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Africa: Dive with the mysterious cichlids of Lake Malawi!

By : Alexander Benedik | Duration : 5min 57sec | Channel : Diving Trips
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Lake Malawi is the only lake in the world to count such a variety of cichlids. More than 800 different species of this fish were identified, and most of them are endemic species: they evolved from only two original species!
The cichlids are among the best adapted fish to live in a tropical lake. Their capacity for evolution is so incredible that some species are endemic to only certain parts of the lake. For example, Pseudotropheus Saulosi, seen at 5’14’’ in the video, can only be found on Taiwanee Reef. However, it is sometimes possible to see more than 70 different species at the same site! Their capacity to adapt quickly to a new environment is a key advantage that often translates into a change of diet.

The Aulonocara species, seen at 0’50’’, hunt by « listening » to the movement of small crustaceans in the sand.
The Genyochromis mento species, 1'21'', has the annoying habit of biting the fins of its fellow creatures to eat. Indeed many cichlids had some fins nicked, the memory of a painful encounter with a G. mento.
The Nimbochromis livingstoni species, 5'30'', developed another strategy: it plays dead and waits for small preys to come nearby. 

However, most of the cichlids mainly eat algae they tear off from rocks or small invertebrates they find digging the sand.
All endemic species of cichlids of Lake Malawi, but Tilapia Rendalli which is not endemic, have an unusual behavior in common: females take care of the growth of the eggs and then of the fish larvae, for 3 weeks, in their mouth!

This unusual maternal behavior was captured by the German direction Alex Benedik, in this superb video. At you could guess, he is passionate about the cichlids!

For information, Lake Malawi is 350 miles long, 47 miles large and 2313 feet deep. Its shores are shared between three countries: Mozambique, Tanzania and Malawi.

© Alexander Benedik  / Music by Adrian Berenguer - "Mama" 

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