Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Unlikely though it may seem, some cichlids can actually remove snails from their shells before swallowing them. Others can make females “cough up” their babies—and then they eat them.

Cichlids form one of the largest and most varied families of freshwater fish known to science. Some are as small as a paperclip, and others are as large as a small shark. Some are circular, like a dinner plate, and others are thin, like a pencil. Despite the wide range of sizes, shapes, colors, and behaviors found in cichlids, there is one unusual feature that is common to them all.While the vast majority of fish have two
nostrils on each side of the head, cichlids have just one nostril on each side. Nevertheless, they still have a keen sense of smell; they just manage with half the number of nose openings of other fish. If they did not have a single nostril, it would be difficult to accept that some of the fish known as cichlids actually belong to this family.

Egg Protectors
Cichlid species have evolved some very clever ways of protecting their eggs and young from predators. Many species stick their eggs to a leaf, a branch, a stone, or the roof of a cave. Sometimes they lay them in a pit. Some even use an empty snail shell as a “cave.” In all these species, one or both parents then stand guard over their eggs and newly hatched young. These particular species are known as substrate spawners. In others, protection is taken further. Spawning takes place in a shallow pit dug by the male, just as in many other cichlids. However, this pit does not act as a nest.
CichlidsInstead, it is merely a spawning site. As the eggs are laid, the female carefully picks them up in her mouth and, when spawning has been completed, she swims off with the whole batch safely tucked away. She will keep these eggs inside her mouth until they hatch out. When they are ready to hatch, she releases her babies into the water, but continues to watch over them carefully. She takes them back into her mouth at the first sign of danger. These species are known as mouthbrooders.


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