'aggressive brown,' photo by Ad Konings

Algal "Gardeners" — the Pseudotropheus "Aggressive" Assemblage

Above: Pseudotropheus "aggressive brown," a male photographed at Thumbi Island West, Cape Maclear, Malawi. Photo by Ad Konings, reproduced with his permission from Konings (1995c). Members of the Pseudotropheus "aggressive" species group, first proposed by Ribbink et al. (1983: 190), do not share any known morphological synapomorphy and are not thought to constitute a natural, monophyletic group. The "aggressives" do, however, share a couple of unusual behavioral characteristics. The included species—males and females alike—defend territories so aggressively that they prevent other fish from feeding there, so that "gardens" of filamentous algae develop within the territory. The aggressive fish feed on loose Aufwuchs, such as diatoms, combed from the filaments, sometimes supplemented with insect larvae, small crustaceans, and other benthic invertebrates, or with plankton. Some species belonging to the Pseudotropheus elongatus group are also sufficiently territorial that they can be algal "gardeners," but those species differ in having more elongate bodies.

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Last Update: 16 January 2000
Web Author: M. K. Oliver, Ph.D.
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