mouth… they are! (except its eggs, not marbles)

I’d be sure their diet is heavy in greens. If too many meaty foods are fed, they’ll break down with illness. 

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Ahh cool.  I used to have auratus.  Bought it as a yellow fish.  Then it got to breeding age and during the mating dance (my brother and I called it "doing the Yin Yang"), the fish went through several color changes.  It was incredible!   It ended with purple, and then remained purple for the rest of its life.  It had mated with an orange mbuna (red zebra?), not another auratus.  The orange one then tended the young, carrying them around in its mouth.  Was super cool.

Re: the lip locking - Prime Time did a video on this re: Bolivian rams. Same type of behavior.  It is territorialism.  A pecking order, if you will.  Line of sight breaks and hides are a good idea.

Here are 2 videos of fish rubbing together.  This is mating.  You can show it to your friend to see if it looks like the behavior they are observing.  From what you describe it sounds like it is.



Edited by Chick-In-Of-TheSea
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