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Validation of the periodicity of increment formation in the otoliths of a cichlid fish from Lake Tanganyika, East Africa

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Tetracycline was used as a chemical tag in a mark‐recapture study to examine the pattern of increment formation in the otoliths of Tropheus moorii, a rock‐dwelling cichlid from Lake Tanganyika. A total of 256 fish were captured by divers and injected with tetracycline. Of these, nine were recaptured after either 1 or 2 years at liberty and eight retained tags within their otoliths. Comparison of the number of growth increments formed after the tag and the time at liberty demonstrated that increments were deposited on an annual basis in the otoliths of this species. Furthermore, there was a strong relationship between otolith mass and age suggesting that otoliths grew at a predictable rate throughout the life of the fish. Validation of an annual pattern of increment deposition allowed age and growth information to be derived from otoliths. This showed that T. moorii grew rapidly to attain adult size by 3 years of age. Males grew faster than females and also attained a larger size than females (8·74 v. 7·91 cm LS respectively). The longevity of some of these small freshwater fish was surprising; the oldest individual had an age of 10 years, while the average age of adults was 4 years.

Keywords: Lake Tanganyika; Tropheus moorii; age; growth; otolith

Document Type: Regular Paper


Affiliations: 1: Department of Zoology and Limnology, University of Innsbruck, Technikerstrasse 25, A-6020 Innsbruck, Austria, 2: The Australian Institute of Marine Science, P. O. Box 40 197, Darwin NT 0811, Australia and 3: Department of Research and Specialist Services, Fisheries Research Branch, Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, Mpulungu Station, P. O. Box 55, Mpulungu, Zambia

Publication date: 2004-05-01

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