Bird Families

Haplochromis - a combined group of African cichlids


Establish a correspondence between examples and types of interactions in ecosystems: for each item given in the first column, select the corresponding item from the second column.

A) Egyptian runner bird and crocodile

B) oxbirds and rhinoceros

B) broad tapeworm and cyclops

D) Escherichia coli and humans

D) mosquito and man

Write down the selected numbers in the table under the corresponding letters.


1) symbiosis: A) Egyptian runner bird and crocodile, B) ox birds and rhinoceros, D) Escherichia coli and humans, E) shark and pilot fish

2) parasitism: C) broad tapeworm and cyclops, D) mosquito and man

Symbiosis is a long-term cohabitation of organisms of two or more different species of plants or animals, when their relationship with each other is very close and usually mutually beneficial.

Parasitism is a form of relationship between organisms (plants, animals, microorganisms) belonging to different species, of which one (parasite) uses the other (the host) as a habitat and a source of food, while imposing (partially or completely) on the host the regulation of its relations with the external environment.

In a broad sense, symbiosis encompasses all forms of close cohabitation of organisms of different species, including parasitism, which in this case is called antagonistic symbiosis.

Known forms of symbiosis - mutualism, commensalism and parasitism.

Mutualism is a form of symbiosis in which the presence of each of the two species becomes mandatory for both, each of the cohabitants receives relatively equal benefits, and the partners (or one of them) cannot exist without each other.

General information

Haplochromis is a genus of ray-finned fish from the Tsikhlov family. The composition of this heterogeneous group is regularly revised by taxonomists and is constantly changing. But the fish, according to tradition, continue to be called "haplochromis", even after being excluded from the genus.

All species are endemic to the African Great Lakes. They live in rocky terrain and predominantly lead a predatory lifestyle. They are characterized by increased territoriality. Capable of interbreeding with closely related species to form a variety of hybrid forms, which also complicates the study of the group as a whole. They are not difficult to maintain, but it is necessary to pay increased attention to the design of the aquarium and the selection of roommates.


The body shape is elongated, characteristic of many African cichlids. The head is pointed, with large eyes. Fish rarely grow more than 16 cm in length. The fins are well developed (especially in males), the anal fins are usually brighter and have spots. Caudal fin not dissected, triangular in shape.

The color is extremely varied and depends on the specific species. The most popular are bright blue species (haplochromis cornflower blue), but they are found with rainbow, yellow, red and almost black colors. Transverse stripes or spots may be present on the body. Females are usually more modestly colored than males. During the mating season, the color saturation in males increases many times over.

Life expectancy can be 8-10 years.

Haplochromis. Appearance


Haplochromis can only be found in the waters of the African Great Lakes. This group of bodies of water was formed as a result of tectonic activity and represents deep cracks in the earth's crust filled with water. Most of the fish are kept at depths of up to 25 m on the border between the sandy and rocky bottom. Fish are predominantly ambush predators that prey on other fish, primarily the fry of Mbuna cichlids. Hiding in the crevices of the rocks.

Cornflower, or Jackson (Sciaenochromis fryeri)

Endemic to Lake Malawi. Size up to 16 cm. Males are colored bright blue with 9-12 dark stripes. The anal fin can vary in color from the body, ranging from yellow to red. Females are gray, but during the spawning period, a distinct blueness may appear on the sides of the body. Cornflowers living in the southern part of the lake have a dorsal fin with a characteristic white border; in the northern ones, it is absent.

Haplochromis cornflower blue

Nyereri (Haplochromis nyererei)

It is found in the southern part of Lake Victoria. The body size does not exceed 8 cm. Larger males are colored brighter than females: the upper part of the body is bright orange, the lower one is deep blue with a number of alternating yellow and black stripes. The anal fin has several yellow spots, the pelvic fins are black. Females are silvery, with bright fins and tail and 8-9 dark vertical stripes. There are more than ten varieties with slightly different patterns on the body. They are named after the island where the fish live (for example, Haplochromis nyererei "Makobe").

