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The Deceitful Cuckoo Catfish

The cuckoo catfish behaves the same way as its bird counterpart, the cuckoo bird. It seems like parenting responsibilities for this East African lake resident are non-existent. The cuckoo catfish just leaves its eggs in the nest of another species of fish to be reared by another fish parent. Through the help of skilled researchers, we now know how the cuckoo catfish does this trick.

Known scientifically as Synodontis multipunctatus, the cuckoo catfish belongs to a group of brood parasites in the Animal Kingdom. It is the only other vertebrate species that joins at least 90 species of birds in this category. This catfish targets the cichlid species of fish, known for using their mouths as nurseries for their young. As the cichlid female lays her eggs, couples of cuckoos make their way under her to lay and fertilize their eggs in her nest. The cichlid then scoops all the eggs, including the catfish eggs into her mouth.

Unfortunately, the catfish eggs hatch earlier than the cichlid eggs. The catfish hatchlings need to feed, so they start to eat the of the newly hatched cichlids. They also tend to devour each other when they run out of cichlid hatchlings.

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