Scientif ic Name: Oreochromis mossambica
Tamil Name: Jilabi meen
Desciption: This is a medium sized Cichlid readily identified by its blackish blue coloration ( Males) and its fins that are beautifully bordered with red. Its large head and wide mouth are other pointers. It is grayish colored with large black blotches along the sides. The juvenile’s have relatively deeper bodies and black eyespots on the rear end of the tail.
Habitat & distribution: This is a native of East Africa that has been widely introduced and distributed in Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka. It prefers lakes, ponds, streams and estuaries. It is found in flood waters and ditches.
Note: The adults are solitary and aggressive sometimes intolerant of its own kind and other fishes. The males scoop circular pits which they defend from other fish, Their large mouth enable them to carry large stones and debris while cleaning the pts. Many pits placed side by side with a male defending each is a characteristic sight in shallow ponds. The females carry the fertilized eggs in their large mouths and don’t feed during this time. The free swimming fry emerge from the mouth of the mother and retreat into the mouth at the least sign of danger. Large individuals are popular as a food source for local people.
Photo: Dr J D Marcus Knight