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Oreochromis esculentus
by Greg Steeves (Gas)

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Brood sizes can exceed an incredible 1000 eggs. This is a huge amount by any standards but more remarkable considering this species is a mouth brooder. Mature males construct various indentations in the substrate. This is usually done in areas of sand. It might be a bit of a stretch to refer to this pit as a bower but it is the center at which the male frantically displays and attempts to lure a ripened female to spawn. Males become active in the presence of ripe females and will display to these females while chasing rival males, fins fully erect, in a series of bluffs. I have never witnessed actual contact between con specifics. Normal gestation is between 15 and 24 days dependant on temperature.

Vertebrate Fin Fish Ray-finned fish Electric blue

Body coloration of females and non-dominant males is olive brown with a slight greenish tinge along the body below the dorsal fin. The belly region has a cream-silver shading. All fins are clear and translucent. Spawning males develop a red cast to the body which intensifies on the head. The dorsal fin has a wide black stripe running its entire length. The caudal fin also develops a crimson hue.

Oreochromis esculentus is part of the Lake Victoria Species Survival Plan (LV-SSP). The Metro Toronto Zoo has harbored original wild stock and still has a couple F0 species from the original cache along with first generation captive bred individuals. Originally captive stocks were maintained with the hopes of eventual reintroduction into the waterways where it had been driven to extinction. It is believed that O. esculentus has a geographical isolated ancestral rooting to O. niloticus (Seehausen, 1996). Known by the Swahili word Ngege, this cichlid was once an important food source to the peoples of the Lake Victoria region. It is reported to be an excellent tasting fish.
Eye Plant Petal Tints and shades Font

References and Acknowledgements:

Gale, T. 2005. Animal Encyclopedia. Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia.

Gee, J. M. 1964. Nile perch investigations. Ann. Rep. E. Afric. Freshwat. Fish Res. Org. 1962/63:14-24

Greenwood, P. H. 1965. The cichlid fishes of Lake Nabugabo, Uganda. Bull. Brit. Mus. Nat. Hist. (zool.).

Seahausen, O. 1996. Lake Victoria Rock Cichlids: Taxonomy, Ecology, and Distribution. Verduijn Cichlids, Zevenhuizen. 304 p.

Seehausen, O., F. Witte, E. F. Katunzi, J. Smith, and N. Bouton. Pattern of remnant cichlid fauna in the southern Lake Victoria. Conserv. Biol. 11:890-049.

Originally published in The Lateral Line, the official publication of the Hill Country Cichlid Club
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