A relatively calm fish that gets along well with other cichlids.

Haplochromis Niereri

Livingston (Nimbochromis livingstonii)

Widespread in Lake Malawi. Large cichlid, can reach 25 cm in length. Typical ambush predator. The way of hunting is quite unusual: the cichlid pretends to be dead and lie down on the bottom until a small fish swims past, having lost its vigilance. The main body color varies from silvery to bluish. Large irregular spots are scattered over the body. Each individual has its own unique pattern. The fins are often edged in red or orange.

Haplochromis (nimbochromis) Livingstone

Obliquidens (Haplochromis obliquidens)

Inhabits rocky areas of Lake Victoria. Males grow up to 12 cm, females are slightly smaller, their size does not exceed 8 cm.The main body color is golden-green, with dark transverse stripes. The head is often bluish. The fins can be colored red. Females and juveniles are much more modestly colored - their scales are olive-gray. By type of food - omnivores.

Boadzulu (Cyrtocara boadzulu)

The species lives in Lake Malawi, mainly near the island of Boadzulu. Listed in the international Red Book. It grows up to 15 cm. Males are characterized by a blue color of the front part of the body, the back part is red-orange. The fins are bluish-gray, with a characteristic light edging on the dorsal fin. Up to 10 dark transverse stripes can appear on the sides. Females are silvery pink, with two dark stripes along the body.

Long-snout (Dimidiochromis compressiceps)

One of the most original cichlids of Lake Malawi. The body is elongated, flattened laterally, almost half of the body is occupied by the head. The size in the aquarium does not exceed 15 cm. Males have a bluish color with a metallic sheen and emerald fins. The dorsal and anal fin have golden spots. Females are modestly colored: one or two brown stripes stretch along the silvery body. A relatively calm fish, but zealously guarding its territory. Has a tendency to attack shiny objects, and when fighting with neighbors - on the eyes of the enemy, for which it was called "eater of eyes". Typical predator, high protein feed is required.

Haplochromis (demidochromis) long-snouted

Brown (Astatotilapia brownie)

The homeland of this fish is Lake Victoria. Inhabits shallow waters along the coast. In aquariums it grows up to 10-12 cm. The color is very bright: on the yellow body it has a number of transverse dark stripes. The dorsal fin is blue or, more often, red. The caudal fin is red; the anal fin has two or three orange spots. Head and chest with bluish tint. Females are silvery with transparent fins. Differs in a cocky character, but calmly refers to hard-leaved plants. It is best kept in flocks in a species aquarium.

Cadango (Copadichromis borleyi)

Lives in Lake Malawi. It belongs to the Utaka group - cichlids that live in open water and feed mainly on zooplankton. Differs in a peaceful character. Fish live in large schools of up to several hundred individuals. Large cichlid, grows up to 15-17 cm. The body is elongated, with a large pointed head. The jaw is well developed to be able to swallow large portions of water with plankton while feeding. There are several color variations. The most popular is the form with a red body, blue fins and a head. There are several yellow spots on the anal fin. Females and juveniles do not differ in bright colors and are characterized by a silvery body and yellow fins. The diet should include food with spirulina.

Haplochromis (copadichromis) kadango

Care and maintenance

It is better to keep haplochromis in pairs or in small harems, when there are 3-4 females per male. It is not recommended to plant males together, this can provoke constant fights for territory. The minimum volume for keeping is 200 liters. The aquarium should be equipped with a lid, because fish can easily jump out of the water.

It is better to use sand or very small pebbles as a soil. Natural stones will look good in the aquarium, from which multilevel structures will be built. It is necessary to create a large number of shelters where weaker individuals can take refuge.

It is very important to organize effective filtration and aeration - you need an external filter and a quality compressor.

It is also imperative to change up to 30% of the volume of water in the aquarium weekly. Haplochromis prefer hard and slightly alkaline water.

Optimal parameters for the content: T = 23-28 ° C, pH = 7.2-8.8, GH = 10-18.

