Shown here is a dominant male cichlid. African cichlids enjoy an alien, exotic courtship routine. A dominant male attracts choice females to his territory by dancing seductively. If the female is sufficiently impressed, she lays her eggs and immediately collects them in her mouth, where the male fertilizes them. And, in some species, every once in a while, a lower-ranking male will dart into the scene and try to fertilize a few eggs before the dominant male knows what's happened. Stanford researchers have now discovered that male fish attract potential mates with grunts and the females' hearing improves as they get ready to mate. The researchers say the sounds the male cichlid makes may help explain how similar-looking cichlid species avoid interbreeding.
Image credit: Fernald Lab