African Cichlid Males: The Dominant & the Subordinate

There are two types of Male African cichlid – the dominant and the subordinate. In fact, it’s easy to identify a dominant male from a subordinate. Dominant males show off their vibrant scales, has the urge to control the female and easily outperform passive males in the community. While subordinate males are known for their non-dominant behavior, these fishes are sexually suppressed and their testes are smaller than those dominant males.

A team of researchers in Stanford University as led by Jacqueline Kustan studied the physiological differences between a dominant and a subordinate male. They want to know if the social environment can influence the ability of an alpha male to reproduce.

The team started their experiment by picking two alpha males from different communities. The males have equal size and both are placed in a tank filed with three or four females. After twenty-four hours, one of the male becomes passive and allowed the other male to dominate.

The team decided to remove the alpha male from the tank. The other male quickly ascended in the hierarchical ladder. The cichlid becomes aggressive by swimming around to protect its territory. He also lured the females, engaged in mating dance and successfully reproduced new fry.

After the experiment, the team concluded non-dominant African cichlid can easily reproduce if they are only given a chance. They are only investing energy in reproduction. When the right moment to dominate comes, their behavior switched immediately (Physorg, 2011).

One thought on “African Cichlid Males: The Dominant & the Subordinate”

  1. I have a female peacock African cichlid she just spit out her fry, how long is the fry safe from the mom eating them? Are we supposed to remove her from the baby tank now or later?

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