Thursday, September 22, 2011

Bumblebee Cichlid

Pseudotropheus crabro
Cichlids are truly amazing little fish. Their family contains as many as 3,000 diverse species, many of whom evolved in isolated habitats, allowing them to adapt to specific niche needs within that environment.

The Bumbleebee Cichlid is one of those species. Named for the yellow and black bands that run vertically down the body, these small fish have evolved to serve a very specific purpose.

Living exclusively in the Lake Malawi area of east Africa, Bumblebee Cichlids feed on the parasites of other fish. Their primary targets are those that infest the Kampango Catfish. The Catfish, which normally eat Cichlids, leave the Bumblebees alone, as they recognize them as helpers. However, in an interesting twist of events, the Bumblebee Cichlids sometimes feed on the Catfish eggs. When this happens, they change to a murky brown color to snatch at the eggs. Once feeding is complete, they shift back to the recognizable black and yellow.

Male Bumblebee Cichlids use their color changing ability to attract females for breeding purposes. They go jet black and circle the female. Bumbleebee Cichlids are mouthbrooders, like many other Cichlid species.

IUCN Status : Not Listed
Location : Lake Malawi
Size : Length up to 4in (10cm)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Actinopterygii -- Order : Perciformes
Family : Cichlidae -- Genus : Pseudotropheus -- Species : P. crabro

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