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Classification of neotropical cichlids according to "feeding behavior"

Bruno Mioto

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Oct 1, 2019
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Hello everyone,
I am researching on genetics with neotropical cichlids, and would like to separate species (I am grouping by genus) according to feeding behavior.
Feeding behavior I refer to the term used by some authors (Reference below along with more examples -see attached image-) to classify groups such as Geophagus, Satanoperca, Gymnogeophagus (for example) as Sifters; and Cichla, Astronotus, Cichlasoma, Crenicichla as Non-sifters.
Basically, if the fish feeds at the bottom, "sifting" the sediment for food, it will be defined as Sifter. If it feeds on the water column, it will be set to Non-sifter.
It would help me a lot if the answer was accompanied by an explanation and, if possible, images or scientific articles. But of course, all help will be welcome!
Obviously, the author of any help (as well as this forum) will be welcomed in the acknowledgements of my work.

References: LÓPEZ-FERNÁNDEZ HARBOR J WILLIS SWATKINS CHONEYCUTT RL and WINEMILLER KO 2014. Morphology and Efficiency of a Specialized Foraging Behavior, Sediment Sifting, in Neotropical Cichlid Fishes. PLoS One 9: e89832.

Sifter Examples:
Satanoperca daemon
'Geophagus' brasiliensis
Geophagus abalios
Biotodoma wavrini
Mikrogeophagus ramirezi
Thorichthys ellioti

Non-sifters Examples:
Guianacara stergiosi
Crenicichla sveni
Dicrossus filamentosus
Hoplarchus psittacus
Amatitlania siquia
Hypsophrys nematopus
Mesonauta egregius
Cichlasoma orinocense
Cichla temensis



Bruno Mioto

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Oct 1, 2019
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To be more clear, I don't know if the following Genera are Sifting or Non-sifting:
  1. Acaronia
  2. Aequidens
  3. Andinoacara
  4. Bujurquina
  5. Cleithracara
  6. Ivanacara
  7. Krobia
  8. Laetacara
  9. Nannacara
  10. Tahuantinsuyoa
  11. Acarichthys
  12. Apistogramma
  13. Crenicara
  14. Guianacara
  15. Mazarunia
  16. Taeniacara
  17. Teleocichla
  18. Australoheros
  19. Australoheros
  20. Caquetaia
  21. Chiapaheros
  22. Chortiheros
  23. Heroina
  24. Heros
  25. Herotilapia
  26. Hypselecara
  27. Neetroplus
  28. Hypsophrys
  29. Kronoheros
  30. Mesoheros
  31. Nandopsis
  32. Herichthys
  33. Petenia
  34. Pterophyllum
  35. Rocio
  36. Symphysodon
  37. Tomocichla
  38. Trichromis
  39. Uaru
  40. Vieja
  41. Wajpamheros
Thank you!


Jan 26, 2008
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Perth, WA
Generally if fish live on the bottom they are more likely to be sand sifters, however, all fish are opportunistic feeders and will take food from anywhere in the water column or even off the bottom.
eg: bottom dwelling fishes that normally sift the sand for food will take food falling through the water column.
eg: fishes that live in the middle of the water column will often pick at food that has fallen to the bottom.

Most of the other Genera you mentioned I have not heard of but people like rearranging cichlids, and their scientific names (Genus) get changed all the time.

Pterophyllum (angelfish), Symphysodon (discus) and Uarus are not sifters.

Geophagus are definite sand sifters.

Most of the others fall in between, where they pick at food on the bottom or in mid water but don't generally sift the substrate looking for food. However, many of the bottom dwelling species will dig about in the substrate to excavate caves to live in and they will sometimes look for food in the substrate. But they are not true sand sifters like the Geophagus group.


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