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Aggression versus mating / breeding behavior


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Was wondering if you guys might be able to describe the differences between aggression and typical mating behaviour in Africans / Malawis?

I am seeing a lot of new behavior happening in the tank this week with my Cobalts and I am not sure what I am seeing. First I have two beat up Cobalts (four in total), I separated one and put it back in the tank today and the other two cobalts went maaaaaaaaaaaaaad! Chasing and following him / her every where. I saw one of the larger ones kinda shivering to which I read was a breeding or mating thing.

So I'm not sure what I am seeing.


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Both males and females will "shiver" as you say or do the mating shake. If they are not ready to mate or if it's a female doing it, then it's only doing so to assert their position or supremacy and their place in the pecking order in your tank. Sometimes simple shaking or shimmering is enough to stamp their authority, but sometimes they can become more aggresive and choose to "lip lock" with each other and actually become very physical, all for supremacy. Both males and females can be just as aggressive to the same or either sex.

When a male and female show mating interactions, the male will generally chase the female and if the female allows it, he will shake and shimmer and show himself off to her. It's not really that aggressive and normally no one gets hurt or over stressed.

If your blues are dying and showing signs of being ill, then it's because of one of your males are being super dominant and super aggressive. They will eventually kill off any other male that is not as dominant as him. Sounds cruel and evil, but welcome to the world of the African Mbuna!! They are beautiful but they can also be very cranky little buggers.

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