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There is an extensive literature on cichlid fish behavior, but most of this treats the behavior of adults (see BREDER & ROSEN, I966, for example). Much of this is based on laboratory observations with little corroborative information from field studies. Recently there has been an increasing trend to study the development of behavior, in cichlids as in other animals. In part this results from the 'nature-nurture' controversy regarding factors control~ ling behavior (e.g. KRUIJT, I964). However, there is also interest in the study of young animals for their own sake (e.g. WARD & BARLOW, I967).
The present study was undertaken to determine the factors controlling a specific behavior of young Cichlasoma citrinellum. During their first week of free swimming they begin to contact the parent, as though feeding from the surface of their bodies.