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Keywords:

  • Cichlidae;
  • Tilapia;
  • reproduction;
  • acoustic;
  • behaviour

Abstract

The mouthbrooding cichlid Oreochromis niloticus is one of the world's best-studied fish and is raised extensively for aquaculture. Although it is a common behavioural model, its acoustic communication has been neglected. Because of extensive parental care, the species is a good candidate for vocal learning. In male O. niloticus, we investigated for the first time sound production in agonistic interactions during nest construction. Males produce short-duration (250–400 ms), often double-pulse sounds. Most energy is below 200 Hz and includes three main low-frequency peaks although energy extends beyond 1 kHz. Males (separated as eggs and raised in isolation) produce similar sounds in the same context as parental fish, indicating that the ability to produce sounds and the basic properties of the sounds are innate.