Dynamics of sibling aggression of a cichlid fish in Lake Tanganyika

  • Shun Satoh
  • Kazutaka Ota
  • Satoshi Awata
  • Masanori Kohda


Siblings often compete for limited resources, particularly food provided by their parents. Such competition is usually nonviolent, but direct aggression has evolved in some species. However, there is little knowledge about sibling aggression in species without parental provisioning. Here, we investigated sibling aggression in the cichlid Neolamprologus furcifer in Lake Tanganyika, Zambia. In this species, females guard their broods in the nest but do not provide any food. Early-stage fry did not show any sibling aggression while foraging on plankton, but began to show nonlethal aggression once they started to forage on small benthic shrimp at 2 weeks of age. The frequency of sibling aggression decreased at week 7, when the density of fry decreased remarkably. Sibling aggression also decreased following a short-term increase in food through supplemental feeding. The aggression was higher in the morning than in the afternoon despite higher abundance of shrimp at that time, and decreased when the number of shrimp in the nest was experimentally reduced. These results indicate that food availability affects sibling aggression of animals that do not exhibit parental provisioning.


Parental care Sibling competition Food availability Neolamprologus furcifer Aggressive behavior Food amount hypothesis 



The authors thank the members of the Maneno Tanganyika Research team and the Animal Sociology Laboratory of the Osaka City University for their helpful comments. The authors are also grateful to two anonymous reviewers who made helpful suggestions for improving this paper. This study was financially supported by KAKENHI (Nos. 26540070 and 26118511) grants awarded to M.K. and (No. H17J11490) also to S.S.

Supplementary material

10750_2018_3768_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (109 kb)
Supplemental Figure 1 Relationship between the age, brood size, density, percentage of fry foraging on shrimp and aggressive behavior in Neolamprologus furcifer fry. (PDF 109 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biology and Geosciences, Graduate School of ScienceOsaka City UniversitySumiyoshiJapan

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