Keeping with live plants is impractical, since in most cases the fish quickly destroy them by digging from the ground or biting off. It is better to use hard-leaved species, such as anubias, and plant plants in pots.


Best kept in a species aquarium. Other haplochromis and some representatives of the Mbuna group cichlids (labidochromis, labeotropheus) are suitable as neighbors. It is worth remembering that any fish that can fit into the mouth of the haplochromis will most likely be eaten, so cohabitation with small species is excluded. It is not advised to add haplochromis to the aulonocars - strikes very often occur. To reduce aggression as much as possible, a large aquarium volume, adequate shelter and an optimal sex composition are recommended.

Haplochromis in the general aquarium

Feeding haplochromis

It is best to feed haplochromis with high-quality dry food. This will ensure that the fish receive all the necessary nutrients and vitamins, and the infection or parasites will not enter the aquarium, which can happen when using live food.

The overwhelming majority of haplochromis are carnivores and therefore require a high protein feed. It is worth paying attention to the line of German feeds Tetra Cichlid. They are formulated with the nutritional needs of cichlids in mind and are well eaten and absorbed. Depending on the size of the fish, sticks (Tetra Cichlid Sticks), flakes (Tetra Cichlid XL Flakes) or granules (Tetra Cichlid Granules) can be chosen.

It is better to feed haplochromis 2-3 times a day. Hungry fish are more aggressive towards neighbors.

Reproduction and breeding

Breeding haplochromis is a relatively simple process. In a species aquarium, it can occur even without the help of the aquarist. On average, spawning occurs every two months (this is especially typical for the summer period). The stimulus can be a daily change of 10% of the water in the aquarium and an increase in temperature to 20 ° C. The male makes a nest, as a rule, near a large stone and invites the female there. After fertilization, the female collects eggs in her mouth, where they incubate for 2-3 weeks. Fertility can be up to 70 eggs.

Haplochromis fry are modestly colored

To ensure that the maximum number of fry survives, it is recommended to place the female in a separate spawning aquarium (at least 80 liters) until the female releases the fry. After that, it can be planted.

Sexual maturity in haplochromis occurs at the age of about a year.


Kitoglav Is a large water bird that can be unmistakably recognizable thanks to its unique "shoe-like" beak, which gives it an almost prehistoric appearance, recalling the origin of birds from dinosaurs. The species is found in nine African countries and has a large range, but is found in small local populations concentrated around marshes and wetlands.

Origin of the species and description

Kitoglav was known to the ancient Egyptians and Arabs, but was not classified until the 19th century, when live specimens were brought to Europe. John Gould described the species in 1850 as Balaeniceps rex. The genus name comes from the Latin words balaena "whale" and caput "head", abbreviated -ceps in compound words. The Arabs call this bird Abu Markub, which means "shoe".

Where does the whale head live?

Photo: Kitoglav in Zambia

The species is endemic to Africa and inhabits the east-central part of the continent.

The main groups of birds are:

  • in southern Sudan (mainly in the White Nile),
  • in the wetlands of northern Uganda,
  • in western Tanzania,
  • in parts of eastern Congo,
  • in northeastern Zambia in the Bangweulu swamp,
  • small populations are found in eastern Zaire and Rwanda.

This species is most abundant in the West Nile subregion and adjacent areas of southern Sudan. Isolated cases of settlement of whale heads have been reported in Kenya, northern Cameroon, southwestern Ethiopia and Malawi. Wandering individuals have been sighted in the Okavango Basins, Botswana and the headwaters of the Congo River. Shoebill is a non-migratory bird with limited seasonal movement due to changes in habitat, food availability and human disturbance.

The whale heads have chosen freshwater swamps and vast, dense swamps. They are often found in floodplain areas interspersed with intact papyrus and reeds. When the whale stork is in an area of ​​deep water, it needs plenty of floating vegetation. They also prefer bodies of water with poorly oxygenated water. This causes the fish living there to float to the surface more often, increasing the likelihood of being caught.

