Bower building

When you hear the term “bower builder,” maybe your first thought is a bird – the bowerbird. You may then ask, what is a bower? Simply put, it’s a dwelling, often elaborate and leafy in construction. So what’s this have to do with cichlids?

If  you keep African cichlids, especially from Lake Malawi, and you have a sand or mini-gravel substrate, you may end up with a bower in your tank. Within the context of fish, a bower is a typically well-defined depression, often on a raised mound.  Cichlids aren’t the only Perciformes to exhibit bower building, which is primarily a social behavior exhibited by males for mate attraction. Bass, perch, and bluegill are other common freshwater fish that perform this ritual.


Lake Malawi cichlid bower. Photo from African Cichlid Hub –
If you’re interested in the nuts and bolts of bower building by Lake Malawi cichlids, check out this outstanding scholarly article from the journal Frontiers in Ecology an Evolution. Yes, it’s a research article, but it’s readability is rather high for the lay public, in my opinion.

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