, Volume 42, Issue 1, pp 1-6

Sperm drinking by female catfishes: a novel mode of insemination

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We report on unique reproductive behaviour and a new mode of egg insemination in a small catfish Corydoras aeneus (Callichthyidae). A male courts a female by presenting his abdomen to her. Before releasing eggs, the female attaches her mouth to the male's genital opening and directly drinks his sperm. The sperm pass through her intestine and are discharged together with eggs into the ‘pouch’ formed by her pelvic fins. Thus, eggs are mixed with fresh non-dispersed sperm in an enclosed space, ensuring effective insemination. This mode of insemination is novel to fishes, but is likely not restricted to catfishes of the genus Corydoras.