My male has been holding eggs for 26-27 days. I don't see any hatched fry in his mouth but he doesn't open very far so it is difficult to tell. Do I need to think about catching him to force a release or just be patient?
I would always wait until I could see them swimming around in his mouth and catch him and force a release. He would mostly spit them out in the net but some times I would have to force some out. Do you have newly hatched brine ready for them, or are you feeding something different?
The male finally released the fry at day 32. When I turned the lights out there were 8 and a handful more in his mouth. The next morning there was one and the male had a full stomach! This was the first batch, next time I will force the male to release around day 30 and separate him right away. Fry#1 seems to be doing ok.
After quite a few batches I would say 21 is the ideal, my batches at 21 tend to be the largest and the most healthy. I have had some held as long as 30, which I force at that point. The fry always tend to be underdeveloped and not as many when it gets much past 23 days or so.
So I would suggest, that if all is going well they will be released in great numbers about that 21 days. After that, you have something not going well. As noted, the papa tends to get more aggressive, faster after that point.
At 21 days, I find that removal of the father in 12-18 hours adequate. After that, he seems to be willing to go after they fry, even at the cost of the ones still in his mouth...as time extends, the damage increases.