African Cichlids Pet of Kings
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Why Pet of Kings?
Cichlids (pronounced sick-lids) are a large family of freshwater fish prized and adored for their beautiful coloration. They are amongst the most diverse and specialized group of fish in the world. There are estimates of about 1300 or more species of this kind of fish, with a staggering number of color and size combinations. Many people have probably encountered a cichlid without even knowing it. Freshwater angelfish and oscars, both common aquarium fishes, are actually cichlids.
Most cichlids being displayed in aquariums nowadays can be classified into two categories: New World cichlids and African cichlids. New World cichlids are further divided and are often referred to as South and Central American cichlids. There are many different species and sub species of each group. They are a hardy, easy to care for fish species and they tend to have vivid colors. This characteristic is what initially attracts fish collectors and hobbyist to cichlids.
African cichlids come from three lakes in Africa: Lake Malawi, Lake Tanginika, and Lake Victoria. Lake Malawi is Africa’s third largest and second deepest lake. The 1000 species or more of Lake Malawi cichlids include some of the most beautiful fish in the world, fresh water or otherwise. African cichlids are known for their beautiful patterns and array of colors that are not typical to most freshwater fish. No other group of freshwater fish are more colorful than African cichlids. These fish are simply fascinating to observe and they will amaze you with their social behavior and the degree of intelligence they possess.
The cichlids of East Africa are renowned for their proliferation. With very few exceptions, African cichlids, especially those from Lake Malawi, are among the easiest aquarium fish to breed. Cichlids readily adapt to captivity, and that is why many species are available in local pet shops. They are very hardy fish, which makes them relatively easy to maintain. This characteristic of cichlids have helped them survive introduction into new environments and geographic locations.
One cichlid that’s been introduced a lot is the Tilapia, a species which has been important to the human food supply for thousands of years. It is well documented that the Egyptians kept fish in aquaria, and hieroglyphics in the tombs of the Pharaohs very clearly describe the farming of tilapia in ancient Egypt from 2500 BC. However, with its bland coloration, Tilapias are more known to be a food source rather than an aquarium fish.
African cichlids have very interesting behaviors. Most are what’s called “maternal mouth brooders,” that is, the mothers carry eggs and young in their mouths. Once a male has fertilized the eggs, the female will pick them up, and incubate them in her mouth for a period of 3 weeks to 31 days, depending upon the species. Many researchers believe that this behavior is an advancement in the evolution of reproductive methods, since it provides further protection to the offspring during a delicate period of their development. Even after the young have been released, the mother will frequently take them back up into her mouth when they are threatened.
In general, African cichlids are more aggressive than their New World counterparts. African cichlids are highly predatory and extremely territorial. In the wild, they often live together in groups or schools of like species. Mature cichlids guard their territory and they are not hospitable and may even behave aggressively to other fish, including cichlids of different species.
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Some lists where this application appears: African Cichlids.