Interactions between aggression, boldness and shoaling within a brood of convict cichlids (Amatitlania nigrofasciatus)

Behav Processes. 2015 Dec;121:63-9. doi: 10.1016/j.beproc.2015.10.012. Epub 2015 Oct 20.


A behavioral syndrome is considered present when individuals consistently express correlated behaviors across two or more axes of behavior. These axes of behavior are shy-bold, exploration-avoidance, activity, aggression, and sociability. In this study we examined aggression, boldness and sociability (shoaling) within a juvenile convict cichlid brood (Amatitlania nigrofasciatus). Because young convict cichlids are social, we used methodologies commonly used by ethologists studying social fishes. We did not detect an aggression-boldness behavioral syndrome, but we did find that the aggression, boldness, and possibly the exploration behavioral axes play significant roles in shaping the observed variation in individual convict cichlid behavior. While juvenile convict cichlids did express a shoaling preference, this social preference was likely convoluted by aggressive interactions, despite the small size and young age of the fish. There is a need for the development of behavioral assays that allow for more reliable measurement of behavioral axes in juvenile neo-tropical cichlids.

Keywords: Aggression; Amatitlania nigrofasciatus; Behavioral syndrome; Boldness; Shoaling.

MeSH terms

  • Aggression
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Cichlids / physiology*
  • Male
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal