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Spotted tilapia

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Spotted mangrove cichlids are native to Africa from the Côte d’Ivoire to Ghana, and Benin to Cameroon. They have also established large feral populations outside of their native ranges, such as in Florida and Australia. Spotted mangrove cichlids live in a variety of habitats. They have been found in both still and flowing waters, in shallow and deep water, in places where there is both little or no coverage and in rocky and debris-strewn areas3.

Like several other tilapiine cichlids, the spotted mangrove cichlid is notable for its adaptability and prolific breeding 7. Spotted mangrove cichlids breed when they are about 150mm long and generally breed year long with peaks in November, March-April and July-September4. They lay up to 1800 eggs usually on submerged logs, rocks or plants and the eggs hatch after approximately three days3.

Spotted mangrove cichlids are monogamous fish who engage in biparental care, and research has found that the size of the eggs tend to increase with the amount of parental care4. The males and females both have very specific roles in parenting and work together to ensure the well being of their offspring. The females prepare the nest by clearing an area on rocky substrate2. After spawning, the females take care of all embryo tending while males stay about two to three meters away and remain mostly inactive except for an occasional feeding or chasing away of predators2. When the offspring become two to three days old they rise off the nest and form a school. This causes a dramatic change in parental role as the male becomes active and the female begins to spend more time away from the young, guarding ahead of the school by chasing away predators2. Parental care continues until the fish are about 2.5-3cm1. This biparental behaviour could help explain why black mangrove cichlids are able to live in many different habitats and become dominant over other fish populations in the same area2.

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