Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 235–247

The benefits of being gold: behavioral consequences of polychromatism in the midas cichlid,Cichlasoma citrinellum

  • George W. Barlow
Other paper from the conference

DOI: 10.1007/BF00001089

Cite this article as:
Barlow, G.W. Environ Biol Fish (1983) 8: 235. doi:10.1007/BF00001089


The midas cichlid,Cichlasoma citrinellum, occurs in the lakes of Nicaragua. In semi-turbid to turbid lakes about 8% of the adults are amelanic, having lost their melanophores at various ages, and are thus yellow through red and sometimes white. The commonest hues are yellow through orange, called gold. Gold morphs ought to be selected against because they are probably conspicuous to predators and they cannot communicate by changing markings. To maintain the polymorphism, gold coloration must have offsetting advantages. Gold morphs dominate normal ones of equal size, and that improves their access to limiting resources. Gold morphs, however, do not seem to be intrinsically more aggressive but rather attain dominance through the effect of their color on their opponents. This gold effect is affected by experience; it is enhanced by sharing the color of the dominant fish in a group, and by being rare. The midas cichlid mates assortatively but imperfectly. Choice of mate is influenced by color of self and of parents and can be constrained by size-color relationship.


Amelanism Aggression Assessing mates Assortative mating Cheaters Chemical communication Coloration Context model Dominance Dummies Genetics Inhibition model Metamorphosis Nicaragua Parental care Polymorphism Sexual imprinting Visual communication 

Copyright information

© Dr W. Junk Publishers 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • George W. Barlow
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Zoology & Museum of Vertebrate ZoologyUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyU.S.A.

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