Does size matter? Assessment and fighting in small and large size‐matched pairs of adult male convict cichlids
Contests between matched pairs of sexually mature convict cichlids Archocentrus nigrofasciatus were staged to determine if size alone affected the ways in which the males fought. Both small and large contests began with a period of visual displays. As fights progressed, displays diminished, and were replaced by more escalated behaviours. Small and large contests were also of similar duration. Despite these consistencies with sequential assessment, large and small contests were not entirely alike. For example, large males engaged in more lateral displays and were slower to escalate than small males. Small males displayed less and escalated to biting sooner than large males. Two possible explanations are suggested for these contrasts in contest structure: absolute opponent size and differences in the males’ ages coupled with differences in experience.