General African Cichlid Discussion • The Hierarchy in a tank

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The Hierarchy in a tank

Postby Fishy_Cichlid » Thu May 03, 2012 10:18 pm

Have been a lil out of the circuit here. So I am back and back with a few questions. Any insight or even academic/research link will be most appreciated.

I am looking for answers regarding the hierarchy in a tank.
1. What makes the Alpha the alpha in a tank ?
2. Is there a strict hierarchy, for ex. the alpha, beta, gamma etc etc down the line or is it just the Alpha and the rest.
3. Does the female population also form a pecking order, the alpha female etc.
4. Is it rare that a female will perhaps mate with a Beta overlooking the Alpha under some circumstances.

Your views & opinions will be most appreciated.
Thanks & Regards - Jay
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Postby RifterFish » Thu May 03, 2012 11:57 pm

Its not quite that in depth. You have a dominant fish in your tank. It is usually a large male, but on occasion can be an aggressive female if she is larger than the rest. You don't have an alpha pair like wolf packs. You have a dominant male that breeds with all the females, not just one. Although I have noticed that they will breed more with one than the others. Sometimes they pair, but not as often as egg layers. They do not mate for life. Sometimes sub-dominants will breed with a female if he doesn't get caught. But most of the time the dominant prowls the tank and stops it from happening. As for the other fish, they do establish a pecking order. There is always one that gets chased the most and picked on by the others. To re-establish a pecking order add new plants or change the decor around every now and then. The dominant will still be the dominant but it helps to lower aggression when territories are rearranged.
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Postby DJRansome » Fri May 04, 2012 6:54 am

Regarding #4, if there is enough going on in the tank you could have several males of the same species spawning, simultaneously one pair on each end of the tank even. Different species, definitely.

Since we often stock one male per species, you might not see this unless you have a group like demasoni where there might be three males in the tank.
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Postby Fishy_Cichlid » Fri May 04, 2012 8:48 am

Thanks DJ & Ritterfish. I think I should have also clarified that the Q was in perspective to a single species tank.

Often, we do actually keep 2 males, a Alpha & a Beta in the same tank (for ex. a Cyphotilapia tank) since its often seen that females may not approach a Alpha for many a reason. For ex. if it has disease or unable to spawn or even too old.

I am trying to know what makes the Alpha a Alpha. Quite defintely it could be a combination of reasons like size, attitude, adult (not old) ..... maybe some more (which I would like to know ofcourse). From a group of the same size, one emerges as the Alpha. That particular Alpha then becomes the biggest of the lot (well usually). Is there anything that makes the Alpha grow the biggest from equally sized tankmates ???

Regards - Jay
The Greeks didn't write obituaries, they only asked one question after a man died : Did he have passion ?

F1 Cyphotilapia Gibberosa Zaire (Moba)
F1 Cyphotilapia Gibberosa Zaire (Kapampa)
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Postby Catfish Dan » Fri May 04, 2012 10:23 am

I recently read an article in a back issue of Cichlid News (April 2011) which indicates heirarchies are quite a bit more in-depth. The author studied the roles of both males and females in the field and found much more than a simple "alpha" system, especially amongst the females. If you can get a hold of it, it's a fantastic read.

"Studying Neolamprologus pulcher in the Field by Jennifer O. Reynolds. Behavioral observations on a favorite Tanganyikan cichlid."

Just looked- the full article is available on their web site, Cichlidnews.com
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Postby Fishy_Cichlid » Fri May 04, 2012 1:26 pm

Thanks so much Catfish Dan. Very nice article and very interesting observation. I have to read it through a second time to absorb everything.

Thanks again. Regards - Jay
The Greeks didn't write obituaries, they only asked one question after a man died : Did he have passion ?

F1 Cyphotilapia Gibberosa Zaire (Moba)
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Joined: Thu Aug 04, 2011 10:34 am
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