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Spawning behavior of cichlids: facts and assumptions

Quite often, one can hear from aquarists of various stripes that all cichlids, without exception, always spawn the same way and that these fish spawn are standard. Based on such statements, an ordinary man in the street and an inexperienced aquarist may get the impression that these unusual fish are spawning in the most usual way according to a certain genetic pattern.

The spawning process itself is the same in all species of cichlids. But is it?

In the last 20 years of studying the behavior of aquarium fish, numerous experts have paid particular attention to the pre-spawning behavior of cichlids. Observations were carried out both in natural habitat conditions and in exhibition complexes, zoos, and ordinary home aquariums for those who like these exotic fish.

These studies allowed us to make the most complete picture of the courtship and the spawning process themselves in more detail.

How the courtship ritual proceeds and what is included in its main functions

During the study of the prespawning behavior of cichlids, two ecological groups were used: one group included species that used a solid surface as a substrate, and the second group included species incubating eggs in the mouth. And the differences between these large ecological groups in the method of incubation of eggs do not end, their spawning behavior is radically different.

More precisely, the marriage games of cichlids that incubate eggs on flat surfaces are long courtship, and in cichlids that incubate eggs, they are occasional encounters for the sake of posterity.

Today it is known that the process of grooming includes 4 main functions: to recognize the image of a partner by sight, to meet, to suppress aggressive moods and to stimulate the maturation of the sexual product by synchronizing one’s behavior. In the process of natural selection, there are no deviations from the species norm of prespawning behavior.

Today, ichthyologists know that the study of pre-spawning fish behavior plays a key role in the development of modern science and biology, and each stage in the reproductive cycle — grooming the female, spawning itself, laying care and fry — need more detailed study. Immediately I would like to note that representatives of the Cichl family for more than a decade have been leaders in scientific research.

It is enough to remember and read the work of ecologists from far abroad to make sure that the behavior of these fish during mating games deserves a whole book of research. The bulk of the research was devoted to studying the behavior of various types of the above-mentioned groups of fish during mating games and in the process of caring for offspring.

This is due to the fact that pre-spawning situations are an ideal test of various hypotheses about the role of the process of caring for the female and about the probable mechanisms of inconsistency of some species in natural habitats.

The second reason is that, according to Sedletsky, there is no doubt that the expediency of studying tsikhlovyhs is of no doubt, since the description and adaptability of cichlids to aquarium conditions deserves a separate and very long conversation. But, unfortunately for aquarists, the prespawning behavior of cichlids has not yet been fully studied.

In many scientific works you can find a description of the behavior of individual species, and almost always, researchers hint at the uniqueness of the described species.

As an example, consider the similarities and differences between closely related cichlids, which was the reason for the rare cases of the study of these fish. But today, the basic approach in biology is considered a comparative approach, which provides for the sequential or parallel study of several species of cichlids on the basis of a single methodology.

In his scientific work, the Swedish researcher Schwank showed the place of the studied cichlid species among other species of similar ethology, and also stressed the importance of comparison when analyzing the behavior of fish from one genus or smaller taxonomies. Practical and theoretical groundwork in this area has been around for a long time: Dutch scientists have a scientific guide on cicholic ethology. J.

Barlow at one time was engaged in the comparison of coral fish with Central American cichlids in the 50-70s of the last century. A little later, his follower J.

Baileys studied the process of courtship of 3 types of tsihlaz.

During the study, he came to the conclusion that isolating ethological barriers completely explain the species isolation between the two types of cichlosis that live in Lake Apoyo. Baileys was able to prove that not always an aquarist can judge the differences between tsikhlovyh only by color, because it can be color variations of one species.

From all of the above, the reader can mature a quite relevant question: “What is the difference between cichlids, except for coloring, daring temper and behavioral characteristics?”. First of all, I would like to note the ability of African and American Cichlians to adapt to environmental changes.

The American K. McKay in his scientific work noted the unusual behavior of cichlids in Hiloa Lake. After spawning one species, one of the favorable parts of the coastal zone is inferior to another species.

In ecology, this behavior is called “multiple use of a niche.”

But, according to McKay, this behavior is not unique. He is also convinced that this feature may be common to cichlids from different continents.

And it’s hard not to agree with him, but with a small addition – this behavior can be a banal reaction to the behavior of predators, among which there were lovers who crammed up with the caviar of neighbors.

For quite a long time, there were different interpretations about the similarity of cichlid behavior in aquarium conditions and natural conditions. Some researchers believe that the differences in the behavior of “wild” and “domestic” cichlids are too obvious.

However, on the other hand, a large number of factors were presented that indicated a similar response of “natural” populations and laboratory individuals.

I think it will be no secret to anyone how Malawian cichlids cannot tolerate each other in places where feeding takes place – fish without each other’s modesty are rammed and snatch food from their mouths. The situation in the aquarium especially worsens if there is a male in the flock ready to spawn, as he will terrorize every inhabitant of the aquarium.

British scientists Turner and Robinson noted that under natural conditions, the males, who changed their color to the mating in the places of feeding, quietly get together and do not show aggression towards each other. The British are confident that the change in the behavior of cichlids in the aquarium conditions is due to the fact that the fish were restricted in free space and in the diet.

It may be worth starting to feed your cichlids in different parts of the aquarium so that there will be no clash for the next portion of food.

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