Developmental stages until hatching of the Lake Victoria cichlid Haplochromis piceatus (Teleostei: Cichlidae)



Because little is known about embryonic developmental stages in any haplochromine cichlid, we describe here a series of normal stages of the Lake Victoria cichlid Haplochromis piceatus. We collected 273 embryos and scored them for 47 morphological characters. The result was an illustrated series of 12 stages from embryonic shield until hatching based on live, fixed, and histological material. We defined each stage according to a single “key” character that applied to all embryos of that stage. Other characters forming part of the stage descriptions were not necessarily present in all embryos of a stage. We compare our findings with published studies of other freshwater teleosts and find wide variation in staging systems. Our data will form a baseline for further research on cichlid development. J. Morphol. 2009. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.