Now you know where the whale bird lives. Let's see what she eats.

What does a whale head eat?

Photo: Kitoglav or royal heron

Whale heads spend most of their time foraging for food in the aquatic environment. The bulk of their carnivorous diet consists of wetland vertebrates.

Preferred prey types are assumed to include:

  • marble protopter (P. aethiopicus),
  • Senegalese polypiper (P. senegalus),
  • different types of tilapias,
  • catfish (Silurus).

Other prey eaten by this species include:

  • frogs,
  • water snakes,
  • Nile monitor lizards (V. niloticus),
  • small crocodiles,
  • small turtles,
  • snails,
  • rodents,
  • small waterfowl.

Given its huge, sharp-edged beak and wide mouth, the whale glider can hunt larger prey than other wading birds. The fish eaten by this species is usually 15 to 50 cm long and weighs about 500 g. The snakes that are hunted are usually 50 to 60 cm long. catfish and water snakes.

The main tactics used by whale beaks are "stand and wait" and "wander slowly." When a prey item is found, the head and neck of the bird quickly plunges into the water, causing the bird to lose balance and fall. After that, the whale head must restore balance and start again from a standing position.

Along with prey, particles of vegetation fall into the beak. To get rid of the green mass, the whale heads shake their heads from side to side, holding their prey. The prey is usually decapitated before swallowing.Also, a large beak is often used to pull out dirt at the bottom of a pond in order to extract fish hidden in holes.

Features of character and lifestyle

Photo: Heron Kitoglav

Kitheads never meet in groups during feeding. Only when food shortages are severely felt will these birds feed next to each other. Often the male and female of the breeding pair get food on opposite sides of their territory. Birds do not migrate as long as good feeding conditions exist. However, in some areas of their range, they will make seasonal movements between nesting and feeding areas.

Fun fact: Kitoglavs are not afraid of people. Researchers studying these birds were able to get closer than 2 m to their nest. The birds did not threaten people, but looked directly at them.

Whale heads hover in thermals (a mass of rising air), and are often seen hovering over their territory during the day. In flight, the bird's neck retracts. Feathered, as a rule, are silent, but often rumble with their beaks. Adults are so welcoming to each other in the nest, and chicks just rattle their beaks while playing. Adults will also make a whimpering or “mooing” noise, and chicks will make hiccups, especially when they ask for food.

The main senses that whale heads use while hunting are sight and hearing. To facilitate binocular vision, birds hold their heads and beaks vertically downward toward their chest. The kitoglav holds its wings straight during takeoff, and flies like pelicans with its neck retracted. Its swing frequency is approximately 150 times per minute. This is one of the slowest speeds of any bird, with the exception of the larger stork species. The flight model consists of alternating flapping and gliding cycles lasting about seven seconds. Birds live almost 36 years in the wild.

Social structure and reproduction

Photo: Kitoglav in flight

Kitoglavs - have an area of ​​approximately 3 km². During the breeding season, these birds are very territorial and protect the nest from any predators or competitors. Breeding times vary by location, but usually coincide with the onset of the dry season. The reproductive cycle lasts 6 to 7 months. A plot with a diameter of 3 meters is trampled and cleared for a nest.

Nest is located on a small island or on a mass of floating vegetation. The enclosed material, such as grass, weaves on the ground to form a large structure about 1 meter in diameter. One to three, usually two, layered whitish eggs are laid, but by the end of the breeding cycle, only one chick remains. The incubation period lasts 30 days. Kitheads feed their chicks with regurgitating food at least 1-3 times a day, 5-6 times as they grow older.

Fun fact: The development of whale heads is a slow process compared to other birds. Feathers develop up to about 60 days, and chicks leave the nest only on day 95. But chicks will be able to fly for about 105-112 days. Parents continue to feed cubs for about a month after fledging.

