Male cichlid on bower  



Breeding behavior

Malawi cichlids are maternal mouthbrooders. Females visit many males, and may lay eggs with several. The female picks the eggs up immediately after they are laid, and incubates them in her mouth for approximately three weeks until the fry have absorbed their yolk. Analysis of paternity using microsatellite DNA markers shows that individual females mate with several males in each spawning cycle. We are interested in identifying the characteristics females use to choose a mate, and the genetic basis of these female preferences. At least for some species, visual cues alone are sufficient to elicit species-specific mate preferences.


  • Kidd MR, Danley PD, Kocher TD. 2006. A direct assay of female choice in cichlid fishes: all the eggs in one basket. Journal of Fish Biology 68:373-384. (PDF)
  • Kidd MR, Kidd CE, Kocher TD. 2006. Axes of differentiaion in the bower building cichlids of Lake Malawi. Molecular Ecology 15: 459-478. (PDF)
  • Kellogg KA, Markert JA, Stauffer JR Jr. and Kocher TD. 1998. Intraspecific brood mixing and reduced polyandry in a maternal mouth-brooding cichlid. Behavioral Ecology 9(3): 309-312. (PDF)
  • Kellogg KA, Markert JA, Stauffer JR Jr and Kocher TD. 1995. Microsatellite variation demonstrates multiple paternity in lekking cichlid fishes from Lake Malawi, Africa. Proceedings Royal Society London Series B. 260:79-84. (PDF)
  • Kocher TD and McKaye KR. 1983. Territorial defense of heterospecific cichlids by Cyrtocara moorii in Lake Malawi, Africa. Copeia 1983:544-547. (PDF)
  • McKaye KR and Kocher T. 1983. Head ramming behavior by three paedophagous cichlids in Lake Malawi, Africa. Animal Behavior 31:206-210. (PDF)




Mouthbrooding female cichlid

Mouthbrooding female cichlid

Pseudotropheus tropheopsTropheops.jpg

Melanochromis auratusMelanochromis.jpg
Images by Justin Marshall