Male cichlids delay coloring when threatened

male cichlids

Pelvicachromis taeniatus as they mature. Image by Dr. Denis Meuthen – University of Bonn

It is common for subdominant males to not display their brightest coloration in the presence of a dominant male. Some species’ males, like Chindongo (Pseudotropheus) saulosi, even take on the coloration of females in order to not draw the attention of dominant males. A new study at the University of Bonn reveals that male cichlids of the Pelvicachromis taeniatus species can delay mature coloration in order hide from potential predators. In addition, males who are threatened by predators also grow faster, develop larger eyes, and have larger spines on their dorsal fins.

Instead of slowly developing their coloration, male cichlids delayed their bright coloration until they were fully mature, but females did not. Researchers believe that this may be due to female P. taeniatus nesting in caves while males stayed outside, exposed to predators. Unfortunately, the paper is behind a paywall. A summary can be found on the ScienceDaily.com website. Discussion can be done in the South American Cichlids forum. Fear of predators may explain why some males never show their full colors in the aquarium.

 

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