Whale heads are monogamous birds. Both parents are involved in all aspects of nest building, incubation and chick rearing. In order to keep the eggs cool, the adult takes a full beak of water and pours it onto the nest. In addition, they lay pieces of wet grass around the eggs and turn the eggs with their paws or beak.

Natural enemies of whale heads

Photo: whale bird

There are several predators of adult whale heads. These are mainly large birds of prey (hawk, falcon, kite) attacking during a slow flight. However, the most dangerous enemies are crocodiles, which inhabit the African swamps in large numbers. Chicks and eggs can be taken by many predators, but this happens very rarely, since these birds persistently protect their young and build nests in places inaccessible to those who want to eat them.

The most dangerous enemies of the whale head are people who catch birds and sell them for food. In addition, the indigenous people receive large sums of money from the sale of these birds to zoos. The kitoglav is threatened by hunters, the destruction of their habitat by humans and cultural taboos that lead to the fact that they are systematically hunted and captured by members of local tribes.

Fun Fact: In many African cultures, whale heads are considered taboo and unfortunate. Some of the local tribes require their members to kill these birds in order to cleanse their land of bad omens. This led to the extinction of the species in parts of Africa.

The purchase of individuals by zoos, which was designed for the survival of this species, led to a significant decrease in populations. Many birds taken from their natural habitat and placed in zoos refuse to mate. This is because whale heads are very secretive and lonely animals, and the stress of transit, unfamiliar surroundings and the presence of people in zoos is known to kill these birds.

Population and status of the species

Photo: Kitoglav in nature

There have been many estimates of whale head populations, but the most accurate are 11,000-15,000 birds throughout the range. Since the populations are scattered over large areas and most of them are inaccessible to humans for most of the year, it is difficult to obtain a reliable number.

The threat is posed by the destruction and degradation of habitats, hunting and trapping for the bird trade. A suitable habitat is being processed for raising and grazing livestock. And as you know, cattle trample the nests. In Uganda, oil exploration can affect populations of this species by altering its habitat and contaminating the environment with oil. Pollution can also be significant where agrochemical and tannery waste is drained or dumped into Lake Victoria.

The species is used for zoo trade, which is a problem especially in Tanzania where trade in the species is still legal. Kitheads sell for $ 10,000– $ 20,000, making them the most expensive birds in the zoo. According to experts from the Bangweulu wetlands, Zambia, eggs and chicks are taken by local people for consumption and sale.

Fun Fact: Breeding success can be as low as 10% per year, mainly due to human factors. During the 2011-2013 breeding season. Only 10 of 25 chicks were successfully fledged: four chicks died in the fire, one was killed, and 10 were taken by humans.

Habitats are threatened by fire and drought in Zambia. There is some evidence for capture and prosecution. Conflict in Rwanda and Congo has led to the violation of protected areas, and the proliferation of firearms has made hunting much easier. In Malagarasi, large areas of miombo woodland adjacent to marshes are cleared for tobacco and agriculture, and the population, including fishermen, farmers and semi-nomadic pastoralists, has grown rapidly in recent decades. In four years, only 7 out of 13 nests were successful.

Protection of whale heads

Photo: Kitoglav from the Red Book

Unfortunately, this species is on the verge of extinction and is fighting for its survival. Shoebill whale heads are rated endangered by the IUCN. The birds are also listed on Appendix II of CITES and are protected by law in the Sudan, Central African Republic, Uganda, Rwanda, Zaire and Zambia by the African Convention on Nature and Natural Resources. Local folklore also protects whale heads, and locals are taught to respect and even fear these birds.

This rare and localized species is listed as Vulnerable because it is estimated to have one small population with a wide distribution. The Bangweulu Wetland Management Council is implementing a conservation plan. In South Sudan, steps are being taken to better understand the species and improve the status of protected areas.

Kitoglav brings money through tourism. Many travelers go to Africa on river excursions to see wildlife. Several key sites are designated as whale flood lands in South Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia. In the Bangweulu wetlands, local fishermen are hired as guards to protect nests, raising local awareness and breeding success.