Neolamprologus obscurus cooperative group behavior

Neolamprologus obscurus

Neolamprologus obscurus. Photo by Ad Konings

A species of cichlid from Lake Tanganyika has been found to exhibit group cooperative behavior that benefits all members of the group. Neolamprologus obscurus are small cichlids (3.5″ max) that live in the crevices and caves of rocky areas in the southern part of the lake. Researchers have found that members of the family-group dig under rocks in order to provide shelter and food for other members, particularly for those breeding and caring for young.

The dug out areas not only serve as shelter for other members of the group, but during the day small nocturnal crustaceans are drawn to these crevices and end up being meals for Neolamprologus obscurus. Researches found that the size and amount of dug outs correlated to the amount of shrimp being available for the group. By manipulating the size of the crevices and the amount of helpers, researchers could see the impact it had on available food for the group. The study can be found at To discuss N. obscurus visit the Lake Tanganyika Species forum.


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