Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 215–233

The feeding habits of a group of herbivorous rock-dwelling cichlid fishes (Cichlidae: Perciformes) from Lake Malawi, Africa

  • Peter N. Reinthal
Full paper

DOI: 10.1007/BF00001674

Cite this article as:
Reinthal, P.N. Environ Biol Fish (1990) 27: 215. doi:10.1007/BF00001674


The feeding; habits of a group of tropical herbivorous rock-dwelling cichlid fishes from Lake Malawi, Africa, are investigated using stomach content analyses. The various species fed selectively on the periphyton of the rocky shores. Blue-green alga of the genus Calothrix was the most common item ingested by the group. Diatoms (Chrysophyta) also were abundant food items. Discriminant analysis showed that dietary items were good variables to identify species. Interspecific dietary differences showed a continuum from those species feeding primarily on Calothrix to those feeding primarily on diatoms. Algal resources exhibit distinct patterns of spatial variation. Diet was correlated with foraging behavior and trophic morphology. Interspecific differences in diet could possibly facilitate ecological coexistence among various species. Such coexistence would contribute to the maintenance of the high diversity fish faunas characteristic of the Great Rift Lakes of Africa.

Key words

Stomach contents Foraging Algae Periphyton Trophic relationships Herbivory 

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter N. Reinthal
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyDuke UniversityDurhamUSA
  2. 2.Department of Herpetology and IchthyologyAmerican Museum of Natural HistoryNew York CityUSA

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