Parental feeding of young is well documented among endothermic vertebrates and social insects
but is rare among fish. Bagrus meridionalis parents feed their young in a manner
analogous to birds and social insects. Females feed trophic eggs to the young and the male
burrows to expose benthic invertebrates for the young to eat. These behaviour patterns and
parental defence of the young were directly observed with remote video-cameras. Division of
labour between parents exists not only in the feeding of the young but also in their defence.
Role differentiation in defence of the young was greatest when the young were subjected to
the most attacks from predators. The female attacked and chased potential brood predators at
the edge of the school while the male remained with the brood, executing more frontal displays.
On the other hand, as the young grew older and predation decreased, both parents engaged in more
sex-specific food provisioning behaviour such as egg release by the female and nest burrowing by
the male. Parental role differentiation and monogamy in this species might have evolved both to
enhance the growth rate of the young and to reduce their susceptibility to predation.