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Mating system of the amazonian cichlid angel fish, Pterophyllum scalare

Sistema de acasalamento no ciclídeo amazônico, Pterophyllum scalare

The species, Pterophyllum scalare distinguishes itself by its breeding behavior, involving competition for territory, sexual partners, courtship and parental care. The purpose of this study was to identify the mating system adopted by this species of fish. Twenty males and twenty females were observed under semi-natural and experimental conditions to test the hypothesis of serial monogamy. Under semi-natural conditions, after the third breeding cycle, the couples changed mates. Under experimental conditions, the couples changed partners after the first breeding cycle. Under experimental conditions, mate recognition was investigated through the preference of the females, indicated by the time they spent with the males. The females were available or not for courtship from new males, depending on their aggressiveness or submission. The larger and more aggressive males obtained new mating opportunities while the submissive males were rejected by the females. The mated fish were aggressive towards intruders in the presence of the mate, protecting their pair bond. In the interval between breeding cycles, the couples did not display aggression towards intruders, confirming the hypothesis of serial monogamy. Best mate selection by the females and the opportunity of new matings for both sexes influenced the reproductive success of this species.

Cichlidae; reproductive behavior; mate selection; serial monogamy


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