Many of our most common cichlids has behaviors that are very interesting. Their behavior changes with the environment that they live in. This means that the fishes in the aquarium can show behaviors that don't exist in the wild, and the other way around. Some natural behaviors you never see in an aquarium. One seemingly unusual, but at the same time logical behavior, I experienced when I put a male of the Malawi species Placidochromis electra alone in a 60 l aquarium.
The background was as follows. To make room for some Tropheus moorii that I had ordered I had to put in order a 300 l aquarium. To do this I had to move the previous inhabitants to other quarters. This affected my P. electra male. He had to be alone in an 60 l aquarium temporarily, without any other decorations but the sand on the bottom. This existence could hardly be pleasant for the fish, but I made up for my bad conscience with plenty of "good" food.
Well, one day when I just had switch off the lights, and when I reached over to switch off the lights in another aquarium, I heard a rattling sound from the electra-aquarium. To see what was going on, I turned on the light again; and look, no fish! A fast look at the floor, under the table and around the aquarium, showed to me that the fish had disappeared. Not a trace of the male! Then there was this rattling sound again, I looked up and there he was. In the previous empty aquarium the male was looking back at my astonished eyes.
As you probably already has understand the fish was hiding in the sand. Rather logical, when you think about it. The fish was somewhat darker than usual when he had shaken off the gravel. This behavior he showed to me five times, two of the occasions I provoked the fish to do it. This happened both when the light in the aquarium was off an on. Apparently the P. electra lives in sandy territories, and this behavior shows that this is a good way of hiding for a hunted fish. Of the five times I observed this behavior he managed to disappear completely four times in the gravel, the fifth time you could still see parts of the tail and the dorsal fin.
Fish-professionals may draw their own conclusions by this behavior, but an amateur like me can only conclude that the relationships between the P. electra and the plaice or flounder are maybe closer than we thinks, or...
(This article was originally published in "Ciklidbladet" 3/81, the journal of the NCS, Nordiska CiklidSallskapet (Nordik Cichlid Association) It is here reproduced with the permission of author Lars Camenius and CiklidBladet editor Roger Haggstrom).
© Copyright 1981 Lars Camenius, all rights reserved
Camenius, Lars. (September 15, 1996). "Placidochromis electra, an interesting observation". Cichlid Room Companion. Retrieved on June 13, 2021, from: https://cichlidae.com/article.php?id=28.