Lake Malawi cichlid in exhibit

Lake Malawi Cichlid

Scientific Name

Cichlidae

Class

Osteichthyes

Order

Perciformes

Range

East Africa’s Great Lakes, including Lake Malawi

Habitat

Tropical lolands, subtropical lowlands, and freshwater areas

Estimated Wild Population

n/a
Lake Malawai cichlid in exhibit
IUCN Conservation Status: Not Listed IUCN Conservation Status: Not Listed

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Physical Description

Lake Malawi cichlids are highly diverse in size, coloration, behavior, and ecology. Their shape ranges from tubular to perch-like to disk-like. Cichlids have a single nostril on each side of their head, incomplete scales on their head, a well-developed dorsal fin, and distinctive pelvic fins. Their mating system also varies from monogamous to polygynous to cooperative depending on species, habitat, and predator population. Most cichlids are mouth-brooders that carry fertilized eggs in their mouth until they hatch. Parents may also protect their young, called fry, by scooping them into their mouth when a predator approaches.

Interesting Fact 1

Cichlids use color and pattern cues to recognize their own species and discern sex and behavioral state.

Interesting Fact 2

Their pharyngeal bones help them capture, manipulate, and chew food.

Interesting Fact 3

Males perform courtship dances that encourage females to lay eggs.

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