Sunday Sketch: Cichlid Moms

“Fish are babies, not food!” Mother Astatotilapia burtoni cichlids may need to take a reminder from the sharks of Finding Nemo. These fish have an extreme form of maternal care. After laying their eggs, they carry them around in their mouths until they hatch! Protecting their eggs from all kinds of would-be predators comes at a huge cost–for the two weeks that they are carrying their eggs, they forgo eating. Even after the eggs have hatched and the babies are swimming, mom will stick around. If she senses danger, she will gobble up her babies and hold them in her mouth until danger passes! So this Mother’s Day, thank your mom for all the extreme things she did to keep you safe!

Fact and sketch contributed by Amelia Munson

Source: Grone, B. P., Carpenter, R. E., Lee, M., Maruska, K. P., & Fernald, R. D. (2012). Food deprivation explains effects of mouthbrooding on ovaries and steroid hormones, but not brain neuropeptide and receptor mRNAs, in an African cichlid fish. Hormones and behavior62(1), 18-26.

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