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Lake Malawi


The majority of the fish contained within our tank are cichlids and most cichlids can be separated into 2 main groups, the mbuna and the haps. The haps are slender piscivores and the mbuna are rock dwelling herbivores. Interestingly the mbuna tend to be more aggressive than their piscivore cousins. Many cichlids are mouth brooders - this means that the fry (infants) will often swim into the mouth of their parents.

News 4 years ago

Could fish hold the key to develop underwater robots?

Scientists from Harvard University have been studying how fish swim in an effort to inspire the development of propeller-free underwater robots. Such robots could be used to map the sea floor or explore coral reefs without disturbing the environment.

What fish are here?

Within the Mbuna and Haps there is a broad variety of species (approx. 800 within the lake). This is believed to be the result of a tectonic shift around 800,000 years ago which blocked off the river outlet of Lake Malawi causing its water levels to rise. Since then the lake has been going through two distinct phases, one where the water is deeper and clearer and one where the lake is more shallow and rich in algae.

The Molecular Clock

According to the "molecular clock" technique used by researchers the periods of deeper water coincide with the rapid increase in cichlid diversity. Later increases in diversity within cichlids has coincided with prolonged periods in which the lake was deep and clear (approx. 750,000, 400,000 and 70,000 years ago).

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Look Closer

Welcome to Look Closer, Techniquest's brand new digital tool. We're trialling Look Closer as a way of offering you a closer look at the science demonstrated by many of our exhibits. You'll find visitor sheets, videos, articles on contemporary science as well as fun trails to navigate your way around the exhibition space.

Speak to our Science Communicators to find out more.