A new study by scientists at Central Michigan University has found that Cichlid fish — which brood their offspring in their mouths — can end up eating up to 40 per cent of their babies.
Prior studies have shown that cichlid fish brood their offsprings in their mouths for up to two weeks after their eggs getting fertilised.
Some evidence has also suggested that sometimes, the mothers end up eating their babies even before they have a chance to mature and leave. To get more insight on this unusual behavior, scientists took a closer look at the Cichlid fish to find out more about their reproductive habits.
As part of the study, in their labs, 80 females laid eggs that were fertilised by males. After fertilisation, the scientists observed how the brooding proceeded.
As expected, the mothers kept their offspring in their mouths for up to two weeks. As they did so, the researchers noted that the mothers did not eat regular food. Additionally, the researchers also found the mothers behaved in ways the researchers describe as stressed.
The researchers also analysed some of the mothers showing different levels of stress and found higher levels of stress chemicals in those fishes that behaved in more stressed-out ways.
As per the findings, the mothers ate approximately 40% of their offspring and that 93% of them had eaten at least some of their young.