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The Ontogeny of Antipredator Behaviour in Paradise Fish Larvae (Macropodus Opercularis). Ii. the Response To Chemical Stimuli of Heterospecific Fishes

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The response of larval paradise fish to chemical stimuli from heterospecific fish was investigated. The behaviour of 15, 20 and 25 day old larvae was observed both in the presence and absence of the chemical stimuli and in the presence or absence of a predator model. Larvae decreased their swimming activity to a similar level both in the absence and in the presence of the model if they swam in water conditioned with chemical stimulus of the snakehead (Chana striata), a sympatric predator, or the crucian carp (Carassius carassius), a sympatric benthic feeder. Moreover, if the model was present larval paradise fish showed more fleeing and backing in the water conditioned by the sympatric snakehead and pike (Esox lucius) in comparison to water of allopatric predators and the sympatric crucian carp. Fleeing and backing increased with age in the case of snakehead stimulus. We conclude that larval paradise fish are capable of discriminating between waters conditioned by sympatric and allopatric fish in the presence of a simple predator model and this ability develops with age even without experience. The results support the hypothesis that larval fish rely more on non-specific avoidance of potential predators at the beginning of their development but their ability of discrimination emerges in parallel with the improvement of the motor skills that enable them to actively avoid and escape from predators.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Ethology, Eötvös University, Göd, Jávorka S. u. 14, 2131 Hungary


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