Mouthbrooding 101

African CichlidMouthbrooders are animals that care for their offspring, either eggs or juveniles, by holding them in their mouths for extended periods of time. Many mouthbrooders are fish. Some species do not eat at all during this period; on occasion, more experienced mothers are able to simultaneously eat while holding eggs. Mouthbrooding is somewhat common amongst African cichlids, with mbuna and Egyptian mouthbrooders being examples.



Synodontis multipunctatus, also known as the Cuckoo Catfish, combines mouthbrooding with the behavior of a brood parasite: it will eat another mouthbrooder's eggs, while spawning and simultaneously laying and fertilizing its own eggs. The mouthbrooder (typically a cichlid) will incubate the cuckoo catfish young, the Catfish eggs hatch earlier than the cichlid's eggs, and then eat the remaining eggs before being set free.

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