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Fish use adoption strategy to ensure survival of young

A group of cichlid fish (Neolamprologus caudopunctatus) in Lake Tanganyika, 7 metres deep (Photo: Stefanie Schwamberger)

Fish in East Africa’s Lake Tanganyika engage in adoption as a risk mitigation strategy for keeping some of their offspring from being eaten, finds a new study published in the journal Behavioral Ecology.

The research involves a group of fish known as cichlids, which practice advanced forms of parental care relative to other fish species. Franziska Schaedelin and colleagues at the Konrad Lorenz Institute of the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna, Austria found that parent fish of Neolamprologus caudopunctatus exchange their young with other parents to reduce the risk that their entire brood will be eaten.

A press release from the Konrad Lorenz Institute explains:

The results suggest that parent Neolamprologus caudopunctatus strive to avoid putting all their eggs in one basket.

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