The Cichlid Fishes of Lake Malawi, Africa

Abstract of Publication

McKaye, K.R., and T. Kocher. 1983. Head ramming behaviour by three paedophagous cichlids in Lake Malawi, Africa. Animal Behaviour 31: 206-210 & Plates I & II.  

We observed three cichlid species, Cyrtocara orthognathus, C. liemi and an undescribed species, feeding on eggs, embryos and larval stages of mouthbrooding cichlids in Lake Malawi. Each species engages in a unique head ramming behaviour, forcing females to jettison some young involuntarily. The three paedophagous species had either eggs, embryos and/or larval fish in their stomachs. Cyrtocara orthognathus mimicked females by turning on and off its stripe depending on whether or not it was stalking the silver C. eucinostomus or the striped C. pleurotaenia. We discuss two previous hypotheses concerning how paedophages capture their prey and conclude that ramming of females is the manner by which most paedophages obtain their food in nature.




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