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Chuckmeister

Cichlid Jaws

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Cichlid Jaws

A cichlids mouth really is a multi purpose tool designed for maximum survival. Cichlids actually have two sets of jaws. There is an inner jaw that is used to mash its food leaving the outer jaw free to evolve specialized teeth which allows them to gather all different types of food available.

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Fine toothed rasps, designed to graze algae

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Interlocking and spiked teeth for catching prey.

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Chisel like teeth for algae grazing and small organisms

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These teeth are also of the grazing type but unlike algae grazers these are designed to graze scales off other fish. While of predatory nature, the prey survives the attack to regrow its scales for another meal to be had.

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The mouths of many cichlids also provide another function, that of spawning and rearing their fry. They lay their eggs on the ground or rock in a spawning ritual with the male. They collect the eggs off the ground or rock, some do so in mid water and the male fertilizes the egg whilst in the mothers mouth. The mother then carries the spawn in her mouth until fully developed at which point they are released.

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Cichlids have a strong nurturing parental nature and will look after their spawn even after they are released from the safety of their mouth. When danger is looming she will gather the fry in her mouth and seek safety, to release her fry again when the danger has passed.

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Cichlids also use their mouths for protecting territory from invading males. If two males mouths are of similar size then a competition will result over who is the dominant fish. They will lock jaws in combat, twisting and fighting until one of the males succumbs and a victor is presented. Quite often the mouth of the loser is damaged but they will survive, temporarily beaten until they challenge another. More often than not, a cichlid will not risk injury to itself if they are not well matched in size.

Chuckmeister



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Chuck the evolution of cichlids has been well studied and differences of their oral jaw tooth morphology is fascinating. For me the evolution of scale eaters is the most interesting. Scientists still can't decide if the have evolved from algae eaters, ectoparasite feeders, or piscivorous species. Coupled with the evolution of their body shape and colour pattern to mimic their prey species so they can nip in and grab a few scales set them as a real peculiarity in the cichlid flock.

Great work :thumb

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Yeah its a pretty simple article, sort of like a childrens book in pictures lol

I watched a movie about 15 years ago and screen grabbed a few pics and did this.

Thought the teeth piece was interesting.

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In fact I found the movie...If you have a bit of time to watch its not a bad show...split into 6 bits though...

Jewel of the Rift..

Edited by Chuckmeister

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Well done chuck i hadnt seen it before very enjoyable

Cheers mick

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I have it as a DVD and on my iPad. One of the best videos on the lake that was commercially produced. I have to say that some of Alex's (AlexJordan) videos on Tanganyika rival this documentary.

Here is one of my photos showing the teeth of Idotropheus sprengerae aka Rusty Cichlid.

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Some mbuna species are so closely similar that sometimes tooth shape is one of the few things that depicts the species from one another.

Diversity just spins me out.

Edited by Buccal

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They are both fantastic photos Chuck. The second one really shows why they are known as dogtooth.

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