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Many small species of fish are found in the stream/swamp systems that flow into Lake Victoria. One such system, in Uganda, was inhabited permanently by only one species, although others ran into the stream when it was flooded in the rainy seasons. Other fishes were confined to the lower reaches near the mouth, but never moved far upstream.

Studies on the biology of these fishes indicate that reproductive behaviour is generally confined to the rains in all species, the cyprinids using the system especially for breeding purposes at these times. Factors other than sexual state, such as feeding habits, vary little between fish from the river and those from the lake.

Experiments show that there is a change in the sexual state of the females of one species during the journey upriver, indicating the importance of this activity in the life cycle of the migratory fish.

The young of the cyprinids first appear in the up-river swamps. Here they grow, migrating to the river and moving downstream to enter the lake after periods of time that are characteristic for each species. This distinctiveness in timing was also found for the other fishes that inhabit the system, and it suggests that downstream migration is controlled by changes in the physiological state of the fish with age.