Lipochromis sp. "matumbi hunter" -- Egg stealer

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Greg Steeves
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Lipochromis sp. "matumbi hunter" -- Egg stealer

Post by Greg Steeves » Sun Oct 02, 2005 10:33 pm

I was witness to an interesting phenomenon today that I would like to share. I have a 40 gallon breeder tank with a young group of Astatotilapia burtoni and Lipochromis sp. "Matumbi hunter". The A. burtoni have been spawning regularly for some time now even though they are in the vicinity of 5 cm in length, a far cry from fully grown, they are extremely prolific. It is not unusual to have 3-5 A. burtoni females brooding a mouthful of eggs. While observing the tank I noticed the L. sp. "Matumbi hunter" gathering near a holding female A. burtoni. The situation looked out of place as the hunters are normally peaceful, showing little aggression toward tankmates or each other. The burtoni female that had been singled out seemed to sense that something was awry as she would turn to escape the "pack" that was facing her in the classic pike position. Each time she would turn the group would realign themselves as to narrow her escape routes. All of a sudden one of the hunters ran head first straight into the closed mouth of the brooding burtoni. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. As quickly as the first individual torpedeoed the mouth of the burtoni, another hunter took a run at the female, then another and another. The L. sp. "Matumbi hunters' were not targetting the buccal cavity or blind siding with a side or a "come from the bottom" attack, the hunters were ramming the burtoni head on.

I don't know for certian how many hits the female burtoni actually took, I would guess maybe 7 or 8 before she spewed out a couple eggs. This started a frenzy. The loose eggs were quickly eaten and the hunters appeared to increase the frequency of the attacks to the point that I felt the burtoni was in danger of being killed. The female burtoni fled through the hunter pack and to the other end of the tank where she appeared unscathed and still incubating what was left of her brood.

I ran for the video camera but as you might expect, no further attack occured. I will be trying to gather footage of this event occuring once again. It all happened very quickly. The sequence from when I noticed something strange in the behaviour of the hunters, the attack and subsequent escape of the burtoni, was less than one minute.

It is widely thought that Lipochromis melanopterus is a paedophageous feeder but I am uncertian if it's ever been witnessed. Has anyone else ever seen or recorded this feeding technique in Lipochomis sp. "Matumbi hunter"? Does the entire Lipochromis genus employ this feeding strategy?

I feel like I was witnessed to something very special today, something that is seldom if ever seen by humans. I am going to leave the tank as it is in hopes that I have the opportunity to witness this incredible feeding strategy once again.

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Ken Boorman
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Post by Ken Boorman » Mon Oct 03, 2005 6:15 am

Very interesting observation Gas! I hope you can catch the evidence with your video camera next time it occurs - it would be fascinating to watch.
Well spotted!

Ken
A.N.G.F.A. North American Co-ordinator

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Vee
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Re: Lipochromis sp. "matumbi hunter" -- Egg stealer

Post by Vee » Thu Aug 11, 2016 11:35 pm

Wish i could get lipochromis melanopterus, not sure if im into the matumbi hunters

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Vee
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Re: Lipochromis sp. "matumbi hunter" -- Egg stealer

Post by Vee » Thu Aug 11, 2016 11:36 pm

Cool story though

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