The Cichlid Fishes of Lake Malawi, Africa

Abstract of Publication

Tweddle, D., D.H. Eccles, C.B. Frith, G. Fryer, P.B.N. Jackson, D.S.C. Lewis, and R.H. Lowe-McConnell. 1998. Cichlid spawning structures — bowers or nests? Environmental Biology of Fishes 51: 107-109.  

Males of mouthbrooding cichlids build sand-castle or sand-scrape structures. These are used as display sites to attract females, eggs are laid and inseminated there and then taken away by the female for brooding elsewhere. It has been suggested that the structure be called a bower because it has the same role as the bowerbird's bower. The word bower is restricted in ornithological literature to complex structures which reminded Gould (1840) of garden bowers. Simpler display sites of other bowerbirds and other bird families are called courts. Bowerbirds use separate nests for egg-laying, cichlids do not. Other birds, e.g. many weavers, use nests for display purposes. The cichlid structure is the same as nests used by other non mouthbrooding fishes, but mouthbrooding has freed females from the need to stay in the nest. It is unacceptable to use the word bower for the cichlid structure because it is not a bower as defined in ornithological literature, and it is used for egg laying as well as display. Weaver birds use nests for display in a similar way to cichlids, thus the word nest should be retained for the cichlid sand structure.




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