Papers in the Biological Sciences


Date of this Version



Published in INVESTIGATIONS OF THE ICHTHYOFAUNA OF NICARAGUAN LAKES, ed. Thomas B. Thorson (University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 1976). Copyright © 1976 School of Life Sciences, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


We have described elsewhere the ontogeny of behavior of young Cichlasoma citrinelium, and some aspects of the behavior of the parents during the corresponding period (Noakes and Barlow 1968, 1973a, 1973b). Adults are polymorphic in body color, the "normal" color being grey; the "gold" morphs are more or less xanthic and lack the species typical dark markings (Barlow 1973; and in preparation). The young have a characteristic behavior directed toward the parents in both the laboratory and the field. About 4 days after the young become free-swimming, they begin to feed from the body surfaces of the parents, an action termed contacting. Initially they contact either parent equally. With age they contact a male parent increasingly more than a female, and a gray-colored parent of either sex more than a xanthic one; these two factors can be combined, producing a heightened response, as with a normal male and a gold female, or canceling each other, as with a gold male and a normal female.