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The Disputed Feeding Behaviour of a Paedophagous Haplochromine Cichlid (Pisces) Observed and Discussed

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Aquarium-observations on a new paedophagous haplochromine species (Pisces, Cichlidae) showed that engulfing the snout of a brooding female to extract the brood, is a possible technique of gathering food, as was suggested by GREENWOOD (1959, 1974). Considering morphological information from various authors (GREENWOOD, 1959, 1974; BAREL et al., 1976, 1977) and notwithstanding some doubt expressed by FRYER & ILES (1972) and FRYER (1977), this snout-engulfing may be a widespread technique among the "larger mouthed" paedophages (i. e. in Lake Victoria: 6 out of 8 spp. described plus at least 8 new spp.). Snout-engulfing is the climax of a performance which resembles a fight, during which the paedophage also can force a brooding female to disgorge its brood by chasing and repeated attacks. The origin of snout-engulfing may be thought to lie in a modification of the fighting behaviour of a piscivorous ancestor, hunting on already jettisoned young still guarded by the female.

Affiliations: 1: (Zoological Laboratory, Department of Morphology, University of Leiden, The Netherlands

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